Superintendent Updates
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November 17, 2017

Staff Update


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!



November 3, 2017

Staff Update

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.



October 20, 2017

Staff Update

District Staff-

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!



September 12, 2017

Staff Update

Good morning Staff,

I wanted to let you know that last night, the BOE approved Hutton Construction as our Construction Manager At Risk for the bond projects. It is an outstanding company with lots of school experience. We are thrilled to partner with Hutton.

As mentioned in my update to staff last Friday, one of the action items presented and approved at last evening's agenda was moving forward with a 2.9% compensation enhancement for classified and administrators, along with substantially increasing the district health contribution, currently $316 per month. 

The premiums for the new health insurance plan year begin coming out of classified paychecks on October 31, and on November 15 for all other staff. The tiered district health contribution approved last evening for classified and administrators will be $430/month for employee, $530/month for employee & spouse or employee & dependent plans, &  $630/month for family health plans. 

This is the same compensation enhancement percentage and health plan contribution increase as proposed to AEA on August 30 (2.9% compensation & 1.9% estimated health benefit enhancement, for a total of 4.8%). This is summarized on slides 6-8.

Here is the link to the presentation from Russ Miller at last night's meeting. It does a great job of summarizing the negotiations meetings thus far, as well as showing the BOE & AEA current positions going into the impasse meeting, which will be held on September 20. It also provides the recommendation that was approved for classified and administrators last evening.

Have a great day, and, as always, let us know if you have questions or if we can provide assistance.



September 11, 2017

Staff Update from Friday, September 8, 2017

Greetings Andover Team-

Thanks for a great start to the school year! It's hard to believe we are in September. I apologize for the length of this, but it is important to me to keep you in the loop. Here are some updates that I want to share with all of you:

Bond Projects: It's an exciting time in the district as we continue work on our bond projects. Monday's BOE meeting will be extremely important. The BOE will take action on the recommendation from the selection committee on the Construction Manager At Risk for the USD 385 bond projects. Yesterday the committee interviewed four finalists: Coonrod & Associates, Crossland Construction, Dondlinger Construction, & Hutton Construction. 

The BOE will also take action on the recommendation to contract with Icon Structures to serve as the Owner's Representative/Bond Projects Manager for the district during the projects. This is a vital role with responsibilities in all facets of the projects. Some of the major responsibilities that the Owner's Representative will have include:

* Assisting with project phasing and timeline development 

* Monitoring and approving construction schedules

* Processing contingency changes during the construction process & reviewing payment applications

* Construction site visits

* Scheduling site coordination meetings and attending Owner-Architect-Contractor meetings

* Working in areas related to planning/plotting/land acquisition

* Attending design review meetings

* Evaluating bid proposals

* Ensuring compliance with construction and safety statutes and contractual obligations

* Involvement in the budget, scheduling, and operational aspects of the projects

In addition, our architects from Schaefer, Johnson, Cox, Frey are working on the designs for the elementary additions for five of our elementary schools (CES, PCES, RMES, SES, & WES). Construction will begin this fall to add classrooms, cafeteria renovations, and re-design of the front entrances to enhance safety. The elementary projects will be completed this summer.

Other projects in the design stage include the district tennis complex, middle school tracks, & baseball/softball turf fields.

Health Insurance Renewal: The district has a benefits committee comprised of classified staff, certified staff, & administrators who work with IMA, our benefits broker. IMA sent our health insurance out to bid this year, because for the past two years our claims have far exceeded the premiums that Aetna, our current health insurance provider, has taken in. 

Aetna's original quote was a 47% increase over our current premiums. IMA & the benefits committee evaluated several quotes from different companies, and negotiated with the companies to find the best plan for our employees. In the end, the committee selected Blue Cross Blue Shield to be the provider, effective on the renewal date of December 1. There will be an increase of about 28%, which is significant, but much lower than the initial quote received from Aetna. 

There will be information coming in the near future about open enrollment employee meetings where the new benefit plans will be explained. I highly encourage everyone to attend one of these meetings. Look for information in the next week on the times and dates for the open enrollment meetings.

Negotiations Update: 

I know that many of you have asked about the negotiations process, so I wanted to give you an update. At our most recent negotiations meeting with AEA on August 30, the BOE offered an increase in salary and benefits of approximately 4.8% The exact percent would be determined by the number of certified staff who elected to sign up for health insurance, so it could be slightly higher or lower than 4.8%.

The salary portion of the package would be 2.9% ($505,000). It would provide certified staff experience step and educational column movement, which is about $270,000. In addition, an increase would be given in the rate for certified staff members who cover other teachers' classes during their plan time. The BOE offer also included an increase to each cell of the salary schedule that could be either $650 on each cell of the schedule, or a range between $500-$826 for each staff member, depending on where the staff member is on the schedule. With the second option, the percentage increase would be the same, but the dollar amount would be different based on placement (the further over and down someone is on the schedule, the higher the dollar amount). 

In addition, the BOE offered to increase the district contribution for health insurance. One of the priorities of our Board of Education and District is to increase the district contribution for employees, because the new health insurance premiums will begin coming out of employees' paychecks on October 31 for those paid every two weeks, and on November 15 for those paid once a month. The BOE proposal was to increase the contributions in a tiered approach as follows:

Employee only plans - increase contribution from $316 per month to $430 per month

Employee/Spouse & Employee/Children plans - increase contribution from $316 per month to $530 per month

Family plans - increase contribution from $316 per month to $630 per month

For certified staff, this proposal would be an increased cost to the district of $331,560 per year. 

Thus, the total salary/benefits package for certified staff would have been approximately $836,560 (4.8%). 

AEA presented a counter offer of step & column movement, $430 district contribution for all health plan options (employee, employee/spouse, employee/children & family), increasing sub pay for teachers covering during plan periods, but not including that in the calculation of the total package, and adding 8% to every cell of the salary schedule. The offer from AEA would have been $270,000 in step/column movement plus approximately $266,000 in the non-tiered insurance package, plus approximately $1,389,315 for an 8% compensation increase to each cell of the schedule. The offer from AEA totaled approximately $1,925,315, which is approximately 11.1%. 

The teams declared impasse at the conclusion of the August 30 meeting. The next step in the process is a meeting with a federal mediator. No date has yet been set for this meeting.

I have attached the August 30 meeting minutes if you would like more detailed information on negotiations.

The district will move forward with recommending to the BOE on Monday to approve a 2.9% compensation increase for classified staff and administrators as well as the increased health insurance premiums as outlined above (the same proposal the BOE made at the August 30 session with AEA).

Lots going on across the district. Thanks for all you do, and have a relaxing weekend.



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