State Board receives ESEA/No Child Left Behind waiver update

The Kansas State Board of Education meeting Tuesday and Wednesday was dominated by information items, including reports on:
  • ESEA flexibility request;
  • Next Generation science standards;
  • Sunflower Literacy program;
  • Licensed personnel;
  • Recognition of the 21st Century Award and Accreditation model update; and
  • Progress on the board’s strategic goals.
Action items included:
  • Approved a negotiated agreement with teachers at the Kansas State School for the Deaf;
  • Joined the National Association of State Boards of Education;
  • Appointed Ken Willard, R-Nickerson, as the NASBE voting delegate; and
  • Board travel requests.
Kansas State Department of Education staff shared the main features of the conditionally approved waiver.  The U.S. Department of Education on Monday requested additional information on the approach Kansas would use to include student growth as a significant factor in teacher evaluation.  The department also sought more information on how the Kansas evaluation system would be used for continual improvement of instruction; guiding professional development; how evaluators would be trained; how results would be used to inform personnel decisions; and how the state would monitor district implementation.
Staff also gave an overview of the key components of SB 155 and the impact it will have on schools.  The four areas mentioned were: A KSDE review of mandating Individual plans of study; tuition reimbursement for college-level CTE courses; the development of a tier-funding model and transportation reimbursement.

State Board studies: Home schools, kindergarten age, out-district busing

On Tuesday, State Board members suggested a possible study of state laws and regulations concerning home schools.  Under current law home schools are “non-accredited non-public schools,” and are simply required to register once with the Department of Education.  No information on students, enrollment or academic achievement is required, nor are schools required to notify the board when they cease operations.  Board members suggested many students receive excellent educations in home schools, but others may be little more than a way to exempt students from compulsory attendance laws with no accountability.  The board took no action, but may request a legislative study.
Other topics suggested were the age and date for admission to kindergarten, although no proposed change was suggested; and a review of the recent change in state law allowing districts to send school buses into other districts to transport children living more than 2.5 miles from schools in their resident district.  Previous state law only allowed students living 10 or more miles from the school they would regularly attend to be transported under this special provision.

Legislative interim studies announced

The Legislative Coordinating Council approved a number of study topics for joint and special committees before the beginning of the 2013 Legislature in January.  Here are the topics with the greatest potential impact on school districts.
Legislative Educational Planning Committee (three meeting days approved):
  • Review the finance and teacher evaluation plans included in Governor Brownback's school finance reform plan.
  • Review issues on seclusion and restraint.
  • Review teacher training programs on dyslexia at institutions of higher education.
  • Review out-of-state tuition for military spouses and dependents.
  • LEPC also has statutory authority to determine other issues it wishes to study.
Current members are Chair, Sen. Jean Schodorf*; Vice Chair, Rep. Steve Huebert; Members: Rep. Barbara Ballard, Rep. Pat Colloton*, Rep. Owen Donohoe*, Sen. Marci Francisco, Rep. Lana Gordon*, Sen. Terrie Huntington*, Sen. Bob Marshall*, Rep. Eber Phelps, Rep. Jo Ann Pottorff*, Sen. Ruth Teichman*, Sen. John Vratil*.
*Members not seeking re-election or defeated in primary.
Joint Committee on Pensions and Benefits (One meeting day approved):
  • Among other topics, examine the definition of "full time" as used by the school group.
Current members are Chair Rep. Mitch Holmes**, Rep. Louis Ruiz, Rep. Geraldine Flaherty, Rep. Don Hill, Rep. Steven Johnson, Rep. Jim Kelly, Rep. Charles Roth*, Rep. Ron Worley*.
*Members not seeking re-election or defeated in primary.  **Won Senate seat.
Special Committee on Rural Broadband Services (One meeting day approved, members to be appointed.)
  • Examine how the Federal Communication Commission changes to the Universal Service Fund and changes to the Kansas Universal Service Fund will affect rural broadband, the accessibility of rural broadband services, as well as the progress and accuracy of mapping rural broadband service.
Special Committee on Taxation (Two meeting days approved, members to be appointed)
  • Review definition of real property.  This is expected to focus on the taxation of “trade fixtures,” which would have a major impact on property valuation.