Nov 11 - From the Superintendent
November 11, 2022
November 11, 2022
Hello, USD 231 Patrons and Employees.
As you are probably aware, teachers matter more to student achievement than any other aspect of schooling. There are a multitude of factors that contribute to a student’s academic performance, including individual characteristics and family and neighborhood experiences. But research suggests that, among school-related factors, teachers matter most.
Knowing the importance of great teachers, the Board of Education was pleased to approve the employment of two special education teachers at the November Board of Education meeting. By taking this action, USD 231 has filled ALL teaching positions - across the entire district. Considering the Kansas State Department of Education reported over 1,600 teaching vacancies statewide and the fact that most other Johnson County School Districts still have unfilled vacancies - this is a very positive accomplishment and a tribute to our building principals and special education administrators, as they never stopped looking for qualified teachers. More importantly, filling these remaining spots means the district is well-positioned to serve all our students - across all our buildings.
This leads to my next update - Special Education.
We know that services for our students with special needs are of the utmost importance to our families and employees. To that end, I have included a small sampling of the work that has transpired in just the past few months to address these concerns. They include:
USD 231 has begun a collaborative effort with the University of Kansas to conduct an Organizational Scan (Audit) of the Special Education Department. The timeline of this work includes the following:
- October 20, 2022 - KU was onsite to conduct listening sessions with the following focus groups. These groups consisted of certified representatives from each building, Transition Coordinators, Music Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Social Workers, School Psychologists, Gifted Facilitators, Paraeducators, Sped Coordinators, Behavior Specialists, and Parents.
- November 9, 2022 - KU was onsite to conduct listening sessions with the following focus groups: General Education Teachers from each building, the Director of Special Education, and Parents.
- November 22, 2022 - KU will return to USD 231 to conduct listening sessions with the following focus groups: SPED Office Staff and Cabinet and Building Administrators.
To ensure everyone's voice is heard, KU is creating a survey to gather feedback from these stakeholder groups:
- Special Education Teachers
- Building Administrators
- Parents of Students with Special Needs
- General Education Teachers
These surveys will be sent out by the Department of Special Education but will be returned anonymously to KU.
Additionally, the video of the Special Board Meeting held in May regarding Special Education has been shared with KU as an additional means of gathering parent input.
As you can tell, Mrs. Carter (Director of Special Education) and her team are working hard to find solutions that meet our student's needs and are supportive of staff.
We understand that KU will provide its recommendations in January or February (2023).
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn't include a "thank you" for our Veterans' sacrifices, and especially our employees who also served (or are serving) in the military. Thank you!
Inclement Weather Procedures
In the event USD 231 closes school due to inclement weather or other emergencies, the information is communicated as soon as the decision is made in the following ways:
Posted on our website
Posted on social media (Facebook and Twitter)
Local television stations (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC)
As a district, we are aware of the implications of opening school during less than perfect conditions and of closing schools when poor weather conditions exist, or are predicted. The safety of our students, staff, and parents remains our primary consideration.
Because the district encompasses 100 square miles of Johnson County, the weather can vary significantly, as can road conditions, in different parts of the county. Major roadways may be in good driving condition, but neighborhood and rural roads may remain treacherous.
District students typically travel to school in five ways. Some ride on school buses, some walk to schools or bus stops, some are driven by their parents, some drive themselves, and some are driven by other students. When the school system considers the impact of weather conditions on the ability to open schools, it considers all these methods of transportation.
Some staff members and bus drivers leave home as early as 5:00 a.m. Many working parents need time to make last-minute arrangements for child care. Accordingly, the school system makes every effort to make decisions regarding inclement weather closings or delays prior to 6:00 a.m. Once a decision is made by the Superintendent, it takes approximately 15 - 20 minutes to complete notifying local media, updating the website, and sending text messages.
Oftentimes, snow, sleet, or freezing rain does not start until between 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. This sometimes results in schools opening when the conditions are worse than anticipated and closing on days when the weather ends up being not as bad as forecasted. On some days, our residents experience better conditions in some areas of the county and very dangerous conditions in other parts of the county.
The district understands no perfect decision exists. Our goal is to err on the side of caution for the safety of all.
Always remember that each parent should be prepared to make the best decision for his or her own child as it relates to attending school on questionable weather days.
USD 231 is now hiring classroom paraeducators, evening custodians, and part-time food service workers!
Great benefits include no evenings, no weekends, winter break, spring break, and free admission to all district events (musicals, athletic events, etc.)!
Click HERE to apply.
Please contact Mark Meyer, Director of Auxiliary Services, with any questions at (913) 856-2019.
Share Good News!!!
One of the priorities of the USD 231 Community Relations Department is sharing our stories!
If you have student or staff awards, accomplishments, interesting story ideas to share, or fantastic programs to highlight, please submit them via this FORM.
Additionally, we hope you will keep Community Relations and district leadership informed about upcoming events. To do so, please be sure to fill out this FORM in order to:
- Let Community Relations know about potential story ideas and consider the event for coverage on the district website, social media channels, and potentially through local media.
- Invite the Superintendent, Superintendent’s Leadership Team, or Board of Education to an event.
As a district parent, guardian, alumni or community member, you will receive A Message from Gardner Edgerton USD 231, our email newsletter with updates, celebrations, and upcoming events, in your inbox.
Please be sure to follow USD 231 Schools on social media to keep up with all the great accomplishments happening across our district!