State Board to consider Kansas School Redesign proposals; participation with Coalition of Innovative Districts

The Kansas State Board of Education next week will consider whether to accept the individual plans of the first group of Kansas School Redesign projects and will consider the board’s participation with the Coalition of Innovative School Districts.

Here is a link to the board’s agenda and backup materials for its monthly meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Over those two days, the State Board will hear from each of the so-called Mercury 7 schools, which are set to launch their redesigned operations in August for the 2018-19 school year.

Last year, Kansas school districts were invited to apply to be one of the seven districts for the redesign project. To be considered, the districts had to designate one elementary school and one secondary school to be redesigned around the five outcomes established by the State Board. Those outcomes are kindergarten readiness, individual plans of study focused on careers, increased high school graduation rates and post-secondary completion and social-emotional growth.

The districts include Wellington USD 353, Coffeyville USD 445, Liberal USD 480, Stockton USD 271, McPherson USD 418, Twin Valley USD 240 and Olathe USD 233.

Also on Tuesday, Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson is scheduled to lead a discussion on the Coalition of Innovative School Districts “and present possible recommendations for re-evaluating the Board’s participation with the Coalition,” according to the board’s agenda.

In 2012, the Legislature approved a law setting up the coalition and allowing up to 10 percent of the state’s school districts to become designated as innovative districts and opt out of most state laws, rules and regulations in exchange for setting higher student achievement goals.

Since then, seven districts have joined the coalition, fewer than the 28 allowed by the law. The seven districts are Blue Valley USD 229, Concordia USD 333, Fredonia USD 484, Hugoton USD 210, Kansas City USD 500, Marysville USD 364 and McPherson USD 418.

The State Board’s responsibilities are part of the coalition’s bylaws and guidelines and two State Board members serve on the coalition board.

In 2015, the State Board approved the coalition’s proposal to allow the hiring of non-licensed personnel to teach under a one-year specialized certificate while they are working toward earning their teaching certificate.

In other business, the State Board will:
— Receive Kansas model school standards for social, emotional growth and character development;
— Discuss options for the fiscal years 2020 and 2021 budget recommendations;

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