From the Desk of Patrick McKernan
I would like to welcome you all back for a new school year! I am excited to start my fourth year as your Superintendent of Schools and Troy Grade School Elementary Principal. Over the last three years, it has been my pleasure to get to know your children and see their growth in many areas. Many times in our life we take great comfort in things staying the same. However, there are other times when change needs to happen to continue to make progress. I see the USD 429 district in a transition time where we will continue to talk about ”doing things differently”. Academic areas we will be focusing on this year, will be the curriculum, instruction, and assessments. We need to make improvements on our Kansas Assessment scores this coming year. I believe we should score at the state average or higher on any state or national assessment we take. That needs to be the minimum. I also believe with some coordination and effort, we can do better than the state average on these assessments. USD 429 is also continuing to look at revising and expanding the current curriculum. As a staff, we will spend time this year deciding what to teach and test and discuss the best strategies to help students reach their academic goals.
As a district, we also need to focus on school attendance. The state of Kansas considers chronic absenteeism as 10% of the school days in session. At the end of the year, this could be sixteen days of absence. Not only is that chronic, but in my opinion, excessive. There are many families and students who do a great job. 59% of our students district wide missed five or less days of school. On the other side of this 11% of our students miss sixteen days or more and are considered chronically absent. We can do better. At the upper elementary grade and middle school and high school grade levels, students may be required to stay after school to make up assignments or if they are chronically absent. We also want this time to be productive time so we want to put supports in place for extra help or homework completion.
We again, had some turnover in key teaching positions. Please read about the new staff we have hired. I am very confident we have hired great replacements for those staff that left. Please get to know these new staff members. I think you will be impressed also.
Facilities Upgrades – USD 429 converted to all LED lighting last spring. You will see new LED lighting in the gymnasiums and classrooms. The lighting is not as noticeable in the classrooms but very noticeable in the gymnasiums. We should also see a difference in our utility bills this year. We are also in the process of having the exterior of the cafeteria/weight room/music room painted, along with the bus bar and crow’s nests. We will be replacing the stadium bleacher boards to aluminum boards to finish that project that was started many years ago. We have moved the counselor’s office up a floor across from the high school office. This should allow for better communication between students and the counselor and the teaching staff and the counseling department.
Whether it be the gym, ballpark, library, church or other community activities, it is always great to see the students during the summer. I look forward to another new year and see what accomplishments your children will reach. See you in August.