Board of Regents, Education hold joint meeting to discuss future goals

TOPEKA (KSNT) – Teaching Kansas kids is a group effort. Education officials came together to make sure they’re on the same page. The Kansas State Board of Education and Kansas Board of Regents held a joint meeting on Wednesday.

K-12 and higher education leaders said now is a crucial time to address learning loss in Kansas students due to the pandemic.

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“It affects everybody. It affects that first grader that was struggling with reading, it affects a college student, as somebody said, you don’t take welding by Zoom,” said Jim Porter, chair of the state board of education.

They’re also looking at long-term goals. Both boards want to make sure the path is simple if a student wants to get an education after high school.

One problem is not enough people applying for federal student aid. Only 46% of graduates completed the FAFSA last year.

“That is an important step for Kansas high school students if we’re going to be able to increase if we’re going to be able to increase hose numbers of students that are going to move from high school into the higher education system,” said Cheryl Harrison-Lee, chair of the Board of Regents.

Another key brought up by Porter is improving the enrollment and recruiting at community colleges

A big push from state board of education members is also to provide 15 college credits tuition-free during high school.

“Sometimes the first step is the hardest step, and if you can already take several of those steps, you’re much more likely to be successful going on,” Porter said.

Though the path to get there is unclear, members on the board of regents are also supportive.

“Those students would be our first-generation, those would be our rural students, and our minority students,” Harrison-Lee said. “Being able to get 15 hours in high school really increases access for those students.”

In the coming weeks, board leaders will jointly meet again to develop an action plan to consider at next month’s meetings.