Watson launches effort to redesign demonstration schools

Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson on Tuesday announced the launching of an initiative to redesign Kansas schools to align with the Kansans Can mission of leading the world in the success of each student.

Watson said the initiative will start with a demonstration project with seven school districts, which will be selected in September from an application process. The chosen districts will go through a year of preparation and start re-designing in the 2018-19 school year.

“We need highly motivated, select school districts,” Watson said during the monthly Kansas State Board of Education meeting. He said each selected district will offer an elementary and secondary school for redesign.

How will these schools change? Watson said the schools will be committed to the Kansans Can goal, focusing on kindergarten readiness, individual plans of study, social-emotional growth, high school graduation and post-secondary completion. At the secondary level, the schools will feature strong emphasis on career paths. The schools also will be strongly connected to parents, the local community and businesses, Watson said.

Watson said he will use approximately $500,000 in federal Title 2 funds to start the effort, which includes hiring two new employees to assist in the redesign of schools and help create the demonstration schools.

In announcing the program, Watson showed the State Board a photo of the original seven Mercury astronauts and said each of the seven demonstration districts will be named after one of those astronauts.

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