Weekly Update 9-25-15

Wright City R-II School District

Good Day Wildcat Nation!

It is hard to believe that we will welcome October into our lives next week! Pumpkins, candy, cool weather, and Cardinal Playoffs are ahead!

As of today, we have been in school 30 days! That is 17.5% of the school year! Time is precious. We have our little (or not so little) ones in our classes and buildings for only so long. Thank you for taking advantage of the little time we have to make a positive impact on them and their future.

Trivia (answers at the end)

  1. What is the name of the protein that fingernails and toenails are made of?
  2. In what year was the Battle of Hastings fought?
  3. What was the name of Meg Ryan's character in Top Gun?
  4. What has a US federal judge recently ruled regarding the Happy Birthday song?
  5. What is the symbol for the chemical element tin?


As of today, all varsity sports have a winning record!

The playground at the Early Childhood Center is done and as of Monday, the kids will be playing on it. The fence, if weather holds, will go in the week of October 5th.

The dedication last week of the Early Childhood Center was, in part, used to celebrate Shirley Case. Ms. Case was the first educator to bring preschool to the district many years ago. She received a plaque and flowers, as well as saw her name on a bench be dedicated out in front of the building. Congratulations to Ms. Case!

Special Board Meeting

One was held last night for a student discipline manner. No other business occurred.

Community Advisory Team

The CAT met on Tuesday. You can find the minutes posted on our website.

At the meeting, we discussed the history of the CAT, the composition of the CAT, the district academic performance, the budget as it stands, budget projections, tax comparisons and election history.

I then asked the CAT 4 questions. Here are those questions and their responses. If I could clarify, I put that into parenthesis. I did my best to write down what was written as written.

Question 1 – What surprised you in the information shared tonight?

  • We operate on a lower tax bracket but tied (on the Annual Performance Report) with Wentzville

  • The six different ideas to look at this issue (the projections on balances based on salary and 1:1 at current revenue sources) especially the no raise (frozen for 7 years)

  • The quick amount of time that the District will be negative spending with zero salary increases and no 1-1 initiative.

  • How quickly we can financially be in trouble if we don’t pass the increase.

  • That we are below state recommended tax rate

  • The rapid budget decline despite the varied scenarios.

  • Budget – and the current situation

  • Your (assuming referring to D. Buck’s) kids are here – that shows a confidence in the system you work for = that’s important for the public

  • The budget – revenue (think this is balances) decreases rapidly without increase revenue when adding 1:1 and staff increases.

  • This was shared @ our back to school meetings so it wasn’t much of a surprise

  • That we need to have an increase in Tax Levy, or we have budget cuts.

Question 2 – What excited you about what you heard tonight?

  • Our teachers and district care about students

  • The successes our students continue to have despite the lack of resources other districts enjoy

  • 1:1 initiative

  • The academic success. The possibility of going 1:1

  • The trend of continued academic improvement

  • That we are making gains and this is good leverage for a future tax increase

  • Academic success

  • Academic progress continues to be impressive

  • Continued progress of test scores

  • I’m very excited about test scores. Why? I administer MAP CA for many years in Warrenton. I love being part of a school again and am excited to be here.

  • Increase in numbers for test scores

  • Academics continue to increase J

  • The increase MSIP increases ranking 96.1%. This (despite) of students attending (at a high rate?)

Question 3 – What questions do you have?

  • What is the average age of the voter in the community? (DB: We can find that out when the time is appropriate)

  • What cut considerations are already being looked into for worse-case scenario planning? (DB: We will follow a similar process as we did in 2009...garnering ideas, doing analysis of those ideas, and getting feedback from the public to help us identify areas to cut. We also will look at attrition when people leave. We also are monitoring enrollment numbers for appropriate staffing. )

  • Is 1:1 initiative grant worthy? Corporate donated? (DB: We are exploring a grant for upgrading our wireless system)

  • Election dates potentially available – soonest date available to try for tax increase. Is it simple majority then? (DB: Tax rate ceiling increases can take place in February, April, June, August or November. Per Article X, 11 (c ) of the Missouri Constitution, any increase up to $6.0000 requires a Simple Majority. Increases above $6.0000 require a 66 2/3% yes rate)

  • When would (we) begin the campaign if we go for it this spring? (DB: The Wright City R-II School District Board of Education discussed this topic at the August Board meeting. They gave me a few projections they would like to see and will discuss and possibly act on it in October. If they decide that we will put a levy increase on the ballot at x date, we would start the next day. We have a non-profit group with a bank account that will be mobilized. Many staff have expressed interest in donating their time to this effort.)

  • What is plan for tax levy campaign? (DB: We will utilize face to face and social media at a much higher rate. We will encourage all students to register to vote. We will encourage all graduates who are in college to vote absentee. We will rely on groups like this to add to the list of strategies.)

  • What helped raise scores? (DB: We cut the teacher turnover in half and worked together as a staff around 3 rocks – rigor, student engagement and data to action. We have done so over 5 years, with large group orientation for all followed by years of coaching at the team level. We also focus on our onboarding of new staff to orient them on our growth in practice. Teachers have always worked hard. Now, we are truly a learning community).

  • What options do we have as a district to be able to keep qualified staff if revenue does not increase? What is increase in scores if (we) do 1:1? (DB: The former is a challenge already, as districts to our east have much higher tax bases in addition to their tax rate. The latter, that is unknown. We would not be doing so to increase our scores necessarily, but because the world is expecting an increasingly higher level of technology savvy in the workplace and in higher education. We hope to leverage our 3 rocks via technology integration as we move forward.)

  • How can we help? When will a decision be made about whether they go with another prop this year or 2017? (DB: The non-profit will certainly be looking for help if the Board of Education does decide to go for a tax levy increase. The next time it will be discussed will be on October 15th, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. in the Board Room.)

  • How to pass the tax levy increase – badly needed for this district. (DB: We have and will continue to learn from other districts that had history of failure but changed strategies and then passed an increase.)

Question 4 – What feedback do you want to leave us?

  • Give more information to voters on the drastic difference on taxes. Freezing salary and steps will result in a loss of the teachers that helped our district move up. Many teachers I know who have left are going to more high(er) paying districts.

  • My kids lose good teachers each year due to a low salary schedule in this district. There has to be a solution that does NOT include frozen salary schedules.

  • Doing another tax increase this April instead of April of 2017. Using more social media this time around. Involving staff more. Presenting this to community members or as a video on the web page.

  • We want to be able to continue to retain & recruit great teachers, so monetary compensation is needed in order to keep them and attract them to WC. Research who is registered, needs to get registered and how that could help the election positively for the District.

  • I would love to have a building group participate in the campaign, should we choose to go for that.

  • You need to do a better job of selling the district

  • People don’t understand the levy, roll over, bond issue. Parents don’t vote – we found that out in 1990 when I was on Warrenton School Board. It took tons of one on one to pass a levy for us to open Rebecca Boone. Board can be arrogant and there is no room for that when asking for a vote on money. (p.s., I think they are talking about their experience 25 years ago in another district, not our current board, based on an individual interaction I had with this person)

  • Would a 4 day school week provide increase in scores, attendance and decrease in budget items? When putting prop on ballot – need to explain and campaign better.

  • NEA is happy to offer several resources when ready. Campaigning is a must with more notice and reaching out to more people. November meeting – based on BOE meeting what they decide maybe discuss how to better promote Prop S.

  • We need more community involvement. We need to pass tax levy for the district working very hard on the tax levy increase. Advertise. Community Involvement. New companies to Wright City.

The meeting lasted about 75 minutes. Everyone was very complimentary of the district and the accomplishments made in recent years. I'm happy to say the community values what the district is doing. That is a reflection of you. Thank you.

Random Data

Since the world is obsessed with rankings (someone claimed there are around 168 million rankings on the internet), I thought I would share some 'rankings' that you might not have heard of before:

  • 1: Best place to avoid elderly abuse in Missouri is...Rolla. (as the grey in my beard continues to increase, this is of increasing interest to me) Ranking was derived from data collected by Centers of Medicare and Medicaid. no other Missouri city or town made the national list. Top 3 in the nation were all from Alaska - Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau.
  • 4: Missouri ranking among states for the percentage of population lacking access to primary health care in 2013.
  • 7: Missouri has the 7th worst legislature in the country according to one ranking. The worst...Tennessee.
  • 9: Missouri's ranking among the states in the number of people sent to prison. In 2012, there was one person serving a sentence of more than one year for every 200 Missouri residents.
  • 10: Fair St. Louis came in at number 10 in the country for the best Fourth of July fireworks display according to AOL Travel. Number 9 was Seattle.
  • 12: Ranking of Missouri highways by the Reason's Foundation Annual Highway Report. Missouri was just behind Texas and ahead of Georgia in the rankings. Best was Wyoming. Worst was Hawaii (who said cold weather is hard on roads?).
  • 12: Missouri's ranking for its quality of food and drink by Thrilllist. Just so you know where to go for dinner, the worst state was South Dakota and the best state was California.
  • 34: Missouri ranks 34th among states for the average student debt. The average student debt in Missouri is $24,957 with a default rate of 12.6%.
  • 35: This is a quality ranking of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Kansas City Star among newspapers in the United States. (they were tied) The top television market is New York with St. Louis coming in at 21; Kansas City at 31; Memphis at 48; and Springfield at 74.
  • 49: That is the ranking of Missouri when looking at the percentage of revenue for public K-12 schools from state government for the 2012-13 school year. Only one worse...Illinois.
  • 50: Ranking of Missouri among the states regarding the tax on a pack of cigarettes. The Missouri tax is currently 17 cents on a pack, the lowest in the nation. The national median is $1.36 per pack.
  • 103: The ranking of the University of Missouri - Columbia by U.S. News and World Report. The home of the Tigers were tied at 103 with University of Nebraska and the University of New Hampshire.
  • 200: A newspaper reporter is ranked as the worst job of 2015 according to CareerCast's Jobs Related list. There were only 200 occupations listed. Newspaper supplanted lumberjack, which had previously held the lowest ranking. School principal ranked 96th, just ahead of Surgeon. Elementary school teacher was 122. Superintendents were not listed. The best job was that of an actuary.

District Calendar

Next week, as you know, is Parent - Teacher Conferences!

Friday, September 25th:

  • Book Fair at West Elementary (runs till the 29th)
  • Cross Country meet @ Warrenton
  • West Movie Night (6:30) - Home
  • Varsity Football at home vs. Mark Twain

Saturday September 26th:

  • Varsity Softball @ South Callaway Tournament
  • Cross Country @ Hancock

Monday, September 28th:

  • 2nd Grade Grandparents Day
  • Cross Country @ Elsberry
  • JV/V Softball @ Hermann
  • MS Softball home vs. Winfield

Tuesday, September 29th:

  • 3rd Grade Grandparents Day
  • JV/V Softball @ Van-Far
  • JV/V Volleyball home vs. Bowling Green
  • MS Softball home vs Vandalia
  • MS Football home vs. Bowling Green

Wednesday, September 30th:

  • 4th Grade Grandparents Day
  • Book Fair starts at East Elementary

Thursday, October 1st:

  • 5th Grade Grandparents Day
  • Early Release for P-T Conferences
  • JV/V Softball @ Wellsville
  • MS Softball @ Montgomery County
  • MS Volleyball @ Warrenton

And remember, no school on Friday! Homecoming Dance is Friday after the football game vs. Van-Far. I will send out a Weekly Update on the 1st of October.

State Attendance implication on finance

As a state, schools are reimbursed on what is called Weighted Average Daily Attendance, or WADA. It isn't on enrollment, but attendance. Where does the weighted part come in?

States do this differently, but Missouri has decided to look at 3 broad areas. % Free & Reduced Lunch, Special Education (IEP), and Limited English Proficiency. Every two years, they look at the levels of these groups and set a threshold. For every kid that puts a district above that threshold, there are some multipliers for those students attendance. So, instead of a day counting as 1 day, it might count as 1.1 days.

The threshold has now been set for the 2016-7 & 2017-18 school years as:

Free & Reduced Lunch = 34.4%

Special Education (IEP) = 11.6%

Limited English Proficiency = 1.8%.

The state adequacy target (how much they calculate is required to educate a child based on high performing district data) has now also been set at $6,810. The state, however, will lower the SAT if they do not have enough funding available to meet the calculated SAT. That is currently what is happening, lowered down to $6,110.

By the way, the state then subtracts what they feel we should contribute to reach the SAT. They assume we have a 3.4300 operating tax levy. Our 5 neighbors exceed that levy. We are well shy of it at 3.12.

Want to know more about attendance? To count, students must be in attendance in an instructional capacity and under the direct supervision of a certificated employee of the district. There is no allowance in state statute that would allow for make-up attendance hours to be counted. There are some for remedial hours.

In 2014, HB 1689 passed that allows for districts to count the ADA of their early childhood education programs in the formula as long as it does not exceed 4% of the number of pupils eligible for free and reduced lunch between the ages of 3 and 18 included in the district's ADA calculation. This year, this is in place for unaccredited districts only. Next year, provisionally accredited can do so. What about those of us with a full accreditation? We can in 2017-18...if the state formula is fully funded. That has not happened in many years.

State Finance

The following is data as of the close of August for FY16 compared to FY15.

Individual Income Taxes are up $57 million, or 6.7%

Sales & Use Taxes are up $17.7 million, or 5.15%

Corporate Inc. & Franchise Tax are up $4.7 million, or 16.04%.

Other collections are down $1.2 million, or -1.84%.

That brings the increase in revenue to $78.2 Million, or 6.07%.

Refunds are up too...Up $20.6 million, or 20.49%

That then equates to an actual net revenue increase of $59.8 million, or up 4.99%. That is good news!

Prop C is up 5.71% for the year.

Gaming is down -3.28% for the year.

Overall, it looks like the state finances are in better shape than they were at this time last year.

Articles of the Week

  • http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/08/the-power-of-curriculum/400976/ - When Knowledge is Unforgettable. From August 12th The Atlantic. Two implications of the article. The first includes a new phrase to me. Downstream Relevance. I like it!
  • http://bzfd.it/1Lrq93G - article from BuzzFeed that asked 12 scientist what they would leave behind to as science knowledge if civilization crashed. This is less about what you do in schools of course, but it is a fascinating list. Wonder what list your kids would create?
  • http://bit.ly/1KujiCn - Academic rigor article in October American School Board Journal
  • http://time.com/4029029/10-questions-with-brene-brown/ - I found the 4 emotions of self-consciousness issues was of interest. In September 21st Time Magazine
  • http://bit.ly/1KqpXj0 - a look at Germany and the way they assess teachers' professional competence. The 3 noncognitive aspects are intriguing. Basically, they are looking at growth vs. fixed mindset; believe in one's own skills and ability to make a difference; and reflection, self-monitoring, volition, motivation, planning and goals.

Book of the Week

I have 11 books to read on my desk (or shelf). I've also pulled out another book that I want to reread.

This week is a quick one titled Rethinking Grading: Meaningful Assessments for Standards-Based Learning by Cathy Vatterott. Very short read (105 pages).

Cathy makes a case for assessments that drive instruction and inform the learner and others about what the student can and cannot do. To continue in old practices, she says, is to ensure that we continue graduating 74.7% of our kids (which ranks 12th out of 28 developed countries) and have too many students not ready for the next step. We need to move away from the sorting practices of grades, to a driver of learning.

As she puts it, grades of the past have been treated more like a commodity than a driver of learning.

In her eyes, standard-based grading is different from traditional grading systems in four major ways. How learning is defined. How learning is structured. How learning is experienced. How grades are used.

I will not go into detail, but I like how she compares both systems in these 4 areas. She goes onto a very detailed look at learning targets, lesson design, feedback. She especially looks at the role of assessment...the ongoing role.

I think the book is very accessible and does a great job of challenging the alignment of purpose and practice of grading. Worth your time if you are interested.

From the desk of konee box

Payroll information can be viewed in the SISFin portal once payroll is posted which is done prior to your direct deposit being deposited in your bank account. Therefore, there is a period of time that you can see the direct deposit information on the portal, but the money has not been deposited in your bank account yet. .

from the desk of donna lindsey

  • Invoices, purchase orders and travel reimbursements must be received in CO by Oct 2 for payment on Oct 20. This also includes p-card logs (closes 9/25).

  • When filling out receipts please be specific on what the person is purchasing.


  • Anyone collecting money from students needs to be checking the Bad Check List on the staff website. If a student gives you a check that should not be accepted, please return it to them discreetly and ask they bring in cash.

  • New travel forms are on the Staff website under District Forms : Accounting. Please make sure you are using the correct form. See the Travel Reimbursement Guidelines for directions. If in doubt, please ask.

  • When entering a requisition in the Portal for a conference please make sure the dates and your name are entered. For example: registration Lindsey Oct 1-3 or hotel Lindsey Oct 1 & 2.

  • On the Request to Collect Funds form you may show the requisition# instead of the PO#.

Trivia Answers

  1. What is the name of the protein that fingernails and toenails are made of? Keratin
  2. In what year was the Battle of Hastings fought? 1066
  3. What was the name of Meg Ryan's character in Top Gun? Carole Bradshaw
  4. What has a US federal judge recently ruled regarding the Happy Birthday song? The song is public domain
  5. What is the symbol for the chemical element tin? Sn