Federal Issues

KASB leaders will discuss broadband at state policy summit

KASB President-Elect Brad Bergsma and Past President Shannon Kimball will discuss education and broadband at the 2020 Kansas Economic Policy Conference on Thursday.   The virtual conference is organized this year around the question, “What is the Role of Government in a Crisis?”   Registration for the conference is free but required. You can register here.  Kimball and Bergsma’s panel will occur in the 1:30-3:20 p.m. time slot on Thursday. They will be joined by fellow panelists Catherine Moyer, CEO & General Manager, Pioneer Communications and Germaine Haleguoa, Associate Professor, Film & Media Studies at the University of Kansas. The session will be moderated...

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Community Connect program offers broadband grants

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development agency is now taking applications for Community Connect Grant Program for Fiscal Year 2021. Applications are due December 23.  Community Connect grants are available to rural, economically challenged areas that lack existing broadband speed of at least 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream. Grant funds may be used for the construction, acquisition or leasing of facilities, spectrum, land or buildings used to extend broadband service to “critical community facilities” such as public schools, public libraries and fire stations as well as residential and business customers in the proposed service area. Partnerships with federal,...

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Broadband, census, teacher burnout and more to be discussed during KASB Advocacy Update at noon Friday (Oct. 16)

The federal census, broadband expansion, challenges facing teachers during the pandemic and more will be discussed at noon Friday (Oct. 16) during the KASB Advocacy Update. To register for the meeting, go to this link. In recent days, Gov. Laura Kelly has announced a major push to expand broadband internet service, which should help remote learning. Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the Trump administration in halting the Census count — a move that could have repercussions for schools — and the State Board of Education is looking into a number of changes after hearing from teachers about the...

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Census deadline is October 15

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday the Census must end before its October 31 target date. The Census Bureau announced Tuesday night the decennial count will cease on October 15.  The Census has been plagued by delays associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, hurricanes, and political conflict.  The Trump Administration announced in August it was moving the national count deadline up one month to September 30 to give the government time to deliver the 2020 data to the president by the end of December as required by law. In late September, a U.S. District Court judge ruled the count must...

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Children’s Cabinet announces remote learning grant opportunties

The Kansas Children’s Cabinet is now accepting applications for grants to help eligible organizations provide supervised sites for online learning when schools are in remote or hybrid learning modes.  The $40 million grant program was recently approved by the state Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) Task Force to support business resiliency during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Parents and businesses have expressed concern and frustration about the challenges of supervising school-aged children who are learning remotely as their parents or guardians return to work after widespread closures last Spring. The grant funds must be obligated and spent by December 30.  Eligible...

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CDC again releases guidance on aerosols and COVID-19

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday released new guidance regarding the role of “aerosols” – tiny airborne particles – in the indoor transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The move comes two weeks after the CDC removed a similar statement from its website, citing incomplete vetting.  In its updated post to its website entitled “How COVID-19 Spreads,” the CDC now observes that “COVID-19 most commonly spreads during close contact” between people who are within six feet of an infected person but that “COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission.”   The guidance says some small droplets and particles...

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Watson encourages schools to work toward in-person learning

Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson on Friday told school board members their goal should be to have students receive as much in-person learning as possible during the school year.  Watson urged districts to use as many personnel as possible as teachers and reach out in their communities for alternative classroom sites so that more students can be taught in-person while observing precautions such as wearing masks and socially distancing.  As districts across Kansas reopened schools in a variety of ways to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, Watson acknowledged there is a lot of frustration among students, parents, teachers, administrators and school...

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Legislators hear about federal COVID-19 funds received by school districts

School districts have or are expected to receive at least $154 million in federal aid to address the COVID pandemic, and some additional funding may be coming. There are large differences in how much individual districts received, based on different allocation formulas.  The Legislative Budget Committee recently received reports from the Legislative Research Department, the Kansas State Department of Education and the state Office of Recovery on Wednesday. Additional federal aid of $154 million would represent over 2 percent of total school district expenditures reported last year.  There are ongoing efforts at the federal level to provide additional aid to state...

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Bill averting government shutdown includes funds to extend student meals

President Trump has signed into law a bipartisan bill that will fund government through Dec. 11 and provides additional assistance with school meals. The measure passed in the Senate 84-10 and in the House 359-57. In Kansas’ congressional delegation, U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts and U.S. Reps. Sharice Davids and Steve Watkins voted for the measure, while U.S. Rep. Ron Estes voted against it and U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall were listed as “not voting.” The bill includes nearly $8 billion in additional nutrition assistance for families and schoolchidlren, including an extension of a pandemic program that provides...

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Voting Matters: Deadline approaches to register to vote; mail-in balloting will start soon

In Kansas, there are several ways to cast a ballot in the upcoming election. You can either vote by mail, or vote early in person or you can vote in person at your polling place on Election Day, which is Nov. 3. But you can’t vote if you’re not registered to vote. If you are not already registered to vote, you have until Oct. 13 to do so. If you need to register, would like to confirm you are registered, or want to request a mail-in ballot, you can go to www.ksvotes.org, which is a non-partisan non-profit organization. The state also...

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