Superintendent's Messages

Superintendent Update August 28, 2017

 

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

August 28, 2017

“Don’t be eclipsed by change; leave your mark.”

Team,
Thank you for ensuring that we started the 2017-18 school year strong. I’ve had the opportunity to visit each school at least once last week, and I am grateful to lead our amazing school district with such fine professionals who work hard each day on behalf of our children. In this month’s update, I’ve included the message I shared with you in our opening all staff meeting on August 22.

After last week, I can say that I have now witnessed two solar eclipses in my life. The first was in 1979, and I was in the second grade. As you can see from my second grade class picture below that some things really haven't changed all that much in Idaho public education--notice the hole in the left curtain of the stage and the larger-than-should-be class size.

1979
Thinking about my first experience with a total solar eclipse made me think of my second grade teacher Mrs. Weerheim and what an impact she had on me. I’m a firm believer that we are a product of all of those who have invested their time, energy and talents in us, and I carry Mrs. Weerheim with me to this day. I was a weird kid. I loved anything creative--art, music, writing and reading but struggled terribly with math. Mrs. Weerheim differentiated instruction for me before it was a buzz word--she just knew her students, had high expectations for all of us and helped us reach them. She pushed me to read at a different grade level and channeled my creativity by allowing me to create a comic strip for my class. (I called my comic Super Belly --about a do-gooder superhero who saved cats from the evil dogman.) In addition to encouraging my strengths, Mrs. Weerheim gave me extra help with math but never made me feel stupid. I would have done anything for her.

I had a great aunt named Lola who I admired as I thought she was one of the most glamorous woman I knew--always dressed to the nines with her red hair piled high on her head and her makeup painted on perfectly. After visiting us one weekend, Aunt Lola accidentally left her prescription sunglasses at our house and I found them. Rather than letting my mom know I found them, I decided that I would wear them to school confident that I would look as glamorous as my Aunt Lola did when she wore them. Obviously, Mrs. Weerheim knew that I didn’t need prescription sunglasses. Rather than make a big deal of me wearing the sunglasses while at school, she knew kids well enough to know that I would tire of the charade which I did by the end of the week.

Today when I think of Mrs. Weerheim, I am reminded about how she made me feel--loved, special, and accepted for who I was--a weird kid trying to figure out my place in the world. Of course, she taught me academic subjects, and I thrived academically because of her teaching. I also thrived because I knew she cared about me. She left a positive mark on me that I carry with me to this day.

With all of the changes that are coming our way this year and in the near future, it would be easy to think that the Kuna School District is just focused on construction projects and managing enrollment growth. Don’t let these changes eclipse the real work we are here to accomplish with our students. None of us are satisfied with our student achievement, and all of us will continue to tackle our student achievement goals together this year. I am confident that we will improve our student outcomes by practicing what Mrs. Weerheim did for me all those years ago--demanding high achievement with scaffolding of support in a caring and nurturing environment.

Last week, we experienced a total eclipse of the sun for about 3 minutes. We have our students for the equivalent of 3 minutes in the scope of their lifetime. We must ensure that the time we have with our students is just as impactful as yesterday’s historic event was. May you all be remembered by each of your students as the person who left a positive mark on the timeline of their lives.

In service,

wendy signature


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Community Survey about Future Programs in the Kuna School District
Don’t forget to provide the Design Solution Team with your feedback regarding future programs in the Kuna School District. We have set a goal of getting 2000 people to take the survey and only have 555. We also want to hear from students. Please share this link with your parent groups and students: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/B96WRL2 . Thank you!

Instructional Coaches Are Available to Help You
The 2017-18 school year will mark the sixth year KSD has incorporated an instructional coach at nearly every building. Like many professions who benefit from the experience and hands-on assistance of colleagues, an instructional coach’s chief responsibility “is to bring evidence-based practices into classrooms by working with teachers and other school leaders” (PIIC, 2017).

This year’s coaches include a mix of experienced coaches (Laura Jenkins, Deb Bradburn, Dani Walker, Andrea Willadsen, and Mandy Hoehne) as well as two new team members (Sheila Blewett and Linda Wiedenfeld). Additionally, we are fortunate to add a Special Education Instructional Coach/Consulting Teacher with the recent hiring of Randi Cole. We value the continuous improvement process in our district and the Instructional Coaches play a key role in this process. Be sure to reach out to your coach to let her know how she can support you!

Enrollment Update
We have done some more cleaning of student enrollment data. On Friday, our enrollment was 5464 which is an increase of 146 students from last year. The increase from last year to this year plays out as follows:
● K-6 - up one student
● 7-8 - up 11 students
● 9-12 - up 134 students

I imagine we will continue to get some fluctuation in enrollment over the next few days as we contact students who are enrolled but have not shown up to school. I have a meeting planned with my administrators on Aug. 30 to have them share their needs and conduct a final assessment of staffing allocations. If you have questions about your school’s enrollment, please talk to your principal who has access to this data. Once we have our official 5th day of enrollment, I will email you with the information.

Master Teacher Premium
On August 10, the State Board of Education approved the Master Teacher Premium Plan. The proposed planrequires that teachers create and submit a portfolio. Details about the plan can be found at the State Board of Education’s website . While some organizations like the IEA have voiced support over the plan, others have expressed concern about the portfolio.

keaKuna Education Association Update
The KEA is a local, professional organization with a mission to promote, advance, and protect public education, the education profession, and the rights and interests of our members. One of the most important roles of KEA is to negotiate teacher salaries and benefits. This past year, the KEA negotiated with the district and school board to increase teacher pay by a minimum of 3%. We agreed to change the contract from 190 days to 185 days, increasing per-diem rates for retirement purposes, and eliminate the cap on the amount of sick days that can be accumulated. In addition to that, the district will cover the increase in insurance costs to continue to provide employee health benefits at no cost, and is purchasing an Employee Assistance program giving each employee and their families access to free counseling and other services. As you can see, the KEA has worked very well with the School District to improve things for our schools, staff, and students every year.

This upcoming school year, the KEA will continue to work closely with the District for better certified and classified staff salaries and benefits as well as other improvements. For example, one goal this year is to keep health insurance costs as low as possible. Another goal for this year is to promote policies and practices that help keep student/teacher ratios as low as possible.

This year also brings about a changing of the guard - our past president, Jennifer Monserat, has accepted an administrative position at Silver Trail Elementary. She is handing the torch off to the previous KEA Vice President, Shelley Hopkins, who will divide her time teaching 7th grade Language arts and coaching girls basketball with her new duties as KEA President. Shelley will be working with the KEA’s new Vice President, Kristi Lund, a P.E. teacher at Kuna High School, as well as with the rest of the returning executive board.

And on behalf of the entire KEA executive board, we invite our current members and all potential members to say goodbye to Jennifer, meet our new board members, and celebrate the new year at the 2017/18 KEA Back to School BBQ on September 14th. There will be a raffle, free food, music and fun games for all who attend. More details will be available to everyone soon! Lastly, KEA members are also invited to attend monthly meetings to stay up to date and join the conversation. These meetings, which will now be held on the last Thursday of each month, will be held at KMS. Look for further details in the upcoming Welcome Letter that will reach your inboxes soon!

The Kuna Way Awards
Please help me to celebrate our colleagues who are examples of practicing the Kuna Way. If you know of someone who should receive this award, please nominate this person by sending an email to Cheri Carr.
Putting kids first and doing whatever it takes to help students succeed
● Collaborating to solve problems, to make decisions, to reach win-win decisions and to continuously improve to make our system better for kids
● Leading from where you are
● Working hard and having fun together
● Taking care of each other and ourselves
● Preserving our professional capital and promoting professionalism

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.

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Kuna Mission and Vision

little-professorMission

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

Vision

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.