Happy Valentine's Day! Enjoy celebrating those people who have impacted your hearts.
Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of being a "Mystery Reader" in Ashley Wiltse's 2nd grade classroom at MES. One of the books that Ashley gave me was called Unlovable by Dan Yaccarino. The story is about a dog named Alfred who gets made fun of and treated badly by the other animals because he is a "lowly pug". In an attempt to make a new friend, Alfred says he is a golden retriever in order to impress a dog that has moved in next door. In the end, Alfred discovers that he is lovable just the way he is. He realizes that pretending to be something he is not isn't the way to live. Alfred finds the courage to stand up to the critics and naysayers, rather than allowing others to define him. Some great lessons from a children's book that I enjoyed sharing with a class of great kids.
Here are some updates that I want to share with you:
Bond Projects - We have 5 elementary sites under construction, as well as the turf fields at both high schools. The projects are progressing nicely. Turf fields are scheduled to be completed so that spring games can be hosted there. Our elementary projects will wrap up in early August, in time for the 2018-19 school year.
In addition, we are finishing our due diligence work on the site for the new MES. I expect that we will be able to set a closing date in the next several weeks Last week a team of MES teachers toured schools in Wichita, Derby, & Ft. Riley to get ideas for the design of the new MES.
Lots of meetings and planning are happening for the other projects yet to start, including design work on our high schools. I have heard many positive comments about the collaborative way that the architects are seeking staff input through the design process.
Remember that this will be a three-year process, and the timeline that can be found on the bond issue portion of our website serves as our guide.
Career Center Director - One of the really cool bond projects is the Career Center that will provide real-life opportunities for secondary students to explore careers that are of interest to them. Brian Gregoire, Assistant Principal at ACHS, has been selected as the Director for the Career Center. Brian's experience leading the district's Career Technical Education initiatives, and his skill set are ideally suited for this position. Brian will lead the planning and facilitate the vision for the Career Center. Brian will officially begin his duties in the new position on August 1. We will begin implementing some of the programming for the Center in the 2019-20 year. It is an exciting adventure and we are fortunate to have Brian for this role!
Pre-Algebra Class Option - I want to thank Jill and the team of high school educators who presented on Monday night about the need to offer a Pre-Algebra course for incoming freshmen. This is a great example of our staff evaluating current offerings, and seeing an unmet need. The BOE approved this class, and it will be another way to meet all students' needs. Thanks for assessing the situation, and working together to propose this new class.
Spring break will be here before we know it - enjoy the break from the cold weather, and thanks for all you do!
I hope that your new 2018 is off to a great start. It's a busy time for the district, and I wanted to share a few updates:
1. January BOE meeting this evening - Some of the highlights include:
* Honoring the 19 elementary, middle, and high school students who were selected for KMEA All-State Honor Choir. This is an incredible accomplishment that would not be possible without the leadership of outstanding educators.
* Jill will present a report on current academic initiatives as well as the data dashboard for the first semester.
* Approval of the guaranteed maximum price for the roof bids. This bid package came in well under projections, which is great news!
* Action to approve the devices for the 1:1 initiative at both high schools for 2018-19, as well as approval of the building refresh devices for AHS & CES as part of the capital outlay plan.
* We also have an action item for the purchase of real property as part of the bond projects. Following BOE action this evening, we will send you an update about the land purchase.
2. January 15 Professional Learning - You have seen the agenda, and I am really looking forward to this. Thanks to all those who have worked hard to plan an extraordinary day for our educators.
3. Climate Survey - The climate survey is open through Jan. 26, and I want to encourage you to take a few minutes to complete this. Nicole sent those links out earlier today. We value the feedback, and three of the questions from the survey (safety, quality of instruction, & feeling valued) are part of our data dashboard. Your input is important!
Have a great week!
As American Education Week draws to a close, I want to thank you for all that you do to make the Andover School District an extraordinary place. To show our appreciation, we have sent Equity Bank gift cards to each building/department. The gift cards will be used for staff meals/treats. Wellness information will be available for you during the time that you enjoy a meal or snack with your colleagues. This is courtesy of our wellness stipend from Aetna, and a small way to honor your hard work and dedication. By the way, with the change of health insurance to Blue Cross, we will continue to have a wellness stipend of $25,000 for the next 12 months. Our wellness committee meets to plan ways to utilize those monies to promote the health and wellness of our staff members.
I hope you are able to attend the groundbreaking ceremony at 4:00 this afternoon at the ACHS fields as we celebrate the beginning of our bond projects. Who could have guessed that we would have temperatures in the 70's for this exciting event?
Some of the highlights of our November 13 BOE meeting included:
* Discussion on weighted grades for the high schools. A committee met this fall and worked extensively to research best practices and receive feedback and input from our stakeholders about weighted grades. This topic will come back to our BOE in December for action.
* A report on the implementation of Capturing Kids' Hearts in six schools in our district
* Approval of the construction contract for Hutton Construction
* Approval of the contract for Icon Structures serve as the Owner's Representative during the bond projects
* Approval of the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) of $13,441,580 for our 5 elementary school classroom additions and storm shelters for schools that do not currently have one. The new MES school will be bid at a later time.
* Approval to begin using Frontline products, rather than the current Talent Ed products, for applicant recruiting/hiring & electronic personnel files management. This will enable us to bring our HR systems under the Frontline umbrella, and will enhance efficiency and the flow of information among those systems.
During this time of Thanksgiving, we have many good things to celebrate. I was able to attend a couple of the Veteran's Day activities last Friday, and they were truly amazing! Our schools honor the service and sacrifices of our vets like no other district I have seen. Powerful and inspiring! Last weekend I attended the AHS performance of Xanadu, and it was tremendous. I look forward to attending Seussical this evening at ACHS. We have so much to be thankful for.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving break. Best wishes for a relaxing time with family and friends. Thanks for making a difference!
Greetings Andover Team -
Autumn weather has arrived, and the holidays will be here before we know it. It's been a busy fall. Here are some updates for you:
District ACT: Our district ACT composite score for 2017 was 23.9, which matches the composite score in 2016. Over the past five years, our composite has increased from the low 23's to 23.9, which is an impressive score and well above the state average of 21.7.
Fall Activities: Activities abound this time of year. I enjoyed attending the WES & MES vocal concerts recently. The programs were first-class. We continue to have exemplary performing arts departments in this district that are as strong as any in the state. Our bands had great marching seasons as well, from the GAD parade through the Southern Plains Marching Festival, where our high schools received superior ratings. I really encourage you to attend the upcoming high school theater performances. AHS will perform Xanadu on November 11-12, and ACHS will present Seussical on November 17-19.
Congrats to our teams that placed at state, including the ACHS boys and girls cross country squads, who finished second. The AHS boys cross country team took 3rd place as a team. The AHS girls golf team finished second at state, and the AHS volleyball team advanced to the state tournament as well. We also had some individual tennis state qualifiers. Good luck to the ACHS soccer team as they compete later today in the state semi-finals versus Spring Hill. Also, cheer on the ACHS football team this evening as the Jags travel to Mulvane.
Negotiations Completion: As you heard earlier this week, the compensation & benefits package was ratified by our teachers, and will be approved by the BOE on Monday. Our business/payroll office has begun work to get the new compensation and health insurance amounts reflected in the November 15 paychecks. I want to thank the members of the negotiations team for many hours that were invested in the process. Members include: Toni Cusick, Brian Gregoire, James Harris, Polly Haynes, Kim Hett, Dana Matheny, Russ Miller & Deb Regier. Reaching closure on negotiations was extremely important for our district, and we are very pleased to have an agreement.
Bond Groundbreaking Ceremony: We are having our opening groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the start of all the bond projects on Friday, November 17 @ 4:00 p.m. at the ACHS fields. We will then have refreshments in the ACMS commons. This is an historic time in our district - we would love to have you join us as we celebrate.
Bond Projects Update: We are on track for the turf baseball and softball fields to be completed by the end of March. The elementary renovations will start in late November/early December for completion by the start of next school year. We are also making good progress on securing land for the new MES.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I want to thank you for helping to making the Andover district extraordinary. We have so much to be thankful for! Enjoy the weekend.
It's hard to believe that the first nine weeks is over! Time is really flying by. I wanted to share a district update with you:
1. Negotiations: We have finalized a date for our negotiations team to meet. It will be on October 30. More information to come, but we are looking forward to working to conclude the process.
2. Bond Projects: The work on the baseball & softball turf fields will begin in the next couple of weeks. These projects are scheduled to be completed by the spring sports season. The winning bid for the fields & related work is within the budgeted amount.
The bids for the classroom additions at the five elementary schools will be due in the near future also. The work on the elementaries will start in late November/early December, with completion by the start of the 2018-19 school year.
We are working on securing land for the new Meadowlark Elementary. Once a purchase has been completed, we will let you know.
Recently some members of the AHS staff and our architects from SJCF toured Olathe West and Lansing High Schools to see schools that have been recently built. Thanks to those staff members for spending the day gathering ideas and sharing input. In the coming weeks, some Meadowlark staff members will also have the opportunity to see new elementary schools as planning is done for MES
3. Substitute Teacher Pay: As the shortage of teachers in the state has increased over the past few years, likewise, it has been increasingly difficult to fill substitute teacher needs. I hear often from teachers and principals about the inconvenience that comes when we aren't able to fill all the vacancies on a given day. Educator plan times are very important, and it is a burden to be asked on short notice to cover a class. At the October BOE meeting, the decision was made to increase sub pay from $85/day to $95/day. This enables us to be competitive with area districts, most of whom pay at least $95/day. We believe this will increase the number of substitute teachers we have for our district, allowing us to better fill the vacancies.
Thanks for all you do for our district. Have a great weekend!