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Kansas State Board of Education June 2022 highlights: Board approves two motions that will continue to help alleviate teacher shortage

Posted: Jun 17, 2022
Author: Ann Bush

The Kansas State Board of Education approved two motions at its June meeting that will continue to help alleviate a shortage of teachers and substitute teachers in the state.

State Board members passed an emergency declaration that allows anyone with a five-year substitute teaching license, an emergency substitute teaching license or certificate with a baccalaureate degree to teach through June 30, 2023.

The State Board also approved modifying the qualifications of the emergency substitute license to include applicants with a high school diploma who complete a KSDE-approved online substitute training program and have received verification of hire in a state accredited local education agency. This license limits recipients to work no more than 15 consecutive days in the same assignment. This provision would expire Dec. 31, 2022.

The State Board also approved bringing the Teacher Vacancy and Supply Committee and the Professional Standards Board together to discuss permanent solutions for the teacher and substitute shortage. Board members asked that the two groups present recommendations at the October State Board of Education meeting.

Mischel Miller, KSDE’s director of Teacher Licensure, and Shane Carter, assistant director of Teacher Licensure, were on hand to answer questions.

During his report, Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson said the state may see the most severe educator shortage in its history this fall.

Watson also shared information about the Kansans Can Star Recognition program and gave an update on Sunflower Summer.

School districts still have time to apply for the Kansans Can Star Recognition program, Watson said. The deadline to apply for qualitative measures (social-emotional growth, kindergarten readiness and individual plans of study) is the end of June. KSDE calculates data for the quantitative measures (academic preparation, graduation, postsecondary success and the Commissioner’s Award).

In the first 16 days of the Sunflower Summer program, 28,726 adults and students have visited program venue sites, Watson told the State Board, and 89% of participating venue sites have had Sunflower Summer visitors.

The State Board accepted the recommendations of the Commissioner’s Task Force on Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) and Emergency Assistance to Nonpublic Schools (EANS) Distribution of Money and approved the district expenditure plans for ESSER III and change requests for ESSER II.

Tate Toedman, assistant director of the Kansas State Department of Education’s (KSDE) Special Education and Title Services (SETS) team, told State Board members there were 16 ESSER II change applications from districts, representing 15,282 students. The plans included 565 individual budgeted expenditures with a total value of $12.4 million.

There were 26 districts that submitted ESSER III Plans, representing 16,723 students. The plans included 642 individual budgeted expenditures with a total value of $32.5 million.

John Calvert, head of the Safe and Secure Schools Unit, gave an update on the Mental Health Intervention Team (MHIT) grant.

MHIT focused on students in kindergarten through 12th grade and their families by identifying students who need mental health services; helping families navigate mental health services; and linking them to already existing statewide behavioral health system and resources within the Mental Health Providers network.

In 2018-2019, legislators met with several districts and community mental health centers (CMHC), and the pilot MHIT program and funding were approved for nine districts and five CMHC partners.

The nine pilot districts are Kansas City Kansas Unified School District 500, Topeka USD 501, Wichita USD 259, Parsons USD 503, Garden City USD 457, and a consortium of Abilene USD 435, Solomon USD 393, Herington USD 487 and Chapman USD 473.

The five CMHC partners are PACES, Family Services and Guidance Center, Labette County Mental Health, COMPASS and Central Kansas Mental Health.

The program funded 45 liaisons. The first year, 212 foster students were served, and 1,708 students received services.

As of December 2021, there were 55 school districts taking part in the program and 126 liaisons. There were 457 students in foster care who received services, and the total number of students who received services was 4,252.

The Kansas State Board recommended continuation and expansion of the MHIT program. The Kansas Legislature recently passed House Bill 2567 that provides $10.5 million to school districts for mental health grants in fiscal year 2023. An additional $3 million was set aside for a third-party entity to conduct a study of effectiveness of the MHIT pilot program and suggest improvements, as well as expand the program.

Applications to join the MHIT program were due June 10, and the State Board is slated to act on those during its July meeting, Calvert said.

State Board members received recommendations on financial literacy standards.

Nathan McAlister, humanities program manager for KSDE’s Career, Standards and Assessment Services (CSAS) team, and Helen Swanson, a CSAS education program consultant, discussed the new standards with State Board members.

The Jump $tart National Standards in K-12 Personal Finance Education were previously adopted as the financial literacy standards for Kansas. The standards have been updated.

A group of Kansas teachers, higher education specialists and professional organizations from across the state met Feb. 4, March 3 and March 10 to create a new crosswalk document, teacher resources and plan for future professional development opportunities. The new standards were posted for a 30-day public comment session.

Jim McNiece, a member of the Kansas State Board of Education and co-chair of the Graduation Requirements Task Force, led discussion on recommendations. The Graduation Requirements Task Force was established in June 2021 with a purpose of examining graduation requirements in Kansas from three lenses:

  • Identify courses to add or delete from current requirements (if any).
  • Review ways to demonstrate mastery of skills and competencies.
  • Study the need for value-added assets in addition to a high school diploma.

The discussion was a continuation from a presentation made by the Graduation Requirements Task Force to the State Board in May.

KSDE staff members Jay Scott, director of the Accreditation and Design Team (ADT), Dr. Robyn Kelso, and education program consultant on the CSAS team, and Dr. David Fernkopf, assistant director of CSAS, were on hand to answer questions from State Board members.

Dr. Watson said the task force will still bring forth some recommendations to the State Board later this summer or in the fall.

The State Board approved the recommendations of the Accreditation Review Council (ARC) and awarded the status of accredited to:

  • Washington County USD 108
  • Fort Leavenworth USD 207
  • Northern Valley USD 212
  • Hodgeman County USD 227
  • Cheney USD 268
  • Waconda USD 272
  • Baldwin City USD 348
  • Vermillion USD 380
  • LaCrosse USD 395
  • Morris County USD 417
  • South Brown County USD 430
  • Santa Fe Trail USD 434
  • Halstead USD 440
  • Stanton County USD 452
  • Garden City USD 457
  • Basehor-Linwood USD 458
  • Bucklin USD 459
  • Valley Heights USD 498
  • Resurrection Catholic School
  • Holy Spirit Catholic School
  • St. James Academy

In May, the ARC met and acted on the accreditation recommendation for 28 public systems and two private systems, Scott said. The ARC recommends the following systems be accredited:

  • Rolla USD 217
  • Elkhart USD 218
  • Fowler USD 225
  • North Lyon County USD 251
  • Barber County North USD 254
  • Iola USD 257
  • Graham County USD 281
  • Cedar Vale USD 285
  • Chautauqua County USD 286
  • Kaw Valley USD 321
  • Phillipsburg USD 325
  • Goodland USD 352
  • Belle Plaine USD 357
  • Montezuma USD 371
  • Silver Lake USD 372
  • Sublette USD 374
  • Blue Valley USD 384
  • Rose Hill USD 394
  • Riverton USD 404
  • Lyons USD 405
  • Goessel USD 411
  • Hiawatha USD 415
  • Lyndon USD 421
  • Pike Valley USD 426
  • Troy USD 429
  • Caney Valley USD 436
  • Neodesha USD 461
  • Columbus USD 493
  • Hayden
  • Wichita Diocese

State Board members are slated to act on these during their July meeting.

Kathi Grossenbacher, director of KSDE’s Information Technology (IT) team, gave State Board of Education members an update on cybersecurity.

She shared results of an 80-question survey. There was a 93% response rate (responses were received from 266 districts out of 286 districts). Responses are confidential as individual district responses weren’t shared.

Fifty-one percent of respondents said they require security awareness training, and 55% of the respondents said data being sent outside their networks is encrypted. Twenty-percent of the respondents have an incident response plan in place, and 100% have firewalls in place. Thirteen percent have risk management protocols in place, and 11% have a written information security policy.

District also shared barriers they face when it comes to cybersecurity. The most significant include budget constraints; the inability to offer a competitive wage; lack of training/professional developing opportunities; and a weak applicant pool. There were 145 districts that reported they don’t employ a sufficient number of IT staff members to support technology needs.

Priorities include continued district collaboration; development of an IT security and data privacy training; professional development; a KSDE K-12 technology webpage, which is in the development phase; and a K-12 Technology Council, chaired by district IT directors to provide professional development to all district technology staff members.

KSDE gauged interest in IT security and data privacy training. Out of 266 districts surveyed, 190 said they would utilize it; 71 said they may utilize it; and five said they won’t utilize it. The training is undergoing an external review with district IT directors this summer. The plan is that it will be rolled out for the 2022-2023 school year.

Scott Gordon, KSDE’s general counsel, shared proposed amendments to the Emergency Safety Intervention (ESI) regulations K.A.R. 91-42-1 and 91-42-2 with State Board members.

In November 2018, the Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC) requested the State Board clarify and, if necessary, amend the definition of seclusion within the current ESI regulations. A group of stakeholders agreed upon proposed changes to the definition of seclusion, and SEAC approved the changes at its January 2019 meeting. KSDE presented proposed changes to the listed regulations in 2019, and the State Board approved submission of the amendments to the Department of Administration and the Office of the Attorney General for review.

During the formal review process, enough significant changes to the proposed amendments were made to warrant additional approval by the State Board to continue the regulatory adoption process with the revised language. KSDE staff members think the revised language better accomplishes the goals of the original amendments.

The State Board is slated to act on the proposed amendments to the ESI regulations at its July meeting.

Calvert and Jim Green, school safety specialist with the Safe and Secure Schools Unit, reviewed with State Board members the Kansas Safe and Secure Schools program.

There are nine school safety standards, Calvert said. They are infrastructure protection; security technology system; interoperable communication matrix with law enforcement and first responders; communication network (outside of school); up-to-date crisis plans; training and exercises; crisis drills (four fire drills, three tornado drills during tornado season, and nine crisis drills); procedures for ensuring there is accountability for adopting and implementing school safety and security plans in accordance with standards adopted by the State Board of Education; and firearm safety education programs.

House Bill 2567, signed by Gov. Laura Kelly, provides $5 million ($4 million in state funds and $1 million in federal funds) for school safety, Calvert said.

The funds can be used for:

  1. Acquisition and installation of security cameras and any other systems, equipment and services necessary for security and monitoring of facilities.
  2. Securing doors, windows and any entrances to such facilities.
  3. Salaries, wages, associated fringe benefits and costs associated with any newly created school resource officer position.

The funds can’t be used to purchase radios, buses, training, sports fields/courts or sports scoreboards.

While the grant is for $5 million, there is a $1 to $1 match, which means for each dollar awarded to the school district, the district must match it.

Deputy Commissioner Dr. Craig Neuenswander discussed fiscal year 2023-2024 budget options to be taken to the governor.

Mark Gard, a vocal teacher at Field Kindley High School, Coffeyville USD 445, and president of the Kansas Music Educators Association (KMEA), gave an update on KMEA.

KMEA’s mission is to support music educators by fostering leadership, providing professional development and promoting the advocacy of music learning in schools and communities.

The organization serves about 2,000 music educators in Kansas and their music students, Gard said. KMEA is part of the National Association for Music Education, and KMEA is the 10th largest in active members in the United States.

KMEA has five affiliate member organizations – Kansas American String Teachers Association (KASTA), Kansas Bandmasters Association (KBA), Kansas Choral Directors Association (KCDA), Kod├íly Music Educators of Kansas (KMEK) and Kansas Orff Chapter (KOC).

The KMEA 2022 In-Service Workshop took place in-person Feb. 24-26 in Wichita. There were more than 6,000 attendees and 72 exhibitors.

Kelly Knedler, director of choral music and musical theater at Dodge City High School, Dodge City USD 443, and advocacy/government relations for KMEA, gave State Board members information on The Advo-Angle, a KMEA website for all music educators to use for music advocacy ideas.

Dr. John Taylor, executive director of KMEA, discussed the importance of fine arts and told the State Board that KMEA isn’t in favor of changing the fine arts requirement for graduation. The Graduation Requirements Task Force has discussed the option of lowering the fine arts requirement from 1 credit to half of a credit.

Gae Phillips, an instrumental music teacher for Columbus USD 493 and KMEA vice president, shared KMEA’s concern of how the use of flex-mod scheduling in redesign schools is adversely affecting large ensembles in music programs in high schools and middle schools throughout the state. The organization has appointed a School Redesign Task Committee to conduct a statewide survey concerning school redesign and its implications on music programs, Phillips said.

Another concern KMEA has is that music isn’t represented clearly within the Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways and has created conflicts for students in music classes, Gard told board members. Nonfunded music classes compete for students with funded CTE classes.

State Board members were scheduled to have continued discussion with Dr. Watson on data from the Kansans Can Success Tour. However, the discussion was rescheduled for a later date.

The Kansas State Board of Education will meet next on July 12-13 at the Landon State Office Building, Suite 102, 900 S.W. Jackson in Topeka.

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