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.
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.
Four years ago, I started this journey as your superintendent and it is amazing how quickly time passes. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to work with you and want to thank all of you for your support, dedication and professionalism. Being the superintendent of the best school district in Kansas has been a great honor.
The 2016-17 school year has been another good one and that doesn't happen without professional, caring adults doing an outstanding job, every day. There is no doubt you believe in our school district and our students and with the overwhelming passage of the bond issue, our community sent a huge message of how much they believe in you.
I write this today, on the last, "last day of school" of my career, grateful for the opportunity to spend time with you. Together, we have accomplished so much and I have all the confidence in the world that Brett White will not only help you stay on top, but bring many more enhancements for our students, employees and community. Andover has a bright future!!
Thank you for being the positive energy I needed to keep fighting the good fight for PUBLIC education in Andover and the state of Kansas. You are a special group of people and I will miss seeing you. My last official day is June 29, so for those who will be around this summer, I'll see you again. For those leaving this week, I wish you well. Keep believing in yourselves and keep believing in your ability to make a difference in the lives of young people in Andover! All the best and thank you.
Greetings Andover School District Family!
As April comes to a close, the end of the year is within sight. Between now and then, there are so many great things happening. Please take a moment away from all the "busyness" and make some special, end of the year memories with students, parents and colleagues!
People often judge the success of an organization by looking at the finished product and this week we got some good news about our "finished product", our high school students. U.S. News and World Report rated ACHS and AHS as two of the best high schools in Kansas! Follow this link. Congrats to everyone and specifically, staff/students at ACHS and AHS! Another example of "Andover Excellence"!!
On Monday, May 1 the Board of Education will hold their annual Awards and Retirement event. ACHS Auditorium - 7:00 p.m. Stop by and help the BOE honor these outstanding individuals and community partners.
Occasionally I'm asked about the status of school finance in Topeka. At this point, nothing is settled and I don't expect it to be until the end of May. However, the district is preparing to go into the 2017-18 school year as we would any other year. Current proposals before the Legislature would increase funding for schools, though not as much as we would like and when it all shakes out, the district will be fine. We have many education supporters in Topeka and I expect them to prevail in the end.
The May 9 Bond Issue is fast approaching and creating a great deal of excitement in the community. I hope you're hearing the same positive, supportive comments that I'm hearing about the bond. The district has a great reputation and that reputation is paying huge dividends. No doubt our community is supportive of our schools and I'm confident they will vote accordingly on May 9. Please do everything you can do to encourage our parents and community members to get educated and VOTE! There are plenty of supporters out there and we need them to vote. The items in this bond will add tremendous value to the district and position us for many successful years to come! Thanks for your support!
Have a great weekend!
Hard to imagine we are already in the 4th quarter of school and spring break is here. Time flies! Please take a moment during the break to reflect on the many things we have accomplished this year! Don't ever take for granted the many talented, dedicated people you work with each and every day! This is a special place!
This morning we surprised Meghan Chapman and Heather Hawkins by naming them the USD 385 Kansas Teacher of the Year nominees. Congrats to Meghan, 3rd grade teacher at RMES (and an AHS graduate) and Heather, ACMS Media Specialist! You will represent us well!
Yesterday's AAF grant celebration was fun! Amazing to see an outside group give the district $80,000 yesterday and over $1 million since AAF was formed. As you are well aware, our community has high expectations but they also offer tremendous support. Nice to have both!
There continues to be a lot of behind the scene work on the May 9 Bond Issue as we plan for an informational campaign in April/May. This week the State Board of Education approved our application and authorized the state to pay 24% of the bond if it passes. Informational material and building specific display boards are being developed and the Bond Website continues to add new information and frequently asked questions. I encourage you to review the website and use it to educate the community. Please note -- the deadline to register to vote is April 18 and you can request an advanced mail in ballot anytime before May 1. Voter registration information is at this link. I hope those of you who live in the district will vote and encourage others to do the same! The last election had approximately 3000 voters so if our 600 employees and eligible family members vote, it would make a tremendous difference! You will begin hearing more about the bond in April as the May 9 dates draws closer!
Have a nice break and thanks for all you do to make Andover special.
Greetings Andover Staff:
In our ongoing quest to improve services to our families and students, we are constantly evaluating programs. For the last several years, we have taken a hard look at transportation and the first change was to contract our services with Durham. Now as Durham settles in and helps us to analyze our operation, we have identified a way to improve on-time bus delivery and reduce costs. For years, we've had a challenge with late arriving buses at our elementary schools (especially on the south side of the district) and the root cause is not enough time between secondary and elementary bell times.
Thus the purpose of my note, beginning next school year (2017-18) we are going to move the start and end times for the elementary schools forward by 10 minutes, 8:45 a.m. - 3:45 p.m. (They are currently 8:35-3:35) Moving the times later will provide an extra ten minutes between secondary and elementary schools which will get elementary bus students to school on time, reduce the number of bus routes and ultimately, save the district transportation costs.
We wanted you to be aware of this so you could help your administrators think about potential challenges. We'll also send something home to parents so they can plan accordingly.
One question I've been asked is about the contract day for elementary staff. We will change that by 10 minutes (8:10-4:10) to coincide with the bell time adjustment.
There are no changes proposed for our secondary schools. In summary....
School Start Times for 2017-18:
As always, let me know if you have questions.