Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Superintendent Promotes February 4th Bond Issue

Grain Valley School Community,

Our district continues to grow. As projected, we have just under 4000 students in pre-Kindergarten through 12th grades, including 1025 students in our high school this year.  This is twice as many students in our district as we had just 11 years ago.  By our projections, we will need room for 1275 students at the high school by the fall of 2017, and for 1600 students at our high school within about another six years. 

I ask for your support with the passage of a $3.8 Million bond issue on the ballot for February 4, 2014 to allow us to continue the next phase of work to our high school as outlined in our district’s long-range plan to meet the demands of a growing student population. Passage of this bond issue does not require raising the district tax levy rate.

We have also identified the need to improve the safety and security of our school buildings and are including work to six of our schools and to our administrative offices to improve our ability to screen school visitors.  Once completed, visitors to any of our sites will only be able to access the rest of the school after first entering the office.

This year’s bond issue for $3.8 Million will allow us to:
1. Construct four classrooms to the south side of the high school, just west of the science rooms added with last year’s bond issue. These will be larger classroom spaces for engineering and industrial technology. The current industrial technology room will be converted to a loading dock, kitchen and building storage, and will include a corridor allowing access to the new classrooms.
2.  Relocate and upgrade utilities at the high school to support the long-range plan at this site.
3. Security upgrades to school entrances at six schools and administrative office building.
4. The completion of a greenhouse on the south face of the high school is included as an alternative bid with this bond issue.

Future additions at the high school will require the relocation of our transportation center and bus lot, which we have also outgrown, to make room for a larger high school school building, more activity practice facilities, and more parking for school and activity use. 

We intend to begin construction on a new transportation center in the summer of 2014, on the northeast corner of SW Eagles Parkway and Sni-A-Bar Boulevard (Barr Road).  The passage of the February 4, 2014 bond issue is not needed to fund the construction of the transportation center, but bidding this work with the next phase of high school construction will save the district money, and moving the transportation operation now makes room for the next phases of construction at the high school.

The work to transform our high school campus to meet our students’ needs into the future is going to take many phases over multiple years.  We want to continue the work of our long-range plan to have the classrooms and other facilities needed to meet the demand of a growing school district.

I ask for your support of this next phase of construction with your vote on Tuesday, February 4, 2014.  The passage of this bond issue will allow us to take this essential next step forward.

Thank you!


Dr. Roy Moss

Monday, December 16, 2013

CJCFD Extinguishes Truck Fire on School Property

The contents of a paper recycling service truck caught on fire while on school property this morning.  Central Jackson County Fire Department responded to a fire in the storage area of a truck that was picking up recycling materials in the northwest parking lot of South Middle School this morning.  The contents of the truck were emptied onsite and extinguished, before being placed back into the truck and hauled off.

There were no injuries and no reported property damage to district property.  The fire did not interfere with school operation.  Students and parents entering neighboring Stony Point Elementary School may have observed the fire and cleanup as they arrived to school to begin their day.

Fire personnel remained on the scene for about an hour.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Celebrate Veteran's Day With Us

All Grain Valley Schools will take time on Monday, November 11 to celebrate Veterans Day. Grain Valley High and South Middle Schools will remind all students and faculty of the significance of this very important day. Assemblies are planned at our other five schools.

On Veterans Day we honor those who have served their country in any military capacity. The day was originally proclaimed as Armistice Day by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919 to honor World War I veterans, and is also known as Remembrance Day in some countries. It should be noted that the last remaining WWI veteran passed away this year.

Our area veterans are invited to all-school assemblies at five different school locations on Veterans Day.  All host schools will feature students in leadership or performance roles.  Special features are listed with the schools and start times below:
  • North Middle School at 9:15 AM
  • Matthews Elementary at 10:00 AM. They will feature Colonel Donald Ballard, Medal of Honor recipient
  • Prairie Branch Elementary at 1:15 PM. The celebration will feature Veteran Luther Dameron and the High School Show Choir
  • Stony Point Elementary at 2:30 PM
  • Sni-A-Bar Elementary at 2:30 PM

Thank you, veterans, for your service to our great country!

Friday, September 20, 2013

School Board Lowers Tax Rate Again

At the September 19 School Board meeting, the Board set the tax rate at $5.5229 down from $5.5333 one year ago. This is the second year in a row the Board has elected to lower the overall tax rate.  Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Support Services Mr. Marc Snow says the reductions the past two years are possible because of increased assessed valuations.  “The operating levy has gone down as assessed valuations have begun to rebound since the start of the recession. The Board feels the right thing to do at this time is reduce the overall tax rate. In doing so, the debt service levy remains the same.”

In other Board action this month, the Board approved the annual program evaluation for technology.  Director of Technology Mr. Nick Gooch highlighted several accomplishments of the department in the past year, including a new work order system that has improved response time to work orders.  A new call center with technology contractor K12ITC handles a high percentage of the work orders.  Other technology accomplishments include the addition of 100 Chromebooks for student use at the high school.  Teachers can check out sets of Chromebooks through the library. In addition, all elementary schools, middle schools, and the high school are fully wireless, and bandwidth has been increased.

Technology department goals for the next year include the transition to Google Apps for Education, making possible the use of cloud storage and student email accounts for middle school and high school students.  The district will also change their domain name to “GVR5.net” from “grainvalley.k12.mo.us” to simplify email addresses.  The previous domain will continue to work as well. “We will increase the use of mobile technology in the classrooms, including laptops and handhelds,” reports Mr. Gooch.  The technology department is exploring the next generation of interactive technology in the classroom.  Looking past the year ahead, Mr. Gooch sees the need to increase fiber optic capacity and continue the transition to voice over IP in all schools to improve communication within the district.

The Board approved the audit report on the review of finances for the 2012-2013 school year. Westbrooke and Company conducted this year's audit.  Highlights from the audit reveal: The district saved $500,000 in interest by refinancing two previous school bond issues and maintains the recommended three month reserves. No weaknesses or deficiencies were noted. Recommendations included a formal review and approval process for fundraisers, which the district has already initiated this fall.  Diane Closerman of Westbrooke and Company reported to the Board, "The administrators are responsive to any recommendations we make."

Matthews Principal Mr. James Pinney shared a video presentation with the Board highlighting the work teachers are doing to improve writing skills in students.  Students write every day, write on many topics and genre, and are receiving coaching from their teacher on how to as improve writers.

In the report from the administration, the Board heard from Assistant Superintendent for Academic and Student Services Dr. Brad Welle, that several teachers representing grades K-12 are working on revisions to the English Language Arts curriculum to make changes associated with the state’s new standards.  “These teachers are being introduced to a curriculum development process that is new to them, but they are picking it up and finding early success with it,” reports Dr. Welle.  The new units of study are expected to be ready for elementary teachers and secondary English Language Arts teachers next fall.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Nominate a Teacher or Other District Employee

The Grain Valley School District is now accepting nominations for individual school district employees to be featured in each of our three issues of The Eagle’s View magazine published throughout the school year.  We are looking for employees whose work with (or for) students best represents excellence.  In last year’s publications, we featured Matthews 1st Grade Teacher Ina Fondren, South Middle School 6th grade teacher Stephanie Griesinger, and High School Teacher Max Lamb.

Any classification of school district employee is eligible for consideration.  TO NOMINATE: email the name of the district employee and a brief explanation of why the nominee should be featured in our magazine to EaglesView@grainvalley.k12.mo.us.   List “Featured Employee” in the subject line of the email.  Once selected, a more in-depth article will be crafted to capture the contribution of the nominee.  Any employee, student, parent, or community member may nominate a district employee.  Nominations are accepted year-round, however, a featured employee for the Fall 2013 issue will need to be named by October 1.

The Eagle's View is a magazine publication delivered to anyone who resides within the Grain Valley School District boundaries.  The magazine features the accomplishments of students and faculty and comes three times each year.  Past issues of the magazine are available online from our district website under the “Students and Parents” tab and then under “Communications,” or at the link below:

Requests for hard copies of past issues can be requested by emailing us at EaglesView@grainvalley.k12.mo.us

We are proud of our employees and are pleased to be able to recognize them for their service to students.

Friday, August 23, 2013

School Districts Evaluated Using New Rating System

The Grain Valley School District fared well when it recently received feedback from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education using a new rating system called MSIP5.  The district landed well within the "Accredited" range, with an overall score of 83.9%.
Schools can earn higher marks on MSIP5 in two major ways.  First, when the percentage of students achieving at the advanced or proficient levels reaches target levels for the year 2020, the school and/or district will receive the most student achievement points possible.  The second method allows schools and districts to earn points for increasing the level of student performance by showing significant improvement over previous years.
Presently, Grain Valley scores in Science are already at the "2020 Target" level.  English Language Arts, Math, and Social Studies, are not yet at the 2020 Target.  The district performance in these areas did not increase enough overall to earn the district the extra points on the new rating system. "Not getting additional points for improvement in 2013 kept us from getting a higher mark overall," reports Superintendent of Schools Dr. Roy Moss.
"We expect to be rated among the top of the list on Missouri's new rating system, just as we had on the previous system," reports Dr. Moss. In addition to a history of perfect scores on the previous rating system, MSIP4, the Grain Valley School District has been noted in 2013 by Newsweek as one of America's Best High Schools, and as a 2013 Top Area School District by Ingram's.

All seven schools in the district scored higher than the overall district rating of 83.9%.  In fact, three of Grain Valley's schools scored 97% or higher.  Dr. Brad Welle, Assistant Superintendent for Academic and Student Services explains, "Our schools each scored well for different reasons, some for reaching the 2020 achievement targets and others for growth.  When the numbers are combined for the district score, we did not earn all points possible for enough categories to score in the mid-nineties or better.  It is disappointing that the new system does not better reward a district for its high-performing schools."
Strengths Identified in The New Rating System For Grain Valley Schools Include:
  • High school Advanced Placement and dual credit - 10 out of 10 possible
  • Graduation rate - 30 out of 30 possible
  • High school student attendance - among the top 10 percent in the state
  • Elementary schools' attendance - 10 of 10 possible at all four schools
  • Five Grain Valley schools are performing at the target for the year 2020 in at least one subject area (English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, or Social Studies)
  • The district is already performing at the target for the year 2020 in Science
What Grain Valley Schools Can Do to Improve Future Ratings:
  • Raise student achievement scores in English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Social Studies to 2020 Targets
  • Increase the percentage of graduates enrolling in two- and four-year degree programs, military, or trade-related careers
The MSIP5 ratings are based on state assessments that will change after the present school year.  In the spring of 2015, students in Missouri will take new tests that are aligned to new Common Core State Standards.  "With new state assessments coming our way, teachers are transitioning to the new Common Core State Standards,"  reports Dr. Moss.  The Common Core State Standards are the result of an initiative by state governors across the country.  Missouri is among more than 40 states who have adopted these new standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics.  

Overall, the district administration has a positive outlook for the new standards.  "In education, standards change every few years.  With each change our teachers make adjustments and we end up more effective than before.  I have every confidence in our district to score as a top district on this new measure," reports Dr. Moss.  He asks for patience with this transition.