Stockton USD 271 has been selected as one of seven school districts in a year-long project to redesign Kansas schools for the future.

The seven schools selected for the Kansas Can School Redesign project were announced in this morning’s Kansas State Board of Education meeting in Topeka.

The schools will design one elementary and one secondary school around the vision, outcomes and definition of a successful high school graduate, according to the Kansas Department of Education.

Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson this morning referred to the project as Kansas’ “moonshot,” echoing the theme of the project. Each of the schools is named for America’s first astronauts, the Mercury 7.

Stockton was named for Deke Slayton, who served as NASA’s director of flight crew operations and flew in space in 1975 at age 51.

“We’re getting ready to do something we don’t know of any other state having done,” Watson said.

“We’re going to deconstruct the traditional school system and build what Kansans believe best meets the needs of today’s students — choice. And, we’re doing all of this with existing resources, no new buildings and the same educators,” Watson said.

Speaking at this morning’s meeting, Shelly Swayne, USD 271 superintendent and Stockton High School principal, continued with that theme, saying she has taught about the race to the moon as a history teacher.

“There were two very important questions asked in how to get to the moon: what if and why not,” she said. “What I can tell you about Stockton and USD 271 is we ask those questions constantly.”

She cited the school district working with the Stockton Chamber of Commerce and Rooks County Economic Development, and a summer reading initiative with the Stockton Public Library to give away books to children from birth to age 6.

“To build that kindergarten readiness, that is the next step and foundation of success beyond that,” she said.

“What I tell you about USD 271 is we’re on board. Our community is our school and our school is our community,” she said.

The redesigns will focus on five areas set by the state board of education: social-emotional growth, kindergarten readiness, individual plan of study, high school graduation rates and postsecondary completion/attendance.

The first phase of the redesign, through November, will include developing a shared vision, organizing a redesign team and setting goals and action steps.

In the second phase, December through February, teams will “design the rocket” — create a comprehensive design plan and test strategies.

The third phase, “building the rocket,” will be March through May. Financial resources will be dedicated, materials and resources placed, human resources dedicated, professional development plan put in place and the design plan will be completed.

The fourth phase, launch, will take place June through August next year.

The other schools chosen for the projects are Coffeyville USD 445, Liberal USD 480, McPherson USD 418, Olathe USD 233, Twin Valley USD 240 and Wellington USD 353.

More details on the program will be available following a press conference this afternoon. Watch for further information.