The History of KASB

The Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) had its beginning in the Board of Education Department of the Kansas State Teachers Association (KSTA). Although some references to meetings of boards of education can be found prior to 1918, the Board of Education Department of the Kansas State Teachers Association was formally created in that year with W. P. Lambertson of Fairview as president. Mr. Lambertson later became a United States Congressman from Kansas. The only record of activity in the early years was an annual meeting, which was usually held in Pelletier’s Hall in Topeka.

In 1934, the Board of Education Department reorganized, adopted a formal constitution and changed its name to the Kansas State School Boards Association. In 1937, the Association affiliated with the League of Kansas Municipalities and adopted the Kansas Government Journal as its official publication. Some degree of affiliation with the League continued into the 1970s.

In 1954, the name of the Association was changed again to its current name, the Kansas Association of School Boards . An arrangement was made the same year with the University of Kansas to provide, on a part-time basis, the services of Dr. Carl B. Althaus, a professor of educational administration, as the executive secretary of KASB. Dr. Althaus was nationally recognized as an expert in the area of school finance. Under his leadership, KASB became actively involved in leading the development of early programs for state assistance in school funding.

The Kansas Association of School Boards moved its office to Kansas State University in 1957 when Dr. O. K. Fallon, a professor of educational administration at KSU, was named as the part-time executive secretary of KASB. Operating part-time out of a college professor’s office was the norm for many state school boards associations into the 1960s. During the time of Dr. O’Fallon’s leadership, a newsletter for school board members was started, and the Association began to offer inservice training opportunities for local school board members.

By the end of the 1950s, the increasing involvement of the state and federal governments in educational policy made apparent the need for a more vigorous Association. In 1960, KASB had only 161 member boards of education out of the more than 1,000 school districts in existence. The total budget of the Association for that year was $7,500. Several major decisions were reached that year under Dr. O’Fallon’s leadership, including support for hiring a full-time executive director and moving the Association office to Topeka, where it would be in closer contact with state government.

In the late spring of 1961, Dr. M. A. McGhehey was hired as the first full-time executive director of the Kansas Association of School Boards. At the time of his employment, Dr. McGhehey was serving as a specialist in school law in the U.S. Office of Education in Washington, D.C. In 1953-54, he had been on the staff of the Arizona School Boards Association while serving as an assistant professor of education at the University of Arizona. From 1954-1960, he had served as executive secretary for the Indiana School Boards Association while on the faculty of Indiana University.

A new dues schedule was adopted for the 1961-62 fiscal year, which raised the Association budget to $35,000. A small, three-room suite of offices was rented in the Washburn View Shopping Center in Topeka. The Kansas School Board Journal, which had previously been published sporadically, was reinstated and made the official publication of the Association. An expanded meeting program for school board members was established, including spring and fall regional meetings in the then seven regions of Association governance. In addition to a regional vice president, each of the seven regions had an educational advisor for its programs, utilizing the services of a college professor from one of the state colleges and universities. Some professors served more than one region.

The KASB Board of Directors set three major priorities for action in conjunction with the establishment of a full-time staff and office: the development of a foundation school finance plan, the unification of Kansas school districts, and the elimination of the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. All of these goals were substantially accomplished by the end of the decade.

At the same time, the size of the Association staff began to increase, and the initial office space was rapidly outgrown. In 1964, a house at 825 Western in Topeka was purchased for $15,000 as the office for the Association staff, which then consisted of five people. Contributions were accepted from individual board members and superintendents at the Delegate Assembly that year to make the down payment, and $2,700 was collected.
The basement of the Association office was remodeled in 1967, and a press and auxiliary printing equipment were installed to enable the Association to control printing production. By 1969, the Association had again outgrown its space, and a second house was purchased at 1237 Fillmore for the expanding staff. During this year, the Association constitution was also amended to divide the state into 10 regions and provide for an executive committee, which included the president, president-elect and past president. In 1970, the Association moved into the computer age by remodeling the building at 1237 Fillmore to accommodate an IBM Systems 3 computer, which was initially used to store and disseminate school board policies. In 1973, the KASB written policy service was initiated and, for the first time, recommended policies were developed for local school boards.

The early years of the 1970s saw a dramatic change in areas of school governance and Association services. The enactment of the Professional Negotiations Act and the Teacher Due Process Act created an era of bad feelings between school boards and teachers. The administrators who were ejected from the Kansas State Teachers Association, which changed its name to the Kansas-National Education Association, formed a new umbrella group called the United School Administrators of Kansas. Relations between these organizations and KASB would be tenuous for many years.

In the midst of this external turmoil, strained relations between school boards were exacerbated with the 1973 enactment of the School District Equalization Act, the first major effort by the Kansas Legislature to seek to redress imbalances in spending and taxation by school districts based on their wealth.

The KASB Constitution was also amended in 1972 to provide that the four largest districts in the state would be separate KASB regions with automatic representation on the KASB Board of Directors.
As the demand for services from school boards increased during this period of change, KASB was once again faced with facilities’ needs. The Association staff had expanded to 14 people, and the inefficiencies apparent in operating two buildings, separated by nearly half a mile, were becoming unacceptable. In 1974, four vacant lots on the west side of Topeka were purchased, and plans were made for the construction of a new office building. The new building at 5401 SW Seventh Street was dedicated in the summer of 1976, with several hundred school board members and superintendents in attendance. KASB dues at the time were raised sufficiently to allow the building to be paid for in three years.

In September 1982, the Association suffered the tragic loss of Dr. McGhehey as executive director when he suddenly passed away from a heart attack. During his 21-year tenure, however, the foundation had been laid and a pattern established for the growth in effectiveness of this fledgling organization. During the year following Dr. McGhehey’s death, Dr. K. D. Moran, who had previously been the assistant and then the associate executive director, served the Association as executive director. He had first been employed by the Association in 1968, following stints as the superintendent at St. Marys and principal of the lab school at Pittsburg State College. He was largely responsible for the development and implementation of the KASB written policy service. During his year as executive director, steps were taken to improve KASB recordkeeping and financial accountability.

In August of 1983, John W. Koepke became the third full-time executive director of KASB. He began work for the Association as the director of publications in 1970 and later became both assistant and then associate executive director. Prior to becoming the executive director, his primary area of responsibility was as the Association lobbyist. Sixteen full-time employees worked for the Association in the fall of 1983. Koepke retired in 2010 after 40 years of service to KASB, including 27 as the executive director.

By the 1987-88 fiscal year, the KASB staff had grown to 25, and space pressures were once again leaning toward a review of KASB facilities. An architectural firm was hired in 1989 to conduct a facilities study, and a lot for construction of a new office building was purchased later that year. In 1990, due to controversies over school funding, plans for construction of a new office building were put on hold. At the same time, the staff continued to expand. As an interim measure, a second KASB office building at 5425 SW Seventh Street was purchased in the spring of 1991. With the passage of a new school finance plan in the 1992 Legislative Session, building plans were revived. However, in the fall of 1992, an existing office building of almost exactly the same dimensions as the proposed new building came on the market. In September of 1992, the current office building at 1420 SW Arrowhead Road was purchased at approximately half the cost of the proposed new building. Once again, a three-year plan to pay for the new building was developed. The building is now fully owned by KASB, and all previous properties have been sold.

In 2000, a Western Kansas Field Service Specialist was added to the KASB staff to better serve members located in western Kansas.

The KASB staff now consists of 30 full-time staff in a wholly owned 40,000 square foot office building. Plans for the future focus on further development to meet the needs of member boards of education and their staff. The explosion of technology has also created opportunities to better serve our members.

Dr. John Heim became the new KASB executive director on July 1, 2010, following a successful career as a superintendent of schools in several Kansas school districts.

KASB Organizational Structure

Delegate Assembly. The largest component of the KASB governance structure is the Delegate Assembly. This body, which consists of one voting delegate from each member educational entity in the Association, meets yearly during the annual Convention, although emergency sessions have been held at other times.

The KASB Delegate Assembly has three primary responsibilities. The first is the development of policy positions that guide the board of directors and staff in sharing the views of local school board members with the Kansas Legislature, state agencies and the Kansas delegation to the United States Congress. Second, the Delegate Assembly is responsible for annually choosing a president-elect for the Association. Each year the person elected to this position begins a three-year term that includes one year each as president-elect, president and past president. The third function of the Delegate Assembly is to make changes in the KASB Constitution.

Committees. Two standing committees, which are provided for in the KASB Constitution, make recommendations to the Delegate Assembly. The KASB Legislative Committee makes recommendations to the Delegate Assembly for changes and additions to the KASB Legislative Policies and Resolutions. It is chaired by the past president and consists of one member from each KASB region, appointed by the KASB president. The KASB Nominating Committee interviews prospective candidates and recommends one or more candidates to the Delegate Assembly for the office of president-elect. It consists of one member from each KASB region, appointed by the KASB president, with one of its members designated as chair.

Board of Directors. The operational policies of the Association are governed by the KASB Board of Directors. The board is also responsible for the development of the KASB Long Range and Strategic Plan and the annualGoals and Objectives for the Association. The board consists of 18 members: 15 regional vice presidents and the three officers elected by the Delegate Assembly. Currently there are two ex officio members, a member of the NSBA board of directors and an NSBA minority delegate. Ten of the regional vice presidents are elected from geographic regions, each composed of approximately 30 unified school districts. The five largest member districts are designated as KASB regions and choose one of their members to serve as a regional vice president. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors, the three officers, president, president-elect and past president, serve as the executive committee of the Association with the authority to act between meetings of the Board of Directors.

The KASB Board of Directors meets six times each year. Just as in their service to their local school boards, KASB board members receive no compensation for their position. They are reimbursed for the actual expenses incurred in conjunction with their responsibilities to KASB. KASB regional vice presidents are elected to three-year terms on the KASB Board and are subject to a two-term limit.
Ad Hoc Committees are appointed by the Board of Directors to advise either the Board of Directors or the Delegate Assembly on particular subjects. Committees have been appointed in the past to study such areas as school finance, religion in the schools and insurance.

Insurance Trustees. A separate governing body of school board members has oversight of all KASB insurance programs and has a fiduciary responsibility for pool programs. The KASB Workers Compensation Fund, Inc., is governed by a board of trustees composed of 11 local school board members appointed by the KASB president and confirmed by the Board of Directors. It meets three-to-five times per year to make decisions regarding rates and investments of the KASB pool programs and to make recommendations to the KASB Board of Directors regarding endorsement of fully insured programs with outside vendors. 
Legal

In 1976, a step was taken that led to the creation of a separate Legal Assistance Trust. Questions had been raised about the ability of the then two KASB attorneys to represent school districts directly with their fee going to the Association. This entity later evolved into the current Legal Assistance Fund. Following the passage of collective bargaining legislation, labor relations services became an integral part of the KASB legal staff responsibilities. Growth in these major Association services has been phenomenal as demand continues to rise.  There are currently six attorneys on the staff of KASB.

Research

Since the establishment of a full-time staff, research has always been one of KASB’s services to its members. The second full-time salaried staff position created by the Association was a director of research. While the position was temporarily abandoned in the early 70s, it has been a critical component of KASB activity since it was revived in the mid-70s.

Insurance

KASB made its initial effort to assist school districts in the area of insurance programs by establishing an Insurance Trust in 1978. The first programs established by the trust were limited to the endorsement of existing insurance policies. In recent years, KASB has added additional programs under the endorsement principle.  They include a Student Accident program and, in 2010, an endorsed Property and Liability program was begun.

Workers Compensation Pool

In November of 1985, the KASB Board of Directors formed an insurance study committee. In 1987, the committee recommended the establishment of a group-funded workers compensation pool. In 1989, the name of the KASB Workers Compensation Trust was changed to KASB Risk Management Services, Inc. Since its inception, the RMSI has served over 200 Kansas school districts with various lines of endorsed and self-funded insurance programs. In 2003, the pool name reverted to KASB Workers Compensation Fund, Inc.

National Gas Purchasing Consortium

KASB manages the Kansas Joint Utilities Management Program (KJUMP) which purchases and supplies natural gas to more than 135 school districts and eight community colleges, with savings realized by the participating members.
Leadership Development and Services

In 1988, the KASB education services department was created, and a new dimension was added to KASB services.  At the same time, the state of Kansas was wrestling with the development of a new accreditation system for schools based on student achievement. KASB members and officers were embracing the concept and looking for leadership from the Association. KASB was instrumental in the development of the Quality Performance Accreditation system, while continually seeking to make it more acceptable to its members.  In recent years, services to school administrators have been enhanced and the critical link between school boards and school administrators has been emphasized by changing the name of the department to the Leadership Development and Services Department.

Governmental Relations/Advocacy

With the addition of the first full-time governmental relations staff person in 1990, the basic structure of KASB services had been established. KASB has always been active in the governmental relations arena, and most staff members have always had direct or indirect roles in this activity. However, until this staff position was created, governmental relations had never been the full-time responsibility of any single staff member. The KASB Governmental Relations Network, with one contact person in each school district, was also established in 1990.  Today, KASB employs two full time governmental relations staff members, with support from many other KASB staff departments.
Conclusion

Many avenues exist for local school boards and school board members to affect the direction and operation of their Association. Input is solicited each year for policies and resolutions to be considered by the Delegate Assembly.The KASB Long Range and Strategic Plan is submitted to the membership each year for review and suggested revisions. Local school board members are encouraged to volunteer to serve as KASB committee members who are appointed by the president. Direct participation is available by serving as the district voting delegate at the KASB Delegate Assembly or by running for KASB office. Many local board members have made a significant contribution to Kansas public education by their participation in KASB governance. The Association needs the participation and support of all its members to continue to serve their needs.
National School Boards Association

Kansas school board members, through their state Association, have also played an integral role in the development of the National School Boards Association (NSBA). Begun in 1947 as a federation of the state school board associations, NSBA also began a period of rapid growth in the 1970s. Kansas delegates were instrumental in an effort begun in 1974 to move the NSBA offices and staff from its home at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, to the Washington, D.C., area.

Dr. Robert V. Haderlein of Girard, became the first Kansan elected to the NSBA Board of Directors in 1972. In 1978, Dr. Haderlein was elected secretary-treasurer of NSBA and, subsequently, became the president of NSBA during the 1981-82 year. While serving as NSBA president, Dr. Haderlein was appointed by President Reagan to the National Commission on Excellence in Education. This commission is best known for having produced the report A Nation at Risk. Four other Kansans have subsequently served on the NSBA Board of Directors, H.B. Scott of Haviland, Martha Miller of Manhattan, Tim Clapp of Andover, and Bill Meek of Spring Hill. One, Judy Lair of Yates Center, currently serves on the NSBA Board of Directors.