Communication Series Part 5
February 13, 2022
Part 5. Current State of Affairs in Knob Noster Public Schools
Dear Knob Noster Public Schools Families and Community:
American novelist, James Lane Allen shared the popular phrase. “Adversity does not build character, it reveals it.” Over the last two years, the Covid-19 Pandemic has challenged our nation and its communities in countless ways. While it has been trying in almost every way, a silver lining is the spotlight it has shown on the character and relationship that exists between the Knob Noster community and Knob Noster Public Schools. Where others have struggled, we have excelled in countless areas. While not perfect, our district continues to strengthen in large part due to the relationships we have established with our student, parents, employees, community and installation. Below are a few key indicators of the current state of affairs in Knob Noster Public Schools.
KNPS has taken strong steps in the last four years to strengthen employee salaries and benefits. KNPS is in excellent standing as a highly competitive employer in the region and continues to invest in our people. We offer a 100% board paid medical package, dental, and life. Along with competitive compensation, our strong academic performance makes KNPS a destination of choice for educators and support staff. As a result, our candidate pools continue to strengthen, and we continue to attract, recruit, and retain excellent teammates. The number of teachers with advanced degrees has increased significantly in the last few years. Currently, KNPS is the largest employer in the community, other than Whiteman AFB, with nearly 250 full time employees and nearly 300 total employees.
KNPS knows that the best education for children is a result of employees who are vested in the community. While the vast majority of school districts outsource employment, KNPS is committed to maintaining its employees and its operations. The Board of Education moved our food service program back in house and has invested to ensure transportation continues to operate in-house. This not only offers better, more invested employees to serve our students, but also offers better employment with better benefits for these teammates.
Through ongoing grantmaking and fiscal management, the district is in strong financial standing. While the district has continued to expand and offer new academic and extracurricular programs, we have also strategically grown fund balances in our Capital Projects fund to support the proposed project. The district closed fiscal year 2021 with a total fund balance of $22,612,985, up from $9,720,727 in fiscal year 2015. During this time the district also purchased a new bus fleet, deployed 1:1 student computers PreK-12, strengthened employee wages, and completed a number of small facility projects.
As shared in detail in an earlier segment, academic outcomes in Knob Noster continue to lead the state and nation. Student enrollment has grown 15% (up to nearly 1900 students) in the last several years as families seek to enroll their students in one of the state’s premier school districts.
Student Extracurricular Opportunities
Extracurricular opportunities abound in our relatively small school. In Knob Noster, we are right sized for a wholistic experience. Unlike a large school, KNPS students do not have to declare one sport or activity in order to compete. Our students can explore a variety of sports or activities and find success in many areas….and the majority of our students do!
By the end of 2022, Knob Noster Public Schools will have received nearly $10 million in unique grantmaking since 2015. This funding has supported a wide host of academic programs for students, and most recently, funding for a new community safe room.
Military Student/Family Advocacy
Knob Noster school administrators and team continue to engage at the state and national levels to advocate for students and families, especially those serving in uniform. KNPS recognizes its opportunity and responsibility to influence the larger context to ensure the best possible support and opportunities are available to our servicemember families and their children. Knob Noster regularly and broadly contributes to this effort at the state and federal level.
Stable Leadership and Governance
District level governance and leadership has provided a steady course for the district during trying times. Community feedback and input is always welcomed, and those sentiments are reflected in the decision making process in all aspects of school operations…from the board room….to the classroom.
Return on Investment
Knob Noster tax payers receive an excellent return on their local investment. With one of the lowest school tax rates in the region, KNPS consistently performs at the top of the state across the academic dashboard. Property values in Knob Noster continue to increase, as does the demand for the relatively limited housing in the district.
On behalf of the KNPS team and our 1900 students, thank you for your time in reviewing this communication series. As always, my door is open to you and our community if you would like more information. Knob Noster Public Schools – Our Mission Is Student Success!
Jerrod Wheeler, Ed. D
Superintendent of Schools
Next Community Forum: Wednesday, February 23
Our Mission Is Student Success