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2017 marks the 100th year of service for KASB

#KASB100years

Through each decade, our Association has adapted to serve the needs of a diverse membership.

Many of the changes throughout the years were in response to changes in public education and the changing role of boards of education and leadership teams.

We are celebrating both our past and our future! Our theme “Understanding our Past, Imagining our Future” perfectly frames the story we want to share.

Read more about KASB’s past!

Click on the BLUE DOTS below to read recent stories about KASB at 100!

If you think school finance is confusing now … 

By Scott Rothschild, KASB Communications Specialist
Published May 2017 KASB School Board Review

Writing 54 years ago in the 1963 School Board Journal, Dorothy Goodpasture (pictured at right), president-elect of KASB, (pictured at left) nicely summed up the emotions that frequently are involved in public education debates.

“It has been said that education is political dynamite because it touches our two most treasured possessions — our children and our pocketbooks,” she wrote.

In her article, entitled “Property taxes and school district organization in Kansas,” Goodpasture reviews the history of education in Kansas from its rural roots — “ … whenever enough children could be gathered together to fill a room, a schoolroom was built and a teacher hired.” — up to the then-present — January 1963 when there were multiple levels of different kinds of school setups.

If you thought the current public school system is confusing, read about how it was back then. At first it sounds simple, but then quickly gets complicated.

“Two facts remained fairly constant: (1) wherever people wanted to form a new school district, they formed one, and (2) they paid for these schools with taxes on their property which was the only source supporting schools,” Goodpasture writes.

By 1937, however, people realized that property was not the only source of wealth, so the Legislature approved a sales tax with a portion of that revenue returned to local school districts for property tax relief. But in 1947, the Legislature froze that amount of revenue, then years later approved a per pupil amount of funding, but the continuation of a disproportionate tax burden and the number of districts “that sprouted like sunflowers all over the state,” forced the Legislature to wrestle with school issues again.

By 1963, Goodpasture writes: “We have at present, 2,023 different school districts of 17 different varieties, including 3 kinds of rural high school districts, 5 kinds of common school districts, 2 kinds of city school districts, community high school districts, united districts and an assortment of others operating under other special laws.”

She describes that of those 2,023 school districts, 223 — more than 10 percent — had no school at all. More than 400 districts had schools with only one teacher.

“To complicate matters further, rural high school districts and community high school districts are super-imposed upon common school districts and some cities of the second class with the hodgepodge result that a common school district may find parts of its territory in as many as three or four different high school districts,” she wrote.

Goodpasture then describes the “crazy-quilt” property tax situation, uneven valuations, the astronomical increase in debt for building schools, and the overall property tax burden for Kansans.

She wrote the “brightest ray of hope” was for the Legislature to approve a school district reorganization and a comprehensive state financial plan. “It may take 10 years to get where we need to go, but the time to start is now. School children don’t live in the past. They live in the present and for the future. So should we.”

KASB 100 Years of Service: Many of today’s issues the same as yesteryear

By Scott Rothschild, KASB Communications Specialist
Published April 2017 KASB School Board Review

Every Kansas child should have access to an equal education based on equalized funding and taxation.

Does that statement sound familiar?

That idea was the concluding statement of the minutes of a meeting of Kansas school leaders that took place in 1921.

An association of school boards in Kansas dates back to 1917, but the earliest record of an association board meeting that we could find at KASB is from Jan. 20, 1921, just a little more than two years after the end of World War I.

The meeting was held in downtown Topeka at Pelletiers Hall.

The minutes of the meeting are written out longhand (remember writing?) in cursive (remember cursive?).

Dr. E.E. Brewer, a member of the Beloit school board, presided over the meeting and Bertha McCabe, County Superintendent of Rice County, was the secretary, writing the minutes in a legal-sized record book.

Forty-three school board members and 31 school administrators attended the meeting. They must have all brought their spouses and some kids because a banquet later was attended by nearly 200 people at $2.50 per plate.

What is amazing about the meeting program as reflected in the minutes is that many of the topics of discussion at the heart of public education debates today were intensely discussed back then too.

At that meeting nearly a century ago, they talked about taxes in support of schools, the need for physical education, for all students to be immunized, and a uniform teachers wage.

State Superintendent W.D. Ross of Emporia spoke about problems in rural schools.

McCabe wrote of Ross’s presentation, “He did not criticize the work that the one-room school had done, but showed that educational work had not progressed in comparison with other things. The war brought to light many things which proved that there must be a greater interest taken in the betterment of rural school conditions; one out of every 5 of the boys could not read their own letters and 33 1/3 percent were rejected on account of physical defects caused largely by improper lighting, heating, seating and ventilation while they were schoolchildren. Eighty percent of the children raised in the city go on to high school while only 40 percent of those who attend rural schools go on to high school.”

McCabe concluded that society was not spending its money wisely. “Four times as much is being spent for movies and gum as for education.”

After the all day session, McCabe’s minutes stated: “The sentiment was strong for some methods of equalizing the taxation and methods of distribution so that each child might have equal educational advantages.”

So much has changed since that time, but that sentiment rings as true today as then.

KASB embarks on next 100 years

By Dr. John Heim, KASB Executive Director
First Published: “I’m From Kansas,” February 2017

This year KASB is celebrating 100 years of service. There was a lot going on in 1917. Most importantly, America had just entered the War to End All Wars, which had been going on for four years. My grandfather was a soldier in France and the only story he would tell was how foolish he felt guarding a warehouse full of cabbages. Not surprisingly, the top song on the charts, such as they were, was “Over There.” The Livery Stable Blues” was recorded by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, which one might argue was an early precursor of Rock and Roll. Besides the war, women’s suffrage was the political topic of the times. Montana led the way by electing the first female to the House of Representatives. My personal favorite invention of 1917 was marshmallow creme. Think of a world without this delicacy!

School board members in 1917 were part of a different system with different expectations. Only about 20 percent of 13- 19-year-olds were enrolled in High School. Graduation rates ran about 15 percent and the median education attainment at the time was 8th grade, exactly that of my grandfather. Only about 60 percent of 5- 19-year-olds were enrolled in school and that rate was only 40 percent for minority children. Thirty percent of African Americans were illiterate. These were not proud days for American public education.

One wonders whether board members were concerned about the low graduation rates and the poor treatment of minorities by the education system.Fifty years later, in 1967, those issues had reached the forefront for boards of education and American society.

Race riots were in the news in 1967, when KASB held its fiftieth convention. Rioting at home and war in Vietnam were the political issues of the day. As a third grader in Manhattan, Kansas, my biggest worry was whether he Russians were going to drop “the big one” (as my grandmother called the bomb), a concern made worse by being forced to practice for the event by hiding under a particle board desk in Mrs. Sunderman’s class at Marlatt School. The USA and the USSR were in a full-scale arms race and nuclear weapons were tested frequently by both sides this year. The world of science wasn’t all about bombs, as 1967 gave us our first successful human heart transplant. If there was ever something stranger than marshmallow creme, it is that Jimi Hendrix opened for The Monkees in 1967. Let that swirl around the record player of your brain for a minute. No wonder he set fire to his guitar at the Monterey Pop Festival later that year.

In education, I was struggling with accents on syllables along with those nuclear war drills at Marlatt. In the rest of the country, great progress had been made. The enrollment rate for high school aged students was 90 percent, up from 60 percent in 1917. The graduation rate had increased from 15 percent to 70 percent and school enrollment had reached 90 percent for whites and only slightly less for minorities. The median educational attainment had increased from 8.2 years to 12.1 years. Board members had to be happy with the successes of the past 50 years.

And now it’s 2017 and board members still have plenty to worry about. Graduation and attainment rates have continued to increase over the past 50 years, but more recently, those rate increases have included dramatic increases in standards. Students take more classes to graduate and have higher expectations than those of 50 years ago and at least in Kansas, we look at student success instead of achievement or attainment. Much like those board members facing abysmally low graduation rates 100 years ago, board members in 2017 will rally to the challenge of taking responsibility for providing students the necessary tools to be successful citizens. KASB will be here to support Kansas school boards along the way, just as we have for the past 100 years. Understanding our past, Imagining our future.

A voice from the past envisioning our future

By Dr. John Heim, KASB Executive Director
First Published: “I’m From Kansas,” April 2017

Volume 1, Number 1, of the KSBJ was published in October 1930. We keep a framed copy of the first edition outside Scott Rothschild’s office. This is the third edition of our newly revived monthly edition, so I thought it might be interesting to revisit that 1930 edition.

The journal features State Superintendent of Public Instruction George Allen, Jr, who extends his greetings and identifies the major issues of the time. He starts by establishing the importance of Kansas education for the entire state and shares some data. I was surprised at some of the numbers:

1930
Students: 500,000     Teachers: 20,000     Board Members: 30,000

Who knew there were that many students, that few teachers, and wasn’t simply amazed at the number of board members. Those who think we have too many districts now would be shocked at the number we had 85 years ago for about the same number of students. I was surprised at the number of teachers, until I considered the curriculum was severely limited and there were no special programs for special needs students.

Now we know some numbers, what else was happening in 1930?

Superintendent Allen considered the preeminent issue to be funding equalization. He was concerned wealth disparity in the state caused some districts to be able to educate their students for less than one mill a year, while others had levies of over 60 mills.

He was also concerned about efficiency. He explained, “…in some cases where attendance is very small, or where other unfair conditions may exist it may be possible to transport to other schools.”

Superintendent Allen worried about equitable revenue sources as well. At the time, there was no Kansas income tax and he advocated for an amendment to allow it.

Over-reliance on property tax was of great concern to the superintendent of public instruction in 1930. He gave several examples of people who paid no tax because they didn’t own property, but had significant income. He said these people considered it unfair and wanted to pay their “fair share” for using public services.

In response to the issues identified, the superintendent offered a solution. Citing a group called the Tax Code Commission, he explained a proposed Act for Allocating New Revenue for Schools. Today we might call this a school finance formula.

Mr. Allen recognized and explained the different challenges in different districts and the impossibility of a simple allocation, as did the Commission. Its solution was complex and includes an equalization formula to share between districts, counties, and the state; a formula that controls for school size by allocating units of instruction based upon enrollment; assistance for districts with transporting students; and a mechanism to go above the base state funded instructional units.

Yogi Berra might say this is deja vu all over again. Our court has told us we must abide by the constitutional requirements for equity and adequacy. We are all concerned about efficiency, and we have people who aren’t paying their “fair share” testifying their taxes should be increased.

As we proceed, we should heed the advice of the editors of the 1930 Journal who said: “While most problems of teaching must be worked out by educators, the financial problems of the schools should be worked out by those who are entrusted with the business management of school affairs. The school board members should be the best informed and their opinions should have the greatest weighting deciding any changes in the method of raising school revenue and in the distribution of that revenue.”

The 2017 Legislature has been responsive to the work of school leaders who have participated in KASB and KSSA’s processes to identify key characteristics of a school finance formula. As this is being written, legislators are working hard to develop a plan that will work for all members of the state.

School finance is not a new issue, and it is more important than ever as our students compete and live in a more complex environment than ever. It is not an issue that will ever be solved, because our constitution calls for an ever-improving system. The kids of 1930 deserved it, and so do the kids of 2030, who will be starting Kindergarten next year.

KASB School Board Review
Cover Illustration February 2017
Design: Andrea Hartzell, KASB Communications Specialist
Content: Scott Rothschild, KASB Communications and Advocacy Specialist

(Click image for larger view)

The History of KASB

The Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) had its beginning in the Board of Education Department of the Kansas State Teachers Association (KSTA). Although some references to meetings of boards of education can be found prior to 1918, the Board of Education Department of the Kansas State Teachers Association was formally created in that year with W. P. Lambertson of Fairview as president. Mr. Lambertson later became a United States Congressman from Kansas. The only record of activity in the early years was an annual meeting, which was usually held in Pelletier’s Hall in Topeka.

 

In 1934, the Board of Education Department reorganized, adopted a formal constitution and changed its name to the Kansas State School Boards Association. In 1937, the Association affiliated with the League of Kansas Municipalities and adopted the Kansas Government Journal as its official publication. Some degree of affiliation with the League continued into the 1970s.

 

In 1954, the name of the Association was changed again to its current name, the Kansas Association of School Boards . An arrangement was made the same year with the University of Kansas to provide, on a part-time basis, the services of Dr. Carl B. Althaus, a professor of educational administration, as the executive secretary of KASB. Dr. Althaus was nationally recognized as an expert in the area of school finance. Under his leadership, KASB became actively involved in leading the development of early programs for state assistance in school funding.

 

The Kansas Association of School Boards moved its office to Kansas State University in 1957 when Dr. O. K. Fallon, a professor of educational administration at KSU, was named as the part-time executive secretary of KASB. Operating part-time out of a college professor’s office was the norm for many state school boards associations into the 1960s. During the time of Dr. O’Fallon’s leadership, a newsletter for school board members was started, and the Association began to offer inservice training opportunities for local school board members.

 

By the end of the 1950s, the increasing involvement of the state and federal governments in educational policy made apparent the need for a more vigorous Association. In 1960, KASB had only 161 member boards of education out of the more than 1,000 school districts in existence. The total budget of the Association for that year was $7,500. Several major decisions were reached that year under Dr. O’Fallon’s leadership, including support for hiring a full-time executive director and moving the Association office to Topeka, where it would be in closer contact with state government.

 

In the late spring of 1961, Dr. M. A. McGhehey was hired as the first full-time executive director of the Kansas Association of School Boards. At the time of his employment, Dr. McGhehey was serving as a specialist in school law in the U.S. Office of Education in Washington, D.C. In 1953-54, he had been on the staff of the Arizona School Boards Association while serving as an assistant professor of education at the University of Arizona. From 1954-1960, he had served as executive secretary for the Indiana School Boards Association while on the faculty of Indiana University.

 

A new dues schedule was adopted for the 1961-62 fiscal year, which raised the Association budget to $35,000. A small, three-room suite of offices was rented in the Washburn View Shopping Center in Topeka. The Kansas School Board Journal, which had previously been published sporadically, was reinstated and made the official publication of the Association. An expanded meeting program for school board members was established, including spring and fall regional meetings in the then seven regions of Association governance. In addition to a regional vice president, each of the seven regions had an educational advisor for its programs, utilizing the services of a college professor from one of the state colleges and universities. Some professors served more than one region.

 

The KASB Board of Directors set three major priorities for action in conjunction with the establishment of a full-time staff and office: the development of a foundation school finance plan, the unification of Kansas school districts, and the elimination of the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. All of these goals were substantially accomplished by the end of the decade.

 

At the same time, the size of the Association staff began to increase, and the initial office space was rapidly outgrown. In 1964, a house at 825 Western in Topeka was purchased for $15,000 as the office for the Association staff, which then consisted of five people. Contributions were accepted from individual board members and superintendents at the Delegate Assembly that year to make the down payment, and $2,700 was collected.

 

The basement of the Association office was remodeled in 1967, and a press and auxiliary printing equipment were installed to enable the Association to control printing production. By 1969, the Association had again outgrown its space, and a second house was purchased at 1237 Fillmore for the expanding staff. During this year, the Association constitution was also amended to divide the state into 10 regions and provide for an executive committee, which included the president, president-elect and past president.

In 1970, the Association moved into the computer age by remodeling the building at 1237 Fillmore to accommodate an IBM Systems 3 computer, which was initially used to store and disseminate school board policies. In 1973, the KASB written policy service was initiated and, for the first time, recommended policies were developed for local school boards.

The early years of the 1970s saw a dramatic change in areas of school governance and Association services. The enactment of the Professional Negotiations Act and the Teacher Due Process Act created an era of bad feelings between school boards and teachers. The administrators who were ejected from the Kansas State Teachers Association, which changed its name to the Kansas-National Education Association, formed a new umbrella group called the United School Administrators of Kansas. Relations between these organizations and KASB would be tenuous for many years.

 

In the midst of this external turmoil, strained relations between school boards were exacerbated with the 1973 enactment of the School District Equalization Act, the first major effort by the Kansas Legislature to seek to redress imbalances in spending and taxation by school districts based on their wealth.

 

The KASB Constitution was also amended in 1972 to provide that the four largest districts in the state would be separate KASB regions with automatic representation on the KASB Board of Directors.

 

As the demand for services from school boards increased during this period of change, KASB was once again faced with facilities’ needs. The Association staff had expanded to 14 people, and the inefficiencies apparent in operating two buildings, separated by nearly half a mile, were becoming unacceptable. In 1974, four vacant lots on the west side of Topeka were purchased, and plans were made for the construction of a new office building. The new building at 5401 SW Seventh Street was dedicated in the summer of 1976, with several hundred school board members and superintendents in attendance. KASB dues at the time were raised sufficiently to allow the building to be paid for in three years.

 

In September 1982, the Association suffered the tragic loss of Dr. McGhehey as executive director when he suddenly passed away from a heart attack. During his 21-year tenure, however, the foundation had been laid and a pattern established for the growth in effectiveness of this fledgling organization.

 

During the year following Dr. McGhehey’s death, Dr. K. D. Moran, who had previously been the assistant and then the associate executive director, served the Association as executive director. He had first been employed by the Association in 1968, following stints as the superintendent at St. Marys and principal of the lab school at Pittsburg State College. He was largely responsible for the development and implementation of the KASB written policy service. During his year as executive director, steps were taken to improve KASB recordkeeping and financial accountability.

 

In August of 1983, John W. Koepke became the third full-time executive director of KASB. He began work for the Association as the director of publications in 1970 and later became both assistant and then associate executive director. Prior to becoming the executive director, his primary area of responsibility was as the Association lobbyist. Sixteen full-time employees worked for the Association in the fall of 1983. Koepke retired in 2010 after 40 years of service to KASB, including 27 as the executive director.

 

By the 1987-88 fiscal year, the KASB staff had grown to 25, and space pressures were once again leaning toward a review of KASB facilities. An architectural firm was hired in 1989 to conduct a facilities study, and a lot for construction of a new office building was purchased later that year. In 1990, due to controversies over school funding, plans for construction of a new office building were put on hold. At the same time, the staff continued to expand.

 

As an interim measure, a second KASB office building at 5425 SW Seventh Street was purchased in the spring of 1991. With the passage of a new school finance plan in the 1992 Legislative Session, building plans were revived. However, in the fall of 1992, an existing office building of almost exactly the same dimensions as the proposed new building came on the market.

 

In September of 1992, the current office building at 1420 SW Arrowhead Road was purchased at approximately half the cost of the proposed new building. Once again, a three-year plan to pay for the new building was developed. The building is now fully owned by KASB, and all previous properties have been sold.

 

In 2000, a Western Kansas Field Service Specialist was added to the KASB staff to better serve members located in western Kansas.

 

The KASB staff now consists of 30 full-time staff in a wholly owned 40,000 square foot office building. Plans for the future focus on further development to meet the needs of member boards of education and their staff. The explosion of technology has also created opportunities to better serve our members.

 

Dr. John Heim became the new KASB executive director on July 1, 2010, following a successful career as a superintendent of schools in several Kansas school districts.

The following resolutions were passed by the Kansas House and Senate on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 in recognition of KASB’s 100 years of service to education:

HR6033

HOUSE RESOLUTION No. HR 6033– A RESOLUTION congratulating and commending the Kansas Association of School Boards on its 100th year. A RESOLUTION congratulating and commending the Kansas Association of School Boards on its 100th year of serving education leaders and inspiring student success.

WHEREAS, The Kansas Association of School Boards is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to serving members of governing boards for school districts, community colleges, vocational-technical schools and cooperatives, and interlocal and regional service centers; and

WHEREAS, The Kansas Association of School Boards is governed by a board of directors comprised of school board members from across Kansas; and

WHEREAS, The Kansas Association of School Boards believes all students are able to learn, an educated citizenry is essential to having a free society, education is often the most important factor in economic and social well-being, public education is a fundamental right that prepares students for the future, and that local control of public schools is necessary to provide the best education to young people in Kansas; and

WHEREAS, The Kansas Association of School Boards strives to provide a culture of collaboration and service, is a voice for public education and seeks to improve education outcomes in Kansas; and

WHEREAS, The Kansas Association of School Boards assists local school boards, the cornerstone of our democracy, to accomplish their mission in a number of ways, including the formation of legislative policies and by providing legal assistance, leadership development and service, risk management programs, research and advocacy:

Now, therefore, Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Kansas: That we congratulate and commend the Kansas Association of School Boards on its 100th year of service and its ongoing support of public education in Kansas; and

Be it further resolved: That the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives shall send five enrolled copies of this resolution to Representative Patton.

SR1748

SENATE RESOLUTION No. 1748― A RESOLUTION congratulating and commending the Kansas Association of School Boards on its 100th year of serving education leaders and inspiring student success.

WHEREAS, The Kansas Association of School Boards is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to serving members of governing boards for school districts, community colleges, vocational-technical schools and cooperatives, and interlocal and regional service centers; and

WHEREAS, The Kansas Association of School Boards is governed by a board of directors comprised of school board members from across Kansas; and

WHEREAS, The Kansas Association of School Boards believes all students are able to learn; an educated citizenry is essential to having a free society; education is often the most important factor in economic and social well-being; public education is a fundamental right that prepares students for the future and that local control of public schools is necessary to provide the best education to young people in Kansas; and

WHEREAS, The Kansas Association of School Boards strives to provide a culture of collaboration and service, is a voice for public education and seeks to improve education outcomes in Kansas; and

WHEREAS, The Kansas Association of School Boards assists local school boards, the cornerstone of our democracy, to accomplish their mission in a number of ways, including the formation of legislative policies and by providing legal assistance, leadership development and service, risk management programs, research and advocacy:

Now, therefore, Be it resolved by the Senate of the State of Kansas: That we congratulate and commend the Kansas Association of School Boards on its 100th year of service and its ongoing support of public education in Kansas; and

Be it further resolved: That the Secretary of the Senate shall send five enrolled copies of this resolution to Senator Rogers. On emergency motion of Senator Rogers SR 1748 was adopted unanimously. Guests introduced were Amy Martin, Don Shimkus, Dayna Miller, Patrick Woods, Shannon Kimball, Curt Herrman, Lori Black, Susan Walstoon [sic], Gina McGowan and Frank Henderson. The senate honored the guests with a standing ovation.

The rise and fall of the one-room school

By Scott Rothschild, srothschild@kasb.org
Published June 2017 KASB School Board Review

The one-room school, where one teacher taught children of all ages, holds a special place in the history of rural America, including Kansas.

But the fact is, by the early 1900s, the one-room school was on its way out like the horse and buggy.

In the decade from 1917-18 to 1927-28, the number of one-teacher schools decreased from 195,397 to 153,306 in the United States, according to a comprehensive study done in 1942 by the Kansas Legislative Research Department.

The drop in one-room schools in Kansas was part of the national trend as mechanized farming, among other factors, pushed people into the towns and cities.

Nearly 8,000 one-room schools were operating in Kansas in the early 1900s. But by the 1920s and 1930s, between 250 and 300 schools were shutting down each year. In 1941- 42, more than 1,600 schools closed.

The “Closed Schools in Kansas” report to the Legislature from 75 years ago noted that while some expressed misgivings about the closing of a school, closing schools was actually desirable.

“Kansas ranks third highest among the states in the number of school units and third lowest in average enrollment per unit. In other words, Kansas appears over- organized for school purposes … ,” the report said.

And the report noted the closing school movement wasn’t dictated top-down from the government, but was a natural “grass roots movement which arose independently and spontaneously in separate communities because of local circumstances and immediate needs.”

The closing school movement spread through Kansas like wildfire. In addition to changes in agriculture, some one-room schools yielded to competition. Kansans actively sought be better education opportunities for their children.

“The preference for graded school centers would indicate that many parents in rural areas want their children to have certain advantages offered by graded schools, not found in schools having but one teacher,” the report said.

And some of the small schools succumbed to the killer economic one-two punch: High per pupil costs and low property valuations.

World War II also played a role in creating a teacher shortage. “The war has become a contributing factor to the closing of schools by creating conditions in which teachers are attracted to more remunerative occupations,” the report said.

By the 1950s, the era of the one-room school was almost over but not before thousands of Kansas students had become part of its history.

KASB School Board Review, August 2017
A Pictures Worth a 100 Years

KASB School Board Review, September 2017
Exploring the ‘Modern Era’ of Education

Highlights from Past Publications