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Kansas State Board of Education September highlights: Commissioner shares program updates, governor's COVID workgroup information

Posted: Sep 17, 2021
Author: Ann Bush

Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson kicked off the September 2021 board meeting with his report to the Kansas State Board of Education on Tuesday, Sept. 14.

Watson updated board members on the Sunflower Summer program, which ran from July 1-Aug. 15. There were 71 venues that took part in this summer enrichment program, and 71,228 Kansans – representing all 105 counties in the state – participated. There were 43,120 students and 28,108 adults who visited the venues.

Watson is serving on the Governor’s Safer Classrooms Workgroup, which is chaired by two physicians. The workgroup meets weekly, and the first meeting took place Monday, Sept. 13.

The meetings take place via Zoom and are live streamed on Gov. Laura Kelly’s Facebook page.

Sixty-one percent of Kansans 18 and over have been fully vaccinated, according to information from the workgroup, Watson said. About 58% of Kansas children age 12 and over have been fully vaccinated.

There are three preventive measures being focused on to keep schools open – vaccination, testing and masking, Watson said.

Twelve percent of schools have indicated no interest in available testing funding – this equates to 8% of students. An additional 11% haven’t responded to a survey. Of the 36 school districts that have turned down funding for testing, 24 are in the western half of the state, according to information provided by the workgroup.

Watson also thanked board members for participating in the 2021 Kansans Can Success Tour. He said it was great to get feedback from 4,000 Kansans. The commissioner will offer a virtual session of the tour presentation on Sept. 28 to Kansas Exemplary Educators Network (KEEN) members.

The data collected during the tour will be analyzed by three sets of researchers and then compiled into a report that will be shared with the board and other interested parties.

The 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 submission of school district expenditure plans for ESSER II federal COVID-19 relief funds.

Doug Boline, assistant director of the Special Education and Title Services (SETS) team, said 225 districts (out of 286 districts) have submitted ESSER II plans. Five additional ESSERI II plans are currently in progress. The State Board already has approved 189 ESSER II plans.

The board on Tuesday, Sept. 14, accepted 36 ESSER II plans representing 41,481 students. There were 531 individual budgeted expenditures totaling a value of $32.2 million – two of which were recommended as ineligible by the Kansas State Department of Education.

There also were 30 change requests representing 79,603 students. There were 721 change requests for individual budgeted expenditures totaling a value of $19 million.

Board members accepted the recommendations of the Accreditation Review Council (ARC) and awarded the status of accredited to public systems Ottawa Unified School District 290, Concordia USD 333, North Jackson USD 335, Royal Valley USD 337, Jefferson West USD 340, Seaman USD 345 and Chanute USD 413, and private systems from the Kansas City Archdiocese – Sacred Heart, Sts. Peter and Paul, Holy Name, Holy Rosary, Holy Family, Mater Dei and St. Rose Philippine.

Dr. Mischel Miller, director of KSDE’s Teacher Licensure and Accreditation (TLA) team, presented the systems. In accordance with the Kansas Educational Systems Accreditation (KESA) process, systems reviewed by ARC for an accreditation status recommendation are forwarded to the State Board of Education one month prior to the Board’s action. These 14 systems were forwarded to the State Board for review in August.

During the 2020-2021 school year, there were 25 public and 14 private systems scheduled to receive an accreditation status recommendation. These 39 systems entered KESA as year two systems. The ARC met in April, June and July to review all systems. To date, the State Board of Education has been presented with 29 of the 39 systems scheduled for an accreditation status recommendation.

At the September meeting, five of the remaining 10 systems were presented to the board for review. The systems being recommended for accreditation are Atchison USD 409; Bishop Miege High School; St. Ann Elementary; and Holy Cross Catholic. Marais des Cygnes was recommended for conditionally accredited status.

The board will vote on these ARC recommendations at the October board meeting. The remaining five systems will be presented to the board at the October meeting, too, with a vote slated for November.

State Board of Education members approved the new educator preparation program standards for school psychologists.

Dr. Jim Persinger, a professor and department chair of the psychology department at Emporia State University, and KSDE’s Dr. Catherine Chmidling, an education program consultant for TLA, presented to the board and answered questions. Persinger also is a member of the standards revision committee. The proposed revisions were presented to the State Board at the August meeting.

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 for today’s learning contest. Institutions of higher learning (IHEs) utilize program standards to develop their preparation programs and submit them for approval and for continuous monitoring and improvement of their programs.

KSDE’s Dr. Mark Thompson, an education program consultant on the Career, Standards and Assessment Services (CSAS) team, and Pat Bone, senior administrative specialist for the Division of Learning Services (DLS) team, gave State Board members a preview of the “Great Ideas in Education Conference.” This year’s theme is “Unfinished Learning.” The event will be conducted virtually Nov. 15-18, 2021.

Stacy Smith, KSDE’s assistant director of CSAS, introduced representatives from Piper USD 203 and DeSoto USD 232 to discuss Individual Plans of Study (IPS).

Dr. Jessica Dain, superintendent at Piper USD 203, and Polly Vader, a counselor at Piper High School, shared about Piper’s IPS program.

Brian Schwanz, director of secondary personnel for DeSoto USD 232, Chris Yancy, a Pathways teacher at Monticello Trails Middle School, and students from the district discussed how the IPS process begins in middle school in their district.

There were no oral comments during a public hearing on proposed amendments to accreditation regulations K.A.R. 91-31-31 through 91-31-43. There were written comments from the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and Regulations.

Board members Deena Horst and Ben Jones presented draft legislative positions to State Board of Education members. The board decided to invite the leadership of the three legislative education committees to the October State Board of Education meeting to join in the legislative positions discussion. No action was taken at the September meeting.

Tate Toedman, assistant director of KSDE’s SETS team, shared information on the American Rescue Plan-Homeless Children and Youth program.

State educational agencies and local educational agencies must use American Rescue Plan-Homeless Children and Youth funds to identify homeless children and youth; to provide homeless children and youth with wraparound services to address the challenges of COVID-19; and to enable homeless children and youth to attend school and fully participate in school activities, Toedman said.

Kansas received a total of $5,443,402. In the first phase, the state received about $1.3 million, with more than $1 million flowing through to districts. In the second phase, Kansas received $4,083,208.

Twelve districts have been awarded competitive grants through the first phase. The districts and the amount they received are:

  • Olathe USD 233: $96,791
  • Wichita USD 259: $375,833
  • Derby USD 260: $6,145
  • Haysville USD 261: $36,489
  • Wellsville USD 289: $13,059
  • Ottawa USD 290: $19,589
  • Manhattan USD 383: $70,289
  • Baldwin USD 348: $9,026
  • Garden City USD 457: $48,011
  • Geary County USD 475: $59,342
  • Kansas City Kansas USD 500: $192,430
  • Topeka USD 501: $93,142


Doug Moeckel, Comprehensive Center Network, and G.A. Buie, USA-Kansas, shared information on the Elevate Leadership Program. Moeckel, Buie, the Kansas Association of School Boards, KSDE and KELI are working together to build and support a network of principals capable of leading the world in the success of each student.

This statewide development plan will guide principals in a professional learning model designed to build the leadership capacity of administrators, as well as enhance the individual leadership traits necessary to be a successful principal.

State Board of Education members on Wednesday adopted amendments to its accreditation regulations K.A.R. 91-31-31 through 91-31-43. Scott Gordon, KSDE’s general counsel, provided State Board members with KSDE staff member feedback on the proposed amendments to the accreditation regulations. This was after no public comments were made during Tuesday’s public hearing on the matter.

The State Board had a joint virtual meeting with the Kansas Board of Regents, which was livestreamed for the public.

After introductions, Watson shared feedback from the 2021 Kansans Can Success Tour with Board of Regents members.

Regent Dr. Cindy Lane thanked the State Board for putting a focus on postsecondary and asked how KBOR can support the initiative.

Dr. Blake Flanders, KBOR president and CEO, shared the Board of Regent’s strategic plan.

Dr. Daniel Archer, KBOR’s vice president of academic affairs, shared results of a joint Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion initiative.

Less than half (46.9%) of 2021 Kansas high school graduates completed the FAFSA, Archer said. Kansas is ranked No. 36 in FAFSA completion nationally, with Louisiana having the highest completion rate this year at 73.7%.

“When you look at FAFSA completion in Kansas, this is definitely something we can improve upon here when looking at the 2021 graduating class,” he said.

Those who complete FAFSA are 63% more likely to enroll in college immediately after high school than noncompleters.

The Kansas FAFSA Challenge launched in February 2021 and seeks to increase the statewide FAFSA completion rate. Schools are divided by size into their Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) classifications. There also was a category added for virtual and academy or alternative high schools. Each division has two winners – highest FAFSA completion rate and most improved FAFSA completion rate.

KBOR and State Board of Education members discussed initiatives they can jointly partner on. Jim Porter, chair of the State Board of Education said he would like to see the chairs and vice chairs of each board meet before the October board meetings to discuss several items, including open enrollment for community colleges, 15 hours of free college tuition and FAFSA recommendations. Both boards agreed, and Porter said he would take the lead in setting up a meeting time and date.

“In order to move forward, we have to have a plan,” Porter said.

The State Board of Education will meet next on Oct. 12-13 in Topeka.

 

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