KASB Board forms group to work on equity in schools

The KASB Board of Directors on Saturday approved forming a committee that will work to ensure equity in Kansas public education.

KASB President Shannon Kimball said recent deaths by African-Americans at the hands of police and others and worldwide demonstrations against institutional racism have shown more needs to be done to make education equitable.

“We all have felt the impact of everything that has been going on in our country the past several weeks. We just cannot be silent on these issues as an association,” said Kimball, who is a member of the Lawrence USD 497 school board.

Board member Frank Henderson, who has been working on equity issues on the national level, said laying a foundation for equity advances is important because “it does take a lot of work to put things into practice and place.” Henderson is a member of the Seaman USD 345 board, a past president of KASB and currently serves as Secretary-Treasurer of NSBA. He said NSBA is working on a project called Disabling Institutional Racism in Education, or DIRE.

Board member Kevin Cole said even school districts that are overwhelmingly white need to learn about equity and racism issues because the workforce is generally diverse. Cole is a member of the Labette County USD 506 school board.

Kimball said the working group represents a first step in what will hopefully be a permanent effort to continuously improve equity in public schools.

During its quarterly meeting, the board also:

— Approved recommending to the Delegate Assembly changing  the KASB Constitution to have the terms of the association president and president-elect start on the second Monday in January instead of July 1. This will align those terms with the same date of the terms of local board members.

— Approved recommending a two-stage Delegate Assembly process in which officers will be elected and policies reviewed at the annual convention and the Legislative Committee report will be finalized in January at the annual KASB Advocacy in Action conference in January.

— Approved providing for the possibility of having an in-person and virtual annual convention and an entirely virtual convention in the event of further health problems caused by COVID-19.

— Approved the budget for next fiscal year.

— Heard reports from Leadership Services, Advocacy, NSBA, KASB’s pandemic response, new training and workshops and building issues.

— Discussed legislative priorities. Some of those included protecting the school funding formula, full funding of special education, equity, increasing diversity among teachers, opposing vouchers, increasing mental health training and maximizing early childhood funding.

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