Superintendent Updates
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June 23, 2016

Update to Staff - June 22, 2016

Greeting everyone. I hope your summer is going well. There is a lot of activity in the district as we prepare for the 2016-17 school year. Several items of note:

  • The District Stadium turf is down and they should be finished in a few days
  • New carpet is going in at Cottonwood, ACHS, ACMS, AHS and the BCC wing of AHS
  • Repairs to several areas of roof at AHS continue
  • New copiers/printers are being installed throughout the district
  • We are way ahead with hiring staff but still looking for a SPED teacher and a math teacher at eCademy
  • Durham is beginning the transition to provide bus service
  • There have been several very good professional learning sessions including #EdcampICT last week which hosted over 200 educators from around the state, including many from Andover
  • New Project Lead the Way classes are being set up at AMS and ACMS


The list goes on and on... Summer is rather busy as we put away last year and turn our eyes toward August!

I realize the budget conversations in Topeka are on people’s minds and I wish there was more I could tell you. What I do know: 

The special session begins Thursday with mostly committee work. It appears the real action won't start until early next week. At this point, I've seen three proposals to address the $38 million needed to address the Supreme Court's order. None of the proposals provide more money to Andover but they don't hurt us too bad either. As you know, we went through some substantial budget changes in Spring 2015 (cuts and increased fees) and what we did then prepared us for next year. Though we are not rolling in the dough, proactive planning and conservative budgeting have allowed us to be confident going into next year. A big thank you to Sherame Kneisel and our finance team for leading the way!

At this point, I'm hopeful that the Legislature will work something out and avoid a school shut down! Andover will survive this latest budget crisis however, I encourage you to contact your legislators and encourage them to get this fixed as soon as possible!

With the upcoming August 2 primary election, this is a good time to remind you about what school employees can and can't do regarding political activity. 

What CAN you do - plenty and you should. I think that politicians realize educators will be a force that influences elections this year.

  • Use your personal e-mails to send messages

  • Post on your personal Facebook or Twitter accounts

  • Put yard signs at your home

  • Talk to your friends and neighbors about the candidates and views you support

  • Write letters to the editor supporting your candidates (just don't put it on school letterhead)

  • Volunteer on your own time to make phone calls or walk the streets for your favorite candidate(s)

What you CAN’T do-

  • Do not send political messages via school e-mail

  • Do not sign up to receive political messages on your school mail account.

  • Don't engage in political activities on school time.

  • Don’t pass out political marketing materials on school property and/or on school time.

Keep your eyes on what is happening in Topeka and contact your legislators to let your voice be heard.

As always, let me know if you have any questions or comments.


Regards, Greg

May 24, 2016

Thanks and Have a Great Summer!

Good Morning! There is nothing more exciting than the last day of school! Mixed emotions of happiness to reach the summer but also sadness to be leaving friends and colleagues we have learned and worked with throughout the year. 

For those leaving the district, thank you for your service. Andover is a special place and I hope your experience here has been meaningful and helped prepare you for whatever path you are taking in life. 

For most of us who are returning, enjoy your time away. Recharge, refresh and enjoy time with your family and friends. Education is both a challenging and rewarding profession and we need you on your "A-Game" come August!

Finally for those of us who are working throughout the summer, thank you for holding down the fort and doing all the things necessary to keep our buildings and grounds in good condition. I have no doubt you will have things ready in August! 

On behalf of the School Board and administration, THANK YOU for making 2015-16 another outstanding year for our students! We continue to produce outstanding young people who are prepared for anything life may send their way. At the end of the day, that is what it's all about!! 

Regards, Greg

May 23, 2016

Update to Staff

Well, we are almost there! Hard to believe the year is coming to an end. It has been a great one for Andover and of course that doesn't happen without all your hard work. Organizations are often judged by the value of their final product and graduating 408 talented seniors, at three ceremonies, should remind all of us how much of a difference we make in the lives of our students! Thanks for giving that extra degree of effort to make this year special!! We Are Andover!

There has been a lot of conversation about the state budget, school funding and the general operation of our state government and it is getting closer to the time that you can make a difference by GETTING OUT TO VOTE. We live in a wonderful state that’s been made strong by generations of voting Kansans. In our democracy, your vote is your voice. Kansans have a critical opportunity to vote in the August primaries and November general election. If you want to have a voice in the future of Kansas, here’s what you need to do:

If you have already requested an advanced ballot or would prefer to vote at the poll, please pass this information on to others!! Whether by mail or in person, THANK YOU for voting in the August primary. By casting a ballot, you will join the generations of great Kansans before us who helped build this state - and help ensure a strong Kansas for the generations to come.

Enjoy the last two days of school!

May 9, 2016

Update to Staff

Greetings and Happy Monday! I hope you had a nice weekend! 

Please note there is a BOE meeting tonight. The agenda is available on BoardDocs. Two items of specific interest are a budget report and the strategic plan for technology.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the school finance case tomorrow. Remember, this is to determine if the most recently passed funding formula for NEXT YEAR ONLY is equitable (not how much money, just is the money that is allocated being distributed equitably). The Legislature still needs to work on a permanent funding formula for 2017 and beyond. As I've mentioned before, based on what we know now, Andover has a solid budget plan for next year that does not include any reductions. (We made all those last year!) -- If something changes, I will let you know. 

At the administrator meeting last week, our principals asked if I would update you on the progress of the Long Range Facilities Plan study. I'll try to summarize the process here and then watch for more information in upcoming "A-List" articles. There has been a great deal of behind the scenes activity, a lot of information processed and many suggestions for the future of Andover facilities. It is exciting to see the process get started, but we still have a long way to go! 

Conversation about the future of Andover facilities started last fall with the following questions. 

1. What do we want Andover facilities to look like in five, ten or even fifteen years from now?

2. How many students will we have in the future?

3. What type of educational spaces does Andover need to continue the excellence that our patrons have come to expect?

​With that in mind, the BOE interviewed architectural firms​ in January and selected Schaefer, Johnson, Cox, Frey (SJCF) from Wichita to lead us through the process to identify facility needs, analyze enrollment trends, dream for the future, put together options for the district to consider, get feedback on those options and make a final recommendation to the BOE about our long range facilities plan. (Do we need to Add? Remodel? Build New? Reconfigure?) To accomplish this SJCF formed several teams to help with the process:

    1. Educational Specs Teams  (Elementary, Middle, High and Non-student facilities) -- These groups were made up of mostly staff members with the purpose of determining the "ideal" educational spaces for the future. Staff were surveyed and the architects toured/analyzed all facilities.
    2. Educational Planning Teams (Elementary, Middle, High and Non-student facilities) - These teams are made up of a combination of staff and community. They take the "ideal" educational spaces developed by the Ed Specs teams and compare them to what we have now, identify what we would need and make recommendations on how we might make that happen. These groups have produced A LOT of ideas and it is important to understand, these are just ideas! These ideas are then presented to the District Steering Team. 
    3. District Steering Team is made up of about 40 people. Both staff and community are involved - Their role is to take the many ideas produced by the four Educational Planning Teams, join them together in district wide ideas and begin to analyze which are the most beneficial to the district. They will ultimately narrow ideas down and present several (3-4) long range ideas to the district and community for feedback. Once they have feedback, final plans will be made and presented to the BOE. 

Where are we now? - The Educational Spec Teams have finished. The Educational Planning Teams have made a long list of potential ideas. Those ideas are now being presented to the District Steering Team. It looks like all the ideas will be on the table by the end of May. After that, we need to decide how to proceed throughout the summer and next fall. 

Please understand that we are very much in the idea stage right now and no decisions have been made nor will be made. I'd predict detailed, behind the scene analysis by the architects this summer and then a lot of activity in Fall 2016 around potential options with final decisions made at that time.

At the end of the process, the goal is to have a strategic plan for our facilities for 5, 10 and maybe even 15 years. Then we can begin working the plan. Don't hesitate to let me know if you have questions. It is exciting to dream about the future! 

Have a great week!


April 29, 2016

Update to Staff

Greetings everyone, I hope you had a great week. Amazing it is almost May and we are all busy with end of the year activities. Make sure to enjoy all the busyness!

  • Congrats to the Riedys (Brent, Asst. Principal AHS and Amber, ELP teacher) on the birth of daughter, Jensen Claire.
  • Congrats to the AHS Theatre Department for 13 Jester Award nominations for their fall performance of Aida! Outstanding!
  • Thanks to Shanda Seibel and Ellen Schwartzbeck, 5th grade teachers at Prairie Creek, for inviting me to judge your engineering/business plan competition. The student teams did an outstanding job of preparing and presenting! 

We had some interesting weather on Tuesday and I'd like to thank all of you for calm, thoughtful way you went through the process of communication and dismissal. Those situations test all of us and as it turned out, we were fortunate. In many ways, it was a good drill! Special thanks to our transportation staff for delivering our students safely home while the storm built all around us. Nice job everyone!

With all the recent news about Wichita’s budget challenges, several of you have asked about our financial situation. Will we let school out early or implement other cost saving measures? What is the likelihood of a school “shutdown” on July 1 because the Legislature may not fix the funding formula as directed by the Kansas Supreme Court? Here are some talking points for you:

  • The state budget crisis is causing a great deal of uncertainty with all state programs, including education. I encourage you to contact your local Legislators. Ask them to address the state's budget uncertainty and restore some predictability to our school budget process.

  • Our district budget is very tight, we are "doing more with less" than ever before, but at this point, we are not planning on any significant budget cuts nor ending school early because we proactively planned for this a year ago.

    • We made our budget cuts in spring 2015. If you recall, because of the two year Block Grant, we anticipated budget challenges and went through an extensive budget process. At that time we made recommendations for a TWO-year budget. (2015-16 and 2016-17). Our recommendations included $650,000 in spending reductions (2%) and $300,000 in fee increases. These changes netted approximately $950,000, which we have put to good use to manage the budget uncertainty. More information can be found at these links. Budget Process Homepage and 2015-16 Budget Process

    • Also in spring 2015, via negotiations, we agreed on a two year contract with our employees. This allowed us to plan ahead and manage our salary costs and has been very helpful.

  • Just like next year’s budget, a July 1 school shut down is difficult to predict, but we should know more before school is out. The Court is hearing the case May 10 and we anticipate a quick opinion. Until then, we are doing our best to proactively plan ahead without letting it dominate our conversation. It is important to remember that this is the third time in recent history that a “shutdown” has been threatened and they worked it out in both 1992 and 2005. I fully expect them to do the same this year.
  • We encourage our Governor and Legislature to address the revenue shortfall and fully fund K-12 education in Kansas. You can make a difference by making sure you are A) Registered to Vote and B) Vote in the Primary Election August. 2.and again in the General Election November 8. You can apply for an advance ballot by visiting and downloading your application today. Now more than ever it’s vital that we exercise our rights to vote and let our voices be heard. --- 80% of Kansas elections are decided in the August primary so don't miss your opportunity!

Let me end by simply saying, Andover is and will continue to be the best school district in Kansas because people like you continue to focus on what is most important, our students. No matter what challenges come our way, we will persevere. This quote comes to mind. "It is not what happens to you but how you react to it that matters." We can only do so much to control what happens in Topeka, but we can sure control our response and our attitude! Please do just that!

Thank you and have a great weekend!


PS -- Several Reminders!

  • The Prairie Fire Run is this weekend and our district will be represented well. Thanks to so many of you for participating in both the Saturday night meal (5:30-7:30 at ACHS) and the actual event on Sunday morning! Wear your Andover shirt with PRIDE! :-)
  • Andover Advantage will hold their 2nd Annual "The Truck Stops Here" food and drink event on Sunday from 12:00-3:00. Follow this link for more information. I hope you will all go out to support our Foundation as they try to support us!! We are fortunate to have such a dedicated group to support our efforts!
  • Finally, the BOE Outstanding Service Awards and Retirement Celebration on Monday, May 2 - 7:00 p.m. at ACMS. As always, we have many outstanding individuals who have dedicated many hours to make Andover a great place. I hope you will stop by to recognize and thank them!

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