School Boards Adopt Policies for Improving Kansas Education

School Boards Adopt Policies for Improving Kansas Education

Delegates to the Kansas Association of School Boards annual
convention in Wichita on Sunday approved a set of policy recommendations for
improving educational outcomes in Kansas, focusing on raising educational
standards, providing suitable finance and strengthening local school
leadership.
The association endorsed higher standards for students
graduating Kansas high schools and targets for improving state educational
attainment to meet projected Kansas jobs requirements over the next decade.
Delegates reaffirmed support for the principles of collective
bargaining and due process rights for teachers, but said changes should be made
to improve state law in both areas.  KASB
leaders said they hope to find common ground with teacher and administrator
organizations on these issues.
KASB also voted to support the current constitutional status
and authority of the State Board of Education.
Here is the full text of resolution adopted December 8, 2013:
First in Education, Kansas Way
Kansas Association of School Boards – 2014 Priority
Issues
Adopted December 8, 2013
PrincIple I.    Raise Standards
for Success
.  Continue to
improve educational outcomes by raising standards for students, educators,
schools and districts.
A.  Students
Ready for Success
.  Set expectations
for all students to graduate high school with
the skills required for college and careers, as demonstrated by academic
preparation, technical skills, employability skills, and interest development;
and provide individualized support from early childhood through high school.
1.  Definition:  We support the State Board of
Education’s definition that College and Career Ready means an individual has
the academic preparation, cognitive preparation, technical
skills, and employability skills to be successful in postsecondary
education, in the attainment of an industry recognized certification or in the
workforce, without the need for remediation.
2.  Student Expectations.  We support
development and implementation over time of a system to ensure all students
graduating high school meet a higher standard than currently required.  This should include:  (1) Demonstration of a minimum
statewide standard of basic academic skills. 
(2) A locally-determined demonstration of employability and citizenship
skills for all students.  (3)
Demonstration of preparation for postsecondary employment or education
(technical certification or industry credential, associate’s degree,
baccalaureate degree, etc.) based on the career interest of the student.
3.  Graduation Targets.  We
support these goals for Kansas educational attainment, based on projections of
employment needs by 2020.  Because
employment needs differ by location, individual districts should be responsible
for showing proportional increases in attainment rather than statewide targets.
(1) At least 40 percent of graduates prepared to pursue a four-year degree or
higher, compared to 30 percent of Kansas adults currently; (2) At least 35 percent
of graduates prepared to pursue a two-year degree, technical credential or
industry certificate, compared to 32 percent of Kansas adults with some college
but less than a four year degree; (3) 95 percent of students graduating high
school by age 24, compared to 90 percent of Kansas adults.
4.  Career Interest Development Programs.  We
support a program to encourage and support districts adopting student career
programs meeting standards adopted by the State Board.
5.  Financial Education.  We
support a program to encourage and support districts in developing personal
financial literacy programs, based on local needs and capacity.
B.  Effective
Educators
.  Improve educator
training, licensure, and retention policies using performance-based evaluation
and continuing professional development while providing appropriate protections
and benefits.
1.  Student Impact.  We believe
state law and Kansas State Board of Education policies should require districts
to adopt administrator and teacher evaluation policies meeting standards
adopted by the State Board, including a requirement that the most important
evaluation factor be impact on student improvement based on multiple measures.
2.  Evaluation Input.  We support
removing evaluation procedures from professional negotiations to facilitate
improvement in instruction, with administrator and teacher input into the
evaluation process independent of negotiations.
3.  Alternative Licensing.  We
support options for licensing teachers who have not completed regular requirements
for teacher training, provided such teachers annually receive high level
evaluations for effectiveness.
C.  School
Performance
.  Establish a school
accountability system for core academic subjects based on achievement, growth,
and narrowing differences in student performance.
1.  Accountability Measures.  We support
public accountability based on reading and math assessments measuring the
movement of students to increasingly higher achievement levels, annual student
growth, narrowing the gap between high and low performing students, and
reducing the number of non-proficient students.
2.  Intervention and Support.  We support
funded interventions to assist low-performing or non-improving schools and
districts.
3.  Assessment.  To assess student performance,
we support implementation of an improved testing program aligned with the Kansas
College and Career Ready standards, measuring college and career readiness and
higher-order skills.  KASB supports
allowing districts to choose among different assessments equally benchmarked
against state standards.
D.  District
Accreditation.  
Adopt a new
accreditation system to encourage and recognize districts for student outcomes,
programs and practices that support student success, including school board and
district leadership.
1.  Broader Focus.  We support
the concepts under development in the Kansas State Board of Education’s “21st
Century Accreditation” model to provide a broader measure of school district
performance and encourage best practices while minimizing additional state
mandates.
2.  Board Development.  We believe
the new accreditation system should require locally-developed programs for the
continuing education and improvement of school boards and their members.  Such programs would be developed by local
boards, and evaluated using the same system as other accreditation areas.
Principle II.  Finance for
Success.
Provide
constitutionally suitable funding for continuing educational improvement in all
districts.
A.  State
Responsibility
.  The state should pay
for what it requires schools to do, including costs that rise each year, as
part of “base” funding for all districts.
1.  Base Funding. 
We support increasing
statewide education funding and the per pupil amount for each district, based
upon the statutory level approved by previous legislatures and the Kansas
Supreme Court and recommended by the State Board of Education, studies of
educational costs, funding levels in the highest achieving states; traditional
levels of educational funding compared to state income; and annual increases in
operating costs and state requirements.
2.  Cost Differences.  We
believe the school finance system should provide additional funding through
weightings or other mechanisms for higher cost students, districts and
programs, particularly those required by the state.
3.  Long-Term Funding.  We
support continuation of multi-year funding for school districts.
B.  Funding Equity.  Balance
increased local funding options with increased state equalization aid.
1.  State and Local Balance.  We
support a balanced plan for school funding increases that provides both
increases in base aid and local option budget authority, contingent upon full
funding of LOB state aid as recommended by the State Board of Education to
reduce disparity in local school district property tax rates.
2.  Capital Costs.  We
support continued state equalization aid for capital improvement bonds and
restoration of capital outlay aid as recommended by the State Board.
C.  Targeted
Aid
.  Maintain the successful at-risk
funding system based on economic disadvantage and other factors; improve
instruction through professional development and mentoring; and promote
innovation.
1.  At-Risk Students.  To
improve mastering of skills and preparation for college and careers for all
students, we support the use of free lunch eligibility as the primary factor
for at-risk funding in order to provide stable revenues for these successful
programs, supplemented by other risk factors.
2.  Instruction.  To
improve instruction, we endorse the State Board’s 2014-15 funding request for
Professional Development state aid, Teacher Mentoring and National Board
Certification.
3.  Graduation.  To
improve the graduation rate, we support state funding for Communities in
Schools.
4.  Innovation.  To
promote new ways to achieve these goals, we support creating a grant program
for innovative programs and strategies.
5.  Program Focus.  We
would support provisions in each of these programs requiring a focus on raising
student mastery of basic skills, improving instruction and evaluation, and
increasing the number of college-and career-ready students.
D.  Efficiency.
 Encourage cooperation, services sharing,
consolidation and efficiencies, balanced with local needs and priorities.
1.  Consolidation and Cooperation.  We
support maintaining current incentives for voluntary school district
consolidation, and support additional incentives for consolidation and
cooperation.
2.  Sharing.  We
support a statewide study of ways to promote school district cooperation and
sharing of academic programs, personnel and operations.
E.  Tax
Policy
.  State tax cuts should not reduce school funding when improving
education is vital to the economic health and quality of life for the state,
communities and individuals.
1.  State Revenues.  We support state tax policies that provide
increasing education funding necessary for increasing educational
outcomes.  If current tax policies do not
provide revenue to meet these costs, state tax policies should be revised.  Changes in education funding and tax policy
should not increase disparity in local tax efforts, and any new revenue source
should be equalized.
2.  Tax Policy.  We support efforts to broaden
the tax base by reducing special exemptions and credits and oppose further
targeted tax reductions.
principle III.  Local
Leadership for Success.
 Strengthen responsiveness to parents and community
needs under locally elected boards and school leadership.
A.  Local
Decision-Making
.  Support local policy and funding choices
unless the school persistently fails to demonstrate improvement; oppose new
requirements without clear evidence of effectiveness and funding for additional
costs.
1.  Limit State Intervention.  We believe
the best response to educational issues is almost always determined at the
local level, rather than the state or national level. State policies should
address outcomes to be achieved, not methods to achieve them. State
intervention should be focused on schools or districts that fail to meet
ambitious but reasonable standards.
2.  New Mandates.  To
focus on the student mastery of basic skills and college/career readiness, we
oppose any new state or federal requirements except for the proposals contained
in this First in Education plan.
B.  Innovation.  Promote flexibility in
educational programs, accountable to local boards and state accreditation.
1.  Local Flexibility.  We
support giving local school boards more flexibility in developing programs and
operations.
2.  Accountability.  We
support promoting innovation within the public school system so successful
initiatives can be replicated, rather than authorizing and funding charter
schools and other institutions outside the constitutional authority of local
boards.
C. 
Employee Relations
.  Strengthen
board and administrator management flexibility while maintaining core employee
rights.
1.  Professional Negotiations.  We
support continuation of collective bargaining between school boards and teacher
associations.  We believe changes should
be made in the professional negotiations act to strengthen professionalism and
efficient district operations, which we would seek to achieve through
negotiations with teacher representatives. 
If agreements are reached that are acceptable to the KASB Board of
Directors, KASB will oppose further amendments to the PNA.
2.  Due Process.  We support the current system
of due process rights for teachers if the process is clarified to allow boards
of education to remove teachers as long as such removal is supported by a
preponderance of evidence.  The board’s
decision should be given deference unless its action was arbitrary, capricious,
or unsupported by evidence.
D.  Constitutional
System.  
Maintain the elected Kansas
State Board of Education for general supervision of public education, the
authority of local elected boards over public schools; and prohibition of
public education funding for religious organizations.
1.  State Board.  We
support an elected Kansas State Board of Education with authority over the
Commissioner and Department of Education, with general supervision of local
schools as provided by the Kansas Constitution.
2.  Private Schools.  We
support the constitutional prohibition of state educational funding for
religious organizations. KASB supports the authority of local school boards to
provide services to private school students.
3.  Judicial System.  We support
the role of an independent judiciary in enforcing constitutional provisions.  We oppose either changing the selection
process for judges from the merit selection system, or limiting the ability of
the courts to enforce those provisions, which would weaken the traditional
separation of powers in Kansas.
E.  Parent
and public engagement
.  Increase
public understanding of educational issues and support for improvement;
strengthen involvement of parents, higher education, employers and communities.
1.  Local Engagement. We believe public and parental engagement cannot be
effectively legislated but is the responsibility of local schools and
districts.
2.  Local Elections. We believe public engagement in school district
governance is best served by electing local board members in non-partisan April
elections, rather than the November general elections.