District Update

Monday, September 21, 2020

Video Recap of September 21 Newsletter

September 21 District Newsletter Recap

Board of Education Information

Board of Education Recap Article

This is not a full recap of all issues discussed at the Board of Education meeting. These are not official minutes. For more information on the Board of Education meeting, click here.

The district announced a grant from the Department of Justice at the September 14 board meeting. The $374,785 grant will be for the improvement of school safety measures. These funds will allow the district to upgrade school access technology and add cameras to improve student and staff safety. The district will have to match the funds with approximately $125,000 of local capital outlay funds. Newton Schools is the only district in the state to receive the award. You can learn more about it here.

The board also heard information on Winning Edge, a partnership the district entered with the Newton YMCA. This program provides childcare for children when the district is in its hybrid mode of instructional delivery. It is available to USD 373 students Pre-K-6 and the children of the district staff. Newton Schools will also look at a sliding scale for those who are on free and reduced lunches. The board did approve Winning Edge with a modification to include a sliding fee scale .

The board also approved a mask policy for the district. You can read the proposal here.

You can watch the full board of education meeting below

9.14 BOE Part 1

Facebook Live Q&A

Q: Do parents still have to use learning logs?

A: We received word from KSDE that the learning logs are not going to be required for auditing purposes. The KSDE received a lot of feedback from across the state of Kansas, not only from schools but also from parents, saying the learning log was actually a barrier to students getting their work done. In place of the logs will be an assurance document that parents will have to sign. However, if a child is not keeping up on their work and they’re not checking in with staff, we may have to use the logs as an intervention strategy.

Q: How long will masks be required?
A: We don’t have a crystal ball. Really, the endgame is when there are enough treatments out there in the form of a vaccine or the numbers keep going down so we can relax some of these restrictions.

Q: When will we get better sound in the board meetings?

A: We are working on it. Because there are so many people speaking and they are very spread out, it’s complicated and could potentially become costly. We are trying to keep costs down by doing our research. There is also a high demand for these types of items so there are delays. For now, we go in and caption the BOE meetings by hand and include them in this newsletter for better transparency.

Q: Are there any more hotspots available?
A: There are around 50. We’ve increased the data on those. Reach out to your building principal if you need one.

Q: Why are we in green the week of September 21?
The board makes that decision weekly. We pull down data from the Harvey County website, state website and our local attendance numbers. You can see more about what all goes into those decisions here.

Q: Have we revisited masks during recess?
A: One of the things we are going to do during the next administrative meeting next week is to take a look at the Return to Learn documents to see what adjustments we have to make.

You can watch the full Q&A below:

Superintendent's Corner

There will be some changes coming to 12th Street in front of the high school that will include the addition of a couple of crosswalks and a reduced speed limit. Here is a link to the city site that explains the specifics.

I had the pleasure of talking to Senator Jerry Moran. He wanted to pass this on. As you all remember, he visited the district last spring and toured NHS, spending a lot of time in the areas associated with Career and Technical Education (CTE). He made the point to tell me that the students he talked to out there were very proud of the things they are doing and spoke so well not only about what they were learning, but also how important having this opportunity was to them. In addition, they were very professional in how they interacted with the senator.

Things To Know

Gating Criteria Week of September 28 and October 5

The board of education has approved the green mode of learning for the weeks of September 28 and October 5 for students in flexible. The board approved it with the understanding that if there were any major changes to the statistics, they would revisit the mode. This means that grades PreK-12 will be on-site for those who chose flexible as their mode of instructional delivery. If you chose remote for your student, you will stay remote.

For more information on the gating criteria: https://www.smore.com/ncwtv

Watch the full special board meeting below.

Learning Logs

The KSDE notified us that we will no longer have to have parents and students complete learning logs when students are in hybrid or remote. This means that as long as your students are doing their work and communicating with their teacher, you will not have to fill them out.

Due to this change, the district will be sending out an assurances form all parents will have to sign. Among the three assurances, parents must agree to ensure that students will be available for daily teacher contact, which will be used for attendance purposes. If you haven’t heard from your school about these forms, you should soon.

Reach out to your building principal or remote teacher if you have any questions.

Remote Meals This Week

Thank you to our food service staff for their work on remote meals last Wednesday. Our next meal pick up will be on Wednesday, September 23 from 3:30-5:00 pm. The change in time is due to high school students being back at school on Wednesdays.

You will need to go in the west doors at Newton High School (senior entrance). The first time picking up meals, you will need to have your student(s) with you. If you participated in Wednesday's meal pick up you should have a card with the number of students who need meals in your household. Please remember, you will need to have a mask on.

To make it easier on families, you will pick up a week’s worth of meals at a time.

Translation Page

Families, please remember we have our district translation help page if you need help translating documents. We have a variety of videos that will show how to use translation features in many of our communication tools.

Issues With Technology?

We’ve heard some concerns from parents about making sure their child is being counted as present when they are working from home and may be having technology issues or trouble adjusting to the changes in this new way of learning. If this happens to you or your student, contact your teacher and we will try to work with you so we don’t have to mark your student absent.


The Lifeline program is a new opportunity for some of our families. Lifeline connects eligible low-income families and individuals to the services they need to live, learn, earn and participate fully in their communities. Click here to learn more.

Railer Recognition

This is to recognize the accomplishments of USD 373 staff or students. If you know of a student or staff that should be recognized, please email info@usd373.org.

National Merit Semifinalists

Congratulations Elise Jantz and Jakob Graber! They are both National Merit Semifinalists. More than 1.5 million juniors entered by taking the preliminary SAT/ National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test but there are only 16,000 semifinalists across the country. Learn more about it here.

NHS Graduate Feature--Sadie Winter

Newton High School graduate Sadie Winter is doing amazing work at Wichita State University. Learn more about it in her video!

Shock Doc: Sadie Winter, biomedical engineering major

Staff Shout Outs

Have a staff member go above and beyond for your student? Did a coworker go the extra mile to make a difference? Let us know and they'll be featured here! Please email info@usd373.org with the information.

I would like to add Kelli, Alfred, Jake and all bus drivers, sub bus drivers and van drivers and sub van drivers. Since we're short-staffed, they've all stepped up and are helping out in any way they can. I am so appreciative for their dedication to our department and their commitment to getting our students where they need to be safely and on time.

Shout out to Slate Creek staff for all their continued hard work and astonishing ability to build such meaningful relationships so quickly especially during these crazy times! A big shout out to Slate Creek students for being so amazing at keeping everyone safe by wearing their masks and washing their hands. Another shout out to Slate Creek families for extending us grace and patience as we work together to get it all figured out! Love, Mrs. Alfaro

A huge thank you to the retired USD 373 staff that put the encouraging banners up at our district buildings. A grassroots effort that raised enough funds for all of the “superhero” signs. The organizers said that “each school year brings changes and challenges but this year school staff have been asked to rethink nearly every aspect of how education is delivered and what the school day looks like. As retirees, we can empathize with how much work has been done to get this school year started.”