SPS Winter Newsletter
The school district of Seward --where every student, every day is a success -- affirms that all students will have the skills to become productive and contributing members of a global community. In cooperation with family and community members, the district is committed to the development of each student academically, emotionally, socially, and physically.
A Note from the Superintendent- Dr. Fields
How do you measure SUCCESS in the classroom and in activities? This is a question that I have wrestled with for most of my 25 years in education. I love data and rely on data to make a lot of the decisions we make as a school district. Academic success as a district starts with our unrelenting focus on providing the best teaching and learning possible for our 1500 students. This core belief is the foundation of our success in the classroom and our school system.
Seward Public Schools is a high-performing school district and we have the data to demonstrate this consistently high performance. We were recognized by the Nebraska Department of Education as an Excellent School District for the 2021-2022 school year which came out last week. Currently, Seward Public Schools and Elkhorn Public Schools are the only class A and B school districts to receive this distinction since the classification system started in 2015. We are proud of the students and staff for their hard work in receiving this classification as a district, but know that assessment data is just one way to show success.
Each student comes to school with different challenges and gifts. Success in the classroom for some students is learning how to get along with others, learning different life skills that will prepare them to be successful adults, or putting in the work to pass a tough class. The same can be true with our extra-curricular activities. Our data was great this year in our fall sports and activities. The softball team, volleyball team, boys and girls cross country teams, football team, and E-Sports team all made it to state. Our band received a superior rating at state and many other students performed well in other competitions this fall at the State Fair and FFA National Convention. These are awesome celebrations but success in activities is also about developing new friendships, lessons learned from adversity, being a great teammate, and how you may not be the star player but make other players around you better through all of the hard work you put in at practice.
No matter how you define success, it is clear that we have had a very successful first half of the school year and I look forward to continued success in the classroom, on the courts, mats, fields, and stage in the second semester. Thank you to the students, staff, and parents for your continued support in making Seward Public Schools such a great district! I hope all of you have a wonderful Holiday Season and a Happy New Year! The last day of the semester will be Thursday, December 22 with a 1:30 dismissal.
Join the SPS Team!
Please consider joining the Seward Public Schools Team! We have openings for food service, bus drivers, and substitute teachers. Applications may be picked up at the district office at 410 South Street, Seward NE.
Weather Related School Closings
Winter is here and dealing with something as unpredictable as the weather makes school closing decision-making one of the most challenging responsibilities for school superintendents. Whenever dealing with something as unpredictable as weather, mistakes will be made. The bottom line is that forecasts are not always correct, but ignoring them is not advised. If there are errors, I always hope to error on the side of caution.
I am eager to hear from the public on most school related issues. Weather related school closings are the one exception. As a superintendent I have to make the call and live with the decision to have school or not. There are going to be many opinions, but I have to make the call on the information I have available at the time, and sometimes that information is not accurate. I apologize in advance because I know I will not always make the right call, but I guarantee the decisions I make will be based on the best information I have at the time. If a decision has been made to have school, PARENTS/GUARDIANS ultimately have the right to make a decision whether or not they want to send their children to school. If you think the roads are not safe for travel, then please keep your children home. Please call the school and let them know your plans so we don’t wonder where your child is.
If a decision is made to start late, school will begin two hours late with buses running accordingly. There will be no morning pre-school if there is a late start, but the afternoon pre-school will be in session. School will be held when main roads are drivable. Buses will not travel untended or ungraded roads in bad weather even if school is in session. If it becomes necessary, you will be informed about pick up points that could be used when some roads are not passable for our buses. If we are having school and your road is not passable, please call the bus garage at 402-643-6069 and let them know if you have not already heard from your bus driver.
Once in a while a late start might be scheduled to give us more time to make a decision. Continue to listen to school closing information as a late start could be changed to a cancellation. Please be prepared.
Unless some unforeseen event happens, a decision will be made by 6:30 a.m. and the decision will be communicated via our alert system and posted to TV Stations (Channels 8 and 10/11). Weather-related school announcements will also be made using our social media Twitter, and Facebook. The alert system provides immediate messages/communications, so you do not have to listen to the TV or radio to find out what is happening. We gather parent/guardian contact information from PowerSchool, which is the student management software we utilize. If your contact information is accurate, parents/guardians should receive notifications. If you are not receiving alerts, you may contact Craig Williams at email@example.com.
In the event school is canceled or dismissed early, typically all activity and athletic practices will be canceled on those days and the school buildings will be closed. If we decide not to cancel school and parents want their children to come home immediately after school, parents have the right to excuse their children from practice due to weather.
Every year our school district produces an annual report for our stakeholders. The annual report has information about our district including our progress on the strategic plan, demographic data, and student achievement data. Please be sure to click on the following link to learn more about our district:
Curriculum Review Update
The state of Nebraska has been developing a through-year model for our state assessment. This through-year model allows students to demonstrate their understanding of the Nebraska standards at three different points of the school year. Our school district decided to use our traditional NWEA MAP assessment in the Fall to help inform decisions regarding instruction. SPS has decided to give the NSCAS Growth assessment during the Winter window. The 3rd, 4th, and 5th-grade students will be taking the NSCAS Growth Reading and Math tests over the next two weeks, while the 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade students will take the NSCAS Growth Reading and Math tests in January.
STATE PATROL, Sex Offender Registry
Are you aware that we have a number of sex offenders living in our school district in Butler and Seward Counties? Individuals convicted of sex offenses are required to register their place of residence and employment with the Nebraska State Patrol. Parents may access this listing on the State Patrol Website by going to https://sor.nebraska.gov/Registry. You can search by location and find registered sex offenders living near your home or our schools.
I encourage parents to check this website on a regular basis in an effort to stay informed. I will also tell you that according to school policy, a sex offender who is the parent or guardian of a student may participate in education conferences unless prohibited by court order, but shall not otherwise enter school grounds or attend school events without prior, express permission of the building principal.
2022-2023 School District of Seward – BUDGET
The following information provides an overview of the budget that was approved by the Board of Education on September 28 for the 2022-2023 school year. We feel fortunate to have strong public support for our schools, but also understand the responsibility we have to our tax payers to be fiscally responsible. The first chart shows the Seward Public School’s Valuation History:
State Aid Formula History
Below shows a history for the last seven years of what we have received in state aid. When looking at the total budget of Seward Public Schools, we receive very little money from the state.
The general fund expenditure budget increase is projected to be at or a slightly above 3%.
Like all school districts, the largest percentage of our budget goes to staffing. Transportation, maintenance, and curriculum materials account for a large portion of the rest of our budget.
In the bond fund we are levying to pay off the new middle school. The bond fund for 2022-23 was just over 8 cents for the middle school bond fund. The last payment for the middle school bond is in 2027.
In the Special Building Fund, we levied .01 cents in 2022-23. These funds are used to pay for facility updates and maintenance projects, as needed. The board goes through a process to determine maintenance and building project needs, we then use this list to determine how many projects we can accomplish.
When looking at “all funds,” the tax asking went up $665,012 but the total tax levy dropped to $0.945 cents per $100,000 of valuation. Every penny on the levy generates $176,502 which is then multiplied by our levy rate of $0.945 to get our total tax asking of $16,678,232 for the 2022-2023 budget. The chart below shows a history of our tax asking over the last ten years.
If you have specific questions about the budget, feel free to call the District Office at (402) 643-2941.
K-12 Enrollment Summary
Seward Public Schools had experienced a one percent growth for a lot of years. This year we had a decrease in enrollment of five students. Since the enrollment report was presented to the board in September, we continue to see new students enroll.