To the Marshall Public Schools Community:
The excitement across the district has been building for the past month, and the day after Open House, and the day before school started, you could almost feel it in the air! Then, the kids came back. How awesome are they? Our district is moving in such a positive direction, with such high energy, it's impossible not to be excited. Here's what's going on across MPS:
1. The day the teachers come back is probably the most important faculty meeting of the year. It sets the tone for the school culture for the remaining months. Our first day back was a great one, filled with laughter, work and learning.
2. We have received this word from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on the release of student achievement results, as measured by MAP and EOC exams.
Effectively communicating assessment information, both outcomes and the Annual Performance Report, is critically important. Information must be thoroughly examined to ensure that it is accurate, as many important decisions are based on these outcomes. The process cannot compromise the decisions with either tardiness or inaccuracy. DESE is taking extra steps again this year to ensure data are accurate before producing the 2016 Preliminary APR or releasing the final document.
This is a draft schedule for releasing of the APR: Week of Sept. 6 -- 2016 MAP Data released to secure sites. Oct. 3 -- Preliminary APR released to secure sites. Oct. 21 -- Data frozen to generate final APR. Oct. 31 -- Final APR available to secure logins. Nov. 2 -- Embargoed data available to the press. Nov. 7 -- APR available to the public.
3. We asked teachers to spend the first two weeks of school building relationships with students because research shows students struggling with achievement do better when they are closely connected to their teacher and each other. This doesn't mean there is no teaching but teaching in a different way -- mostly through games and active learning activities. It's a way to build a solid foundation for the rest of the year. The activities are research based and recommended by turn-around schools experts. John Hattie is the most renown researcher/expert in student achievement, as having studied more than 200 million students over many years. He has identified 138 influences, good and bad, on how well students do in school. Any item above 0.4 is considered impactful. For example, television has a -.018 effect on achievement -- negative, and gender has a 0.12 effect --none.
Some of Hattie's ranks and effect sizes of influences that are associated with relationship building and connectedness to school are: No. 6 -- Classroom behavior and relationships, 0.80; No. 11 -- Teacher-student relationships, 0.72; and No. 23 -- Cooperative V. individualistic learning 0.59.
Students working with other students in learning situations is also very positively associated with high achievement.
I'm always so appreciative to staff who support our direction for the welfare of kids. This is from the district social worker about building relationships with kids:
Just in case you want the two cents of a social worker/therapist... I love this. I love that we are promoting positive relationship building....many, many of our students do not have this at home. Kudos to you. Makes me even prouder to be an OWL.
4. Dr. Lorenz continues to be busy leading the business operations of MPS. During July, he and the summer crew worked not only on repair and upgrading, but on cleaning up appearance of the campuses around the district. Several dead or dying trees have been removed and the dumpster areas at each building are being either moved or fenced.
* Con Edison -- energy savings company -- really came together and got Benton up and running for the beginning of school.
* Negotiating switching from AT&T to a different phone system has been challenging for him and the tech department, but the savings for the district is significant. With those savings, we will install an automated answering system which can route calls to the desired location.
* Concrete work began at the high school and will continue this fall.
Dr. Lorenz reports that the district has experienced a number of new leaks due to the hail storm this summer. After inspection, there is no structural damage and we're working closely with the insurance company to remedy all issues, including at all buildings to secure the integrity of the structures.
The immediate concern is the roofs at the high school complex, which includes MHS, the industrial arts building, and the SCCC. These will be addressed first. The insurance company has deemed the IT roof a complete loss and it will need to be replaced. It is no surprise that the high school roof needs to be completely replaced, but Dr. Lorenz has appealed the findings from the adjusters who have determined that replacing it entirely is not going to be their recommendation. It is necessary that we wait until negotiations with the insurance company are complete, since the estimate given last year for replacement of the MHS roof is likely to be over $1 million. This doesn't include the other roofs.
Benton School's roof was also damaged significantly. The adjusters made their first visit and recommendation, but it too is being appealed by Dr. Lorenz. The very old material on very old roofs is causing there to be disagreement on how much is damage by the storm and how much is simply age. It is our hope to replace these roofs before the snow flies!
5. As organizations that receive federal funds, schools are required to abide by federal law, changes to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act has proven challenging to the district and I thought it best to explain how this is impacting MPS. By executive order, these regulations go into effect on Dec. 1, 2016. The law regulates wages and overtime and will increase the minimum pay of someone paid on salary, but is not allowed overtime now. Currently, the maximum amount an individual can make and be denied the opportunity to work overtime is $23,660. On Dec. 1, this increases to $47,476. That means anyone who is not on a teaching contract with the district will have to be paid overtime, if they work beyond the 40 hour week.
The new law gives employers a range of options for responding to the updated standard salary level, but there are restrictions to what employers can do also. Probably the strictest one is that jobs an individual performs cannot be counted separately for pay. We used to be able to pay a custodian $25 a night for working in the concession stand because we counted the day job as one set of hours and the night job as another. Now, we have to blend those hours. Anyone working an eight-hour day, five days a week, is already working the limited number of hours before overtime kicks in. They would have to add the hours worked in the concession stand to those hours. That amount of pay would be far beyond the $25 per event paid in the past. For example, if a custodian works for $13.50 an hour, she or he would be paid $20.25 per hour of overtime. So, if she or he worked four hours in the concession stand, total pay would be $81, rather than $25. It's not hard to see that the district can't afford that pay rate. Teachers can work at these activities for $25 an event because they are contracted and paid a salary, not by the hour.
I have listed options below for the district to follow this law. For each employee who is paid on an hourly basis, employers -- to be in compliance with the FLSA -- have these options:
* Put everyone on a salary equaling at least $47,476.
* Pay overtime of 1 1/2 times the employee's regular rate of pay for any overtime hours worked beyond 40.
* Reduce the amount of pay so when overtime is added, it will equal what is currently being paid.
* Reduce or eliminate overtime hours.
We can't afford the first option. We can pay overtime to hourly workers, but only very sparingly. I'm afraid there would be some left out and bad feelings would arise. Employees wouldn't like the third one, which means their base pay would be reduced. The only thing left to do is to eliminate overtime except in very extenuating circumstances.
I hope this explanation is clear. This has been the topic of conversation at every school law session I've attended, and superintendents are working to make these changes, although often not popular.
6. At the meeting on Aug. 23, the board approved the appointment of Sam Gibson as the district's School Resource Officer. This is an important and very visible role in MPS, and we are happy to find someone of his caliber to join our team. Sam is an enthusiastic advocate for kids and the district, so we are lucky to have him.
7. We are excited to congratulate the newly formed MHS Alumni Association and are looking forward to their inaugural activities over Homecoming weekend Sept. 30 -- Oct. 1. It's important to keep the Marshall family together after graduation.
8. We recognized our FFA chapter again during the meeting. They are in the finals for the Model of Excellence Award, as they have been previously. Governor Nixon talked about the Marshall FFA a lot, and in very complimentary terms, during the annual Ham Breakfast at the state fair.
9. We are also recognizing Evan Weaver for his outstanding accomplishments in the world of golf this summer; Taylor Gotmer and Taylor Mason for MO High School Rodeo; Evan Baker, Lane Brandt, Brenden Medcalf, and Haley Baker for Archery and Shooting. Evan is ranked No. 3 in the nation in archery and Lane is No.5. Missouri is the No. 1 state in the nation in archery and shooting.
10. The Central Office staff decided we really wanted to recognize all the happy, wonderful things going on in our schools, not just the accomplishments that are noted at board meetings, but attitudes and actions also. So we requested this of all staff: Please nominate a member of the Marshall family who has contributed to the school culture in a nice, positive, upbeat, kind and/or funny, "owlstanding" way.
For August, there were 15 individuals nominated from across the district and the nominations were filled with such enthusiasm for the Fab 15's awesome ways. These nominations were grouped together and the winner was drawn at random. I have to say, the winner is very deserving. For the month of August 2016, Renee Mullins was named MPS Rock Star. Her nomination was for her work with S.H.A.R.E. and just being a wonderful person. To quote the nomination, "Last night (at 10 p.m.) with the impending weather approaching and the warnings of flooding, Renee came to central office to ensure all our materials were off the floor and on high ground. She also worked in the old print shop to make sure all Lindsey's backpacks and other donations for students were safe and dry."
Congratulations and thanks to Renee Mullins!