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Kansas State Board of Education June highlights: School redesigns approved, LiNK grants announced

Posted: Jun 22, 2018
Author: Ann Bush

The plans of seven school districts involved in the Mercury 7 Kansans Can School Redesign Project were approved by the Kansas State Board of Education during the June meeting, which means the schools can proceed with their launch plans in August 2018.

Many of the redesign plans shared during the Tuesday, June 12, and Wednesday, June 13, meeting had common themes, such as personalized learning, flexible schedules, social-emotional growth and project-based learning.

The seven schools districts and the schools they selected to take part in the redesign project are:

  • Wellington Unified School District (USD) 353: Kennedy Elementary School and Wellington High School.
  • Olathe USD 233: Westview Elementary School and Santa Fe Trail Middle School.
  • Coffeyville USD 445: Community Elementary School, Roosevelt Middle School and Field Kindley High School.
  • Twin Valley USD 240: Tescott Schools and Bennington Junior-Senior High School.
  • Liberal USD 480: Meadowlark Elementary School and Liberal High School.
  • McPherson USD 418: Eisenhower Elementary School and McPherson Middle School.
  • Stockton USD 271: Stockton Grade School and Stockton High School.

The Kansas State Department of Education’s Dr. Suzy Myers announced the eight literacy projects across the state that are receiving subgrants through the Literacy Network of Kansas (LiNK), a project of the U.S. Department of Education’s Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy program.

The eight subgrantees were selected from a competitive application process, and each one will receive more than $3.2 million for literacy support during a three-year period.

Kansas received a $27 million federal grant – one of the largest competitive grants ever received by KSDE – in October 2017. The agency applied for the federal grant in July 2017 with the assistance of the KU Center on Research and Learning.

The eight LiNK projects will help advance literacy skills of children from birth through 12th grade, helping them to become successful readers and writers.

There were more than 20 applications – 10 single districts and 10 consortia, Myers said. Eight reviewers from across the country selected the subgrantees.

The eight subgrantees, which represent a total of 32 Kansas school districts and 88,000 children, are:

  • Individual: Olathe Unified School District (USD) 233
  • Individual: Manhattan-Ogden USD 383
  • Individual: Garden City USD 457
  • Individual: Dodge City USD 443
  • Consortium: Ulysses USD 214; Deerfield USD 216; Ness City USD 303; Montezuma USD 371; Sublette USD 374; Stanton County USD 452; Copeland USD 476; Kismet-Plains USD 483; Syracuse USD 494; and Satanta USD 507.
  • Consortium: Turner USD 202; Pittsburg USD 250; Iola USD 257; Garnett USD 365; Osawatomie USD 367; Santa Fe Trail USD 434; and Labette County USD 506.
  • Consortium: Leavenworth USD 453 and Atchison USD 409.
  • Consortium: Cherokee USD 247; Central Heights USD 288; Woodson USD 366; Riverton USD 404; Hiawatha USD 415; South Brown County USD 430; Cherryvale USD 447; Neodesha USD 461; and Columbus USD 493.


Jon Harding, interim superintendent of the Kansas State School for the Blind, and Luanne Barron, interim superintendent of the Kansas State School for the Deaf, presented the last of five goals identified to help set the direction for the schools.

State Board of Education members voted to approve the Kansas State School for the Blind's fifth goal, which focuses on improving student transitions to home, school or the workplace through a more individualized approach. Board members also voted to approve the Kansas State School for the Deaf's fifth goal, which focuses on supporting postsecondary outcomes, both on campus and statewide.

Board attorney Mark Ferguson led the board in discussion of a tentative agreement between the Kansas State School for the Deaf NEA and the State Board of Education. The two-year agreement makes changes to provisions that are no longer necessary and adds a salary schedule for 2018-2019. The School for the Deaf follows the preceding year’s approved salary schedule of Olathe USD 233.

Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson discussed the State Board of Education’s participation with the Coalition of Innovative School Districts. The Coalition of Innovative Districts Act became law July 1, 2013. The act allows up to 10 percent of the state’s school districts to opt out of most state laws, rules and regulations in exchange for setting higher student achievement goals. The coalition’s membership currently consists of seven school districts.

The State Board of Education’s responsibilities are woven throughout the coalition’s bylaws and guidelines. The State Board approved both documents in the summer of 2014.

Watson proposed the changes because the board has been focused on the vision and the Kansans Can School Redesign Project. Currently, two board members serve on the coalition board. With the proposed changes, there wouldn't be a need to have State Board of Education members on the board, which would allow the board to continuously focus on the vision and school redesign.

Watson discussed his proposed recommendations to the bylaws and guidelines, which will be presented to the coalition at an upcoming meeting for a vote. The recommendations will then be presented to the State Board for a vote in August.

The State Board of Education approved reappointments and appointments to the Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC). SEAC serves as a liaison between the state population and the State Board of Education. Board members also approved adding ex-officio members to SEAC, including the Senate Education Chair or designee, House Education Chair or designee and a designee from the Disability Rights Center of Kansas.

John Allison, superintendent of Olathe USD 233; Michael King, principal of Dodge City Middle School, Dodge City USD 443; and Tad Hatfield, principal at Andale Elementary School, Renwick USD 267, were recognized by the board for recent accomplishments.

Allison was named the 2018 Kansas Superintendent of the Year by the Kansas School Superintendents Association. King was named the 2017-2018 Kansas Middle School Principal of the Year by the Kansas Association of Middle School Administrators. Hatfield was named the 2018 National Distinguished Principal of the Year by the Kansas Association of Elementary School Principals.

Ben Jimenez, principal at Decatur Community Junior-Senior High School, Oberlin USD 294, was named the 2017-2018 Kansas High School Principal of the Year. He couldn’t attend the board meeting.

Laura Jurgensen and Kerry Haag, assistant directors of the Early Childhood, Special Education and Title Services (ECSETS) team, as well as Myron Melton, a KSDE consultant, gave an update to board members on the work that has taken place on the social-emotional growth outcome.

The group presented on three core areas – comprehensive policy framework, collaborative coordinated continuum of social-emotional growth, and stakeholder partnership and network development.

Kent Reed, a consultant for KSDE, and Noalee McDonald Augustine, with the Smoky Hill Education Service Center, presented Social, Emotional and Character Development (SECD) standards, which recently underwent a review process in accordance with the legislative review mandate. A committee discussed the proposed changes to the model standards.

The board is expected to take action on the proposed revisions at the July meeting.

Board members also:

  • Approved recommendations from the Professional Practices Commission.
  • Approved KSDE’s request for oral argument against a recommendation of the PPC regarding a license. The oral argument will take place at the July board meeting.

Received an update on legislative matters.

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