Monday, March 30, 2015

Small Schools.....Get it!

I recently attended a superintendent's conference at the Lake of the Ozarks.  Among several speakers, I had the privelege of hearing Mr. Manny Scott.  Manny is one of the original students depicted in the movie Freedom Writers.  Manny spoke for nearly two hours and not one minute was without inspiration.  Manny recounted his childhood with specifics of his school career.  As Manny spoke, I reviewed all of the diverse programs we offer our students here at Sturgeon R-V and realized that we do a fine job of making sure that students are not left without help when they need it.  I have observed our teachers consoling students when things are not going well for them. The at-risk assistance, which we have to always have to work on, is helping students that otherwise would go without any assistance.  It is such a pleasure to work in a school district our size because we can more readily recognize when students require extra assistance for success. If you ever have a chance to hear Mr. Manny Scott, you will not be disappointed.  Thank you for your time!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Capitol Visit

This past Tuesday I had the privilege of joining the Superintendents from four other Boone county schools in a trip to the State Capitol.  The purpose of this trip was to visit with our local legislators concerning H.B 42 and educational funding.  Recently, Boone county superintendents have been working closely in the implementation of the Boone County Schools Mental Health Coalition.  The following is a brief description of this coalition:

The Boone County Schools Mental Health Coalition, a partnership between Boone County’s six school districts, the University of Missouri (MU), College of Education, Department of Educational School and Counseling Psychology, the Missouri Prevention Center, and the School of Social Work received funding from the Boone County Children’s Fund to increase staff knowledge and skill in working with mental health issues in our schools. Coalition staff will implement an innovative program to train school-based personnel in effective interventions and to provide resources for programs for youth proven to promote mental health and well-being. 

Funded by a county sales tax passed in 2012 to provide increased mental health services for children, the Boone County Schools Mental Health Coalition began work this month by providing Mental Health First Aid training in several Boone County Schools. Pilot program schools will soon receive training to use data to identify students in need of additional mental health supports and to plan effective interventions to meet needs.  With the support of the MU Human Environmental Sciences Extension Office, who provided the trainers and materials, the Sturgeon School district kicked off the project initiative by committing to and training all school staff, 60 plus individuals, in Mental Health First Aid to increase awareness of mental health symptoms of youth in their community.  

As a result of of our visit as of right now it appears that H.B. 42 is favored to pass rather than SB 1.  There are far less unintended consequences in H.B 42 for school districts across the state.  Concerning school funding, it appears that as of right now school funding will not receive any cuts in next year's funding but instead should remain constant.

Thank you for your time!  Have a great day!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

School Funding, School Transfers Legislation

Today, I will be joining the other Boone County school superintendent's in a visit to the state capitol to visit with our local legislators and senator to express our concerns with recent legislation that is currently being discussed at our state capitol.

This is the time of the year when our state officials make decisions that not only affect our state but also our schools.  At the forefront of this legislative session are two subjects that will affect how public schools will function in the future. School funding is being discussed and essentially the hope is that funding will remain where it is currently with no losses irregardless of school size.   According to MASA's recent report:

House Committee Finalizes Budget, Entire House to Consider This Week
The House Select Committee on Budget gave their stamp of approval to a state budget that increases appropriations to Missouri's funding formula from the amount likely to be distributed in FY2015 by approximately $85 million. The budget now moves to the entire House of Representatives this week as Legislators will consider the budget. 
If this amount ends up being distributed, it is estimated no district would lose state funding as a result of the passage of HB 1689 last year. The increase also comes within just a few million dollars of ensuring that the state would be able to fully fund an adequacy target of $6,131 in the 2015-2016 school year.
Budget leaders in both the House and Senate have publicly stated intentions to come up with the funds to address the funding problems created by HB 1689, and SAC is dedicated to working with them over the coming weeks to ensure they are successful. 
If your district is represented by any of the members of the Budget Committee, it is recommended you contact them to thank them for their dedication to provide the necessary funding in 2015-2016 to avoid the negative impact of HB1689. 
On the subject of school transfers:
Price Tag, Mandates Slow Down Senate Transfer Bill, House 
Version Takes Center Stage
During debate two weeks ago on SB 1, the Senate's attempt to address the student transfer crisis, Senators jumped at the opportunity to attach a number of provisions to the student transfer bill that went beyond the intent of the original bill. The result? A price tag of more than $200 million, split between state and local tax payers. The primary cost-drivers are provisions regarding the mandatory retention of students and the mandate that all school districts screen students for dyslexia.

The first provision would require students in St. Louis County to be retained in the 5th or 8th grade if they failed to score "proficient" or "advanced" on MAP tests in both Mathematics and English Language Arts. Because students would be in school longer, the entire state would be forced to pick up the tab through the foundation formula at the tune of $82 million per year. 
The second provision requires every school district in the state to test every student for dyslexia. This mandate would cost school districts a combined $120 million.
For more detail of the cost of SB 1 you can find the fiscal estimate of SB 1 hereAlso, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a story about the developments with SB 1 and which provisions are driving up the cost of the bill.
The cost of SB1 will completely wipe out the increases to the foundation formula discussed above and will lead to the redistribution of state aid from formula districts to hold harmless districts that have been documented throughout the fall and beginning of the legislative session.
Senator Mike Cunningham and Senator Jay Wasson are leading the effort to protect schools from costly provisions in the school transfer bill that endanger the state's ability to fund the formula or put expensive state mandates on school districts. 
SB 1 negatively affects every district in the state, not just those in areas that are currently affected by transfers. 
The Missouri Association of School Administrators has endorsed HB 42, which passed the House by a vote of 114-43. While there are a few things to be corrected in HB42, the bill is a straightforward approach to solving the transfer issue without the costly or negative provisions contained in SB1. 

Thank you for your time this morning and as always thank you for your unending support!!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Spring is almost here!!

In an effort to more effectively communicate the events and information of the school district, I have started a blog.  If this is new to you then we are in the same boat.  I want to thank you for keeping up with our school district's accomplishments.  Sturgeon's pride in our school district is strong!!
     As I named the post Spring is almost here!!,  I can't believe that the time change is already this coming weekend.  We have just finished our basketball season and both our ladies and men's teams had success this season.  The men's team finished second in districts and the ladies played their hearts out against Cairo but came up short.  Recently, our M.S. music students achieved 1 ratings in both band and choir with other assorted 1's and 2's in solo and ensemble groups.  Spring sports and extra-curricular events include:  Men's baseball, Spring Golf, H.S./M.S. Scholar's bowl, and H.S./M.S. Track.
     The district will be experiencing some staff changes next year with current vacancies in: Special Education Process Coordinator and H.S. Counselor.  Another position we will be filling is that of an Ag teacher.  The district will start offering our students classes in Agriculture for the first time ever!! By offering agriculture classes and potentially FFA to our students in the future,  opportunities for success in never before explored areas will greatly expand.  We will looking for great things from this program for all of our interested H.S. Students.  The new agriculture instructor will be teaching classes in the High School and also one in the Middle School.  Class subjects have been determined by surveying the interests of our students.
     On the legislative front, I would encourage any and all patrons to keep up with the education bills currently being reviewed that may affect education as we know it.  This link--
is one of the publications I follow to keep informed of the bills being reviewed.  One major concern that seems to always come up this time of year is school funding.  Our school district is very dependent on state funding to fund our teaching staff.  So far this year our state funding appears to be on target with the budgeted figures.  Next year's state funding is still in a state of flux depending on how much the state is able to devote to educational funding.
     The district will be enhancing our already attrative facilities thanks to a very supportive voting public this past November.  As a result of approving a No Tax Increase Bond Issue Proposal, the district will be building two new classrooms onto the North Wing of the H.S.  Also, at the H.S. the district will be building a new entrance canopy on the west side and will be constructing a new all-weather track which will be located east of the currently ballfields.  Currently, we are waiting for the topographic survey and geo-technical services to perform their services.  Once this has been accomplished the district's architect can move forward in preparing bid packages.  At the M.S. renovations will include: updating the restrooms in the elementary hallway and the gym bathrooms.  Our M.S. locker rooms will also be renovated during this project.  You will also be seeing new floor tile in the main elementary hallway.
  I hope that in my first blog I haven't been too lengthy but there is so much to talk about concerning our school district.  I can't even begin to tell all the great things occurring in our schools.  Thank you for your time and as always thank you for your unending support.