Superintendent Updates
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May 10, 2018

Staff Update

Staff,

As you are well aware, we are in the middle of one of the busiest times of the year. I wanted to take a moment to pause and say “thank you” for your commitment to our students, especially during hectic times.

As a token of our appreciation during Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week, we’ll be delivering pinwheels to your lounges on Friday morning. Again, thank you for making a difference in the lives of our students! I wish you the best as we wrap up the 2017-2018 school year.

I also wanted to update you on a few other topics:

  • Bond projects: Wednesday marked one year since district voters approved $188 million in bond-funded projects for our district. It’s amazing to see what progress has been made during that time, both in terms of construction and planning for future work. I know construction can lead to temporary inconveniences, so I appreciate your patience during this process. Ultimately, all of these projects will allow us to better serve our students. Click here to view a graphic with the latest updates on timelines for construction.

  • Gemini II: Administrators and teachers from four schools — Cottonwood, Meadowlark and Robert Martin elementaries and Andover Central Middle School — attended a kickoff event for the Gemini II School Redesign Project May 1 in Clearwater. We’re beginning to plan for how these schools will reshape learning as part of the Kansans Can initiative. We’re excited to be part of this journey and look forward to sharing more with you as planning progresses. Eventually all of our schools will be a part of this initiative.

  • Outstanding Service Awards Program and Retirement Reception: On Monday, I had the pleasure of attending this annual event to honor our retiring teachers and staff members, as well as outstanding educators, staff, volunteers and community partners. Our retirees this year totaled 198 years of service to our district! We thank all of you for your service, and we congratulate our award winners. In case you missed, it here is a recap of who was honored.

  • Monday BOE meeting preview: Our May BOE meeting will be on Monday. We currently have a vacant BOE position, and we have two excellent candidates who have expressed interest in serving. Thus, at 5:30 p.m. the BOE will interview the two candidates for the open position. The regular BOE meeting starts at 6:30. Highlights will include a report on eCademy & the curriculum work that eCademy staff members are beginning. We will also share about progress on programming for our Career & Professional Studies Center. By the way, our goal is to have the location for the CAPS program determined in the next month or two. We will have some policy and handbook discussion items, as well as discussion on Spanish and Kansas History curriculum. The Board will receive an update on bond progress. We will also ask for approval to renew our food service contract with Opaa!

Regards,

Brett




April 13, 2018

Staff Update

Staff,

It’s hard to believe that we have just over 5 weeks of school remaining! Spring activities are in full swing. Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend the AHS performance of The Miser. It was truly outstanding. I am looking forward to attending a couple more plays this month. ACHS students will perform The Butler Did It this weekend, and the SES 5th grade performance of The Lion King will be held on April 20. There are many concerts, programs, & special events throughout the district in the next several weeks.  Here are some updates that I want to share with you:

KTOY District Nominees

This morning Kim Hett, Gina MIller and a few of us from district office stopped by the classrooms of Jennifer Williams & Anna Mitchell to congratulate them on being selected as the 2019 KTOY district nominees. Jennifer teaches 3rd grade at RMES, and Anna teaches 8th grade Language Arts at AMS. Congrats to Jennifer & Anna, and all the other outstanding building nominees!

Todd Flory, ESU Master Teacher

Last week WES 4th grade teacher Todd Flory was recognized as an ESU Master Teacher at a banquet in Emporia. Todd was one of seven teachers in the state to receive this award. Andover has had 6 Master Teachers in the past 7 years, which is remarkable when you think that our district has had 6 of the last 49 Master Teachers. It’s a tribute to the incredible educators that we have in our district.

Bond Issue

* At Monday’s BOE meeting, we discussed the location for the district pool. We were considering a few options, but based on pricing, central location, and proximity to our FAA students, the recommendation was to attach the 8-lane pool to AHS. This option was about $1 million less expensive than the other options.

* Design is continuing on the tennis complex that will be on the ACHS site.

* Elementary additions continue to progress and are on schedule for completion in early August.

* The ribbon cutting ceremonies for the turf baseball and softball fields at both high schools were held in the past two weeks, and our student-athletes are enjoying playing on the new fields.

* We closed on the land purchase for the new MES at the southeast corner of 13th & 159th. This will be a great location. We are in the process of working with the city of Andover to have this land annexed into the city. Our architects are working on the placement of the new school on the land. Once that is completed, design will kick into high gear.

* The design work for ACHS & AHS continues to progress nicely. Those projects will be bid in the next couple of months, and then construction will begin this summer.

* Roof projects continue as well. The SES roof is completed, and ACMS & CES are in process.

Personnel Changes

* It is that time of year when some of our staff members retire or leave for other adventures in life. Congratulations to the following staff members who will be retiring:

Patricia Chambers, Art Teacher, ACHS

Connie Glock, Cook, WES

Michele Hansen, CTE Teacher, ACMS

Sherye Lock, Social Studies Teacher, ACMS

Nancy Martin, Social Studies Teacher, AMS

Gilbert Martinez, Custodian, PCES

Annette Nickelson, Science Teacher, ACMS

Gay Troiani, FACS Teacher, ACHS

* We welcome Terry Rombeck as our Director of Communication. Terry started last week, and would love for you to send information about the cool things happening in your classrooms to him so we can share your stories.

* Scott Wilson, Director for Business & Community Partnerships, began his duties today. We had an interview process that consisted of preliminary and final interviews, involving members of the business community, Andover Advantage Foundation, and district staff. This position will be instrumental in the Kansans Can vision. Scott will focus on seeking partnerships for the Career Center as well as building relationships with business and community members that enhance the opportunities for all of our students.

* Brian Gregoire, currently an Assistant Principal at ACHS, will begin serving as the Director for the Career Center in August. Brian and a talented group of high school teachers have been touring other career centers as we built out the vision and programming for this in Andover. The location for the Career Center will be determined in the next couple of months, and the design of the facility will  begin.

Have a great weekend!




March 5, 2018

District Safety Letter - Mar. 2, 2018

March 2, 2018

Dear USD 385 Parents, Students, & Staff,

Providing educational excellence and opportunities for our students to succeed is the mission of USD 385 Andover Public Schools. An important part of the commitment to excellence means providing a safe learning environment for our students.

Please know that communicating to you in this way does not mean there have been any safety threats or concerns to our district or our facilities. Instead, in light of recent events involving school safety concerns, and to provide transparency and assurance when it comes to our long-standing commitment to safety, I felt it necessary to update you on our comprehensive safety plan.

We have implemented a comprehensive safety approach that includes plans for intruders as well as fire protection and tornado shelters, along with many other potential hazards and emergencies. The focus of this letter will be safety as it relates to intruders, because I realize it is on your minds following the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida. Here is an overview of some of the important ways that we keep students and staff safe:

* In 2015, in partnership with the City of Andover, the district expanded its School Resource Officer (SRO) program. We hired two additional SRO's, making a total of four district-wide. There is an SRO who offices out of each middle school and high school in the district. The SRO’s also spend time in our elementary schools. One of the most important functions of our SRO’s is building trusting, positive relationships with students.

* We have a strong relationship with the Andover Police Department. District officials meet regularly with Andover Police Department leadership. The Andover Police Department is one of only eight departments in the state of Kansas that has received the highest level of accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). APD is an exemplary department that we are proud to partner with.

*Several years ago the district implemented the “Run, Hide, Fight” model that we use to train staff and also talk about with students. “Run, Hide, Fight” training provides the framework for how staff should respond if an intruder enters the building. Ongoing training is provided in this model, including drills with staff on professional learning days that simulate an active shooter situation with a de-brief afterward.

* A few years ago the district invested in locks for all interior classrooms. Doors can be locked from the inside without our teachers having to step outside their classrooms, which is an important way that we can protect students in an emergency situation.

* Our schools take threats very seriously. We have a threat assessment protocol in place to determine the credibility of a potential threat.

* We focus on building positive relationships with students, and cultivating an environment where students feel valued and connected. This is a powerful way to prevent violence in schools.

* This year the district hired additional counselors for each of the secondary schools. We now have two counselors at each middle school, and three counselors at the high schools. Our counselors play an essential role in helping to meet the social and emotional needs of students.

* Safety planning is essential. We have a district safety coordinator and a committee that meets regularly to ensure that we are responsive to changing needs. Staff receive ongoing training as well.

* Each month I meet with a group of fifteen high school students that I call my Superintendent’s Student Advisory Team. Our March meeting will focus on school safety. It is important to discuss students’ questions and concerns.

Finally, I’m looking forward to the safety enhancements district-wide with the bond issue that was passed a year ago. When construction is completed, each of our schools will have a secure entry way for all visitors who enter our facilities during the school day. Construction on those safety enhancements at our elementary schools is expected to be completed by August of this year, with additional safety enhancements to our middle and high schools coming throughout the construction process. You can follow the bond construction process here.

Thank you for entrusting the district to provide safe learning environments for our students. We care deeply about our students, and each of us has an important role in safeguarding them. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your child’s principal or me, and we will be happy to visit. Together, we can continue to provide safe, positive, exemplary learning environments for all students.

 

Sincerely,

Brett White




February 14, 2018

District Staff Update

District Staff-

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!

Regards,

Brett




January 8, 2018

Staff Update

Andover Team-

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!

Regards,

Brett


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