Three newcomers to the Kansas Board of Training make their presence felt on the inaugural assembly | Techi Chook


TOPEKA — Kansas Board of Training member Dennis Hershberger interrupted a presentation on college vitamin applications throughout his first assembly as a board member by asking concerning the ideological justification for presidency spending on summer season meals for youngsters.

“How did it evolve?” stated Hershberger, amongst three new Republicans on the board. “What created that want?”

Along with being interested by what justified the summer season meal program, Hershberger requested what was being accomplished in Kansas college cafeterias to remove meals waste. The retired nurse and truck driver stated she has learn that American customers throw away a few third of their meals purchases.

Cheryl Johnson, director of the Kansas Division of Training’s baby welfare and vitamin division, stated analysis has established that inadequately fed college students don’t be taught in addition to those that have their dietary wants met. Federal meals applications have been prolonged into the summer season as a result of many youngsters didn’t have entry to wholesome meals choices throughout that a part of the yr, she stated.

“We solely present data based mostly on actual science, not all of the stuff you learn on the web,” Johnson stated. “Dietary well being actually impacts your educational efficiency. If the kid is hungry, they can not hearken to the instructor about their tummy rumblings.”

She stated Kansas colleges served 96 million meals in fiscal yr 2022 and acquired $367 million in federal reimbursement for these actions.

Hershberger, a Hutchinson Republican who defeated incumbent Ben Jones within the GOP major and confronted no Democratic opposition in November’s common election, stated he was happy Johnson was actively looking for to attenuate meals waste in colleges.

State Board of Training member Jim McNiece, who has had a 39-year profession in private and non-private schooling as a instructor and principal, stated meals service applications have contributed to college students’ educational progress, improved conduct, made youngsters felt extra linked and decreased absenteeism resulting from sickness.

He stated college meals for college students are sometimes extra nutritious than meals accessible at house. He stated it was a mistake when board members evaluated meals applications solely from the angle of the center class.

“I am unable to overstate how necessary this program is,” McNiece stated, noting the danger of Board of Training members overlooking starvation amongst college students. “They make selections about what applications we do and do not do based mostly on their experiences. Not the experiences of the poor, not the experiences of those that are mainly unnoticed.”

Dennis Hershberger, a new member of the State Board of Education, asked the state Department of Education's food and nutrition expert about the ideological justification for a summer meal program for low-income Kansas children.  (Kansas Reflector screenshot from State Board of Education YouTube channel)
Dennis Hershberger, a brand new member of the Kansas Board of Training, requested the Division of Training’s director of kid vitamin, Cheryl Johnson, concerning the ideological justification for a summer season feeding program for youngsters. (Kansas Reflector screenshot from State Board of Training YouTube channel)

An moral lapse?

Danny Zeck, a brand new member of the Leavenworth State Board of Training, objected throughout his preliminary assembly to a proposed contract renewal with board lawyer Mark Ferguson of Overland Park. He has served as authorized counsel to the State Board of Training since 2009 by way of a collection of one-year contracts.

Zeck criticized Ferguson for donating to the marketing campaign of a state Board of Training member in 2022. Marketing campaign finance experiences present Ferguson gave $250 to Jones, who misplaced to Hershberger. In 2022, Ferguson donated $500 to Democratic lawyer common candidate Chris Mann. He donated 1000’s of {dollars} to Derek Schmidt, a Republican who served as lawyer common and misplaced the November gubernatorial race to Democrat Laura Kelly.

Zeck gained in November by defeating Democrat Jeffrey Howards by a margin of 61% to 38%. In November, all 5 individuals elected to the 10-person state board have been Republicans.

“Is it moral for somebody who represents 10 council members to donate to somebody’s marketing campaign?” stated Zeck, who steered he want to reopen the method of looking for a board lawyer. “Do not we interview different individuals to see if we now have the most effective on the market?”

Ferguson stated he was not the precise particular person to reply Zeck’s query about marketing campaign ethics. He really helpful Zeck take his concern to the Kansas Fee on Governmental Ethics.

“I harm your opponent,” state Board of Training member Ann Mah advised Zeck. “That does not imply we’re not going to get alongside fabulously.” Mah, of Topeka, donated no less than $200 to the Howards’ marketing campaign.

Newly elected Kansas Board of Education member Danny Zeck, left, opposed during his first meeting on the board the renewal of Board of Education attorney Mark Ferguson for a one-year contract extension due to past political contributions from Ferguson.  (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)
Kansas Board of Training member Danny Zeck, left, filed an objection to the retention of Board of Training lawyer Mark Ferguson due to Ferguson’s previous political marketing campaign contributions. Zeck, of Leavenworth, was elected in November. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

“Drunk” on federal {dollars}?

The presence of latest members on the state Board of Training was evident throughout votes on whether or not to approve requests from native college districts to spend federal COVID-19 assist funding.

The state beforehand authorised 180 proposals tied to $600 million geared toward remedying educational issues that arose throughout the world pandemic. The foundations additionally enable districts to put money into one-time bills that helped enhance college operations.

Throughout the newest state Board of Training assembly, members have been requested to vote on plans for 11 districts, together with 9 with excessive poverty enrollments, to make use of $15.5 million in assist funding. A job power examined every proposal earlier than it was forwarded to the State Board of Training.

Hershberger, the brand new member from Hutchinson, stated he was involved that Kansas college districts might turn into hooked on federal funding and undergo monetary withdrawal signs when the cash runs out.

“Federal cash goes away. What is the plan for the longer term?” he stated “That is the pull and pull when federal cash is obtainable. It is simply human nature to go, I take advantage of the phrase drunk, to have more money.”

Mah stated the funding was necessary to assist college students get better what was misplaced throughout the pandemic. She urged conservatives on the Board of Training to approve the $15.5 million request. In any other case, the cash could be despatched again to the federal authorities and an arbitrary group of native districts could be unnoticed.

“I am asking you to not vote,” Mah stated. “I’m asking you to assist our youngsters.”

Initially, the State Board of Training rejected the request. There have been 5 votes in favor of spending, however six have been wanted. “Sure” votes got here from members Deena Horst of Salina, Melanie Haas of Overland Park, Jim Porter of Fredonia, McNiece and Mah. Zeck voted “no” whereas three members — Hershberger, Cathy Hopkins of Hays and Michelle Dombrosky of Olathe — abstained. Board member Betty Arnold was absent.

The vote not solely blocked allocations to these 11 districts, but in addition jeopardized 87 pending proposals from native college districts for $151 million in federal funding tied to COVID-19. All the cash should be spent by the top of 2023.

After the 5-1-3 vote, the State Board of Training took a recess. Hopkins, who defeated incumbent Jean Clifford within the Republican major in August and was unopposed within the common election, returned from recess to name for reconsideration of the COVID-19 funding proposals.

“My abstention was to not say ‘no.’ I must make that clear,” Hopkins stated. “I used to be voting my very own conscience. The shock of the end result left me speechless. I don’t agree with the end result.”

Hopkins dropped his abstention, voted in favor of the $15.5 million funding bundle and offered the mandatory six-vote majority.



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