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Kansas ponders innovative-schools law

Updated: 2013-06-13T04:58:52Z

The Associated Press

— Kansas education officials are turning to the state’s attorney general for legal guidance about what rules and regulations might be keeping school districts from being innovative.

Brad Neuenswander, deputy education commissioner, told the State Board of Education on Wednesday that the agency is trying to figure out how to implement a new law that creates a coalition of innovative districts.

The law is supposed to give up to 29 districts flexibility in following education rules and regulations, but they must adhere to laws like those governing accreditation, school finance and open meetings.

Districts also would have to conduct student testing, but they could seek a waiver to develop their own methods.

“There’s a lot of interpretation that we need to find out,” Neuenswander said.

The first districts that apply and are granted innovative status will have it starting in the fall of 2014.

Board member Deena Horst, a Salina Republican, said the application language doesn’t spell out what districts would be doing, other than following requirements to measure student progress and demonstrate public support for the effort.

“We really don’t know if they’ve got innovative ideas or not,” Horst said.

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