Financing Schools

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...

Read more...

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,...

Read more...

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...

Read more...

Despite challenges, school board members reflect on what is working well

It’s no secret that Kansas school boards have been under pressure trying to manage K-12 education during a pandemic.  But school board members recently reflected during KASB regional roundtable meetings about lessons learned and things that have worked well since schools were shut down last year and reopened this year in various methods.  Emerging from breakout room discussions on zoom, board members reported that communication channels have improved with staff, parents and other local officials in trying to continue school operations amid changing levels of the virus.  “Improved levels of communication at all levels -- trying to keep information in front of...

Read more...

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...

Read more...

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...

Read more...

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...

Read more...

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...

Read more...

KASB urges Kansans to fill out Census form as legal battles continue over end date

The legal battle over the 2020 U.S. Census took a new turn late Monday with an announcement by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross of an Oct. 5 “target date” to finish the decennial count. That is more than three weeks earlier than the Oct. 31 end date set by a federal judge. A court hearing on the target date is set for 5 p.m. today Central Time.   Meanwhile, KASB urges uncounted Kansans to fill out their Census form at https://2020census.gov/.  The Trump Administration announced in August it was moving the national count deadline up one month to September 30 to give...

Read more...

Pandemic pivoting: September School Board Review covers how districts have shifted

The September issue of School Board Review reports how district leaders spent the summer analyzing data, meeting with the public and working through unprecedented challenges as schools started a new school year during the current COVID-19 health emergency. KASB President Lori Blake writes about how districts have been forced to pivot time and time again as circumstances change and KASB Executive Director John Heim urges Kansans to allow some grace for education leaders who are dealing with unprecedented change. The issue also introduces Jason Winbolt, vice president of the Springhill USD 230 school board, as the endorsed candidate for KASB president-elect...

Read more...