Archive for Wednesday, December 12, 2001

KU organizes group to tackle education issues

December 12, 2001

Area superintendents say Kansas schools are facing potential problems in finding qualified administrators and special education teachers.

These problems, along with other educational issues, are exactly what a Superintendents' Circle organized by the University of Kansas wants to resolve.

Two area school district superintendents, Basehor-Linwood's Cal Cormack and Bonner Springs-Edwardsville's Bob Van Maren are members of the group.

The group has met twice, most recently on Wednesday, Dec. 5, and is expected to meet four times a year, Cormack said.

During the last meeting, the group discussed the potential problem of finding an adequate number of administrators.

"There is a large number of administrators in Kansas that are 55 or older and an even greater number of superintendents," Cormack said. "The question is, is there enough in the pipeline to replace them?"

A way to rectify the problem is to target potential administrators early in their career, Cormack said.

Another problem facing Kansas school districts is the dwindling number of special education teachers.

Cormack said fewer teaching students are enrolling in special education courses.

"It is getting harder to get people in special education than ever before," he said.

Cormack, like many other superintendents, agreed that special education teachers are hard to find.

"Most of us feel like special education is a high-stress area because often you are working with challenging educational issues," he said. "You really have to be especially dedicated. It takes more of a commitment."

Currently, special education teachers are on the same pay scale as regular classroom teachers, which may be an explanation for the decrease, Cormack said.

Cormack and Van Maren were selected to the group because of their school districts' participation in hosting KU student teachers.

Cormack said the schools participating with KU students benefit by getting qualified teachers as well as the inside track in recruiting.

The KU students also benefit from the schools participation.

"We serve as an advisory group to continually help improve their education," Cormack said. "By coming to the schools, they know what it is like being in a classroom with the students of today."

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