Instruction & Services

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...

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Starting Anew: Hesston looked to community partners for additional space

In Hesston USD 460, school leaders heard loud and clear from many community members that when the new school year started they wanted students back in the classroom. But to manage that while observing social distancing and cleaning requirements caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it was soon apparent more space was needed for the 820 students who attend school in three buildings in the district, which is located about 35 miles north of Wichita. So, districts officials started looking off campus. Now, some Hesston students are attending classes at the Cross Wind Conference Center outside of town. And if the COVID-19 infection...

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School issues before legislative interim committees this week

Several interim legislative committees meeting this week are discussing issues that could have an impact on school districts.  Today and tomorrow (Tue. and Wed. Sept. 22-23), the Special Committee on Foster Care Oversight continues its study of the child welfare system, with presentations Tuesday afternoon on barriers to inter-agency communications in child welfare, including Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis, among others. Sharing education records for children in foster care has been a long-stranding issue. Here is a link to the full agenda.  Today through Thursday (Sept. 22-24), the Special Committee on the Kansas Emergency Management Act meets for presentations and development of...

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Education leaders discuss reopening plans during KASB `Lunch and Learn’

Three different districts with three different school reopening plans shared the same recipe for success — strong school boards, can-do staff and lots of community input. “The community involvement in Hesston has just blown us away,” said Layne Frick, a member of the Hesston USD 460 board. Frick, Hesston Superintendent Ben Proctor, Maize USD 266 Superintendent Chad Higgins and Emporia USD 253 Superintendent Kevin Case shared some of their experiences in reopening schools during KASB’s weekly “Lunch and Learn” zoom session on Wednesday. Hesston, a district with about 820 students 35 miles north of Wichita, decided to bring as many students back...

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KASB Legislative Committee approves draft of state policy positions

KASB’s Legislative Committee has approved a first draft of proposed state legislative policy positions for 2021. KASB members will discuss the positions and provide feedback at Regional Roundtables on September 30, October 7 and October 14. The final document, which will guide KASB advocacy efforts in the 2021 Kansas legislative session, will be approved by the KASB Delegate Assembly in January 2021.  The proposed state policy positions primarily focus on how to support K-12 public schools as they continue to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Positions include supporting safe operations in schools in all learning modes; increasing...

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KASB moves annual convention to online because of pandemic

The KASB Board of Directors on Saturday approved holding its 2020 Annual Convention online instead of in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual convention will be held from Wed. Dec. 2 through Fri. Dec. 4. Traditionally, the KASB convention is the largest gathering of elected school board members and district leaders in Kansas. Because of the spreading virus and social distance guidelines, KASB leadership decided several months ago to start planning for an online convention. “Hopefully it results in more engagement for our membership, I’m excited to see how this works,” said KASB President Lori Blake, a member of the Southeast...

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K-12 issues on the agenda of upcoming legislative meetings

School district issues will be on the agenda of several legislative interim committees meeting in the next two weeks.  Interim committees are charged with studying issues and making recommendations to the full Legislature between legislative sessions and have members from both the Senate and House of Representatives. “Special” committees are appointed by legislative leaders to study issues for a single year; “Joint” committee are created in state law and study certain topics every year. The Legislature also creates various other commissions, task forces and other bodies which may have non-legislators as member.  Next week begins with a three-day meeting the Special Committee on Kansas Emergency Management Act, Aug. 24-26....

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KASB offers Board Leadership Training On-Demand to help districts

KASB is offering a new service to school board members to help navigate the changing world of public education during this unprecedented time, which requires finding new ways to help students succeed and operate schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Board Leadership Training On-Demand is a series of training modules that includes videos on building strong, efficient district leadership teams, worksheets tied to specific topics and virtual forums in which education leaders can share information and discuss timely issues. Board Leadership Training On-Demand will culminate with live question and answer sessions via zoom with KASB Leadership staff on Aug. 28 and...

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August School Board Review focuses on the difficult decisions that education leaders must make

As schools reopen, the August issue of School Board Review focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic and the tough decisions local school boards have been making on when and how to start school. In her President’s Perspective column, KASB President Lori Blake urges education leaders to use this unprecedented time “to ensure the voices who need to be heard are amplified.” As education leaders navigate change, KASB Executive Director John Heim encourages them to do their due diligence. “This is not a time for echo chambers, Facebook research, or YouTube solutions. It is a time to be inquisitive and not dogmatic, to...

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State medical groups offer guidance determining on-site, hybrid and remote learning

The Kansas State Board of Education on Tuesday accepted a new set of criteria local district officials can use to determine when schools should be open for onsite learning and other activities based on trends in COVID-19 cases.  The “Kansas School Gating Criteria” document was put together with input from the University of Kansas Pediatrics, Kansas Academy of Family Physicians, Kansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Kansas Department of Health and Environment and education leaders who headed committees that produced KSDE’s Navigating Change guidelines.   The new medical guidance suggests that the learning model (onsite, hybrid or remote), student activities and access...

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