Local Boards

Gov. Kelly issues new mask mandate; wants schools, businesses open

As the number of COVID-19 cases in Kansas explodes, Gov. Laura Kelly on Wednesday announced a new mask order and said she is determined to keep schools and businesses open. Under the order, which takes effect Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving, counties that do not require mask wearing, would have one week to adopt a mandate or fall under the state order. Even so, Kelly acknowledged that current state law would allow any county to opt out of a mask requirement. Kelly said her proposal would allow counties to tailor their mandates to local conditions. In a news conference, Kelly urged...

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School Board Leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic: Lara Bors, Garden City USD 457

No one ran for school board thinking they would be helping govern their district through our nation’s worst health crisis in more than a century. Debates over wearing masks, playing football, or even whether and how to open schools have kept school board meetings going late into many nights and filled the email boxes of school board members. During this time, we think it is important for board members to share their experiences with each other and the public so that we all may learn how to face this challenge before us. Lara Bors, is president of the Garden City...

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Kansas elected leaders approve funding for COVID PSAs; state disaster declaration extended; Kelly says no shutdown

With COVID-19 at record levels, state elected leaders Friday agreed to fund public service announcements urging Kansans to follow what health officials have been saying for months to fight the pandemic — wear face masks, don’t gather in large crowds, observe good hygiene and socially distance. Meeting as the State Finance Council, the leaders also approved Gov. Laura Kelly’s request to extend the state disaster declaration through Dec. 15, which will allow the state through its various emergency agencies to help in the COVID response and gain assistance from the federal government. Under state law, statewide disaster declarations are limited...

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2020 KASB Convention will feature different delivery but still focus on connections, sharing, solutions

The 2020 KASB Convention will include all the features that make the annual gathering of school leaders special — connections with board members from across Kansas, access to innovative ideas and solutions, and the opportunity to hear from state and national speakers.  However, because of COVID-19, there will be one significant difference from previous years. You can participate in the Dec. 2-4 event from your home or anywhere else with an internet connection since the conference will be held via zoom.  Dubbed “Creating Communities,” the 2020 KASB convention will help school board members hit the refresh button after what has been...

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Federal grants available for remote learning support

Millions of dollars in federal grant funds are available in Kansas to provide quality education supports for children when schools are in hybrid or remote learning modes. Melissa Rooker, executive director of the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund, which is administering these grants, is urging local programs that deliver safe, quality out-of-home care for children, to apply for the grants. That’s because of the $25 million to $40 million available for these grants, the deadline to apply is Dec. 30. So far, Rooker told the State Board of Education on Tuesday, only about $7 million has been earmarked. The funding was...

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President’s Perspective: The path forward is to connect

As I write this blog on the eve of the 2020 general election, I am filled with anxiety about the response the election results will evoke from the public. This election has been more divisive than any election I have lived through. The pandemic has erected more silos and thickened the walls to overcome barriers already in place. People are isolated from one another and are yearning for connection. As local leaders elected without partisan lines, we cross the aisles to come together and make decisions for the children in our communities, our future leaders.   In my 12 years of...

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State Board of Education voices concerns about school year, looking at options

Stressed-out schools and parents and the realization that the COVID-19 spread is getting worse prompted a wide-ranging discussion by the State Board of Education on ways to help districts.  Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson said consideration of waiving the requirement that schools have a 1,116-hour year is premature at this point. He also said the question about whether there will be State Assessments this spring is up in the air because the tests must be taken in person, which would be a problem if districts were forced into a remote/online instruction phase because of the pandemic.  Meanwhile, State Board members expressed...

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KASB Legislative Committee recommends priorities for school districts

The Kansas Association of School Boards Legislative Committee has proposed a set of state and local priorities for 2021. The proposals will be finalized by the KASB Delegate Assembly, which is scheduled to meet virtually on Jan. 21.  School leaders are encouraged to review these proposals with their local boards of education. Each KASB member school board has a voting delegate at the assembly, which will discuss and consider any amendments before approving the documents.  Local boards may also use these recommendations as a guide for determining their own priorities for the upcoming legislative session and input to state and federal...

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Dyslexia Task Force asks for coordinator funding

The Kansas Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia met Monday to review its progress and ask the state Legislature to fund a Dyslexia Coordinator position. Although the group’s work has been slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, “We will continue to fight until every kid in Kansas has the opportunity to be a successful reader,” said task force Chair and State Board of Education member Jim Porter.  The final meeting of the Task Force took place in the wake of a September decision by the State Board of Education to reject the Kansas State Department of Education’s recommendation to delay implementing some...

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November School Board Review focuses on upcoming annual KASB Convention

During such a roller-coaster year, school board members need some time to reflect and recharge with fellow board members from across the state. That’s what the 2020 KASB Convention aims for and that’s what the November issue of School Board Review is all about. The issue provides details about the virtual convention, which which will be held from Dec. 2-4. Named “Creating Communities,” the annual convention will move the usual breakout sessions, Delegate Assembly meetings, keynote speakers and more to an online platform. But in order to avoid zoom fatigue, many features will be pre-recorded so that you can participate when...

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