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Kansas State Board of Education July highlights: Names of schools, districts taking part in Apollo II project announced

Posted: Jul 17, 2020
Author: Ann Bush

The names of the schools and districts taking part in the Kansans Can School Redesign Project: Apollo II were announced during the July Kansas State Board of Education meeting.

Jay Scott, Kansas State Department of Education’s (KSDE) secondary school redesign specialist, and Tammy Mitchell, KSDE’s elementary school redesign specialist, made the announcement of the Apollo II cohorts.

Sixteen schools joined the fifth phase of the project. Seven of the 10 districts that are taking part in the latest phase, Apollo II, are new to the redesign project. Three of the school districts – Emporia Unified School District 253, Hutchinson USD 308 and Winfield USD 465 - already have other schools participating in earlier phases and are now adding new schools.

The schools, along with their districts, taking part in Apollo II are:

•           Emporia Middle School, Emporia USD 253.

•           Village Elementary School, Emporia USD 253.

•           Walnut Elementary School, Emporia USD 253.

•           Central Heights High School, Central Heights Unified School District 288.

•           Lincoln Elementary School, Hutchinson USD 308.

•           Wamego High School, Wamego USD 320.

•           Lincoln Elementary School, Clay County USD 379.

•           Marshall Elementary School, Eureka USD 389.

•           Marais des Cygnes Valley Elementary School, Marais des Cygnes USD 456.

•           Marais des Cygnes Valley Junior High School, Marais des Cygnes USD 456.

•           Marais des Cygnes Valley High School, Marais des Cygnes USD 456.

•           Winfield High School, Winfield USD 465.

•           Lincoln Elementary School, Hays USD 489.

•           Flint Hills Primary School, Flint Hills USD 492

•           Flint Hills Intermediate School, Flint Hills USD 492.

•           Flint Hills Middle and High School, Flint Hills USD 492.

Board members also approved the redesign plans and launch of some Gemini II and Apollo I schools/districts.

The following Gemini II school redesign plans were accepted and approved for launch: Clay County Middle School, Clay County USD 379; Haven Middle School, Haven USD 312; Lyons High School, Lyons USD 405; and Stafford Elementary School, Stafford USD 349.

The following Apollo I school redesign plans were accepted and approved for launch: North Elementary School, Goodland USD 352, and Rossville Grade School, Kaw Valley USD 321.

Some State Board of Education members attended the July 14-15 meeting in person, while others attended virtually. Those members attending in person were Chair Kathy Busch, Steve Roberts, Deena Horst, Ann Mah, Jim McNiece and Ben Jones. Those attending virtually were Janet Waugh, Jim Porter and Janet Waugh. Michelle Dombrosky didn’t attend in person or virtually the first day, but attended virtually the second day.

Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson during his remarks to the board congratulated the 2020 Promising Practice award winners: Atchison County Junior-Senior High School, Atchison County Unified School District 377; Derby High School, Derby USD 260; and Winfield Middle School, Winfield USD 465.

He also congratulated the 2020 Civic Advocacy Network (CAN) Award winners: Bernadine Sitts Intermediate School, Garden City USD 457; Derby North Middle School, Derby USD 260; Fredonia Junior-Senior High School, Fredonia, USD 484; Halstead High School, Halstead USD 440; Lakeside Elementary, Pittsburg USD 250; Maize High School, Maize USD 266; North Fairview Elementary, Seaman USD 345; Prairie Ridge Elementary School, De Soto USD 232; and Winfield High School, Winfield USD 465.

The 2019 Kansans Can Star Award recipients also were announced. They are Barnes-Hanover-Linn USD 223; Beloit USD 273; Blue Valley USD 229; Buhler USD 313; Cheylin USD 103; Conway Springs USD 356; Cunningham USD 332; De Soto USD 232; Durham-Hillsboro-Lehigh USD 410; Ellsworth USD 327; Frontenac USD 249; Garnett USD 365; Hays USD 489; Hesston USD 460; Hoisington USD 431; Kansas City Catholic Diocese; Labette County USD 506; La Crosse USD 395; Lebo-Waverly USD 243; Leoti USD 467; Madison-Virgil USD 386; Marion-Florence USD 408; Nemaha Central USD 115; North Lyon County USD 251; Osborne County USD 392; Phillipsburg USD 325; Piper Kansas City USD 203; Prairie Hills USD 113; Rawlins County USD 105; Renwick USD 267; Rock Hills USD 107; Shawnee Mission USD 512; Smith Center USD 237; Sterling USD 376; Thunder Ridge USD 110; Vermillion USD 380; Victoria USD 432; Wallace County USD 241; Weskan USD 242; and Wichita Catholic Diocese.

Deputy Commissioner Brad Neuenswander and School Finance director Craig Neuenswander presented the “Navigating Change: Kansas’ Guide to Learning and School Safety Operations” document. The 1,100-page document was developed to help schools reopen safely and deliver education through multiple learning environments as the need arise.

It was developed entirely by Kansans. It was designed around two guiding questions:

1.         How do we keep students, educators and community members as safe as possible?

2.         How do we ensure each student is learning and being supported regardless of the learning environment?

The document contains guidance only – there are no mandates in it. This guidance provides districts the flexibility they need to meet the unique needs of students, educators and communities. Districts will be able to utilize the portions that work best for them. What may work for a smaller district, may not work in a larger district.

“Navigating Change” addresses four main areas: competencies/standards; assessment; implementation; and operations.

Mitchell, KSDE’s elementary school redesign specialist, introduced Gillian Macias, principal of Kennedy Elementary, who spoke about the school’s journey with the Kansans Can School Redesign Project.

Kennedy selected to take part in the project because students needed more personalized learning for each student and the educational system that was in place wasn’t working for all students, Macias said.

She also shared how the school implemented the Continuous Learning plan after school buildings were closed in March 2020 because of COVID-19. Students had a daily check-in with his or her classroom teacher. In addition to daily student check-ins, Kennedy’s counselor had weekly student check-ins with students. There also were virtual services, such as speech/language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, special education services and mental health services.

During the first week of the Continuous Learning plan, about 70% of students were attending and participating. That number continued to grow and was at 99% by the end of the school year.

Scott, the secondary school redesign specialist for KSDE, introduced staff members and a student from Beloit Junior-Senior High School, Beloit USD 273, to share about the school’s Continuous Learning plan.

Casey Seifert, principal of Beloit High School, said being a part of the Kansans Can School Redesign Project helped prepare the school to implement its Continuous Learning plan. The school took part in the Gemini I cohort of the project. It launched its redesign plans during the 2018-2019 school year.

Avery Johnson, STUCO president at Beloit Junior-Senior High School, said her parents own a pharmacy and she was working 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and was able to stay up on her online studies. She said her grades actually improved in some of the classes while doing them online.

At the high school level, only 2 out of 212 students didn’t participate. At the junior high, only two out of 108 students weren’t involved.

Mischel Miller, director of KSDE’s Teacher Licensure and Accreditation (TLA), and Jeannette Nobo, assistant director of TLA, discussed the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) with the board. The KESA framework embarks systems on a continuous improvement process that supports the State Board’s vision for education – Kansas leads the world in the success of each student.

There are three levels of accreditation – accredited, conditionally accredited and not accredited.

The Accreditation Review Council (ARC) is charged with recommending accreditation status and changes in status to the State Board. ARC reviews the Outside Visitation Team (OVT) evidence and artifacts to make an accreditation level recommendation to the Board. ARC meetings in April, May and June.

Systems have 15 days to accept or appeal the Accreditation Review Council’s (ARC) accreditation recommendation.

During the 2019-2020 school year, 30 systems were scheduled for accreditation. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, not all of these systems were able to complete their final KESA visit in a timely manner.

Consequently, there will be three different occasions where ARC recommendations will be brought before the board.

The ARC met two days in June for the purpose of reviewing these systems: Turner USD 202; Ness City USD 303; Eureka USD 389; and Heartspring. ARC recommended that all of these systems be accredited. The board will act on the recommendations during its August meeting.

KSDE’s Stephen King gave an update on computer science education implementation. There were five recommendations approved at the February 2020 board meeting for the Computer Science Implementation Plan.

The first two recommendations (creating a dedicated statewide computer science education position and encouraging all schools to offer computer science) have been completed, King said. The other three recommendations are:

•           Computer science should satisfy a core graduation requirement.

•           Create licensure endorsement.

•           Arrange funding.

The board also acted on appointments to the Licensure Review Committee, Professional Standards Board and Professional Practices Commission.

The board also discussed options and acted on budget recommendations for fiscal year 2022.

Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis and Craig Neuenswander, KSDE’s director of School Finance, led the discussion with board members.

The board approved the following budget recommendations for state fiscal year 2022:

•           Fund the law for Base Aid for Student Excellence (BASE) to comply with court order.

•           Fund the law for Supplemental General State Aid (local option budget) to comply with court order.

•           Fund the law for both Capital Improvement State Aid and Capital Outlay State Aid to comply with court order.

•           Fund the law for Juvenile Detention Facilities, which is tied to BASE per pupil.

•           Fund Special Education at 72 percent of excess cost.

•           Fund Parents As Teachers at the 2020-21 level.

•           Fund the first two years of the Mentor Teacher Program at an additional cost of $1 million.

•           Fund professional development at the 2020-2021 level.

•           Fund current law for transportation.

•           Meet federal maintenance of effort requirements for school lunch.

•           Fund the National Board Certification at current level.

•           Fund the Pre-K Pilot at current level.

•           Fund Career and Technical Education Transportation at the 2020-2021 appropriation level.

•           Fund Discretionary Grants (after-school programs) at the 2020-21 appropriation level.

•           Fund Information Technology Education Opportunities (JourneyEd contract) at the 2020-21 appropriation level.

•           Fund Juvenile Transitional Crisis Pilot (Beloit) at same level as current year as modified by the governor’s allotments.

•           Fund Mental Health Intervention Team Pilot Program at 2020-2021 level as modified by the governor’s allotments.

•           Fund anticipated costs of ACT and WorkKeys Assessment program in 2021-2022.

•           Fully fund the salary and operating expenses for one new education program consultant to serve as the state dyslexia coordinator.

The board’s next meeting will take place Aug. 11-12.

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