Safety and Security

Legislation aimed at reducing youth vaping almost ready

Health and education advocates say they are close to unveiling state legislation that would increase the minimum age in Kansas to purchase tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, from 18 to 21. Similar laws — called Tobacco 21 — have been passed in 18 states and Washington D.C. Sarah Prem, advocacy specialist with the Kansas and Greater Kansas City American Lung Association, said tobacco-free groups are refining the legislation, recruiting sponsors and planning an education and communication campaign. “We want to construct that big tent,” she said. The 2020 legislative session starts in January. The proposed legislation has picked up momentum in recent months...

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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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KASB workshop designed to help teachers, administrators make all students feel welcome

Craig Wilford, with KASB Leadership Services, is on a mission to help schools make all students feel welcome and worthy.  Wilford is leading a KASB workshop on “Developing Cultural Proficiency” that will be held  Wed. Oct. 30 in Topeka. Here is a link for more information.   Developing cultural proficiency in schools is about enabling teachers and staff to look at the school experience through the eyes of those who may be different than they are.  “To put it into a nutshell, it’s really about respecting and recognizing individual students and their differences, making every student valuable and worthy within your school building,”...

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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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Kansas Anti-Bullying Awareness Week

Kansans are being asked to “Choose Peace” as part of Anti-Bullying Awareness Week, which runs from Monday through Sunday. About one in five students report being bullied, according to a national report. In the latest Kansas Communities That Care survey, which is taken voluntarily, 28.6 percent of sixth-graders said they were bullied at school at least once; 27.4 percent of eighth-graders; 23.1 percent of 10th-graders and 19.6 percent of 12th-graders. A Blue Ribbon Task Force on Bullying is studying ways to reduce bullying and will provide a report to the State Board of Education in December. Kansas teens are being asked to share...

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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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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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October issue of KASB School Board Review is available

Articles on education equity, the effect of social media on our students, the school bond environment, KASB’s upcoming annual conference and more are featured in the October issue of School Board Review, which is available online here. This month’s publication includes the final installment of KASB Associate Executive Director of Advocacy and Communications Mark Tallman’s analysis of equity in student success. KASB Executive Director John Heim writes about how young people today face challenges their parents didn’t — namely that their exploits are recorded forever in the digital world. KASB’s Rob Gilligan, government relations specialist, analyzes opportunities to reinvest in school...

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Meetings this week that school advocates should monitor

Several important meetings are occurring this week that will help guide education in Kansas. KASB is wrapping up its 2019 Fall Regional Roundtable meetings Tuesday in McPherson and Greenbush and Wednesday in Beloit and Haysville. The meetings start at 5:30 p.m. and will go no longer than three hours. School board members will have the opportunity to share information with their peers while also providing input for KASB’s agenda in the 2020 legislative session. The meetings are structured in a way to encourage more interaction among board members while providing local advocates the opportunity to discuss issues with KASB staff. They also...

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KASB official featured in podcast on assessing threats to schools

KASB’s Randy Weseman is featured in a new school safety podcast that points to the importance of a positive school climate in deterring school violence. Weseman, a former school superintendent, is coordinating KASB’s Oct. 28 Threat Assessment Team Training workshop in Topeka.   In the Sept. 29 edition of the Topeka Capitol-Journal’s Capitol Insider podcast, reporter Tim Carpenter talks with Weseman about the threat assessment team model of school safety, which focuses on a communication-based approach to improving school culture. Weseman, KASB’s assistant executive director of operations and leadership services, says the U.S. Secret Service has studied school violence and found...

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