Senate President Susan Wagle announced her appointments to the K-12 Student Performance and Efficiency Commission on Tuesday, selecting a pair of officials with ties to education and business in the Wichita area.
Wagle appointed Wichita East High Principal Ken Theissen and former Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce Chairman Sam Williams in an effort, she said, to capitalize on an existing partnership between the Wichita Public Schools and its Chamber of Commerce to prepare students for work in Kansas.
"Linking employers to educators is a valuable proposition for both entities, and I think what we've done in Wichita is important to share with the rest of the state," Wagle said.
Wagle added that it was important to include an urban perspective to the commission that was established as part of this year's school finance bill. Last week, Gov. Sam Brownback appointed two superintendents — Shawnee Mission's Jim Hinson and Concordia's Bev Mortimer — to serve on the commission, which is tasked with studying student performance and making recommendations to the Legislature about the efficient use of tax dollars. A report to the Legislature on the commission’s recommendations is due January 2015.
The panel is to include nine voting members appointed by legislative leaders and the governor. The commissioner of education, the director of the budget, the revisor of statutes, the legislative post auditor and the director of legislative research all serve as nonvoting, ex officio members.
The law allows Brownback to make three appointments to the panel, but a third appointment has not yet been announced. Meanwhile, earlier this month, House Speaker Ray Merrick named his two appointments: Kansas Policy Institute president Dave Trabert and Kansas Chamber director Mike O'Neal, a former House speaker, both conservatives who have been highly critical of the current school funding mechanism.