Newsroom

Remote learning dollars being shifted to other purposes

State officials are moving around federal COVID-19 funds, including millions of dollars that were initially earmarked to assist in remote learning for Kansas students, to help other functions, such as distributing the expected COVID-19 vaccine. Julie Lorenz, executive director of the Office of Recovery, told the Joint Legislative Budget Committee earlier this week that $23.5 million of $40 million that had been set aside for supervised sites for online learning for school-age children will be moved to assist health care and businesses affected by the pandemic. Lorenz said the $40 million could not be disbursed by the Dec. 30 deadline attached...

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KPERS report: Pension system in good financial shape; teacher retirements increase

The Kansas Legislature’s Joint Committee on Pensions, Investments and Benefits heard Wednesday that the state employee retirement fund is in good financial shape. Not surprisingly, officials said the number of school district retirees increased 28 percent, from 846 in September and October of 2019 to 1,087 in the same months in 2020. The retirements were attributed anecdotally to safety concerns about teaching during a pandemic, early retirement incentives, and lack of some positions. KPERS Executive Director Alan Conroy said it’s too early to gauge the impact on the system of a one-year increase in retirements but he’ll know more...

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Teachers not in first round of COVID-19 vaccine distribution under preliminary plan

Teachers and other school personnel aren’t among those mentioned to receive the COVID-19 vaccination in the first round of distribution, which could start happening within weeks. Phil Griffin, director of disease control and prevention for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, unveiled Kansas’ preliminary vaccine distribution plan on Tuesday to the Legislative Budget Committee. Griffin noted that information changes almost hourly on vaccine developments and proposals on how and when people can receive the vaccine. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering authorization of several proposed vaccines. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to vote soon...

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Pediatricians, KNEA say teachers should have access to first round of COVID-19 vaccine

Teachers and support personnel who work closely with students should have access to the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations, according to the Kansas chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (KAAP) and the Kansas National Education Association. “As frontline workers during the pandemic, professional educators who work most closely with students should be prioritized for early receipt of a new COVID-19 vaccine and should be given options for obtaining it as soon as possible and according to their personal preferences,” KAAP said in a news release that was joined with support by the Kansas NEA. In addition, KAAP, which represents more...

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COVID-19 mitigation efforts to be discussed at Dec. 9 `Lunch and Learn’

A December 9 event will offer K-12 education leaders the opportunity to understand the latest information on COVID-19 mitigation efforts as infection rates increase statewide.  The noon session via Zoom will be facilitated by KASB Deputy Executive Director Dr. Brian Jordan and will feature Dr. Stephanie Kuhlmann and other members of the Kansas COVID Workgroup for Kids along with representatives from the Kansas State Department of Education, KASB, and USA-Kansas. The format will allow for questions from attendees.   KASB strongly encourages our members and their leadership teams to participate in this important session. Go here to register.  

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No recommendations from legislative audit on district cash balances

A study of school district cash balances by the Legislative Division of Post Audit noted that balances have increased over the past 10 years after adjusting for inflation, but due to many factors did not reach a conclusion of whether balances are too high or too low, and made no recommendations.  Here is a link to the full audit.  The district balances audit was ordered by the Kansas Legislature in a school finance bill during the 2019 session. For years, some legislators and organizations have suggested cash balances are too high.   However, as the audit noted, state law does not set requirements...

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Winter sports to start as scheduled; proposed moratorium shortened

Winter high school sports competitions will start on time, according to a vote Tuesday by the Kansas State High School Activities Association board of directors. The board, made up of nearly 80 school officials from across the state, also jettisoned a portion of medical advice to fight the spread of COVID-19 by approving a shorter moratorium on winter sports that had been proposed earlier. Health officials wanted schools to cancel interscholastic competition for high schools, middle schools and junior high schools for six weeks from Dec. 1 through Jan. 14 — some even wanted a longer moratorium. But the KSHSAA board of...

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Comprehensive resource available to help families connect with assistance

A family that needs help with just about any problem a child could have is just a call or click away from connecting with that help by using a resource provided by the Kansas Children’s Service League. The comprehensive resource can also be a valuable tool for educators — teachers, staff, school board members and others — when trying to help students and families, especially during this turbulent pandemic. KCSL has launched a new 1800childrenks.org website and an app (1800CHILDRENKS) for mobile devices that provides information and connections to hundreds of programs addressing a multitude of needs, such as housing, food,...

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State Budget Director says Gannon funding will be there

Gov. Laura Kelly’s budget chief on Thursday stated the governor would push for the increased public school funding called for under the Gannon settlement. State Budget Director Larry Campbell’s comments came during a meeting of the Governor’s Council on Tax Reform in response to concerns about school funding needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Shannon Kimball, a member of the Lawrence USD 497 board and former KASB president, said many districts are having to spend more to combat the coronavirus while also suffering decreased enrollment. Campbell said Kelly is committed to pushing for the approximately $100 million increase for K-12 in the...

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Board leaders discuss challenges and opportunities during KASB Coffee Chats

School board members on Thursday said districts are working hard to find replacement teachers, bus drivers and other staff as COVID-19 quarantines have impacted personnel. The comments were made during KASB Board of Education Leadership Coffee Chats that were held in various regions across the state via zoom. Board members from rural districts gave examples of superintendents and principals filling in as teachers, bus drivers, and kitchen staff as quarantines have taken effect. It has also been difficult to find substitute teachers in some districts, board members said. The pandemic has produced numerous challenges as many districts switch from between in-person to...

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