Two McPherson County school districts are applying to participate in the Kansans Can School Redesign Project, which is hosted by the Kansas State Department of Education.
The Canton-Galva school district has already submitted their application and the McPherson school district will have theirs in by the end of the month.
One elementary school and one secondary school at each of the seven selected districts will be redesigned around the Kansas State Board of Education’s vision of what makes a successful high school graduate. USD 418 has selected Eisenhower Elementary School and McPherson Middle School, and all of USD 419 will be involved, as there are only two buildings in the district.
These seven districts will serve as demonstration sites for the remaining 279 districts.
“I’ve spoken with the commissioner and deputy commissioner and one of the things they want is a variety of school sizes and settings around the state. They want to make sure that whatever is done can be replicated by any school of any size in the state,” said Canton-Galva Superintendent John Denk. “Canton-Galva is a smaller 2A school, you’ll see the effects of this redesign on the whole district. it gives them a nice data set when it comes to how this will impact an entire district, because we have one elementary school and one high school.”
Denk explained that the redesign project will better allow the district to implement the state’s renewed focus on long-term student success.
“In the past, we’ve been focused on state assessment scores as a measure of how well our students are doing and as an accountability measure for our schools. These new outcomes are completely different,” Denk said. “They’re focused on the success of our kids, not on a test score. I think focusing on the success of kids is right where we should be focusing.”
These five outcomes were derived from surveys of Kansans about what makes a successful high school graduate and what residents want their schools to look like in the future.
"The goal is to produce successful 25-year-olds," said USD 418 Superintendent Gordon Mohn. "We know the end goal, we're just not sure how we're going to get there."
Redesigning pilot schools around the board’s outcomes will hopefully establish methods that schools around the state can replicate for similar success, though some trial and error is to be expected.
In order to be accepted into Kansans Can, each application must be supported by the district’s school board, 80 percent of staff members at Eisenhower and the middle school, and the local chapter of the Kansas National Educator's Association.
The McPherson School District has received approval from the school board and 80 percent of staff at the two schools involved. Representatives of the McPherson Educators Association will address the school board July 24, when the board expects to receive the association’s approval and can submit the application.
In the Canton-Galva district, over 90 percent staff approval was received. Only one no vote was received from staff and five individuals did not vote at all.
“There’s not a lot of information about what’s going to happen, so the worry was that we just don’t know enough. That person wasn’t willing to take that leap of faith without knowing more,” Denk said. “What we do know is that the new Kansas board outcomes and vision for the state of Kansas are taking our schools in the right direction and we have faith that following them will give us a great school and a great education for our kids.”
Districts will be selected by Aug. 1 and changes will be implemented for the 2018-2019 school year.
Contact Cheyenne Derksen Schroeder by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @MacSentinel.