KASB President’s Perspective: KASB completes year in a strong positionAndrea Hartzell
Welcome to a new year! And welcome to the 2020 legislative session. This month, I want to give you a short update on the work of your KASB board of directors and staff in 2019 and to note a couple of issues to keep an eye on as the legislative session gets underway.
If you have visited the KASB website recently, you have seen this header:
Leading Success! The Kansas Association of School Boards is proud to support you in your role as a local leader.
So what has KASB accomplished in 2019 toward providing that support? How are we challenging ourselves to do a better job for you, our membership, and ultimately for the public-school students we all serve across our state?
KASB’s staff and Board of Directors have spent a good deal of time this past year working to update the Association’s strategic plan. Among the primary goals of this updated plan are telling the story of Kansas public education by highlighting our districts and schools, expanding networking and engagement opportunities for members, increasing collaboration among all education stakeholders in our state, and continuing to develop leadership capacity within all levels of our education system. To accomplish these goals the Association will expand our use of technology to share information and become even more data-driven to make sure our work meets the needs of our members. All of these goals seek to enhance the services KASB provides to develop your skills as local leaders and public education advocates. In furtherance of these strategic goals, the Association has restructured several staff positions to ensure that our goals in leadership, board development, and legal services are fully supported.
In addition to the support we provide to our membership, KASB staff and the Board of Directors have been taking steps to ensure the future fiscal and operational health of the Association. A large component of that work this past year has been improvements to KASB’s headquarters facility. Just like buildings in many of our districts, the KASB building had deferred maintenance needs. The board of directors and Association leaders developed a plan over the past few years to address these deferred maintenance projects, and in 2019 contractors accomplished a complete retrofit of the HVAC and lighting systems as well as upgrading restrooms and improving building security systems.
KASB’s building has been an important asset for the financial stability of the Association, allowing the Association to retire its defined benefit plan, as well as generating revenue for operations that has helped positively manage membership dues. It also houses two tenants, the Sunflower Foundation and USA Kansas, and hosts public education-related meetings and events throughout the year. By doing this work to responsibly maintain this important asset, the KASB board and Association leadership have positioned KASB to continue to be financially healthy in the coming years.
Throughout the last legislative session, KASB continued to fulfill our charge of being “THE voice for public education,” and was at the forefront of all public education issues in the legislature. As you have no doubt seen from KASB’s daily news briefs, our advocacy staff is already hard at work preparing for the upcoming session. Expect to hear more soon about a couple of issues that will likely be discussed early and throughout the legislative session—Kansas tax policy and the recently released legislative post-audit of at-risk funding. Both issues are critically important to the adequate and equitable funding of our schools, which in turn is integral to helping Kansas students succeed. KASB will be engaged on these and many other issues this session.
So, there has been a lot happening at KASB this past year, and we have much to be excited about. In honor of the new year, for the remainder of my year as president of the Association I am resolved to challenge our Association’s board of directors and staff to move beyond our comfort zones as we continue to evaluate how best to meet your needs as members and the needs of all of our students. And, as we welcome the new year, new board members, and a new legislative session, I ask you to make the same resolution, to push your board and administration to step past your collective comfort zones in your work to meet the needs of each and every student in your schools.