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education

Shawnee Mission School District

Shawnee Mission Board of Education hired Michael Fulton to be the district's next superintendent for $250,000 a year, but the other details of his contract have been finalized.

Fulton will receive $1,000 a month car allowance "for the purpose of offsetting all necessary operating expenses for travel required to perform duties" in the Kansas City area. In addition, the district will also provide a yearly $24,000 tax-sheltered annuity.

Fulton will get 31 vacation days a year in addition to all days off students and staff get.

Segment 1: Why the face of vocational tech education is changing.

When you think of career education classes for high schoolers, what comes to mind? Maybe welding or auto shop? But with today's changing workforce, many students are also preparing for industry fields like coding and biomedical technology. Find out how a school in Lee's Summit is adjusting to meet this need.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Imagine, teacher Shauna Hammett tells first-graders gathered around a small table, a train whistle.

“What sound is the long ‘A’ sound?” Hammett asks.

Hands shoot into the air, then tug downward as if pulling on a rope. Their sing-song answer mimics the sound of a passing train: “Aaaaaaaa. Aaaaaa.”

Courtesy of SMSD

Editor's note: This post was updated at 12:50 on Tuesday to include comments Michael Fulton made to KCUR's Steve Kraske on Up to Date.

In a unanimous vote Monday night, the Shawnee Mission Board of Education appointed Michael Fulton as new superintendent of the Shawnee Mission School District, bringing a long saga of disrupt in the district to a close.

Courtesy of Shawnee Mission School District

A lack of women candidates and large district finalists concerned Shawnee Mission School District parents who listened in Saturday during a marathon session of interviews for a new superintendent.  

After an eventful year following the unexpected resignation of former Superintendent Jim Hinson, many in the district were hoping for a new leader who would help heal the district.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Newly installed Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer described his state Wednesday as vibrant but with trouble spots, telling lawmakers he plans to charge ahead at its problems.

Colyer promised to reform the state’s struggling foster care system, improve its privatized Medicaid program, open government activities into clearer public view and help more Kansans find jobs.

The speech was effectively a State of the State speech by a former two-term lieutenant governor now one week into higher office and trying to distinguish himself from his unpopular running mate, former Gov. Sam Brownback. Brownback delivered a formal State of the State address last month.

Screenshot of the National Rifle Association's Eddie Eagle website

Kansas schools that want to offer gun training in the earliest grades would be required to use a program designed by the National Rifle Association, under a bill lawmakers studied on Tuesday.

That legislation would switch programs beyond the eighth grade to hunter education training designed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

Public Domain / Pixabay-CC

Perfectionism, bullying, depression and social media are a few of the stressors teens constantly face in today's society. As the number of teen suicides in Kansas City reach record levels, we speak with school councilors and health experts to learn why rates are climbing in the metro and how to help prevent suicides.

But first, a discussion on undeveloped land in suburban areas. What happens when the desire to turn unused land into roads and schools collides with the desire to keep things natural?

Guests:

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Over five years, the bus money that Kansas doled out to schools — that auditors say it shouldn’t have without legislative permission — totaled $45 million.

It’s a drop in the bucket compared to the $4 billion a year that the state spends on public schools.

With so much at stake — the state’s single largest budget item — the system is drawing fresh looks.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

The chief school finance official in Kansas — under fire from top Republican lawmakers, backed by scores of people in state education circles — on Friday avoided a suspension.

Dale Dennis, the state’s deputy education commissioner and a walking encyclopedia of Kansas school finance policy, came under attack over an audit that showed some school districts had long been getting money for buses beyond what lawmakers authorized.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / KCUR/Kansas News Service

Tenure, as Kansas public school teachers had known it for decades, died at the hands of lawmakers without a hearing in the spring of 2014.

 

No one disputes that.

 

On Wednesday, state and teachers union lawyers went head-to-head before the Kansas Supreme Court over whether the slaying of those long-standing job protections ran afoul of the state and U.S. constitutions.

Laura Ziegler / KCUR 89.3

Landlords in Jackson County are filing hundreds of eviction requests each month, resulting in thousands of eviction orders every year. And those recorded evictions – 175,000 court filings over 17 years, according to a study by a housing policy researcher – are only a fraction of the landlord-tenant disputes that force low-income Kansas Citians out of their homes.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / KCUR/Kansas News Service

The U.S. Department of Education has thrown its weight behind a Kansas school plan that aims for much higher rates of math and reading proficiency by 2030.

 

Initial feedback from the federal agency on Kansas’ 90-page blueprint for closing achievement gaps had been lackluster, forcing the state to revise it.

Sunflower Development Group

An old Kansas City Public Schools building that’s been sitting empty since 2010 will be soon be repurposed into affordable housing for seniors.

Sunflower Development Group broke ground Monday on the Blenheim school site at Gregory and Prospect. Director of Development Mark Moberly says old schools can easily be converted into residential housing because they’re already subdivided into classrooms. Sunflower has already completed one KCPS renovation, the Faxon School Apartments.

file photo / Kansas News Service

Gov. Sam Brownback wants to add hundreds of new school counselors to public schools in Kansas over the next five years, if they can be found.

That would require a dramatic reversal in a state that’s seen a slight decline in school counselors over the past decade and that may be losing its capacity to train more.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Missouri teachers have made incremental salary gains since last school year, but educator pay continues to trail the national average.

The average Missouri teacher is making $49,760 for the 2017-18 school year, according to a Missouri State Teacher Association report on educator pay. That’s about $700 more than last year but still well below the national average for a classroom teacher, which is $58,950.

file photo / Southeast Kansas Education Service Center

Today, about three of every 20 students in Kansas fail to graduate from high school. Gov. Sam Brownback contends that in five years, only one will fall short.

That would vault Kansas from the middle of the pack to a level no state in the country hits today.

Education experts question if it’s realistic. The governor and the education department, they say, ask for too much too soon. After all, the early years of school weigh heavily. Work with kids learning their alphabet and colors — as much as those studying capitalism and algebra — can determine later who sticks it out.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Fellow Republicans on Wednesday characterized Gov. Sam Brownback’s spending plan — more than $6.6 billion a year — as a beeline return to deficits and an abdication of responsibility in a budding crisis.

The governor, poised to leave for a spot in the Trump administration, unveiled a five-year, $600 million increase in school funding Tuesday evening. When lawmakers dug into that proposal Wednesday, they griped about key details.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service


Gov. Sam Brownback, poised to leave Kansas after a generation of dominating its politics, on Tuesday called for steep infusions of money into public schools — spurring fellow Republicans to accuse him of raising hopes with a “fairy tale.”

Brownback said the state can add $600 million over the next five years — without a tax hike.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

One of the most outspoken school superintendents in Kansas, often a lightning rod for conservatives in the Legislature, announced Tuesday night that she is retiring in June.

Cynthia Lane has led Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools for eight years and spent 29 years in the district. Before KCK she was director of special education in the Spring Hill District.

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

A Kansas Supreme Court ruling saying the state must spend more on schools could require lawmakers to find hundreds of millions of dollars. With some lawmakers saying a tax hike for education remains off the table, that financial hunt won’t be easy.

 

Legislators rolled back Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature income tax cuts just last year. It was a monumental task, which ultimately required lawmakers to override a veto from the governor. The fight stretched the session to a tie with the longest in state history.

 

The search has begun for Missouri’s next education commissioner, even though there currently aren’t enough board members to vote on hiring Margie Vandeven’s successor.

Ten people applied for the job by Monday’s deadline. But Board of Education President Charlie Shields said they can’t even review their applications until there are at least five voting members on the State Board.

Public Domain / Pixabay-CC

The Missouri Board of Education is currently in the middle of a political kerfuffle — so, how will area students and teachers be affected? Today, we break down the responsibilities of the Missouri Board of Education and explain their relationship with the schooling system. 

Then, we learn about the formation of the foster care system in America and its history throughout the past century.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Kansas set lofty goals for its public schools in the next dozen years – but the Trump administration and independent experts suggest the state’s plan is as vague as it is ambitious.

The state’s plan lacks concrete details on closing academic gaps in its public schools, so much so that federal officials and outside reviewers question the state’s compliance with civil rights law that demands all children get fair learning opportunities.

Anna Weber worked on the set of the Steven Spielberg's movie, The Post. She shares how recreating the newsroom made her think about history and the role of journalism ... and about her dad, a longtime editor at The Kansas City Star.

Then: a look at the ongoing challenges for families who are trying to find a great school for their kids with special needs.

Guests:

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

The New Year is a natural time for people to reflect on years past, and look for ways to improve their lots going forward. Today, we do too. First, we discuss the dilemmas American history educators face when teaching inclusive lessons about such a diverse country. After that, a hard look at resolutions. We get expert advice from some very motivated people, including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's personal trainer. They share tips about making resolutions you can keep, and keeping the resolutions that you make.

File Photo / KCUR

The former legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas thinks a practice among some school boards of restricting patron complaints at public meetings eventually will end up in court.

Doug Bonney, legal director emeritus for ACLU Kansas, said if barring complaints about school board members, the superintendent or employees is common, that doesn’t make it right.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt on Tuesday suggested the Legislature let the public have a say on the state’s constitutional duty to pay for public education, but he steered clear of criticizing the Kansas Supreme Court’s rulings on the topic.

Pete Souza / Official White House Photo

Given the importance of the American presidency, it's no surprise photos of the commander-in-chief tend to become iconic. Today, veteran White House correspondent Kenneth T. Walsh explains what makes the White House photographer role so influential, and why he thinks Pres. Trump is missing an opportunity with his chief image-maker. Then, we hear from two leaders in the Missouri Statehouse, Democrat Rep.

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Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Kansas lawmakers are facing an even tighter deadline to pass a new school finance law this session, after an attorney for the state encouraged them to finish their work on the topic less than two months into the coming 2018 legislative session.

Asked Monday by lawmakers what legal staff need to help make the state’s case, Arthur Chalmers urged them to aim for the start of March for handing off a new school finance bill rather than sometime closer to the date the Kansas Supreme Court set for filing the state’s arguments.

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