July 17, 2024

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Districts that leave KASB can still participate in insurance pool

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Emails obtained by The Sentinel show Kansas school districts that choose to leave the Kansas Association of School Boards can still purchase insurance and natural gas through KASB.

KASB officials confirm that membership is not required to participate in the insurance poolAn email dated Nov. 15, 2023, between USD 335 Jackson Heights Superintendent of Schools Jim Howard and KASB Executive Director Dr. Brian Jordan stated Jackson Heights can “still participate in the property and casualty insurance pool that KASB helps sponsor, and they are still eligible to participate in the bulk purchasing of natural gas. These two services are part of Kansas Board Solutions (KBS), our risk management division of the association and a stand-alone corporation.”

Insurance is an important consideration for the growing number of districts considering leaving KASB and moving to alternatives like the Kansas School Board Resource Center. KSBRC, like the Sentinel, is owned by the Kansas Policy Institute, and does not charge for training, model policy, and other services.

Jackson Heights in Holton, Kansas, voted late last year to leave KASB, citing policy differences.

As the Sentinel reported in December of last year, Howard said the deteriorating relationship with KASB finally disintegrated over issues surrounding the closing of the Wetmore Academic Center earlier this year. USD 113 in Sabetha voted to close the school, and nearby Jackson Heights agreed to enroll 110 of its students this school year, increasing its student body by nearly 25% to over 500. However, USD 113 kept the state funding intended for the Wetmore students due to a quirk in the school funding formula in Kansas. Kansas law allows a district to continue to receive state funding for the current year based on its enrollment for either of the previous two years, whichever is higher, despite declining enrollment or, in Wetmore’s case, the closing of a school. Negotiations between the Sabetha and Jackson Heights districts reached an impasse, and the two districts are now in mediation over the financial issues and land transfers.

“Over the years, we have observed a growing misalignment between our values, beliefs, and the direction KASB represents,” Howard wrote at the time in a letter to Jordan. “Our vision for public schools and the educational landscape has evolved, leading us to believe that continued representation by KASB may not be in the best interest of USD 335. Additionally, we have realized that the membership fees we contribute need to be more commensurately reflect the value or benefits we receive from the association.”

The board of USD 416 Louisburg initially voted to leave KASB in 2022 over its political viewpoints but reversed course after Superintendent Brian Biermann said the district would lose its insurance coverage if it wasn’t a member.

 

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