Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Prairie Branch Principal Heather Gross Named "New Exemplary Principal" in KC Area

A few students shared something special about Mrs. Gross.
Heather Gross, principal at Prairie Branch Elementary School, has been named the New Exemplary Principal by the Kansas City Suburban Elementary Principals Association (KCSEPA). The organization selected Mrs. Gross from among area administrators who are in their second or third year as principal.  In selecting an honoree, KCSEPA looks for an administrator who meets their rigorous criteria, including exemplary performance as a new principal.
Prairie Branch students waiting for Mrs. Gross to enter the gym.

Mrs. Gross pictured with husband Kirk and oldest child Gavin.
Mrs. Gross was presented with flowers and balloons at a surprise all-school assembly Monday morning including the school's 536 students, plus faculty and other school and district administrators.  Mrs. Gross' husband, Kirk, and the oldest of their four children, Gavin, were also in the audience.

A few students spoke about what having Mrs. Gross as their principal means to them.  A video highlighting Mrs. Gross' qualities as a servant leader, wife, and mother was also shared.

Mrs. Gross had the last word.  "I feel so incredibly blessed to work with such amazing teachers who care so much about you (students).  That makes my job easy.  I love to come to work every day.  This is a group honor because I have such a great staff, leaders, colleagues I get to learn with, and I have really great students who make this school rock!  I also appreciate my supportive family."

Mrs. Gross and 11 other new principals will be recognized at the Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals (MAESP) Spring Leadership Conference in March.

Friday, November 21, 2014

District Pilots 1:1 Technology Initiative

November 21, 2014

Students in three Grain Valley High School classes will be selected to carry a second generation Chromebook with them to all classes this spring as a pilot project.  The district is exploring the possibility of issuing devices to more students in the future.

The School Board approved the purchase of 150 Chromebook devices at their meeting on November 20.  Seventy five of the new laptops will be issued directly to students to use at school and home.  The remaining 75 devices will be divided evenly between three teachers for use in all courses taught by these teachers.  These teachers will receive ongoing training on integrating technology within their teaching practices. The teacher selection process is underway now and students will be identified before Christmas break.

"Technology can be used to improve learning by encouraging collaboration beyond the classroom as well as providing access to online resources," reports Dr. Brad Welle, Assistant Superintendent of Academic and Student Services.  "Technology is becoming so central to all aspects of life; it is taking a greater role in teaching and learning."  In order to gather data on the learning benefit of laptops in class, students and teachers involved in the pilot program will provide input regularly on their experiences with the devices, from the level of collaboration and research being done, to the functionality of the machine itself.  District officials will monitor how students respond and they expect to gain innovative ideas from the students.

Director of Technology Dr. Nick Gooch says the selection of the Samsung Chromebook came down to value.  "For under $300 per device, this laptop is expected to have the functionality and durability needed for day-long use by high school students."  Student safety is also a priority.  "We have filters in place to prevent misuse and ensure the device is used for the intended purpose."

The goal is to be able to make an informed decision around additional devices for the start of the 2015-2016 school year.

UPDATE: June 15, 2015
After a successful pilot with 75 students being issued Chromebook devices this spring, an additional 375 students will be issued devices beginning in the fall of 2015, bringing the total to 450 students. 

Structures for teacher training have been put in place to support teachers as they work to integrate the new technology in their instruction.

The impact of the new practice of issuing devices to high school students will continue to be closely monitored as the district works towards the goal of issuing Chromebooks to all Grain Valley High School students by the fall of 2016.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

PRESS RELEASE - School Board Passes Resolution Opposing Amendment 3

The Grain Valley School Board has passed a resolution opposing Amendment 3.  Superintendent of Schools Dr. Roy Moss made this statement about the Board's action, "The Board opposes Amendment 3 because it imposes a one-size-fits-all approach that, if passed, would take away local control and place greater emphasis on standardized tests instead of on instruction and learning."

Amendment 3 is on the ballot for Missouri voters on Tuesday, November 4.

The language of the resolution passed by the Grain Valley Board of Education is listed below.

WHEREAS, Amendment 3 on the November ballot is a state mandate that shifts local control for educational decisions away from parents, teachers, administrators and school boards; and

WHEREAS, Amendment 3 is poorly drafted and deeply flawed proposal that has many unintended consequences for teachers, administrators and school boards; and

WHEREAS, Amendment 3 would prevent school boards from hiring, promoting, compensating or dismissing teachers in accordance with board policy; and

WHEREAS, Amendment 3 would force taxpayers to pay for additional standardized tests at a time when our public schools remain significantly underfunded by the state; and

WHEREAS, Amendment significantly changes teacher evaluations away from a tool to improve teacher performance;

Therefore be it RESOLVED, the Grain Valley R-5 Board of Education on this 21st day of August 2014, hereby opposes Amendment 3 on the November ballot.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Dr. Roy Moss Named Superintendent of the Year

Dr. Roy Moss, Superintendent of Grain Valley R-V School District, has been named the Missouri Superintendent of the Year by the Missouri Association of School Administrators (MASA).  The announcement of the award was made on September 27 during the Missouri School Boards’ Association and MASA joint fall conference held at Tan-Tar-A Resort.

As the winner of this award, Moss received an award acknowledging his selection, a $500 scholarship for a student in the Grain Valley R-V School District and a commemorative ring.  The award is sponsored by PFM Asset Management, LLC, which is the program administrator for the Missouri Securities Investment Program.  As the recipient of the award, Moss will represent Missouri in the National Superintendent of the Year program conducted by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA).

Dr. Moss has been employed by the Grain Valley R-V School District as Superintendent of Schools since July 2009.  He previously served as Superintendent of the North Callaway R-II School District from 2004-2009 and as a high school principal at South Callaway School District from 1994-2004.

Under Moss’ leadership, the Grain Valley School District has opened a designated facility for early childhood special education, which has brought a greater emphasis on closing the achievement gap in preschool-aged children with learning delays.  The facility has become a point of pride for the families of preschool-aged children in the community who have special needs.

The district has developed a funding strategy to fund the construction and makeover of the existing high school through the passage of annual bond issues and without increasing taxes.  The plan will span more than ten years.  To date, two phases of classrooms have been added to the high school.  In addition to the classrooms, the sports stadium has been renovated, and construction will soon begin on a new transportation center. 

During Moss’ first year at Grain Valley, the district established the Grain Valley Education Foundation.  Each year, the foundation provides scholarships to graduating seniors.  In addition, classroom grants are awarded to teachers twice each year.  The foundation has grown its overall fund balance from $0 to $222,426.03 in its first five years.

Dr. Moss has served as President of the Cooperating School Districts of Greater Kansas City; President of the Northeast School Administrators District; President of the Missouri River Valley Conference and on the Board of Directors of the Missouri Securities Investment Program.  He serves on the Grain Valley Economic Development Board, the Grain Valley Assistance Council and the Grain Valley Tax Increment Financing Commission.  He is a Deacon, member and Financial Trustee of the First Baptist Church in Blue Springs, Mo.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Construction to Begin on New Transportation Facility

School Board members, architects, engineers, contractors,
and district personnel break ground at the site of the district's
new transportation facility set to open the summer of 2015. 
School bus drivers and their families joined planners and school district leaders for a ground-breaking ceremony Wednesday on the site where construction on the district's new transportation center is set to begin in a few days.  The $3.8 million project will be completed next summer. The centerpiece of the project is a 10,627 square foot building to house transportation department offices, a meeting room for bus drivers, and work bays for four buses.  A secured parking lot will hold 56 buses.

The facility is being constructed on the north end of a 17-acre property located on the northeast corner of Eagles Parkway and Sni-A-Bar Boulevard, three-quarters of a mile west of Grain Valley High School.  Buses will enter and exit the facility from Sni-A-Bar Boulevard.  The south half of the property, along Eagles Parkway, will remain undeveloped at this time.

Street view of the new transportation center, looking north.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Roy Moss states the importance of a new transportation facility, “We need a modern transportation facility to secure and maintain our growing fleet of buses.” Dr. Moss adds, “Our long-range plan calls for ongoing additions and renovation to the high school to grow its capacity to approximately 1500 students.  Moving the buses to a different location allows the expansion of the high school to continue.”  The district's school buses have been housed behind the high school since 1997, when the district had just 20 buses.  

The second phase of a multiple-year expansion and renovation of the high school was completed in time for the start of the current school year.  There are 1100 students in the high school this year.  The capacity of the high school building was 850 students just three years ago.

Dr. Moss states that the School Board has set aside funds over the past few years specifically for this type of project.  "We recognized several years ago that there would be a time when our bonding capacity would be stretched to keep up with demand for new classroom and student activity space.”

According to Dr. Moss, 4060 students attend Grain Valley Schools in grades Kindergarten through twelfth grade this year, up from 2160 students just ten years ago, “This is the next step on an on-going journey of growth as a school district.  We will continue to plan and prepare.”  Site planning for the facility also leaves room for future additions to the facility to potentially accommodate twice as many buses and twice as many work bays.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

School District Purchases Land for Future Growth

The Grain Valley School District recently entered into contract for an eighty-eight acre section of land located north of Pink Hill Road and west of Buckner-Tarsney Road.  This land will assist the school district in meeting long-range planning needs for facilities into the future. Payments on the land will be made in four annual closings, with the final closing scheduled for the spring of 2017.  No structures are located on the property.

This property is adjacent to existing school district property where North Middle School, Early Childhood Education, and District Administrative Offices are located.  Access to the eighty-eight acres is off of Pink Hill Road.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Roy Moss highlights the significance of the timing of the purchase, "When this land became available, the Board felt it was a desirable property for the location and price to allow for the long-range planning needs of the district. When it comes to land in the Grain Valley area, timing is everything.  Waiting until the need is immediate could create an undue financial burden to the district to purchase a property this size.”

The total cost of the land is $812,500, which will be paid in annual installments over four years with no interest fees.  Making payments over several years allows the district to purchase the property without accruing additional debt. The school district took a similar multi-year approach in 2003 when purchasing the 48.7 acres that makes up the current campus on Pink Hill Road.

The district is in the second year of a significant addition and renovation to the current high school.  This work will continue in multiple phases for the next ten or more years to increase that building’s capacity from 850 students two years ago to 1400 students.  In time, the district is expected to need a second high school, as well as other schools and activity facilities.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Grain Valley High School Among "America's Most Challenging High Schools"

Grain Valley High School has been named to the Washington Post’s “America’s Most Challenging High Schools” list for 2014. This is the third time that GVHS has been named to the list. Fifteen Missouri high schools made the list, including four in the Kansas City metro area. Grain Valley High School was ranked second among Kansas City area schools, behind Park Hill High School.  Rankings are based primarily on course offerings, advanced course participation and test scores.

Earlier this spring, U.S. News and World Report's rating scale placed GVHS at twenty-third out of over 400 Missouri public high schools in preparing students for college and fifth among KC Metro area schools.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Grain Valley School District Goes Mobile

March 12, 2014 - Grain Valley School District today announced the release of a new, district-wide mobile communications application from SchoolWay, a leading developer of mobile applications for K-12 school systems and institutions.  The free mobile and web app is available for Apple and Android mobile devices and online, and keeps the entire school community connected to the district’s information they need in one convenient location.

Understanding the busy schedules of parents, students, and patrons, the district’s official mobile app from SchoolWay enables smartphone and tablet users to keep track of important district information and receive notifications from the district, faculty, and staff, all in real-time via push, text, and email messaging. The mobile app enhances community engagement by providing users with access to information like school activities, grade books, notes from teachers, athletic schedules and scores, lunch menus, and school calendars, when and where they choose to view.

Grain Valley School District’s official mobile app empowers anyone in the community to stay connected with the information they want and need right on their mobile devices,” said Mr. Nick Gooch, Director of Technology. “The release of this app for the district is an example of our commitment to provide our community members all of the district’s information conveniently and easily, while making it more accessible than ever. We are excited about how our school’s app will lead to a stronger, more connected school community.”

This is the district’s latest step to strengthen communication with the community.  The Grain Valley School District already has a strong following on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and uses a blog, Grain Valley Schools Today, to make news release-type announcements accessible to anyone.

Features for Grain Valley School District’s official mobile app include:

      Push, text, and email messaging from both the district and school site levels
      GPS mapping and navigation
      School calendars
      Online grade book access
      Tap screens for email and phone for district staff and board of education members
      Multiple language options
      Lunch menus, athletic information, and much more

The communication service comes at no cost to the district through SchoolWay, who is providing app development and hosting services to the school district for free with no download charges for mobile users. The district app is financially supported by school-friendly and approved sponsors.

The Grain Valley School District, SchoolWay app is now available to download and use for free for Apple and Android users, and online via the web app.

Friday, February 7, 2014

GVHS Senior Katricia Herring Recognized for Aspirations in Computing

Female High School Students Earn Awards for Aspirations in Computing

North Kansas City, Mo.— Feb. 7, 2014– As part of an effort to encourage more young women to choose careers in technology, the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) and Cerner Corporation will recognize 16 high-school women for their accomplishments and aspirations in computing and technology at an award ceremony and reception at the Cerner Vision Center in Kansas City, MO. on February 7. 2014.

The young women are winners of the NCWIT Western Missouri and Kansas Affiliate Award for Aspirations in Computing, which recognizes high-school women for their computing-related achievements and interests.  Each winner will receive a glass trophy, a Nexus-7 Tablet (courtesy of Perceptive Software), and a bag of “goodies” donated by many local companies and universities.

“With technology jobs projected to grow faster than all other job sectors in the next decade, it’s imperative that we nurture the computing aspirations of women, who will make up half the professional workforce,” said Lucy Sanders, CEO and Co-founder of NCWIT.  “This award allows us recognize and encourage talent that might otherwise be overlooked.”

The NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing was created to encourage the computing aspirations of young women, introduce them to leadership opportunities in the field, and generate visibility for women’s participation in technology fields. Winners are acknowledged for their outstanding aptitude and interest in technology and computing, leadership ability, academic history, and plans for post-secondary education.

Following are the 2014 winners of the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing – Western Missouri and Kansas Affiliate:

 *   Armaja LaRue-Hill, senior, Raytown South High School, Raytown, Mo.
 *   Elizabeth Billings, senior, Blue Springs High School, Blue Springs, Mo.
 *   Heather Graham, sophomore, Home School, Harrisburg, Mo.
 *   Isabelle Matthys, junior, Liberty High School, Liberty, Mo.
 *   Joy Hauser, senior, Olathe South Sr. High School, Olathe, Kan.
 *   Katricia Herring, senior, Grain Valley High School, Grain Valley, Mo.
 *   Kayla, Purvis, junior, Platte County High School, Platte City, Mo.
 *   Kendall Overton, senior, Hallsville High School, Hallsville, Mo.
 *   Kristen Buster, senior, Rock Bridge Sr. High School, Columbia, Mo.
 *   Logan Brown, senior, Lawrence Free State High School, Lawrence, Kan.
 *   Natasha Bailey, senior, Skyline High School, Urbana, Mo.
 *   Rachael Putman, junior, Belton High School, Belton, Mo.
 *   Samantha Botros, junior, The Doctors' Schoolhouse, Wichita, Kan.
 *   Sarah Hartley, junior, Liberty High School, Liberty, Mo.
 *   Sydney Scholes, freshman, Liberty High School, Liberty, Mo.
 *   Yuting Yue, senior, Barstow School, Kansas City, Mo.

NCWIT is the National Center for Women & Information Technology, a non-profit coalition of over 450 prominent corporations, academic institutions, government agencies, and nonprofits working to improve U.S. innovation, competitiveness, and workforce sustainability by increasing women's participation in IT. NCWIT's work spans K-12 and higher education through industry and academic careers. Find out more at www.ncwit.org<http://www.ncwit.org>.

The Western Missouri and Kansas Affiliate Award is brought to you by the following committee members and sponsoring organizations:

Judy Mullins, University of Missouri-Kansas City
Angela Klein, Liberty High School
John Dean, Park University
Rebecca Dohrman, Maryville University
Dr.Yugyung Lee, University of Missouri-Kansas City
Dr. Cindy Yu, University of Missouri-Kansas City
Dave Roller, Commerce Bank
Dr. Carol Spradling, Northwest Missouri State Univ.
Sarah Peters, American Century Investments
Abbey Trotta, Silpada Designs

Cerner Corporation
Perceptive Software
Net App
Garmin International
Commerce Bank
American Century Investments

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Message of Appreciation from our Superintendent

Grain Valley Parents, Community, and District Employees,

As our students celebrate their second snow day in a row, I write to thank you for your support with the passage of yesterday’s school bond issue.  The bond issue passed with 78.62% “yes” vote.  Although voter turnout was lower than usual due to the snow, those who did make it to the polls gave us the approval we need to move forward.  We also wish to thank those who worked to keep the polling places open and accessible yesterday. We appreciate the hard work of these workers and volunteers.

Although school is not in session today, I have given construction planners the go-ahead to begin the next phase of work to ensure the new secure entryways at seven buildings and the four new classrooms at the high school are in place for fall.

We have important work to do in the years ahead to enlarge and update our high school and it will take persistence to pass multiple bond issues to make this happen.  We may not need to bring a bond issue to voters every year, but we will most years.

We recognize the responsibility that comes with the ongoing support from our community and are committed to working with you to continue to improve the education experience for our young people.  Thank you!

Stay safe and warm, and blessings to you and your family.

Roy Moss
Superintendent of Schools

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Solar Energy Comes to Grain Valley Schools

The first set of solar panels were installed
atop Prairie Branch elementary today.
Construction is underway on a solar-energy system for the rooftops of all elementary schools, middle schools and high school within the Grain Valley School District.  The solar power system rated at 175 kilowatts comes with no up-front cost to the school district, and is expected to save $8500.00 in energy costs first year alone.

The district's partner in this green initiative is Kansas City-based clean-energy company, Brightergy. In total, Brightergy is installing 175 kilowatts of solar power onto the rooftops of seven Grain Valley school buildings, estimated to produce approximately 235,000 kilowatt hours of solar electricity on an annual basis.

Generating that amount of solar electricity annually means offsetting more than 180 tons of carbon dioxide annually. This is the environmental equivalent of the offset of emissions created from burning 18,588 gallons of gasoline, or of recycling 62 tons of waste versus sending it to landfill - annually.

Grain Valley’s students will also be getting access to the performance data of the solar system and bringing solar energy into the conversation of students and community members. Through access to each school’s online monitoring of their solar systems, teachers can turn their solar-powered school buildings into learning labs. Students can gain knowledge and insight about energy and the environment through actual data produced at their school.

Each solar-powered building also receives a kiosk that provides visitors to the school a visualization of how their solar-energy system works, how much energy they are producing, and the impact on their energy savings and the environment.

Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Support Services Marc Snow says the time has come to incorporate solar energy as a part of the student experience while saving the district money, "Improvements in solar technology make it possible to add solar energy to help power our schools and provide hands-on experiences in green energy for our students.  Having a partner like Brightergy makes it possible to put solar panels on our rooftops with no up-front costs to the school district and to save money on energy costs."

“Grain Valley is making an excellent investment in their facilities, and in their students' futures, and we couldn't be more thrilled to help them go solar,” said Brightergy VP of Public Affairs Susan Brown. “They are hedging against rising electricity costs, bettering the environment for the future of their students and community, and providing them with a uniquely interactive educational tool.”

The first panels were installed atop Prairie Branch elementary today.  The new solar-powered system is expected to be fully functional in the next few weeks.