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Kansas State Board of Education November highlights: Commissioner announces names of districts receiving Star Recognition honors

Posted: Nov 10, 2021
Categories: KSDE
Author: Ann Bush

Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson announced the names of more than 100 school districts excelling in outcomes established around the Kansas vision for education during the November Kansas State Board of Education meeting.

The State Board met Tuesday, Nov. 9, and Wednesday, Nov. 10, in Topeka.

The Kansans Can Star Recognition Program is designed to support the Kansas Education Systems Accreditation (KESA) process by providing a level of recognition that helps districts identify where they want to focus their improvement efforts.

The program recognizes district success in the outcome measures Kansans said they value. These outcomes, categorized as either quantitative or qualitative measures, are serving as a roadmap to help Kansas reach its educational vision.

Districts have to apply for recognition in the qualitative measures area.

District recognition in the quantitative measures area is automatically calculated by KSDE based on collected district data. No application is necessary.

Districts can receive gold, silver, bronze or copper stars in the qualitative measures of:

  • Social-emotional growth.
  • Kindergarten readiness.
  • Individual Plan of Study.
  • Civic engagement.
     

Districts can receive gold, silver, bronze or copper stars in these quantitative measure areas:

  • Academically prepared for postsecondary.
  • High school graduation.
  • Postsecondary success.
     

For the first time since the program’s inception, a district received recognition in all seven categories, as well as being honored with a Commissioner’s Award. Southern Lyon County Unified School District 252 received a bronze in social-emotional growth; a bronze in kindergarten readiness; a copper in Individual Plan of Study; and gold in civic engagement. In the quantitative measures area, USD 252 received a copper in academically prepared for postsecondary; a gold in high school graduation; and a silver in postsecondary success.

There were 68 districts that received the Commissioner’s Award; 36 received the Commissioner’s Award with Honors; and two received the Commissioner’s Award – Highest Distinction. The Commissioner’s Award recognizes those districts that outperform their predicted postsecondary effectiveness rate.

The State Board accepted the recommendation of the KESA Accreditation Review Council (ARC) and awarded the status of accredited to St. John Elementary and the status of conditionally accredited to Annoor Islamic.

During the 2020-2021 school year, 39 systems – 25 public and 14 private – were scheduled to receive an accreditation status recommendation. The 39 systems entered KESA as year two systems. The systems were given the opportunity to voluntarily pause their KESA process this past school year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, these systems chose to continue and move forward with their accreditation visits.

Mischel Miller, director of the Kansas State Department of Education’s Teacher Licensure and Accreditation (TLA) team, answered questions and also presented three systems that will come before the board in December for action.

Board members have the opportunity to review each system’s accreditation recommendation from ARC the month prior to Board action.

The systems and the recommendations that are set for action in December are:

  • St. Agnes: Accredited.
  • Holy Spirit: Conditionally accredited.
  • Spearville USD 381: Conditionally accredited.
     

Board members accepted the recommendations of the Commissioner’s Task Force on Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) and Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS) Distribution of Money and approved the submission of public school district expenditure plans for ESSER II federal COVID-19 relief funds as presented.

Doug Boline, assistant director of KSDE’s Special Education and Title Services (SETS) team, spoke to the board about ESSER II plans.

There have been 272 districts out of 286 (95%) that have submitted ESSER II plans, Boline said. Eight additional ESSER II plans currently are in progress. The State Board has previously approved 243 ESSER II plans. Twenty-nine ESSER II plans and 23 ESSER II change requests are projected to be reviewed in the current state. The 29 ESSER II plans represent 12,019 students, Boline said. There are 353 budgeted expenditures totaling $7.4 million with one recommended as ineligible by KSDE.

Twenty-three districts submitted change requests representing 29,587 students. There were 437 change requests for budgeted expenditures totaling $20.3 million.

Six districts haven’t submitted their ESSER II plans. They have until Nov. 12, 2021, to do so, Boline said.

The Board accepted the recommendations of the Commissioner’s Task Force on ESSER and EANS Distribution of Money and approved the submission of private school expenditure plans for EANS II federal COVID-19 relief funds as presented.

Tate Toedman, also an assistant director for KSDE’s SETS team, gave the board an update on the EANS II expenditure plans.

Deputy Commissioner Dr. Brad Neuenswander and Boline also provided an overview of the ESSER III timeline and process, along with an update on how schools are initially using their federal ESSER funds.

Miss Kansas 2021 Taylor Clark spoke to the board about her music education social impact initiative and the importance of music to education, health and community. She shared her story of personal discovery through growing up in music programs and the Miss Kansas organization, and how these experiences helped her find her voice and lead her to a decision to teach music.

Taylor, of St. John, is a senior at Kansas State University majoring in music education. She was crowned Miss Kansas 2021 on July 10, 2021.

Board member Janet Waugh introduced G.A. Buie, chair of the Confidence in Public Education Task Force, which is a nonprofit corporation with a primary purpose to strengthen confidence in Kansas public education and to increase awareness of the positive aspects of public education in the state. Each year, the task force presents the ABC Award to an individual or organization that has provided long-term contribution, had a significant impact or demonstrated an uncommon commitment to public education across the state.

Dr. Lee Norman, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), was named the recipient of the 2021 ABC Award for his work to support Kansas schools throughout the pandemic

“I couldn’t hope for a better staff,” Norman said. “I’m extremely grateful. I didn’t see this coming.”

The State Board approved new educator preparation program standards for deaf/hard of hearing, birth through third grade, pre-K-12.

Educator preparation program standards establish program approval requirements to ensure that preparation programs in Kansas provide educator candidates with the opportunity to learn the knowledge and skills educators need. Institutions of higher learning (IHEs) use program standards to develop preparation programs and submit them for approval. They also use them for continuous monitoring and improvement of their programs. Standards also help establish professional learning requirements for licensure renewal.

Bert Moore, director of KSDE’s SETS team, and Jennifer King, chair of the Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC), provided the State Board with a quarterly update from SEAC.

SEAC’s mission is to work collaboratively to provide leadership for continuous improvement of educational systems to ensure equity and enhance learning for all students in Kansas. Jim McNiece, a State Board member, is an ex-officio member of SEAC and serves as a liaison between the two groups.

Deputy Commissioner Dr. Craig Neuenswander provided an update on legislative committee discussions that impact K-12 education. Several legislative committees will meet during the interim before the 2022 Legislative session begins. Among the updates were the Special Committee on Kansas Mental Health Modernization and Reform, the Legislative Budget Committee and the Special Committee on Education.

On Wednesday, students from five different school districts shared about civic engagement projects.

The KSDE civic engagement initiative is focused on the Six Proven Practices for Effective Civic Learning. Schools that have demonstrated high-quality implementation of these proven practices can apply to be part of the Civic Advocacy Network (CAN). Schools can win the CAN award or receive a Promising Practice in a particular Proven Practice. Districts are eligible to receive Star Recognition in civic engagement based on the percentage of schools in the district that are part of the Civic Advocacy Network.

Students from Atchison County Community Junior-Senior High School,  Atchison County Community Schools USD 377, discussed their Veterans Day celebration and various other organizations and projects they take part in within the district.

Atchison County Community Junior-Senior High School received a Promising Practice award? in Practice No. 1: Provide instruction in government, history, law and democracy in 2020. The district received bronze Star Recognition in civic engagement in 2020.

South Barber USD 255 students discussed engaged extracurricular groups, democratic simulations/practice, the district’s Veterans Day video and celebration and a hands-on approach to learning through student engagement.

South Barber High School received a CAN award in 2019. The district received bronze Star Recognition in Civic Engagement in 2020.

Three districts spoke about the Honor Flight program, which transports America’s veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials dedicated to veterans. The districts who presented about the Honor Flight program were South Lyon County USD 252, Jackson Heights USD 335 and Wamego USD 320.

In 2020, South Lyon County USD 252 became the first district in Kansas to earn the CAN award in all of their schools and gold Star Recognition in Civic Engagement.

Cheryl Johnson, director of KSDE’s Child Nutrition and Wellness (CNW) team; Jill Ladd and Julie Henry, CNW assistant directors; Kelly Chanay, professional development project director; and Barb Depew, Farm to Plate project director, gave an update to board members on child nutrition.

There were 677 sponsors implementing child nutrition programs, Johnson said, including 406 school nutrition sponsors and 271 Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) sponsors.

During the 2020-2021 school year, there were 83,177,067 meals served (this number includes all schools and child care centers).

School meals are available to all students for free during the 2021-2022 school year, Johnson said. A number of USDA waivers and program flexibilities are allowing school food service programs to support student health and academic success by ensuring access to nutritious meals every day. However, providing these meals has become more difficult this year because of nationwide disruptions to school food service manufacturing, supply and distribution channels.

In addition to supply-chain disruptions, many districts are struggling with hiring enough staff members to operate their food service programs, Johnson said.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proving $1.5 billion in funds nationwide that provide schools with resources to support the availability of food.

The Farm to Plate Work program connects child nutrition program sponsors with community partners and producers to establish goals, projects and resources to put more local products on Kansas children’s plates, Depew said. Producers, child nutrition sponsors and partners meet quarterly via Zoom to discuss local food current topics, updates and develop future goals.

Chanay talked about the new virtual Body Venture, which can be paired with free lessons and kits that can be tailored toward elementary classrooms. She also told the board members about new virtual culinary trainings being offered, including a monthly Culinary Quick Bite that features a harvest of the month and offers quick and innovative tips for preparing and serving the featured harvest of the month item.

Board members approved their 2022 legislative positions, which include academic support efforts, social and emotional issues, health and safety issues, funding issues, meeting students needs, education policy governance and disaster issues.

The Kansas State Board of Education will meet next on Dec. 14-15 in Topeka.

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