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Kansas BOE Want To Continue Studying 'Innovative Districts' Plan

The Kansas State Board of Education will continue studying a plan to exempt two school districts from many state regulations.

The idea is that exempting schools from regulations may give them more flexibility and lead to better student outcomes.

The McPherson and Concordia districts are the first two seeking approval to become so-called “innovative districts.”

The board decided to form a study committee to meet with officials from the districts and look into some issues raised by board members.

One concern is that the board may be asked to exempt districts from federal requirements, which they likely can't do. Janet Waugh is a board member from Kansas City, Kansas.

“I cannot personally risk federal funding to these two districts, or the innovative districts or the whole state,” says Waugh.

There are also concerns that approving the exemptions may conflict with the board’s constitutional mandate to oversee education in Kansas.

Board member Steve Roberts, from Overland Park, is not in favor of the delay.

“We should go ahead and take, dare I say, a leap of faith that the first two districts have gone through several measures to this point and have met initial tests to become innovative,” says Roberts.

The deadline for the board to approve or deny the applications is next month.