- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

SALINA, Kan. (AP) - Some Kansas education officials are questioning whether a state law meant to exempt school districts from some education regulations is just another layer of red tape.

A 2013 Kansas law allows school districts to be excluded from certain rules involving public education if they present plans to improve student achievement. The Coalition of Innovative School Districts met Tuesday, The Salina Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1wLJpz1 ).

Coalition members discussed how districts should notify the group and government agencies of regulations from which they want an exemption.

Some members wondered whether the law was meant to give a blanket exemption for all rules to any district that’s accepted into the program, or whether each exemption needed separate approval.

“Right now, is Concordia waived from all laws, rules and regulations?” asked coalition chairman Randy Watson, superintendent of the McPherson School District. The McPherson and Concordia districts were the first two named to the coalition.

In August, the coalition approved Blue Valley School Districts application to join the innovative district. Blue Valley wanted a waiver from some teacher licensing rules, especially for teachers in a work experience program that places juniors and seniors in companies and organizations, so they can begin learning about their chosen career.

Its application for innovative school district designation is awaiting approval of the Kansas State Board of Education, along with applications from the Hugoton and Kansas City school districts.

“The idea of this organization was to reduce bureaucracy,” said Tom Trigg, superintendent of the Blue Valley School District. “I don’t want to see innovation slowed down and stymied.”

Brad Neuenswander, interim Kansas Commissioner of Education, said there already is a process in state law that allows districts to obtain waivers law with the permission of the state Board of Education.

Education board member Deena Horst of Salina said one member of the board was “befuddled” at the need for the coalition.

The group decided that Watson and Neuenswander would work out a process, to be discussed at the coalition’s October meeting, the newspaper reported.

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Information from: The Salina (Kan.) Journal, http://www.salina.com

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