Colyer’s education council approves recommendations; Kelly transition says she will continue council’s work

Gov. Jeff Colyer’s Education Council approved its final recommendations Tuesday and the incoming administration of Gov.-elect Laura Kelly says it will continue the work of the council to provide advice on improving education and workforce opportunities in Kansas.

Cindy Lane, a member of Kelly’s transition team and a former Kansas City USD 500 superintendent, indicated Kelly would appoint a new council and Lane asked members of the current council who are interested in continuing to serve to contact the transition office.

“The work you have done should be the launching pad for what the next council does,” Lane said during the council’s meeting at KASB.

Colyer established the Governor’s Education Council in April and charged it with forming a vision statement for education, integrating educational opportunities, improving public-private partnerships, focusing on workforce initiatives, and establishing accountability metrics.

Attending Tuesday’s meeting, Colyer said, “What we are doing here is extraordinary; putting a strong strategic vision together.” Colyer said he discussed the council with Kelly and said she has a strong vision for education in Kansas.

Since the council formed, it divided into subcommittees that have been working on various issues.

On a unanimous vote, the full council recommended:

— The Kansas Board of Regents study the Excel in CTE program and make recommendations for any changes during the 2019 legislative session. The council said the CTE program had been successful but that fees charged for tools, uniforms, national exams and other items were inconsistent across the state;

— The Kansas Chamber and Kansas Workforce Board lead an effort to increase public-private partnerships between business, K-12 and postsecondary education;

— Collaboration between several state agencies on information on high school graduates who go straight into the workforce.

— Development of work-based learning insurance and liability guidelines;

— The executive branch conduct a survey on all the workforce training in the various state agencies.

Currently, the council is co-chaired by Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson and Kansas Board of Regents CEO and President Blake Flanders. It was staffed by KSDE, KBOR and Diane DeBacker, the executive director of Business and Innovation with the Kansas Department of Commerce. DeBacker is a former Kansas education commissioner who is taking a job as chief academic officer for the Seattle public school system. The council includes representatives from public schools, higher education, businesses and state agencies. KASB’s representative on the council is Executive Director John Heim.

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