To the Marshall Community:
~ Be sure to vote for your choice for the 2018-2019 district calendar on the MPS website! ~
Winter in Missouri is always an adventure, isn’t it? The decision whether to cancel school, or delay the start is a difficult one. Of course, our first concern is the safety of our students and staff. We always have their best interest at heart. One thing is for sure, there will be people who are happy and others who are upset with whatever decision is made.
Parents always have the final say in sending their children to school, or not, as it relates to bad weather. So, if parents do not feel comfortable putting their child on the bus because of bad weather, we understand and will respect that decision.
This year, we instituted a two-hour delayed start system for those days when those hours will mean extra work on building, grounds, and buses can get done. It also means kids are getting on the bus in the light, which always makes things better. From principals’ reports, the new system worked great. I’m so appreciative to everyone who worked so hard to make the day a good one for kids.
We had amazingly high attendance on our late-start day, at 89 percent across the district. On Wednesday, when we began the day at the regular time, attendance was 92 percent. With the significant amount of illness in the region, I think this is exceptional. The make-up day for the snow day we took on the 16th of this month is April 2. This is the day after Easter and was voted by the Board of Education last year. The second make-up day will be May 18. Besides the weather, there are many things going on across MPS. Here are a few:
· January through March is personnel evaluation time, which is a chance to communicate, make suggestions, and listen to concerns to ensure improvement for Marshall kids. We are all accountable, including the superintendent. I continue to learn daily, sometimes hourly, in the job of the district leader. I take that responsibility very seriously.
Evaluations and hiring of district administrators are in January of each year. Principals are evaluated and hired in February and teachers in March. This is the schedule for most schools across the state. In MPS, all district administrators were hired for next year. No raises were given to the contracted amounts, and all four administrators signed the contracts with enthusiasm.
Beginning next year, each teacher, principal, and superintendent will have an item on their evaluations concerning student growth. This is not limited to the less than half MPS teachers who are measured with state-mandated tests. The principals have been directed that every teacher in the district will have a measurable assessment in place for 2018-2019 that will reflect student growth.
· Unbelievably, it’s time to set the 2018-2019 MPS school calendar. Two options will go to the board and one will be adopted during the February meeting. The major differences in the two options is the timing of Christmas break. Option one has the break beginning on Dec. 21 and the kids coming back on Jan. 8. Also, the students come back to school on the Monday after Easter. Option two has the break beginning on Dec. 19 and the kids coming back on Jan. 3. There is no school the Monday after Easter. MPS will sponsor a vote on the district’s webpage for parents and students. Voting will be held from approximately Feb. 14-23. Be sure to vote for your preference.
· Recently, the MPS Central Office admin team and Great Circle administrators have started a very healthy and positive partnership to move both our organizations forward – together. I'm very excited to begin cooperative work with the leaders of Great Circle and absolutely think we can move into a mutually collaborative and respected partnership.
· Dr. Lorenz reports the situation at the Spainhower School is very challenging. The heat has failed in the west part of the building and gifted classes have been moved to Bueker Middle School.
· Alternative Spainhower School locations to rent being investigated
· HVAC issues at Spainhower, Eastwood, Southeast
· MHS girls’ locker room nearing completion
· New roof warranties certified
· Awnings at Beuker and Central Office scheduled to be installed
· Phone/Intercom implementation completed
· Adding cameras as budget allows
· LED initiative moving forward (wall packs on the HS)
· The Central Office administrators have been working on the design of a strategic planning process that will ensure we remain true to the board’s vision of excellence for MPS for many years. This plan will cover the years 2018-2023 and will be comprehensive across all aspects of school life. I am now scheduling “Listen and Learn” tours for as many groups in Marshall as possible this spring, including building faculties. After we get input from many points of view, as many people as possible from inside and outside the district can work on a plan to meet the expectations of the Marshall community.
Unfortunately, in our crazy and hurry-up world, communication has become even more of a challenge. I prefer to communicate directly face-to-face, but sometimes that’s impossible. I have a Twitter account, especially for students and staff (@MarshallSupt.com), a blog in The Marshall Democrat News and thanks to Mr. Fawkes, my Fireside Chat messages. I don’t depend on other social media and don’t make it a habit to check on that world. I do, however, sincerely want to maintain and improve the relationships I have with the tremendous people in Marshall Public Schools and the community. It is a great honor for me to be here.