Westside Pride

March 2019

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A Message From The Superintendent

This past Wednesday night, February 27, 2019, the Board of Education discussed budget assumptions for FY20, a budget the Board will be asked to approve in August 2019. This has been a difficult process, as we face an approximate $3 million dollar shortfall between revenue and expense projections. Working to meet the challenge assigned to me is especially complex since the District has already reduced expenses of approximately $10.5 million dollars throughout my tenure with Westside Community Schools. We have worked extremely hard to keep cuts as far from the classroom as possible. Unfortunately, it is now necessary to closely examine all aspects of our district and those things that are closer to our classroom, including staff.

I am an educator at heart. I was a high school social studies teacher long before I even thought of being a superintendent. My most treasured moments at work are those spent in our schools, seeing firsthand the difference we make in the lives of children. With every cut, we are asking our teachers and staff to do more with less. We pride ourselves on the programming and opportunities that make our district unique, yet we are continually forced to chip away at those same pieces of our identity.

These decisions are difficult and emotional for me, District leadership, and our Board of Education. These aren’t just numbers; they are coworkers we respect and programs that may be crucial to the children who are part of them. As I spoke at the Wednesday meeting, my passion poured out because the future of how learning takes place is put in peril and, despite our best efforts, year after year we continue to face this financial impasse. As I have stated before, we cannot solve this revenue issue through a reduction of expenses, losing valuable staff members and student programming.

However, I do see hope for the future. The legislature has more bills advocating for additional state revenue through expanding sales tax or increasing taxes on certain purchases. The debate will center on whether all additional revenue goes toward property tax relief or if it can be shared. The point is that people recognize the need for additional revenue in some form.

I also appeal to our community of businesses. The biggest untapped talent pool in any community includes high school juniors and seniors. They are the future employees for Omaha. Mr. Jim Clifton of Gallup told me that “no one wants to leave their hometown, they only leave if they cannot find a quality job with career opportunities.” He went on to tell me “if we want to keep these talented youth in our communities, we must identify them early and invest in them.”

If our business community wants and needs a pipeline of talented employees, it starts in our public schools. Public education needs local businesses to invest in our talented young people so they do stay in their hometown, adding to the rich fabric of Omaha.

I applaud the leaders of Nebraska Furniture Mart, who have invested $150,000 in a 2-year pilot program directly involving Westside High School students in their company. American National Bank is also collaborating with our NFM School of Entrepreneurial Thinking, challenging our students to learn more about finance and the banking industry. When those students graduate, they will have a natural inclination to keep their talent here in Omaha, rather than moving away to another city, another economy.

This is truly a symbiotic relationship, the very definition of our name Westside Community Schools. I am calling on more businesses to inquire about our programming and determine if they are willing to see the value public education brings to a community. If you want access to our talented students, you must invest in your future employees. If you help us, it will benefit your company and our students, as well as Omaha.

As I prepare for retirement, I want to ensure the budget I am leaving behind is responsible, sustainable and transparent to our community. Since the creation of Westside Community Schools, public education has been a top priority. I am confident we can work together to find creative solutions and keep the best interests of our students at the heart of any decision.

Yours in Education,

Blane McCann


Westside Robotics Teams

More than 50 Westside students from Oakdale, Rockbrook, Loveland, Paddock Road and Sunset Hills competed at the 2019 Nebraska Robotics Expo February 16. Oakdale won 1st & 2nd for Meteor Madness and 2nd for Autonomous Programming. The 3 Mustachios and WCS #4 (several schools), placed 1st & 2nd in Deep Space Driving and Space Junkies Navigational events.

Alex LeClair, Prairie Lane

The Metropolitan Literacy Council hosts a yearly writing contest for students in grades K-12. Students submitted creative and adorable stories about creatures who found friendship in unlikely places. Prairie Lane 4th grader, Alex LeClair, won 2nd place. Sunset 4th graders Whitney I. and Claire H. earned honorable mention for their stories. Sunset third grader Henry H. earned 3 place, and Swanson 5th grader Zahraa A. won 2nd place in her age division. All of the students and their families are invited to a “Meet the Author” celebration in March at Lewis and Clark Middle School. Eric Litwin, the author of Pete the Cat will speak at the event about being an author and illustrator.

Mr. Tommy Krueger, Westside High School

Congratulations to Westside High Band Director Tommy Krueger, honored with the NSBA Jack Snider Young Band Director Award! This prestigious state honor is reserved for those who have had a profound impact on students, developed and sustained growth in their programs, and have shown professional growth and involvement as well. We are so proud of Mr. Krueger! Congratulations!!
Click here to read more!

This month, Westside students and staff earned District, State and Regional honors in academics, athletics, and activities. Click here to learn more.

'Miracle Shot' Makes SportsCenter, Sends Westside To State Tournament



March Construction Updates

Click here to learn more about construction progress at Swanson, Prairie Lane, and Westbrook as part of the 2015 Westside Facilities Master Plan.

Donate Your Old Phone To WHS!

Have an old phone? The Westside High School Social Studies Department is looking for phone donations to conduct Google virtual tours in class! They are looking for Samsung Galaxy S5 or newer OR iPhone 6 or newer.

If you would like a tax-deductible form for the donation, please drop off your phone with your name and address to Westside High School, attention Amy Studts.

Support Westside Rugby!

Please show your support for Westside Rugby by purchasing Westside Rugby gear. The sale on all merchandise lasts through March 12th. CLICK HERE to order.

You can also follow the team on Twitter: @westside66rugby

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Nominate a Westside Teacher of the Month!

This year we are once again recognizing a Westside educator every month with a $100 check thanks to PinPoint Home Sales Group with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Ambassador Real Estate. Simply click this link to submit a nomination!


3/1 Prairie Lane Read-A-Thon Kick-Off Event, 6:30pm

3/1 Westbrook Bingo Night, 6:30pm

3/1 WHS International Thespian Society Induction, 7:00pm

3/1 Oakdale Talent Show, 7:00pm @ WMS

3/4 & 3/12 Parent-Teacher Conferences at Westside Middle School

3/5 Sunset Hills Spring Pictures
3/5 Sunset Hills Open House

3/6 Oakdale, Paddock Road Spring Pictures

3/7 Prairie Lane, Westgate Spring Pictures

3/7 & 3/12 Parent-Teacher Conferences at elementary schools

3/7 - 3/9 NSAA Boys Varsity Basketball State Championships in Lincoln

3/7 - 3/12 Oakdale Art Fair

3/8 District Speech Contest, 9am @ WMS

3/8 Swanson Pizza & Bingo Night

3/8 Westgate Art Fair & Pancake Man Night

3/10 - 3/16 Westside Staff Recognition Week

3/11 Board of Education meeting, 6:30 @ ABC

3/12 Loveland Art Show

3/12 Bond Oversight Committee meeting, 6:00 @ ABC

3/13 Parent-Teacher Conferences at Westside High School

3/14, 3/26 & 3/28 6th Grade Transition Nights, 6:00 @ WMS

3/15 Loveland Talent Show


3/21 WHS State Speech Championships

3/25 Board of Education meeting, 6:30 @ ABC

3/28 Band-O-Rama @ WHS

3/29 Loveland Fun Run

3/29 Hillside Family Bingo Night

3/30 WHS Track & Field Invitational

3/30 WMS Otte-Blair Middle School Honor Band Festival

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Boundary Engagement Process

Families affected by boundary changes have been contacted individually about transportation options, In-District transfer options and more. The Westside Welcome Center is open for questions during business hours at 402-390-2100.

Summer Preschool Enrichment Program Offered

Westside Early Childhood Centers will be offering a preschool enrichment program during the month of June. The preschool program will be located at Rockbrook Early Childhood Center and will run Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings from 9am-12pm. The theme for this year's preschool is: "How Does Your Garden Grow?" Registration will begin March 4th and will cost $280. This program is designed for 4 and 5 year old children. We will explore different plants and what goes into making a garden. We will acquaint preschoolers with some planting and gardening basics and develop empathy for their environment. We will investigate bulbs, roots, shoots, and seeds in this interactive hands on program. To register or for more details contact Julie Kathol 402-390-8208 or kathol.julie@westside66.net
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