Thursday, October 11, 2012

School board association names own efficiency panel

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

Call it dueling efficiency efforts.

In response to Gov. Sam Brownback’s school efficiency task force, which includes no school employees, the Kansas Association of School Boards announced Wednesday the formation of an efficiency committee made up entirely of school employees and board members.

“Kansas school leaders have already demonstrated a high degree of efficiency in district operations,” said KASB Executive Director John Heim. “At the same time, school leaders know we must continue to increase the college and career readiness skills of our high school graduates to meet the state’s economic needs,” Heim said.

The KASB Committee on School Efficiency will monitor the work of Brownback’s task force and develop recommendations to share with the group.

Sherriene Jones-Sontag, a spokeswoman for Brownback, said she looked forward to the KASB group coming up with ways to get more of school spending into the classroom.

Brownback held a news conference earlier in the week and displayed a large poster that said only 54 percent of school finance is used for instruction.

Educators disagree and say Brownback’s figures don’t include student and teacher support services, such as guidance counselors, librarians, nurses, and other staff.

The KASB said that Kansas ranks sixth in the nation in a number of state and national indicators, such as high school graduation, college completion, and basic reading and math, yet ranks 27th in current spending per pupil.

Named to the KASB committee were:

• Glennys Doane, school board member, Waconda USD 272, and member of the KASB Board of Directors

• Margaret Nightengale, school board member, Ulysses USD 214, and member of the KASB Board of Directors

• Pam Robinson, school board member, Blue Valley USD 229, member of the KASB Board of Directors and past president of KASB

• Joe Skye, school board member, Baxter Springs USD 508

• Patrick Woods, school board member, Topeka Public Schools USD 501 and member of the KASB Board of Directors

• Randy Watson, superintendent, McPherson USD 418

• Jim Freeman, school board treasurer, Andover USD 385

• Lisa Peters, school board treasurer, Salina USD 305

• Dave Heinemann, public relations director, Schools for Quality Education, representing Kansas small and rural schools; former Kansas legislator from Garden City

• Diane Gjerstad, director of governmental relations, Wichita USD 259, former Kansas legislator from Wichita.