public schools

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

The Shawnee Mission school board is going to have a very different look next year.

All three reform candidates won Tuesday night, replacing three veteran board members.

That now gives reformers a 4-3 edge on the board.

One of the reform leaders is at-large board member Brad Stratton who wasn’t on the ballot last night.

"The voters in the Shawnee Mission District came out and said loud and clear that they'd like some new voices at the board table," he says.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Kansas lawmakers soon will start work to determine their response to a ruling by the state’s Supreme Court that found K-12 public school funding unconstitutional.

Republicans and Democrats on a key legislative panel decided the matter is too urgent to wait until the 2018 legislative session starts in January.

They voted Monday to create an 11-member committee that will meet for three days before then. Its task will be to kick-start efforts that must be done by an April 30 deadline.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Former Hickman Mills Supt. Dennis Carpenter has started his new job in Lee’s Summit.

Carpenter, whose Twitter handle is @EquitySupt1, has advocated for an accountability system that was fair for poor, high mobility districts.

He says that work isn’t over now that he’s in Lee’s Summit, one of state’s most affluent school districts.

“We've started some of that conversation (in) the last couple of months, realizing that there is a place for equity in the suburban districts,” says Carpenter. “That's something that we're going to work with through the board's priorities.”

Pixabay - CC

As summer wanes, students and teachers across all metro districts are getting ready for a new school year, but the challenges faced by teachers in urban settings can differ greatly from their suburban colleagues. Today, we speak with educators from both sides of the state line to learn about the rigors and rewards of teaching in the inner-city.

Courtesy photo / Kansas State Department of Education

Fourteen schools in seven school districts across Kansas will work this year on revamping the way they serve children, with the goal of becoming statewide models for overhauling primary and secondary education.

The education department is branding the effort to re-envision schools as Kansas’ version of “a moon shot,” referring to the U.S. race to put a man on the moon in the 1960s.

Elle Moxley / 89.3

The halls of DeLaSalle Education Center are quiet – for now.

“It’s a silence that will go away in about two weeks – and that’s a good thing,” Mark Williamson, the school’s executive director, says.

DeLaSalle, a charter school at 3737 Troost Avenue, only serves kids at risk of dropping out.

“If you’re on grade level, if you’re well-adjusted – or as well-adjusted as a teenager can be – this isn’t the place for you,” Williamson says bluntly.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The Kansas City Public Schools Board of Education is preparing to take a public stance on the rapid expansion of charters. 

"We recognize as a board the need to create one voice around schools of choice or charters in Kansas City," said Jennifer Wolfsie, kicking off the conversation at the board’s executive session Wednesday evening.

Shawnee Mission School District / YouTube

The ACLU of Kansas says a new policy adopted by the Shawnee Mission School Board may violate the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment. It has sent a letter to Board President Sarah Goodburn, urging the board to rescind the policy. 

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

About two hundred people on Saturday attended a town hall event in Olathe where they questioned nine Republican lawmakers about their positions on Medicaid expansion and school financing.

Many held placards expressing support for more Medicaid funding. All of the lawmakers present were opposed to expanding the program and agreed with Gov. Sam Brownback’s decision to veto an expansion bill passed overwhelmingly last month by the Legislature.

Justgrimes / Flickr — CC

So you voted in the presidential election last year and felt all warm and fuzzy because you did your civic duty. Yay! Or maybe you didn't (or couldn't) but now you want to make a change.

The race for the highest executive office in the United States may be settled, but KCUR is here to break down Kansas City, Missouri's special April 4 election for you. 

First, make sure you can vote (if you're registered already, click here to skip down to the issues)

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

It only took the Olathe Board of Education about 20 minutes to approve the hiring of a new superintendent for substantially more money than it paid the previous top administrator.

On a unanimous vote, the board hired John Allison, the current superintendent in Wichita, with a base salary of $250,000.

Marlin Berry, who resigned in April, was making $231,263.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Mark Bedell has been superintendent in the Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) for 100 days and he's making one thing clear to the Board of Education, his staff and parents: things are going to change.

Bedell issued his so-called 100 Day Plan to the Board Wednesday.

Bedell's plan calls for more transparency, more autonomy for building principals and more intensity around recruiting and retaining teachers.

Wichita Public Schools

The superintendent from the biggest school district in Kansas is the "sole finalist" for the top job in Olathe Public Schools.

The district says the school board is expected to finalize the appointment of John Allison at its meeting Monday.

Allison has lead the Wichita district since 2009.  Before that, he was superintendent in the Mt. Lebanon School District in Pennsylvania and has been an administrator in Texas and the Shawnee Mission School District.

Laura McCallister / Kansas City Public Library

In the hands of musicians like Charlie Christian, Carlos Santana, and Slash, the electric guitar has become a symbol for freedom, rebellion and rock 'n' roll. Then, find out why celebrities like Will Smith and Casey Affleck are taking new interest in the 1955 murder of Emmett Till.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Two weeks ago Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said the state needed a new school funding formula and called on educators to email him their suggestions.

At his Statehouse news conference Brownback offered no specific ideas.

On Thursday, the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) talked about what should be in a new formula next year. But, like the governor, the organization offered few details. KASB did urge everyone to email.

Brad Wilson / Flickr-CC

It only took a few minutes for the Kansas State Board of Education to approve $7.2 million in extraordinary needs funding for school districts across the state. The extra money will go to 34 school districts. Three districts didn't get any money.

The six local districts who applied for the additional state aid didn't get all they wanted but still did well.

YouTube

The man who has testified dozens of times in the Kansas Legislature saying that public schools are over-funded, administrators and some teachers make too much money and school districts operate inefficiently, once called for lawmakers to raise taxes to improve schools.

Dave Trabert now runs the Kansas Policy Institute and is a powerful voice among conservative lawmakers. On its website, KPI calls itself "an independent think-tank that advocates for free market solutions and the protection of personal freedom for all Kansans." 

While many educators are spending the summer on the campaign trail, the sign outside a public elementary school in Wichita urges voters to register.
Abigail Wilson / KMUW

To say that many educators in Kansas are fed up with state lawmakers would be an understatement. The legislature has been putting a tighter and tighter squeeze on public schools in recent years. This election season, educators are trying to send legislators packing.

The Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB) estimates that all across the state roughly 50 current and former school board members, administrators, and teachers are candidates in legislative elections.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Today is the first official day on the job for new Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Mark Bedell, and he certainly has his work cut out for him. 

Bedell is looking to help the district regain full accreditation, but he is also focusing on changing negative attitudes about the district. In these first few weeks, he says he "wants to come in and just restore hope and really give these kids the best opportunities to be successful." 

Wikimedia Commons - CC

Kansas lawmakers have approved a school funding plan that they say will end the risk of a legal fight closing Kansas schools. The bill is in response to a Supreme Court ruling that says the funding system was unfair to poorer school districts.

Democratic Sen. Anthony Hensley joined a large bipartisan majority Friday night that supported the bill.

“Regardless of who came up with the plan, what matters is that what we did today was put the children of Kansas first. This is a responsible plan that solves the problem,” said Hensley.

The Kansas Senate has narrowly defeated a constitutional amendment that would have prevented courts from closing public schools in the future. Lawmakers are currently in a legal dispute with the Kansas Supreme Court over education funding that could result in schools closing July 1.

The proposal was designed to prevent courts as well as lawmakers from shuttering schools. Republican Sen. Jeff King said he pushed the amendment so that Kansas voters could consider the idea on the November ballot.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

A school funding plan has been making fast progress in the Kansas Legislature, passing out of both House and Senate committees Thursday. The proposal will cut the general state aid all school districts receive by .5 percent, then redistribute that money to assist poorer school districts.

It also takes funding from several other places for a total of $38 million. Republican Sen. Ty Masterson believes the bill can win legislative and judicial approval and prevent schools from shutting down.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

A special session focused on solving Kansas' nettlesome school funding problem begins Thursday. At stake: school itself. The Kansas Supreme Court has threatened a statewide shutdown of schools if lawmakers don't make funding more equitable before June 30.

It's not an overstatement, then, to say most Kansans will be impacted by what happens in Topeka over the next few days. 

KIPP KC

KIPP KC has rented space in the old Metropolitan Community College Pioneer Campus building at 18th and Prospect Avenue in Kansas City for eight years. Now, the charter middle school has bought the entire 95,000-square foot property as it embarks on a larger expansion plan. 

The school offers grades 5-8 and will add classes in kindergarten through fourth grade next year. School officials anticipate adding these grades will boost enrollment by more than 100 students, to around 380 total.

Claire Banderas / KCUR

The Kansas Legislature is preparing to go into special session to remedy a school funding formula that the Kansas Supreme Court ruled is unconstitutional. The court told the Legislature they have until June 30 to remedy the formula, or schools will be closed

Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3

The man who spent 14 years in the top job in the St. Joseph School District pleaded guilty Monday morning in federal court to one count of wire fraud. Under a deal with the U.S. Attorney, Dan Colgan will spend a year and a day in federal prison.

Colgan will also have to repay $660,000 in a lump sum to the Missouri Public School Retirement System (PSRS). Colgan improperly padded the last three years of his salary using stipends, car allowances and other means. The school board knew about some of the payments but often they did not.

Lawmakers and the state Supreme Court face off over school funding, every single seat in the state legislature is up for grabs, and the budget is millions of dollars in the red. It may sound like the plot of a political thriller but the battle for control of the Kansas Statehouse is real, and things are heating up.

Guests:

Stephen Koranda / Kansas Public Radio

Republican Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says he will call state lawmakers back to Topeka for a special session to work on school funding issues. In a statement, Brownback said he made the decision after consulting with legislative leaders.

Brownback spokeswoman Eileen Hawley says the governor’s priority is avoiding a school shutdown caused by a lawsuit over school funding.

“They’re going to work very hard to keep the special session focused on the issue of education to make sure the courts do not close our schools and the kids can go back to school,” says Hawley.

Wikipedia

Once upon a time, a paleontology expedition to dig up dinosaur bones might have been funded primarily by grants and major philanthropists. But KU's Natural History Museum has its eye on a tyrannosaurus rex, and if they succeed in bringing the specimen home from Montana this summer, guess who's footing the bill? You are, through crowd-sourcing. How the crowd-funding model is changing education, from grade school classrooms to university museums.

Guests:

Doing online research is almost required in school these days, but how can you do that without a reliable way to connect to the internet? Michael Liimatta, who manages the ConnectHome initiative for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, says that with more than half of public school kids living in poverty, plenty of people who should have web access still just can't afford it.

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