Weekly Update 1-8-16

Wright City R-II School District

Happy New Year Wildcats!

"Welcome back... welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.... " Those of you old enough to remember the short-lived hit TV show of the mid-70's, "Welcome Back Kotter" will know how to hum those introductory words appropriately! :). For you youngsters out there, Welcome Back Kotter starred an up-and-coming actor named John Travolta (Vinnie Barbarino) as the defacto leader of a somewhat dysfunctional (in a slap-stick comedy sort of way) class of high school juvenile delinquents, affectionately known as the Sweathogs. Mr. Kotter, played by Gabe Kaplan, was their teacher. Possibly the only person who could reach these kids because he himself had been a Sweathog in his high school days.

So why did I open 2016 with Welcome Back Kotter? Two reasons primarily. One, simply to say "welcome back." But on a deeper level, to "welcome you back" to school and the important work you do. For like the Sweathogs of Kotter's class, many of our students need you. They need a person who believes in them. A person who loves them. I person who will do whatever it takes to help move them academically, socially and emotionally to be better tomorrow than they are today.

I was a sweathog. Well, I played football and our coach named us offensive lineman sweathogs. I wonder if I were to go to my parents house, could I find my sweathog shirt from the 80's?

But, I was a sweathog in the metaphorical sense as well. Teachers, like you, made an impact on me. I can think of a couple that made negative impacts, but the vast majority made a very positive impact. I would not be where I am at professionally without their strong foundation. More importantly, I would not be the parent nor the spouse I am today without their impact on me.

Some of those teachers were like me when they were young, but most were very different. You know they had in common? They showed interest in me and interest in my growth. They had high expectations, but they also showed they were also equally interested in who I was and who I could be.

In the beginning of the school year, I asked what school we wanted to work in and wanted our kids to go to. Jason Heyward just chose the Cubs. You chose not the C school, but the D school...the DuFour School! We want to help kids be better tomorrow than they are today. Academically. Emotionally. We said, unanimously, that we believed our own kids need to be in a school that loves them and challenges them.

My challenge to you is to find a kid who needs you to not just do your job, but be their Mr. Kotter. To love them. To stand next to them as they strive to achieve and grow. To make a connection with. Maybe that is a conversation before class. Maybe that is sitting down and being a lunch buddy for a day. Maybe that is showing interest in their interest. Maybe it is listening.

I thank you for the great calendar year I hope you have...and the incredible impact that will have on our kids.

Welcome Back!


  1. Radishes are part of the brassica family...true or false?
  2. What country was Christopher Columbus born in?
  3. What does a phlebotomist do?
  4. Who was the US President directly after Herbert Hoover?
  5. Which country will host this year's Olympics?

Special Olympics

On January 23rd, we will host a Special Olympics Basketball Tournament. We will need volunteers to help keep score, check in teams, and to officiate games. If you are interested in helping out with this amazing event, please contact our Athletic Director, Bo Evans.

Weather and calendar

In the next 9 days, 3 of them have less than 50% chance of snow! And, as I type this, someone just showed me that Saturday forecast is now calling for 5-8 inches of snow. Tis the season.

While none of those days are calling for significant accumulation the day or night before school, it is a reminder to be prepared for inclement weather. If you coach or have a club, be sure to have your calling tree ready. If we need to cancel, we do contact every TV station, as well as 99.9 FM here in Warren County. We also send out a blast to everyone as well as post it on Facebook and Twitter. We try to make the call by 5 a.m. if at all possible.

Our contract with our snow removal company is that if we have 3 inches or more on a Saturday, then they will come in on Sunday to remove. If less, they will let it sit. The forecast for Sunday is very cold, so we would not have melting from temperatures.

Or, we can have no snow and now cancelled school days this year....and get out of school earlier! We currently have 4 snow days built in. If we use none of those, we would get out on Friday the 13th in May.

Since we have not had 5 or more snow days by January 6th, we are now guaranteed to have MLK Day January 18th off.

If we do not have 5 or more snow days prior to or including February 3rd, we would have President's Day, February 15th off. If we have 1 or more days by February 3rd, then we will go to school on the 15th. March 25th is also a potential make up day if needed.

Graduation is set for 7:30 p.m. on Friday, May 20th at the High School.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.


We will not close all of December until next week Wednesday or Thursday. So, the numbers below are based on the first 5 months of this school year (July through November). They are based on how we are compare expense wise to the first 5 months of the previous fiscal year.

  • Natural Gas is up down 35.1%
  • Electric is up 3.1%
  • Bus Fuel is down 37.0%
  • Contracted Transportation + Homeless Transportation is down 1.3%
  • Medical Insurance is down 1.9%
  • Food is up 0.8%
  • Subs are up 23.9%
  • Salary Certified and Classified (no subs or other pay) is up 4.1%
  • PSRS is up 2.3%
  • PEERS is up 7.6%
  • Medicare & OASDI is up 6.3%

When we look at how we are trending expense wise, we are projecting $6,957 below budget. If we take out the capital projects, due to the higher costs for the Early Childhood Center, we are projecting expenses $390,011 under budget.

We are adding an additional part-time para position for a student transferring in. We are also hiring an additional assistant bookkeeper due to the excessive hours and overtime in the bookkeeping department.

On the amazing news side, we received some information from DESE right before break. Each year, after the fiscal year is complete, districts receive an adjustment on their prior year state revenue. This is usually small. Sometimes it is positive. Sometimes it is negative. This year, it was positive. $301,000! We were not expecting that.

Why do we receive an adjustment? The formula is based on some assumption for the entire state and as accurate of data by month. That being said, after the year is complete, they look at the Weighted ADA for the entire state, and see if the pie was cut correctly based on those assumptions. In 2014-15, our enrollment went up, our attendance was good both in the year and in 2014 summer school, and our incident rate for IEP went up (which is part of the weighted portion of the formula). We have never seen an adjustment so drastic as this, and are very happy that it was a positive one.

Thus, we look to be in much better shape than we thought for this year. We can't assume that type of correction will ever come again. However, it makes us very comfortable in recommending a step going into next year.

Next Year's Budget

We are currently working on next year's budget. We hope to have as many things planned as possible by late February. Your supervisors are working on everything from toilet paper budget to Title II.A budgets right now.

Nothing will be finalized until June of 2016.

We are moving ahead with our 1:1 laptop initiative at the HS as per our 2020 Vision. With that, we are keeping our technology department the same size. To help with the influx of technology, we are adding a MS Librarian and having a full time HS Librarian. The HS Librarian will oversee laptop check in / check outs for those that forgot their computer or theirs is off for repair. They will have students who are fixing computers under their supervision. I was thinking of calling them Google Land Security. We will teach them basic repairs such as screen replacements. This will help us keep Andrea and Michael available for bigger repairs.

In the following year, funding dependent, the MS would add 1:1 and that librarian would serve a similar purpose.

We are advertising for the MS Library opening now.

The salary committee has met, and will meet again. I anticipate, based on what we are seeing above, that we will be able to recommend a step. Whether we can offer that before June is a bigger question. We shall see how things are tracking.

We look to get all non-tenure certified staff contracts out in March. We hope to get all letters out for classified staff by May 11th.

Loan Forgiveness

Each year I try to include in an email the link to the Federal Loan Forgiveness program. We have perhaps as many as 10 employees that have either their student loan lowered, shortened, or both via this program. To learn more, click onto this link: https://myfedloan.org/manage-account/loan-forgiveness-discharge-programs/loan-forgiveness.shtml

John Clark has a 1 800 number that he gives out to staff members that will help you navigate this interesting program. He might be willing to share with you if you ask :-)

If you have a student loan, I encourage you to check it out. The worse that can happen is they say no. Ms. Hecktor will need to sign your form before you submit it to fedloans.

Save The Date

On April 27th, we will host our 2nd Annual Wright City Banquet to honor Building Support Staff of the Year, Building Teacher of the Year and Retirees. The district winners of Support Staff of the Year and Teacher of the Year will be announced at that meeting. This will be a catered event at East Elementary. For those that attended last year, you know it is a fantastic event and such a joy to celebrate our fellow Wildcats!

If you are interested in celebrating the fine people that night, please save the date. More information to come at a later date!

CAT Meeting and Levy

Our next CAT meeting is on Tuesday, January 26th. We will go over the new website (more on that in a minute), the budget numbers you see above, and a timeline of our march to a ballot in November for an Operating Levy Increase.

On March 22nd, we will have another CAT meeting and invite others outside of the CAT to participate as we begin the groundwork toward that levy.

In April, we will survey our community regarding a levy increase.

In May, a meeting will occur with a community committee in regards to campaign strategies and such.

In August, that committee will begin a social media campaign. In October, the full on campaign including canvasing neighborhoods, signs, etc. will go into full swing.

If you are interested in helping out with any of the above, please let me know so I can pass your name along to the community committee. We will be utilizing Patron Insight for help in our endeavor. We also will be utilizing Matt Diechmann, former PR Director of Wentzville who helped them successfully obtain levy increases in the past and now works for Education Plus. Both Patron Insight and Matt will help us couch our direction toward the levy ballot.

Thank you for the consideration!

During the Break

During the break, multiple administrators and custodians did routine walkthrough the facilities. A few times, we found lights on and even a door propped open, with no one inside. Please be careful to make sure doors are locked and secured when school is not in session. Last semester, we did have a break in at the HS and someone did have personal items stolen. Thankfully, we recovered those items, but I assure you that only lessoned the pain from the incident. Please help us protect our communities property and your neighbor's personal property. Lock the doors, walk away 2 steps, stop, go back, and pull on the door to make sure it is secure!

Thank you!

From the desk of Donna Lindsey

Request to Collect Funds for fundraising forms must be approved by your building administrator and Dr. Buck prior to you collecting those funds. Please also refer to board policy IGDF if you have any questions regarding fundraising.

I am in the process of creating and updating information on the Google drive called “Fundraising Approval”. Staff members who have submitted forms have been given access to view their building requests. Not all information is current (Reqs & POs).

From the desk of Jennifer Hecktor

NEW Website

We hope to go “live” with our new website at the end of this month. If you have links, bookmarks, or websites that you do not want to lose, please back-up these files and record links that you may need in the future. Our new website will roll out in phases, and teacher/staff log-ins and trainings are scheduled to be available in August. In the interim, if you have an external website that you use for your classroom or for communication with parents, let your building secretary know and she will hyperlink your external site in the staff directory on your school’s new building page. We cannot guarantee that files will not be lost in the transfer, so all files, documents, and links should be backed up on Google Drive and/or external media storage prior to January 22nd. If you have questions or concerns, please contact Dawn Hickman or Jen Hecktor. Please do not register a “help desk” ticket on this item. Thank you!

ELA Elementary Cohort

Two representatives from each grade level K-5 are meeting with Michele Reigh, Dawn Day, Tina Kolarik, and Jennifer Hecktor to ensure effective balanced literacy instruction for our elementary students. Our group members represent their team members and serve as liaisons for effective communication between our two elementary buildings as well as among administrators and teachers. We are grateful to the members of this committee of teacher leaders, and we are excited about the enthusiastic participation we are enjoying and the direction we are heading!

Classroom Diagnostic Tools (CDT)

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has come out with an interim grade-level assessment for ELA and Math grades 3-8. This computer-adaptive test is new and is in place as a temporary benchmarking tool while our new state assessment is written (which will begin after our new Missouri Learning Standards (MLS) have been decided). Two teachers at West Elementary piloted the administration of this assessment tool, and we are studying whether or not to administer this benchmark district-wide in place of our February Discovery administration. Information will be forthcoming from your building administrator.


If you discover from one of your students that his or her family is displaced and/or has changed residences, please make sure to alert your building counselor. It is our responsibility to reach out to families who do not have a permanent or reliable residence, and we also want to help our families by connecting them with community services that can help them in a time of need.

Kindergarten Registration

Starting on February 1st, we will begin open enrollment for Kindergartners for the 2016-2017 school year. Please reach out to families through your newsletters to ensure that they are aware of this opportunity. Parents can enroll their incoming Kindergarten students at Central Office.

Trivia Answers

  1. Radishes are part of the brassica family...true or false? True
  2. What country was Christopher Columbus born in? Italy
  3. What does a phlebotomist do? draws blood
  4. Who was the US President directly after Herbert Hoover? FDR
  5. Which country will host this year's Olympics? Brazil