KASB Summer Regionals kick off in Hiawatha, Stafford

School leaders in Stafford and Hiawatha met Wednesday to discuss major education issues and how to improve Kansas public schools as the KASB Summer Regional Roundtable meetings kicked off.

The next meeting is set for Thursday in Colby with meetings scheduled next week in McPherson, Greenbush, Haysville, Topeka and Olathe.

Board members and district leaders discussed challenges and opportunities in schools after KASB provided focus topics that included school safety, school redesign, the 2020 Census, upcoming legislative session and local issues.

In Hiawatha, board members and superintendents from the Atchison, Hiawatha, Sabetha, Marysville and Washington school districts said they worry that the increased number of school safety drills, though important, may be frightening to some students. In spite of those concerns, however, there was consensus that merely having a written school safety plan is not enough. “You have to do the run-throughs,” said Hiawatha Board President Ian Schuetz.

The local leaders said increased funding may now allow boards to turn their focus toward the Kansans Can school redesign effort. They said many districts have been waiting to see how the process plays out and were reluctant to ask their teachers and staff to commit to redesign while the school funding law was in flux. Several attendees said they’ve already noticed improved morale in their districts as a result of the additional funding provided by the state legislature and approved by the state Supreme Court.

In Stafford, Ruth Teichman noted the importance of next year’s Census both for education funding and legislative representation especially in rural areas that may see their representative influence diminish if everyone is not counted. Teichman is a former Stafford board member, past KASB president and former state senator.

With increased school funding and the Gannon court case resolved for now, state Sen. Mary Jo Taylor, R-Stafford, and a former superintendent and principal in Stafford, said schools will need to show the Legislature and court how that funding is improving schools. Educators also talked about the need to focus on the mental health of students and to increase the number of profession credentials that students can receive while still in high school.

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