Superintendent's Messages

Superintendent Update February 24, 2016


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

February 24, 2016

“American Education has a long history of infatuation with fads and ill-considered ideas. The current obsession with making our schools work like a business may be the worst of them, for it threatens to destroy public education. Who will stand up to the tycoons and politicians and tell them so?”
― Diane Ravitch, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education

“In Hollywood films and television documentaries, the battle lines are clearly drawn. Traditional public schools are bad; their supporters are apologists for the unions. Those who advocate for charter schools, virtual schooling, and ‘school choice’ are reformers; their supporters insist they are championing the rights of minorities. They say they are leaders of the civil rights movement of our day. It is a compelling narrative, one that gives us easy villains and ready-made solutions. It appeals to values Americans have traditionally cherished—choice, freedom, optimism, and a latent distrust of government. There is only one problem with this narrative. It is wrong.”
― Diane Ravitch, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools


My esteemed colleague Boise School District Superintendent Dr. Don Coberly sent a powerful message to his staff on Monday in which he criticized the Don’t Fail Idaho campaign by the J.A. & Kathryn Albertson Foundation. I was in the process of writing a draft of my update to you with a similar point when Dr. Coberly sent me a copy of his message. Rather than repeat his message, I will add my support to reinforce that public education works. The misuse of data, attacks of hard-working educators, and manipulation of educational partners and families are all tactics that are being used in an attempt to dismantle the public education system. Rather than attacks and manipulation, we will continue to improve public education in our state, in our valley and in the Kuna School District through collaborating together to make a collective impact on children’s lives.

Like many of you, my blood boils every time I hear the Don’t Fail Idaho rhetoric. Yet I have not acted. Would speaking out mean that I might damage future grant possibilities for students and teachers under my care? Would not speaking out continue to demoralize our hardworking educators and erode our community’s trust in us? On one hand, I knew the devastating effects that the negative messaging was having on all of you--the team I have vowed to lead and protect from negative outside forces. On the other hand, I was worried about the negative effect that speaking out might have on our district--on the many hopes and dreams we have for our students; many of which we cannot afford to accomplish alone.

When wrestling with these questions, I was reminded of an instructional unit that I used to teach called the Power of One. The foundational theme of the study for my students was based on the quote from anti-slavery activist Rev. Edward Everett Hale who wrote, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” And with this reminder, I decided that I would tell our district’s story. Students are succeeding in Kuna and in Idaho.

False. Four out of five graduates aren’t prepared for life after high school.
True. 70% of graduates have a plan for further education after high school. The college freshman retention rate for KHS graduates is 77%.

The National Student Clearinghouse is an independent data warehouse that maintains enrollment, retention and degree records for more than 96% of students in public and private U.S. institutions. The district uses this resource to help us track progress on improving the percentage of students enrolled in postsecondary education. However, this resource doesn’t tell the whole story because it doesn’t include the number of students who attend religious missions, enroll in the military or participate in trade or apprenticeship programs. Until a more reliable resource is identified, we rely on student self-reporting for this data. We also know from the National Student Clearinghouse that our freshmen retention rate is higher than the national average. 77% of college freshmen return for their second year while nationally the statistics are 1 in 3 drop out of college their freshman year (U.S. News & World Report).

image 22416False. No progress has been made in the last five years.
True. Students in the Kuna School District are studying and mastering far more difficult topics than at any time in our history.

While we have multiple ways to verify that students are learning more today than they ever have, one immediately tangible way to verify this is the number of dual credits our students are earning. Over the last several years, the district has been focused on ensuring that students have the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully enroll in postsecondary education. Indicators to measure progress toward achieving this goal are the number of students enrolled in advanced coursework as well as the number of dual credits students successfully attain. Advanced coursework is defined as classes in which students may earn college credit (dual credit), Advanced Placement courses, and Professional Technical capstone courses. The following data illustrates an increase in the number of students taking advanced coursework at Kuna High School:

image2 22416

Only within the last year have we required all of our high school juniors to take the SAT. Prior to this, only about 1% of students from Kuna High School took the SAT. Our 2014 SAT data shows that 40% of our students meet the state’s goal of a 1500 combined score. However, when we pair the SAT results with other data elements such as dual credit completion and postsecondary retention, we are reaffirmed that what we are on the right track as we continuously improve our system for children.

As educators, we are never satisfied with where we are, and we all want to continue to do better for our children. We work hard in our profession to see incremental growth over time; thus, the work we do is generational. Generational work isn’t about implementing the latest fad or looking for the quick fix; teaching children is about working hard together to track growth over time using research-based methods. While generational work is often frustrating, we know we must celebrate the small successes with each other each day and keep focused on the bigger vision that will take us a generation to see the full benefits.

A few months ago, I encouraged each of you to dream fearlessly to continue to improve our schools to meet the diverse needs of all of our children. You are doing just that. I know each of you are working hard to meet the varied needs of our children to ensure that every student is prepared to have the future he/she desires. I know our community is proud of the hard work of our talented educators in our district and will continue to work side-by-side with us to improve our system for all children. Public education works because of your commitment to all our children. I am honored to lead such caring, creative, innovative and service-minded individuals as my Kuna School District team.


In service,


wendy signature


updatelogo Updates

Legislative Updates

HB 526
The House Education Committee has unanimously passed HB 526, the new version of the governor’s $10.7 million early-reading intervention and literacy initiative. In the new bill, the funding will be distributed based on the number of students in a district who are identified as basic or below basic on the statewide reading assessment. In the State Board of Education’s current estimate, the distribution to school districts would be approximately $290 per student. Funding may only be used for reading intervention programs, and would be capped at the actual cost for their program. More to come on this in the near future.

SB 1248
The Senate voted in favor of SB 1248 which removes the requirement that public charter schools have written contracts with their teachers and administrators “in form as approved by the state superintendent of public instruction.” The bill will next go to the House.

Like Us on Facebook and Instagram and Follow Us on Twitter

The school district facebook page has 117 new followers this month! If you haven’t connected with the district via social media, please follow the Kuna Jt. School District on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you have information you would like to share on the page please let Cheri Carr, Brittany Regli or Dave Reinhart know.

kuna wayThe Kuna Way Awards
Please help us to celebrate our colleagues and community partners who are examples of practicing the Kuna Way. If you know of someone who should receive this award, please nominate this person via the website feedback link.





Collaborating to solve problems, to make decisions, to reach win-win decisions and to continuously improve to make our system better for kids:

Pasqual Flores and the Custodial and Maintenance Staff, for setting up for the KMS Talent Show.
“They were polite, cheerful, quick, efficient, and supportive of our students in this once a year event. The Jr. CAST at KMS is grateful for all of their help.”

Putting kids first and doing whatever it takes to help students succeed:

Nurse Susan Gordon for coordinating with Delta Dental to provide Grins on the Go Clinic.
“We appreciate the extra effort that Susan took to provide the dental clinic to children.”

Brian Graves, Dave Beymer, Pete Noteboom & Mike Wiedenfeld for your support of our KHS students..
“These guys have been in a million places, a million different times to support our amazing students and athletes.”

Bill Doughty, for taking care of it all.
“I don’t think he ever sees the sun! He comes in before it comes up and leaves LONG after it’s gone down.”

Brandy Roberts and Renee Angle, for coordinating the Teed Elementary Honor Society
“These ladies put in extra time and effort to further challenge our amazing Teed kids. I am so proud of them!”


Take care of each other and ourselves:

Paul Souza and Shannon Shayne, for coordinating the letters of kindness to staff from the students at Reed.
“The letters brought sunshine to all of us and reminded us why we work so hard--it’s for the kids and they notice!”

KHS Office Staff, for taking care of the KHS staff.
“These fine ladies are an amazing filter for us beyond the office and always have a smile and chocolate for anyone!”


Preserving our professional capital and promoting professionalism:

Special Education Staff, for their commitment to professional development so they can support their students to make progress.

“A total of 42 special education staff attended a recent workshop and I was proud of their contributions and learning. A special shout out to Robbie Reno, Cindy Orr, Josh Noteboom, Kevin Gifford and Brandon Crusat for attending with their sped team.”


rumor Rumor Mill

Have You Heard a Rumor and Want to Know the Answer? Post your question on our website!

It is easy for rumors to get started in light of all the questions and concerns employees and parents have regarding the Kuna School District. If you've heard a rumor that you'd like to get an "official" response on, we encourage you visit the "Rumors, Questions and Feedback" link on our website.


Q: Are we offering All Day Every Day (ADED) tuition based kindergarten next year?
A: Yes. We are offering this program again as it has been very well received in our community and is financially self sustaining. Achievement data supports that it is having a positive impact on students academically. There were many logistical and procedural processes that needed to be sorted through with this program as it has grown from being an innovative idea offered at one school to being offered district wide over the last few years. We have sorted through most of these processes and are hoping that through more effective communication and advertising, we can continue to offer and perhaps even grow this program. We are asking parents to indicate interest in the ADED kindergarten program through the registration process and will then have the ability to email these parents directly. It is possible that the program could be cut if we don't have enough students to form a full classroom, but we do not anticipate that happening based on the number of inquiries we have received at the District Office in the past few weeks. At this time, we do not know the location of the ADED classrooms. Those decisions will be made when we have enrollment numbers.


Q: Are we changing the present kindergarten schedule?
A: Not at this time. We do not have all of the information needed to make this decision at this time. When we know actual enrollment numbers as well as what funding the State of Idaho will be providing for Kindergarten programs, we will then be able to make decisions about schedules and location of programs. We do know that the Dual Language program will continue to be at Reed. Based on the legislative schedule and the release of budget information, we anticipate making decisions about schedules and classrooms in late spring as we also determine FTE for all buildings. With our anticipated population growth for next school year, maximizing our use of classrooms at each school will be critical. We acknowledge that having unanswered questions about locations of programs and schedules may be difficult for parents. Please help reassure parents that it is not unusual for a district to make decisions about class enrollments until after the legislature determines our final budget and we know our enrollment numbers.


Q: Is all district kindergarten programs moving to Indian Creek Ross?
A: No. There has been some discussion about converting Indian Creek to an Early Learning Center. This is a long term discussion, and no immediate decision will be made. The concept of an Early Learning Center would allow a single school to host our district pre-school and other early childhood programs along with primary grades for Indian Creek . The school is not big enough to have all kindergarten students in the district attend there. Another benefit for having an Early Learning Center is that it would allow teachers who have deep expertise and passion for early learning to work and collaborate together to meet the unique needs of our youngest learners. If we do create an Early Learning Center we will follow a strategic planning process to manage the change positively with all involved.


Q: Is the State of Idaho going to fund all day every day kindergarten for all students next year?
A: We don't know. The proposed legislation suggests funding all day kindergarten for students who are scoring as below proficient in reading. The details of how that proposal would be implemented are not clear. Bills can change as they are discussed so follow the legislative session as well as express your input to your state representatives if you would like to see ADED kindergarten funded for all kindergarten students.

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Kuna Mission and Vision


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.