TOPEKA — The seven Kansas school districts taking part in the Kansans Can School Redesign project were announced Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017, during the Kansas State Board of Education meeting.
“We’re getting ready to do something we don’t know of any other state having done,” said Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson. “We’re going to deconstruct the traditional school system and build what Kansans believe best meets the needs of today’s students — choice. And, we’re doing all of this with existing resources, no new buildings and the same educators.”
Twenty-nine school districts (see attached for list of district names) applied for the project. Out of those applications, seven districts, each one representing one of the Mercury 7 astronauts, were selected. Each district designated one elementary school and one secondary school to be redesigned around the five outcomes established by the State Board of Education, the five elements identified as defining a successful high school graduate, and what Kansans said they want schools to provide students.
The vision for education in the state is “Kansas leads the world in the success of each student.”
“For the past two years, we’ve referred to the board’s vision for education as our ‘moon shot,’” Watson said. “Well, today, with these seven districts representing the original seven Mercury astronauts, we’re going to work on putting a man on the moon. It’s not going to be easy, and we know we’ll encounter plenty of challenges; but we also know doing nothing is not an option.”
The following districts and schools, along with the name of the Mercury 7 astronaut they selected, are:
• Coffeyville USD 445: Community Education School and Field Kindley Memorial High (with Roosevelt Middle School staff involved) — John Glenn.
• Liberal USD 480: Meadowlark Elementary School and Liberal High School — Alan Shepard.
• McPherson USD 418: Eisenhower Elementary School and McPherson Middle School — Wally Schirra.
• Olathe USD 233: Westview Elementary School and Santa Fe Trail Middle School — Gordon Cooper.
• Stockton USD 271: Stockton Grade School and Stockton High School — Deke Slayton.
• Twin Valley USD 240: Tescott Elementary School and Bennington Junior-Senior High School — Gus Grissom.
• Wellington USD 353: Kennedy Elementary School and Wellington High School — Scott Carpenter.
These districts and schools will serve as demonstration sites for the remaining 279 Kansas school districts.
The following have committed to partnering with KSDE and the State Board of Education on the project: Lt. Gov. Dr. Jeff Colyer; interim Kansas Commerce Secretary Nick Jordan; business and industry representatives; Dr. Blake Flanders, president and CEO Kansas Board of Regents; John Heim, executive director of the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB); G.A. Buie, executive director of the United School Administrators of Kansas (USA); Mark Farr, president of the Kansas National Education Association (KNEA); Wayne Pancoast, director and CEO of Jayhawk Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America; Liz Workman, CEO of Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland; Joy Wheeler, CEO of Girl Scouts of Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri; and Wade Weber, department head of 4-H Youth Development and state program leader.
To be considered for the Kansans Can School Redesign project, districts had to agree to redesign one elementary and one secondary school. They also had to have approval by their local school board with a public vote, faculty support with a vote of 80 percent, and support from KNEA or other professional organization. The districts had to be willing to launch a new school redesign in the 2018-2019 school year and be willing to serve as a demonstration site for other districts in Kansas to study, learn from and visit.
Applications were due by Aug. 1, and KSDE staff members and representatives from KASB and USA served on the selection committee. KSDE’s Jay Scott will lead the secondary school redesign, and KSDE’s Tammy Mitchell will lead the elementary school redesign.
The State Board of Education in October 2015 announced a new vision for education in Kansas: Kansas leads the world in the success of each student. To help measure the success of the new vision, the board established five outcomes — social-emotional growth; kindergarten readiness; Individual Plan of Study (IPS); high school graduation rates; and postsecondary completion/attendance.
The board also defined a successful high school graduate as someone who has the academic preparation, cognitive preparation, technical skills, employability skills and civic engagement to be successful in postsecondary education, in the attainment of an industry recognized certification or in the workforce, without the need for remediation.
List of Kansas school districts that applied for the Kansans Can School Redesign project (seven selected school districts are listed in bold):
• Ashland USD 220
• Basehor-Linwood USD 458
• Beloit USD 273
• Burrton USD 369
• Canton-Galva USD 419
• Chaparral USD 361
• Coffeyville USD 445
• Dighton USD 482
• Hillsboro USD 410
• Flinthills USD 492
• Fowler USD 225
• Geary County USD 475
• Kingman-Norwich USD 331
• Leavenworth USD 453
• Liberal USD 480
• McPherson USD 418
• Newton USD 373
• North Lyon County USD 251
• North Ottawa County USD 239
• Olathe USD 233
• Ottawa USD 290
• Renwick USD 267
• Rolla USD 217
• Santa Fe Trail USD 434
• Skyline USD 438
• Spring Hill USD 230
• Stockton USD 271
• Twin Valley USD 240
• Wellington USD 353
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