Safety and Security

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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COVID-19 testing, remote learning capabilities to receive boost

Gov. Laura Kelly and legislative leaders Thursday approved about $290 million in COVID-related spending, including $40 million for child supervision and remote learning. The unanimous decision by the State Finance Council represented the final installment of approximately $1 billion in federal CARES Act funding. In two earlier rounds, $400 million went to counties for COVID-19 expenses and $314 toward statewide priorities, including broadband connectivity and early childhood support. The biggest ticket item in Thursday’s action was $50 million to expand COVID-19 testing. Kelly and others said the expansion is needed to protect the public health and provide a truer assessment 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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Starting Anew: Wabaunsee USD 329 reopening promotes safe onsite learning but ready to pivot if necessary

The Wabaunsee USD 329 school district is situated in the Flint Hills just west of Topeka.   The rural district of about 450 students has been relatively lightly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and its five schools were able to open as planned in mid-August with nearly all children attending in person. Look beyond the pastoral setting and the smiles of students on the playground, though, and you’ll find USD 329’s reopening was the result of months of intense planning by Board of Education members, administrators, teachers and staff to respond to the continuing uncertainties presented by the pandemic while...

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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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SPARK Task Force prioritizing immediate needs

The Kansas SPARK (Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas) Task Force met Wednesday to summarize recent spending and discuss priorities for roughly $300 million in Kansas CARES Act funding.  The task force is charged with overseeing expenditures of just over $1 billion in federal CARES Act stimulus funding provided by Congress to help states compensate for the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unless Congress takes action, CARES Act money must be spent by the end of December. Round 1 of the Task Force’s work committed $400 million to Kansas counties; Round 2 directed just over $300 million to connectivity, economic development,...

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KASB Advocacy Update set for noon today (Fri. Sept. 4)

Before you start your Labor Day weekend, join KASB for an Advocacy Update at noon today (Fri. Sept. 4). The KASB Advocacy staff will review developments of the KASB Legislative Committee, state audits on membership dues, lobbying and bilingual education, the upcoming election, interim legislative committee work on the emergency management act, foster care, mental health and more. There is no registration fee for the zoom session, but pre-registration is required. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. The advocacy session is available to all who receive the KASB News Briefs, including board members,...

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KASB `Lunch and Learn’ tomorrow will focus on infection control strategies for school buildings

Find out how to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in your school district buildings at noon tomorrow (Wed. Sept. 2) during the KASB "Lunch and Learn" board leadership forum. The Willdan and P1 Group, Inc. will present on infection control strategies for school buildings. Devin Malone, business development manager, and Danny MacRostie, senior engineer, will talk about how pathogens, such as COVID-19, move through buildings and how building systems can help reduce the risk to students and staff. The weekly "Lunch and Learn" series will also feature KASB Leadership Services Field Specialist Gary Sechrist and KASB Attorney Sam Blasi. The session...

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