Kansas Legislature

State has numerous initiatives aimed at helping student mental health

State officials are working on several fronts to address the mental health needs of Kansas students. More than 1,700 students received help last year through the school Mental Health Intervention Program. Most of those students showed improvements in attendance, behavior and academics, Diane Gjerstad, who has been helping with implementation of the program, told the School Mental Health Advisory Council on Thursday. The program initially included nine school districts in partnership with Community Mental Health Centers. But it has since been expanded with a second year of funding from the Legislature to 180 schools in 32 districts. The council also received an update...

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50 years ago, Kansans set up the State Board of Education

In the early days of the Kansas State Board of Education, board members raced to get up to speed on public education issues and were quickly immersed in the politics of the day, according to news articles and minutes of board meetings from the late 1960s. This year represents the 50th anniversary of the board’s existence.   On Nov. 8, 1966, Kansas voters approved a constitutional amendment on education that essentially modernized the state’s education system into what we know today.   The change created an elected State Board of Education, instead of one appointed by the governor, and replaced the Kansas State...

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State Board of Education combines busy agenda with 50th anniversary

At this month’s State Board of Education meeting, the board will observe its 50th anniversary with a history lesson and reception while also conducting business as it has for the past half-century — meeting, discussing and making decisions on a broad range of education policy issues. The State Board meets Tuesday and Wednesday; here is a link to the agenda. Mary Madden, museum and education division director for the Kansas State Historical Society, will present a summary of the State Board’s origins. Following her presentation, there will be a reception to celebrate the anniversary and citizen leadership in public education. The first...

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Key points on education: New resources plus redesigned schools equal student success, supporting a stronger Kansas

KASB is often asked to share key points about education issues. With school board and other local elections this fall and the 2020 Legislative session three months away, here are some ideas to consider for sharing.  The big question school leaders are going to have to answer is: What are you (school districts) doing with the billion-plus dollars you got from the Legislature? That’s the estimated total increase in base aid, local option budget funding and special education from 2017 to 2023, when the response to the Gannon lawsuit is fully implemented. And, it doesn’t include increased funding for KPERS,...

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Advanced Advocacy Training Institute will meet in Maize

KASB’s new Advanced Advocacy Training Institute will conduct its second session Thursday in Maize.  The meeting will include deep dives into bond elections, understanding local school finance efforts, working with advocates and the media.  The Advanced Advocacy Training Institute represents KASB’s newest initiative to develop a network of education advocates throughout Kansas who have a full understanding of issues on the local, state and federal levels.  The objectives of AATI are to establish a network of support for public education; explore initiatives to increase student success; improve advocacy effectiveness and expand the diversity of advocates to participate in legislative and community outreach....

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High-quality, affordable early childhood programs needed in Kansas

In a conference room full of childcare providers, parents, political leaders and state agency officials, a Wichita businessman had the clearest message.  “This is a crisis,” said business leader and philanthropist Barry Downing. “To compete in a global economy, we need more students to get more education and parents to be able to work. That means we need to increase quality and access of early learning, because we are way behind.”  Downing, a panelist at Gov. Laura Kelly’s Symposium on Early Childhood on Monday in Wichita, launched a highly regarded program called The Opportunity Project in 2003, providing funding for high...

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Input received on KASB Fall Regional Roundtables

KASB has heard from education advocates across the state during its just-completed Fall Regional Roundtable meetings. The meetings were designed to increase interaction between school board members and staff and hear from KASB staff on top education issues. The results of the discussions will be forwarded to the KASB Legislative Committee, which will meet again in November to finalize recommendations to the Delegate Assembly at KASB’s annual convention in December in Wichita. The Delegate Assembly will vote on the policy positions that will guide KASB advocacy efforts during the 2020 session. The Regional Roundtable meetings were held in Stafford, Garden City, Topeka,...

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Official touts school mental health program

The school Mental Health Intervention Program approved by the Legislature in 2018 received high praise this week. Kathy Mosher, executive director of the Central Kansas Mental Health Center, said the program — linking schools and community mental health centers — has helped students and communities. “What an ingenious idea,” Mosher told the Legislative Budget Committee on Wednesday. “There is a lot of good coming out of that.” Because of the program, Mosher’s organization has been able to expand services to ensure students receive mental health help close to home, so they don’t miss school, she said. Of the students receiving assistance, the...

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Committee recommends constitutional amendment on abortion; more study of judicial selection system

After two days of public hearings, it is apparent the Kansas Supreme Court and some of its recent rulings will be under the legislative microscope during the 2020 session that starts in January. The Special Committee on Judiciary recommended the Legislature continue studying whether changes should be made in the way justices are selected to the Kansas Supreme Court. Changes to the judicial selection process could affect school finance. And the committee recommended Kansas voters should be given the opportunity to change the state constitutional right of abortion. Some legislators are angry over a ruling by the court in April, blocking a...

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Requests for school security funds far outstrip availability of funds

For the second year of the existence of a school security grant program, requests for funding have far exceeded the amount of money available. Requests from districts for Safe and Secure Schools State Aid Grants totaled $12.85 million. The Legislature this year approved $5 million in funding, the same amount it approved in 2018 when schools applied for more than $19 million. Deputy Education Commissioner Dale Dennis told the Legislative Budget Committee on Wednesday that education officials worked quickly to get the grants to the schools. “We consider this very important that we don’t delay the process,” Dennis said. A total of 169...

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