Superintendent Updates
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February 26, 2016

Update to Staff

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:

  • Last Friday, Kelly McMains, PCES 1st grade, was honored as a New Horizon Award winner in Topeka.
  • The ACHS Scholar's Bowl team won the State Championship
  • AHS Thespians won the Gold Honor Troupe Award for the 2nd year in a row
  • Our young artists were displayed at the Butler County Art Show
  • The Trojan Children's Choir is scheduled to sing at the Kansas Music Educators Conference on Saturday.
  • ACHS and AHS have a large group of wrestlers going to State this weekend.
  • Andover had ALL the top ten finalists in the Butler County Spelling Bee

 

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! 




February 12, 2016

Update to Staff

Colleagues, 

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: 

  • Equity: Regardless of how much money, is it being distributed in an equitable way to all districts in the state. (Fairness)
  • Adequacy: Is the Legislature allocating enough money to provide a reasonable education to all students? (Amount of Money)

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/politics-government/article59752316.html

​Have a nice weekend. Hope you and your valentine have plans. 

 

 




February 5, 2016

Update to Staff

Greetings,

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:

  • District Calendar for 2016-17
  • Mark Cross and several AHS students will share about the new CATIA partnership we have with WSU.  (ACHS has it too) CATIA is a high-end 3-D CAD design software
  • Jill Lachenmayr and Brett White will share the mid-year Data Dashboard. We should all be pleased with the progress we are making. I'll share more on that and the climate survey results next week.
  • I will be making the recommendation to contract with Durham School Services to manage our transportation services beginning in the 2016-17 school year. We were pleased to be able to address our three objectives, enhancing service, saving money and taking care of our transportation employees in the transition. There is powerpoint on BoardDocs with more information. 
  • We will also contract with the architectural firm of Schaefer, Johnson, Cox and Frey to lead district staff and community in a comprehensive, long range facilities study. You will hear a lot more about that soon! 

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!




February 4, 2016

Update to Staff - Jan. 11

Greetings All,

A few of updates for you:

-January is Board of Education appreciation month. I couldn't ask for a better group of people to help lead our district. They are thoughtful, work hard, listen and always have the best interests of the district in mind. I'm sure they would appreciate hearing from you. 

-Congrats to Kelly McMains, 1st grade teacher at Prairie Creek, for being named a KSDE New Horizon award winner. Kelly joins an elite group of educators at both the state and local level who demonstrate the utmost in professionalism and excellence. Andover is fortunate to have her on our team!

- Custodial efficiencies have been gained by revising our processes for ordering and delivering supplies, identifying new cleaning techniques and staff training. These changes will not only help us be more effective, but will also save us $69,000 this school year.

- At our last board meeting I recommended that we contract with a private company to provide our transportation service. We talked about this last spring, tabled it and then started the review again this fall. After a thorough review, interviews with three companies and many reference checks, we believe it is in our best interest to contract. We have not selected a company but have narrowed it down to Durham and First Student. I've attached background information via a Powerpoint if you are interested. Bottom line, we can hire a company at the same cost we are paying now and they will: increase driver wages, provide new buses, provide upgraded technology on the buses, increase staff and continue to run the same number of routes and trips we are currently doing. 

As the Legislative session begins in Topeka and school budgets will no doubt be discussed, a couple of talking points for you:

- Andover provides a tremendous return on investment.

- Andover is one of the highest achieving districts in state

- Andover was the 5th most efficient district based on per/pupil spending in the most recent KSDE data (2013-14)

- We will stay focused on those things we can control, student and adult learning, high expectations for all and being the very best we can be for our community.

I'm really excited to hear about our new Wellness Initiative! I'm sure you've read about it in the A-List. A BIG THANK YOU to the committee for all they have done to make this a reality. Health care today is very complicated and preventative care/wellness are very important! Get involved and live a healthier you! :-) 

Thanks again for being a great team. Our community is fortunate to have professionals like you. Have a great week!




January 5, 2016

Update to Staff

Greetings All and Welcome Back! 

I hope you had a joyous holiday season and are ready to kick off the new semester. I'm sure many of the students will be happy to be back (even though they won't admit it!) As I mentioned before Christmas, we have accomplished so much and continue to be a model for others. That doesn't happen without quality people, who have high expectations for themselves and each other! Education is a challenging profession and through all those challenges, we support each other very well. That is what it's all about! Excellence is a way of life in Andover. Thank you! 

Many of you have probably heard but yesterday Bob Baier, principal at AHS, announced his retirement at the end of this school year. Bob has been in Andover for 16 years and will leave a positive mark on many students, AHS and the district as a whole. In my three years in Andover, I've grown to appreciate and respect Bob's professionalism and dedication to his students. Congrats Bob!

Again, welcome back! It is nice to get things rolling again! 


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