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290 school districts opt NOT to apply for "Innovative district" status

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290 Kansas school districts - 98.9% of the total - chose not to apply for "innovative district" status under a new Kansas law. The new law, headed by Senate Education Committee chair Steve Abrams (R - Arkansas City), would exempt up to 29 districts from many state laws that govern school districts.

While districts would still be held to laws such as school finance and special education, they could be exempt from the Professional Negotiations Act (collective bargaining with teacher's unions) and continuing contract laws (a.k.a. "teacher tenure").

It is unclear how Abrams thinks skirting teacher contract laws could allow more "innovation". It seems most school districts also can't see the value, either. Of 293 districts, only three (Seaman, Santa Fe Trail, and Sterling) chose to apply for the status. Apparently, a majority of districts don't believe teacher's contracts limit their ability to be innovative in meeting students' needs.

Perhaps the lack of interest in this new law will guide the 2014 legislature as they consider the real needs of Kansas' public schools.

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