Author - Scott Rothschild

Kansas schools hiring counselors, social workers, psychologists

Kansas schools have hired approximately 150-200 more counselors, social workers and school psychologists after the Legislature approved an increase in K-12 funding, State Education Commissioner Randy Watson said. In his report earlier this week to the State Board of Education, Watson also said 800 more at-risk students are being served in pre-school, a 10 percent increase over the last year. Watson said the initiatives by schools coincide with the State Board’s vision of meeting the needs of each student by increasing kindergarten readiness, high school graduation rates and helping students grow emotionally and socially. During the 2017 legislative session, legislators approved an...

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Shawnee Mission seeking community connections

With the help of state educational leadership that is promoting innovation and flexibility, Shawnee Mission USD 512 leaders say they are seeking to help more students succeed in partnership with their community.  Interim Superintendent Kenny Southwick and Assistant Superintendent for Business Rick Atha say the district is changing how it operates to help all students succeed. "We had to make the commitment that 'all' really does mean all," said Southwick.  Key to that goal is letting students find relevance in their studies. "It turns the light on for kids when they can see success," said Atha.  One example is the district's high-school-level...

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KASB will hold live video news conference on school finance at 10 a.m. Friday

KASB will conduct a live video news conference Friday that will focus on school funding, student success and the future of Kansas as policymakers seek to put in place a constitutional K-12 funding system.  The conference will start at 10 a.m. Friday and can be viewed at this link.  Mark Tallman, associate executive director for advocacy and communications at KASB, will conduct the news conference and will provide data that shows school funding is a critical component of student success and will strengthen families, communities and the state as a whole. Those viewing the conference will have the ability to ask...

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DeBacker chosen for new position in Brownback administration to match student skills, jobs

Gov. Sam Brownback on Tuesday announced the appointment of former Kansas education commissioner Diane DeBacker to fill a new position as a conduit between the governor’s office, schools and business. “Dr. DeBacker will help bridge the gap between the demands of the private sector in Kansas and the way our students are educated in Kansas,” Brownback said in a news release. “We want our students to be equipped to jump in and fill the needs of the modern changing economy,” he said. A longtime educator and administrator, DeBacker served for four years as Kansas education commissioner and was a senior advisor...

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Olathe dealing with changing student needs

The new superintendent of Olathe USD 233, the state’s second-largest school district, says Kansas is at a pivot point between emphasizing narrowly-focused standardized testing and creating well-rounded students who can thrive in the workplace and are good citizens.  Dr. John Allison, the Kansas superintendent of the year who moved this year from Wichita, the state's most populous district, applauds the push by the State Board of Education and Commissioner Randy Watson to shift from "test preparation" to broader skills, but says the state will face challenges in implementing the vision.  One challenge is that the current generation of teachers hasn't been...

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Education Commissioner Watson reports improved high school graduation rates

Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson on Tuesday reported that preliminary results for 2017 show that high school graduation rates in Kansas are climbing and he said that may be related to the state’s mission of focusing on the success of each student. “We are getting a snapshot that we are on the right track,” Watson told the State Board of Education during its monthly meeting. Over the past several years, the State Board and Kansas State Department of Education have emphasized outcomes of success that include increasing the high school graduation rate and post-secondary completion. The high school graduation rate for 2017...

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Child welfare task force will discuss preliminary report

The Child Welfare System Task Force will conduct its first meeting Tuesday following the departure of former Kansas Department for Children and Families Secretary Phyllis Gilmore.  Gilmore left DCF on Dec. 1 amid turmoil at the agency, which had been criticized for its handling of foster care and several high-profile cases where children died from abuse.  Gilmore has been replaced by Gina Meier-Hummel, a longtime child welfare advocate and member of the task force. Meier-Hummel has promised a thorough review of the agency.  On Tuesday, the task force is scheduled to discuss its preliminary report to the 2018 Legislature. Here is a...

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State Board of Education has reading issues on agenda

Getting students to become better readers will be a focus of the State Board of Education meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday.  On Tuesday, the State Board will receive information on the Kansas Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy initiative. On Wednesday, it will receive the annual Reading for Success report from Istation and Fort Hays State University.   In July, the Kansas State Department of Education received a $27 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education that will be used to improve literacy and learning for Kansas students from pre-school to 12th grade. The grant is one of the largest competitive awards...

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Special Committee on Assessment and Taxation begins discussions on revenue concerns

Over a two-day period, the Legislature’s seven-member Special Committee on Assessment and Taxation began reviewing the initial outcomes from changes adopted during the 2017 session and discussed ideas that should be explored going forward.  The discussion began with review of the current budget profile, which indicates budget shortfalls in FY 2020 due to increasing costs related to KanCare caseloads and scheduled increases in KPERS contributions.  While the updated revenue estimates following enactment of SB30 continue to look positive, economists from the Kansas Legislative Research Department caution that lawmakers will need to wait until after the April 17 consensus revenue estimate before...

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Mark your calendar for KASB/USA-Kansas Advocacy in Action workshop, Jan. 11-12

Education leaders, mark your calendars and plan to attend the KASB/USA-Kansas Advocacy in Action workshop on Jan. 11 and 12 in Topeka.  Sharpen your advocacy skills and hear from key lawmakers as the state Legislature prepares to respond to the Gannon V school finance decision. Visit one-on-one with your state legislators to advocate for your school district and Kansas public education.  Sessions will include:  Overview of Special Committee on Comprehensive Response to School Finance Decision  Insights from legislative leaders on what to expect in the 2018 legislative session  How are Kansas schools using additional funding?  Preparing for your visit with your state legislators   Breakout sessions will...

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