Greetings All, I hope you had a nice weekend. This time of the year gets so busy with spring activities that it seems to fly by. School will be over before we know it. Enjoy the ride!
Last week, KSDE announced that Wheatland Elementary was a recipient of the Governor's Achievement Award. Congrats to the WES staff, students and parents. That is a nice acknowledgement of all your hard work.
On Wednesday I had the privilege of attending the Kansas Master Teacher Awards in Emporia to see Ray Linville be recognized for all his accomplishments. Congrats Ray, you represented us well! It made it even more special that his wife Julie is also a teacher in our district. Thanks for all you do to promote excellence in Andover.
For more examples of Andover Excellence, follow this link to articles about Julie Calabro, Doug Carr and Brett White. Congrats to each of them!!
Later today, if all goes as planned, Brett White will announce the hiring of our new Meadowlark principal. I'd like to publicly thank Jody Baker for 16 years of outstanding service to the students, parents and community of Andover. We are a much better place because of the impact she has made and I wish her all the best in retirement! Thanks Jody, job well done!!
The Board of Education meets tonight and will discuss several topics of interest. I am out of town and want to thank Brett White for filling in for me at the BOE table.
Now that the Governor has signed the proposed school finance bill for next year only, several of you have asked if I think the Supreme Court will accept it and what that means for Andover.
At this point, it looks like we won't know the outcome of the case until at least the middle of May. In the mean time, I encourage all of us to keep our focus on ending the year strong. What is happening in Topeka is somewhat out of our control, there are too many unknown factors and "what ifs" to even speculate on an outcome. What I would encourage you to do is make sure you are registered to vote, request an advanced ballot if appropriate and VOTE in theAugust 2 primary! That is how we can make our voices heard. Follow this link for more information.
Have a great week and thank you for continuing to do such outstanding work for our students and our community.
Greetings Everyone! It is Friday!! Hope you have plans for a great weekend. Several things of potential interest:
This afternoon, Jody Baker, Principal of Meadowlark Elementary, announced to her staff that she was retiring at the end of this school year. Jody has been in education for 32 years and in Andover for 16. Jody's list of accomplishments is too long to mention here, so let me just say she has been very successful and her leadership has helped Meadowlark become one of the best elementary schools in the state. Personally, Jody was my son's principal several years ago and a mentor for me as I transitioned to Andover. I've learned a lot from her. She has been a tremendous asset to Andover and will be missed! Congrats on a well-deserved retirement Jody! Thank you.
In a recent update I mentioned the recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling. Several of you have asked "what happens if the Legislature doesn't address the ruling by June 30, 2016 and our schools have to close"? I've visited with area superintendents and with Kansas school board association staff and no one has a great answer to that question. This is unprecedented. If I had to venture a guess, I'd say they will work something out. My advice for all of us would be to keep on keeping on, continue to advocate for public education, register to vote and then vote in both the primary (August 2) and general election (November 8). In the mean time, behind the scene, we will work on contingency plans for any disruption in service. I'll keep you posted if things change.
Because of the recent announcement that the State of Kansas is short on money, I've also been asked about potential budget cuts for this year and next year. Please remember, unless things change significantly, Andover is in a solid financial position. That being said, we are keeping a careful eye on activities in Topeka. I'll keep you posted as things continue to unfold.
Speaking of voting, in the near future you will hear more from the district and AEA about our voter registration drive. We want to make it as easy as possible for our community to get registered, request advanced ballots, if desired, and to get out and vote!
Congrats to Ray Linville for being named a Kansas Master Teacher! He joins a long list of Andover teachers to win this prestigious award!! Way to go Mr. Linville! We are proud of you.
Congrats also to Nicole Kallenbach, ACHS and Janie Hachen, Cottonwood for being selected as the district's representatives for Kansas Teacher of the Year! Way to go ladies!
It is cool to see and hear so much about the wellness program! I'm glad so many of you are participating! Have a nice weekend and please don't hesitate to let me know if you have comments or questions!
Greetings All, hope you had a nice week. This is a busy time of year but I hope through all the busyness, you are taking time to appreciate and enjoy all the great things we are accomplishing. The list of student and adult accomplishments goes on and on. For instance:
I could go on!! Our challenge is not finding outstanding accomplishments, but remembering to recognize the many people who are doing great things! Having such a high level of excellence means that EVERYONE is doing their part to educate our students.
With all the interesting things coming out of Topeka, it sometimes makes me wonder how important public education really is to our elected leaders. You will see in an upcoming Andover Update (mailed district newsletter) that I speak to my concern about the tone coming from Topeka and calling for a renewed sense of collaboration between elected officials and public school advocates. Thank you for cutting through all the noise and focusing on what really matters, our students. You are indeed professionals and Andover is fortunate to have you.
Last week, Butler Community College announced a new free tuition program called "General Education Tuition Waiver". Beginning in Fall 2016, any high school student in Butler County can take many of the current BCC dual credit courses tuition free (20 courses in all). This is a significant investment in the students of Butler County.
Next week you may begin hearing about the comprehensive facilities study project led by the architectural firm of Shaefer, Johnson, Cox and Frey. The goal is to develop a long-range vision for our facilities. As part of this process, committees are forming, a survey to select staff is being prepared and school site visits, including interviews with staff, are being planned. More as things unfold, but wanted you to know it was in the works.
It is great to see so much participation in our new wellness program! Many of you are competing on a team competition counting steps, exercise minutes and weight loss! Keep it up. We will all benefit in the long run. If you haven't signed up for the Prairie Fire race on May 1, you still have time! Have a great weekend!
As you probably know, yesterday the Kansas Supreme Court issued its ruling on the equity element of the Gannon school finance case. It is important to note that there are two parts to the case:
The ruling yesterday addressed only the equity component. Basically, the court said the current funding formula (Block Grant), regardless of how much is spent, is unconstitutional because it isn't fairly distributed. The court did not rule on the adequacy component or tell the legislature how much money they need to allocate. That element of the case is still under deliberation.
The ruling gave the Legislature until June 30, 2016 to fix the equity issue. They could do this in a variety of ways. Add additional money for those districts that are not receiving their share, reallocate the current budget in a more equitable way, or some combination. There are probably other solutions.
What does this mean for Andover?
First, we are pleased that the court ruled in favor of the schools and reinforced the importance of providing ALL students in Kansas, regardless of their zip code, with adequate access to a quality education. Assuming we have no further reductions, the block grant is still in effect and we have funding for the rest of 2015-16. If the amount of money doesn't change, we are also comfortable going into 2016-17 without having to reduce our budget. If the amount of money for next year does change, we will address it at that time but I hate to spend too much time on speculation and "what ifs". We are doing all we can to plan for contingencies.
As you are also aware, Andover Public Schools provides a tremendous educational value to our community. We have excellent results at a low cost per pupil and we are doing more, with less, than ever before. That is a huge credit to all of you!! The most important thing you can do is continue to advocate for additional funding for public schools!
As the legislature works towards a new funding plan, my hope is that there will be a renewed sense of cooperation between state legislators and public school advocates to develop a formula that demonstrates the important role that education plays in the future success of Kansas. In the meantime, keep doing what you're doing. Please focus on what you can control; student and adult learning, high expectations for all and being the very best we can be for our community.
More information is available - http://www.kansas.com/news/
Have a nice weekend. Hope you and your valentine have plans.
Happy Friday!! The warmer weather makes me wonder if we will ever get any significant snow. Yes, even I'd like to see a snow day! :-)
Yesterday we interviewed four outstanding candidates for the AHS principal position and we hope to have a decision soon. I'd like to thank the AHS staff for taking the time to offer feedback. It was helpful.
The Butler County Student Art Show opens this weekend at the Coutts Museum of Art, 110 N Main St, El Dorado. The reception is from 12:00-4:00 p.m. Saturday. A lot of young Andover artists will be on display. Hope you can check it out! Thanks art teachers for all you do to provide this opportunity for the kids.
Best wishes to "Andover" tonight when ACHS and AHS meet for the Crosstown Rivalry basketball games at ACHS! Also tonight, ACHS is establishing the Jaguar Hall of Fame with the induction of Tiffany Bias and Christopher Watson. A short reception will be held from 5:30-6:00 p.m. with induction at approximately 7:15 p.m.
Earlier this week, USD 259 announced a budget shortfall of $25 million for next year. Because of that, several of you have asked how we are doing. Of course it is hard to predict what will happen in Topeka but if the State doesn't reduce school funding we are in a solid position to make it through the rest of this year and next. Proactive planning, conservative budgeting, implementing efficiencies and having a two year agreement with AEA has helped us to better manage our budget. By no means are we rolling in the dough. As you know, we are operating on less per student than we were in 2009, but because of a lot of hard work on your part, we are still able to deliver the best education in Kansas to the students in Andover. Please stay focused on the things we can control, our interactions with each other and the students! And of course never miss an opportunity to remind legislators how important it is to fully fund education! This craziness can not go on forever!!
The Board of Education is meeting Monday. Check out BoardDocs. Several highlights:
I hope everyone will seriously consider participating in the district's new wellness initiative! I've been challenged to run in the Prairie Fire 5K in May. Not sure if I can run the entire time, but will at least walk to the finish line! Registration information is attached!
Have a great weekend and thanks again for being a special group of people. Keep expecting the best from all of us!