Superintendent's Messages

Superintendent Message (November 6, 2014)

 Kuna School District Updateksd1
Inspiring each student to become a lifelong learner and a contributing, responsible citizen

November 6, 2014


As the season changes from sunny days with green foliage to cooler days with autumn reds and golds, I naturally use this time in the year to reflect. With so many important changes happening, this autumn edition of the Superintendent’s Update focuses on personnel changes at the district level.

I started my educational career in the Kuna School District in 1993. At that time, our district was small which allowed many teachers to not only know every student in their school but also to know every employee in the district. Times have certainly changed since then! And just as natural as it is to see changes as a result of each season, it is also just as natural that we see changes in personnel as our district gets bigger. However, my commitment to you is that I will work hard to hire people who are faithful to the Kuna Way:

1. putting kids first and doing whatever it takes to help students succeed
2. collaborating to solve problems, to make decisions, to reach win-win decisions and to continuously improve to make our system better for kids
3. leading from where you are
4. working hard and having fun together
5. taking care of each other and ourselves
6. preserving our professional capital

In our district, Devan and I oversee three broad service areas of the district: 1) Educational Services (Wendy), 2) Operational Services (Devan) and 3) Business and Employee Services (Wendy). I am mindful of ensuring that any growth to the District Office is only done to ensure that all of the District’s needs are met, in relationship to the continued growth of the district, and to better serve the needs of schools and our community. My belief is that I must staff schools first and the district office needs come second. Although I am proud to say that I have done this, my belief has caused stress to many district support services. As people have resigned over the last few months due to retirement or to fulfill professional goals, I have used these last two months to analyze the needs in order to effectively and efficiently staff district support services.

District Educational Services
Two major changes have occurred in the District Educational Services. Arnette Johnson will be retiring as of December 5, and Karlynn Laraway’s last day was October 30, and she is currently working at the State Department of Education.

New Federal Programs and Special Education Directors Announced
As you all know, Arnette quietly and efficiently works from behind the scenes to ensure that we focus on the right work for schools. I will be forever grateful to her selfless dedication to coordinating every resource possible to meet the needs of our children and staff. With Arnette’s retirement, I have asked Eileen O’Shea to direct all of the Federal Programs in the district. Currently, Eileen serves the district in a part-time capacity as our Special Education Director and will continue in a part-time capacity in her new role. Ludee Vermaas currently serves in a part-time capacity as the Special Education Asst. Director and part-time Behavioral Interventionist. Ludee will now serve as our full-time Special Education Director. In addition to Ludee, Eileen will continue her good work for children with support from the following fabulous Student Support Services team members:

• Title I – Suzanne Peck
• Migrant and Title III – Erika Velasco (in addition to her work as a Building Administrator at Reed Elementary)
• Homeless – Shannon Shayne (as a part of her work as one of two full-time Social Workers in the district)
• Lead Nurse – Alicia Jordan
• Social Work Coordinator – Jeff Harry

Interim Assessment Coordinator to be Posted Friday
My long term plan is hire an Administrator of Student Achievement who will work directly with assessment and curriculum in addition to other responsibilities. However, given the time of the year, I do not want to hire this person until the end of the school year. Should I hire now, I would most likely negatively impact a school by displacing personnel. My plan for the rest of this year is to hire an interim Assessment Coordinator who will work closely with schools to ensure that we are ready for the state and district assessments for the remainder of the year. The great news is that this person will be supported by a talented group of experienced Proctors and our part-time Assessment Assistant Kelly Glenn.

District Operational Services
The beginning of school was a little extra chaotic this year when Ben Gleaton moved from coordinating the use of our facilities and supervising custodial services to managing the transportation department. Additionally, Layne Saxton took on the supervision of custodial services in addition to his role in supervising major projects. These shuffles in personnel left a gap in facilities coordinating. Over 200 organizations use the district facilities a year and on any given night, community and school organizations use almost all of our school facilities. Cheri Carr has recently accepted the position as the District Facilities Coordinator starting Monday November 10. After supporting athletics and activities at Kuna High School for the last five years, Cheri will effectively balance district and community use of our facilities.

Karlynn’s departure has not only led to the transitioning of assessment responsibilities but has also prompted some restructuring inside the Technology Team. Shari Black will take on support of Schoolmaster, and Matt Rauch, the newest member of the technology team, will assist in Schoolmaster support and improve the district data warehouse so that we have access to important student data. Beginning Monday, Jim Obert will manage the day-to-day operations of the Technology Department as he assumes the Technology Coordinator responsibilities. Jim has been with the District since 2003 and spent a number of years supporting post-secondary educational technology. We are excited for Jim’s leadership as our technology needs continue to grow. Some Jim’s current responsibilities will transition to other members of the team.

Business and Employee Services
Melanie DeLashmutt to Serve as Director of Business and Employee Services and Adam Bell Hired as District Accountant
As many of you know, Melanie came to the Kuna School District with over 20 years of experience as the Chief Executive Officer of the Pocatello Teachers Federal Credit Union where she was responsible for the administration and operations of a full service $17 million financial institution. In her almost two years of service to our district, she has proven a most valued member of our district team and has spent numerous hours assisting me to build systems of support to all of our stakeholders. She will continue her systems focus as she expands her role to oversee accounting, payroll, accounts payable, finance, and human resources to ensure that we provide good service, create transparent and accountable budgeting processes and support to our Kuna team.

Adam Bell comes to us most recently from Eide Bailly where he has served as an auditor for the last three years. Most of his auditing experience with Eide Bailly has been with school districts so he understands the laws and requirements that need to be in place in government accounting. He has a BS in Accounting from Cal State Northridge and a MBA from University of Phoenix. In addition to his experience and education, he serves our country as a Lieutenant in the National Guard. Most importantly, he is the father of three young children--four and under-- who will all be attending our schools in the near future.

So how do all of these changes impact you? My goal is that these changes are just as subtle as the transition from summer to fall. To help with a smooth transition, I am working with our district team to update and publish a support matrix that will inform all of you of who to go to when you have a question or concern.

Just as natural as storms and difficult weather, organizational change is just as natural and temporarily unsettling, but what doesn’t change is the quality and commitment of all of you. I count myself lucky to be surrounded by the continued commitment you all have to our children.
In service,


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The Kuna School District inspires each student to become a lifelong learner and a contributing, responsible citizen.


Working together with parents, community resources and educators, each student who graduates from the Kuna School District will have the knowledge and skills necessary to be able to have the future he/she desires.