USD 240 District News-January 2020!

Information from the district perspective

The purpose of the newsletter from Superintendent Van Ranken

Twin Valley parent and patrons,

My goal is to keep you informed as much as possible as to what takes place with the district but in all honesty, we do not have the personnel to do a more regular newsletter well. I will try this electronic format for the 2019-2020 school year in hopes of sharing the positive things as well as the challenges we face in the district.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to share them with me, Fred Van Ranken at the USD 240 Central Office by phone at 785-488-3325 ext 401, in person at 107 N. Nelson in Bennington, or via email at

NO JANUARY Friday Lunch Bunch webinar-back in February!

Secondary Pre-enrollment Process for Twin Valley Students and Parents

Below are the pre-enrollment process from each attendance center. If you have specific questions in relation to this process, please contact the respective attendance center.

BHS Pre-enrollment Process

Each year, students complete the Matchmaker in Career Cruising to help them identify potential Careers that are a good fit for their interests and skills.

Advisors go over this data with their Advisees helping them to identify and complete the various CC Matrix items for their given year (9th, 10th, etc).

Students complete an IPS (Individual Plan of Study) for themselves reflecting enrollment needs during high school to match their career aspirations through Advisory. This is revisited each year to reflect interest changes.

Each year, Rena (Mrs. Mick) meets with each class to go over course offering for the next year and hand out pre-enrollment forms.

  • All classes we anticipate offering are listed on the back of the enrollment form.
  • Staff hiring can be problematic for this step as it was last year with late hires making pre-enrollment cumbersome (Williamson, Bigler)

Students complete a pre-enrollment document for the upcoming school year in the spring. They do this with their advisor and this becomes a part of the Student-led Conference packet.

Students go over this document with their parents at conferences. (We did not require signed copies of that form last year, but will again require them moving forward.)

  • Parents not attending Spring Conferences will need to sign and send the form back with their student or bring it in themselves.
  • We had many that were never returned last year and as such, had many parents/students coming in to see Rena in the fall to enroll.
NOTE: As new courses were added, this also created the need for students to revisit their existing pre-enrollment plan.

In the fall, Seniors begin looking at their spring semester and whether they have room in their schedule for college coursework, job internship opportunities, or picking up additional hours on the job to save money for school and apply for Flex Scheduling. This is approved on an individual basis with permission from parents.


Below is the timeline that we try to follow during the spring (and some things occur in late fall semester) for pre-enrollment.

1. In November, the counselor sends out an email to students and mentors to start thinking about what classes they want to change for next semester and also to be giving thought to classes for the next year.

2. The counselor meets with sophomores in November to talk about opportunities at Salina Area Tech for junior and senior year.

  • Interested students are shown the web site to explore further options.
  • Letters are sent home to parents regarding the SATC opportunity and are encouraged to check out options with their student.
  • Interested students have the opportunity to set up shadowing opportunities for 2 programs early in the spring semester.
  • Once a student knows that he or she wants to attend SATC during their junior year, the application for admission should be filled out to guarantee a spot in the program. The counselor or mentor can help with the application process if assistance is needed.

3. Course catalogs for the following year are made accessible (electronically) to students and parents with graduation requirements via email and the school website at the end of February.

4. Students and mentors review Individual Plans of Study (IPS), which contain the 4-year high school course plan to see what they originally had put down and make adjustments as needed. The counselor is also available for assistance with this. This takes place during the month of February.

5. The mentors discuss class options with students and parents at spring parent/teacher conferences.

6. In March, a mock enrollment is conducted using the current class schedule. During the enrollment process, the counselor has the students put down on the schedule any conflicts they have or if there is a class they want to take that isn’t offered so we can try to make adjustments to the master schedule.

7. If a master schedule is completed prior to the end of the school year, which is dependent upon personnel, schedules are sent out via mail with the final report cards.

8. Students are encouraged via weekly emails to make appointments with the counselor to discuss options at any time during the enrollment process.

9. Online college class options are presented during the enrollment process. There are many options made available to the students. The counselor meets individually with interested students who wish to explore these options. Juniors and seniors who are interested in taking online classes are given one block of school time for each online class they take. Enrollment and payment are the responsibility of the student and parent.

I just don't have time

In many encounters with parents, staff, students, and others I am often told if they cannot get the gist of a message within a minute or so, they do not have or will not take the time to explore further. Although I understand that perspective on some levels, the question I have is if you don't have more than a minute or so to get into the details of something important, what do you have time for?

On the surface, that statement sounds kind of mean, maybe even disrespectful. That is not the intention. My goal here is get people to consider when to take the time to get into the weeds on the things we say that matter. I am just as guilty of this sort of thing as the next person. This is NOT a blanket statement, but a reality in our fast-paced world today. It is just really hard to know WHEN to dig deeper, isn't it?

What I want parents to do is to consider that the work educators do is complex in nature. There is not algorithm that will accommodate every variable to produce a known outcome for every student. Each child is different, as are the things kids encounter, or in some cases, endure on a daily basis. Those of us dealing with these situations do our best to be at our best for kids on a daily basis. Our staff, just like all of you parents, are juggling many tasks, some all at once.

We are also human. We DO make mistakes. We don't always do things according to our plans, which sometimes results in missing details as it relates to your child's educational needs.

The bottom line is that our people value the opportunity to work with the students in Twin Valley. It is good, hard work. It is so complex that we need you as a partner in this journey so that you are armed with the information that not only supports the needs of your child, you can help support and hold us accountable as we work collectively to meet the needs of your child. That sometimes cannot happen in a one-page newsletter, a 30-second soundbite on school messenger, or a post on some sort of social media.

One opportunity to consider is that Parent-Teacher Conferences are coming up in February. Perhaps prior to conferences at the secondary level, you can engage with your child in advance about how the IPS (Individual Plan of Study-referenced in an earlier newsletter), current academic progress, and their future plans after high school are coming together? What can we do, as a team, to help your child realize the future they desire?

At the elementary level perhaps think of ways you can work together as a team to set that stage for secondary school success. In the upper elementary that might be a bit easier to do perhaps but we truly want to assist parents and students be successful.

I really would like your thoughts as to how can we better truly engage you as a parent to be that true partner in education? If you have ideas, I am open to hearing them. Contact me via the mechanism of your choice listed below in this newsletter.

Thanks for taking time to read this!

January is BOE Appreciation month

January is officially recognized as School Board Appreciation Month. When you get the opportunity, please thank your local BOE member for their service. At Twin Valley, all seven BOE members have served for four years or more AND will be on the BOE for at least another two (before the next election cycle).

As a superintendent, I can tell you it has been a privilege to work with the seven people my whole time in this district. They truly care about the students, staff, parents, and patrons of the district. They make the best decisions possible to maximize the opportunities for kids.

Below are the names of your BOE members.

  • Rosemary Neaderhiser-President
  • Robert Miller-BOE VP
  • Warren McDougal
  • Juanita Morris
  • Lorraine (Rani) Pecenka
  • Ray Swearingen
  • Jeremiah Van Doren

Please thank them for their service when you get the opportunity.

In the photo below from left to right are Jeremiah, Rani, Robert, Ray, Juanita, and Warren. Rosemary was unable to attend the January BOE meeting.

Big picture
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BOE Dinner Sponsored by Bennington and Tescott STUCO and their Sponsors

Prior to the January 20, 2020 BOE meeting, the Student Councils hosted a meal for the BOE members and administrative team. It was a great time to celebrate food and fellowship with some awesome people!

Below are some photos from the event.