Dear Marshall Community:
Energy and optimism are high in MPS as we look forward to celebrations and the opportunity to show off our students’ brilliance during the upcoming testing season. Can you believe it is fourth quarter already? It’s an extremely busy time in the central office, also, and here are some happenings around the district:
Our MHS and BMS students participated in the national walk-out on March 14 to commemorate and honor the memories of students killed and wounded in school shootings across the nation. The students were so responsible and thoughtful in their actions and reflections, it made me proud to be a witness. Here was my message to our students:
I stand with, and advocate for, student voices. Marshall students are so brilliant and care so much about the world and the people in it. Our future is in good hands.
Spring is salary schedule work, and the Marshall Community Teachers’ Association have been working hard with me to generate a salary schedule that will break the mold from the typical schedule. The board and I outlined three major points we feel are critical to the success of the district and the CTA is supportive of those. Those points are:
1) The base salary must be one that is attractive to the best and brightest young teachers.
2) Career advancement must be equitable and appropriate across the salary schedule so beginning teachers or seasoned veterans are valued and compensated fairly.
3) Progressing across the schedule by gaining graduate credit must be advantageous for the district, as well as the individual. Programs, rather than random classes, provide a solid focus instructional leadership, be it in a classroom or administrative setting.
After an incredible amount of communicating and consensus-building, the schedule recommended to the board on April 2 is one that would add $2,440 to the base salary, making it $35,000. Beginning teachers would be on a three-year plan with a base at $36,000 but rather than an increase each year, that salary would remain the same. This increase brings Marshall’s base teachers’ salary higher than current ones at Sedalia and Warrensburg. I want to thank the CTA representatives for their hard work and steadfast commitment to making decisions with Marshall students’ welfare in the forefront.
I am now conducting “Listen and Learn” sessions for as many groups in Marshall as possible this spring. After we get input from many points of view, we can work on a strategic plan to meet the expectations of the Marshall community for many years and ensure an outstanding school district. At the Listen and Learn sessions, the board goals have been the basis for the initiation of our conversations, but the outcome has come from our patrons.
During these sessions, many thoughts and ideas have been expressed. Also, questions were raised. Here are examples of what we’ve been asked:
What is being done to raise student achievement? Developing and implementing a high-level plan of study for all students has been a priority in the district and we feel it is critical to adhere to high standards and expectations for administrators, staff and teachers. Although MPS operated for many years without a written and viable curriculum, it is now a reality. To ensure great instruction happens across MPS, teachers have been the authors of this document for the past four years. This is not an over-night effort, but great strides have been made. MPS teachers are to be greatly commended for their outstanding work in this effort.
We cannot make excuses to divert responsibility for student success to forces outside our control. Schools have that responsibility. Detailed evaluations of central office administrators, principals, and teachers have raised accountability for all. MPS students are well above average, so a “good enough” philosophy and “just average” performance for and by adults is not acceptable.
The district is implementing the Freshman Academy in MHS next school year, which will be very rigorous. It is on a volunteer basis, with parental approval. Many high schools across the nation have adopted this innovative, personal, flexible and meaningful course of study. Student and adult engagement in learning is the guiding principle.
School safety is such an important conversation now. What is MPS doing to make school a safe place for kids? A large part of the answer is for school and community officials — together — to plan, upgrade, and implement safety measures throughout MPS. We now have telephones in every classroom and a PA system in every building. Now the central office can communicate directly with every classroom in the district.
Except for the high school, where kids pass building to building, there is no access to buildings without being “buzzed in.” We are investigating several options to better secure the many glass doors across the district and that work will begin this summer.
What is the status of the Spainhower Building and what are the plans for the future of the former Hab Center property? MPS Board of Education and Administration have spent an incredible amount of time studying what will be best for the students and families of the MPS and the city of Marshall.
There have been misconceptions about the district’s use and plans for the Spainhower Building. The building was never intended to be a permanent home for our alternative programs, although we know those programs are vital to the district’s service to Marshall’s children and families.
Long-term plans have been to add onto Spainhower and house an early childhood program, PK – first or second, but there has been a three-year delay in the acquisition process. Currently, all plans are on hold until we have official ownership of the property. At that time, a committee made of a large number and diverse representation of community members will be formed to design a long-range plan for district facilities.