Southern Lyon County USD 252 Superintendent Dr. Mike Argabright was appointed by Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson to serve on a task force overseeing the dispersal of federal COVID-19 funds to schools across the state earlier this week.
He will join 18 others on the Commissioner’s Task Force on Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief and Emergency Assistance for Nonpublic Schools Funding Oversight, which will meet every Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. beginning Feb. 26 and continuing through August.
“I appreciate the invitation from Dr. Watson, the Commissioner of Education,” Argabright said. “I’m just very appreciative that there are superintendents sitting on this task force across the state because public schools need to be at the table in making sure that our schools across Kansas or in our area are represented. So it’s an honor, it’s a privilege and I’m very appreciative of it.”
The task force is comprised of public and private school superintendents, local and state board of education members, teachers, legislators and other relevant parties, all of whom represent various interests and regions of the state.
“Knowing Dr. Watson and the Kansas Department of Education, they try to be very thorough and representative, from large districts to small districts, from public schools to private schools, and elected officials, including the state board of education,” Argabright said. “Just knowing the integrity of the Kansas State Department of Education, I’m sure [the selection of task force members] was a very thorough process and [they] wanted everyone represented across the state.
The task force’s job will be to oversee the spending of $368 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) and $26 million in Emergency Assistance Nonpublic Schools (EANS) funds. These federal dollars must be used specifically for pandemic-related expenses and will be available until September of 2023.
“The pandemic has affected all the school districts and every one of them has some unique challenges within those settings,” Argabright said. “I hope that we can support all of those challenges the best we can and fall within the federal guidelines. I think it’s a process that will allow us to be at the table and talk through things and support our colleges and our students across Kansas.”
Other members chosen for the task force are:
- Brad Bergsma, board member, Goodland USD 352.
- Tracy Callard, gifted teacher, Wichita USD 259.
- Dr. Nick Compagnone, superintendent, Catholic Diocese of Salina.
- Sen. Brenda Dietrich, Kansas Legislature, District 20.
- Janet Eaton, superintendent, Catholic Diocese of Wichita.
- Dr. Frank Harwood, superintendent, De Soto USD 232.
- Roberta Lewis, social science teacher, Fort Scott USD 234.
- Lisa Peters, executive director of business, Salina USD 305.
- Sen. Pat Pettey, Kansas Legislature, District 6.
- Jim Porter, chair, Kansas State Board of Education.
- Adam Proffitt, director of budget, State of Kansas.
- Melissa Rooker, executive director, Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund.
- Jamie Rumford, superintendent, Scott County USD 466.
- Simeon Russell, executive director of business and operations, Dodge City USD 443.
- Rep. Adam Thomas, Kansas Legislature, District 26.
- Dr. Alicia Thompson, superintendent, Wichita USD 259.
- Janet Waugh, vice chair of the State Board of Education.
- Jason Winbolt, school board member, Spring Hill USD 230.