Posts tagged with Usd 232

Swimming to join athletic offerings in 2012-2013

High school students in De Soto's USD 232 will have the opportunity to represent their schools in one more sport starting in 2012-2013 thanks to the Board of Education's decision to add swimming to the athletic line-up at its meeting Monday night.

The board voted 6-1 to add swimming teams next year after months of debate and research. When the issue first came before the board at the September meeting with wishes from patrons to add the sport this year, many board members worried the decision was being rushed.

Last night the board once again heard from several district patrons and from District Athletic Director Rollie Van Wyhe and discussed the new teams in a positive light.

"Staff has looked at our budget and we have the money for the teams this year and for the next couple of years and I think that's good enough," said board member Angela Handy. "If we have to start reviewing things to make budget cuts beyond that then fine, it can be reviewed just like everything else but I think we need to do this now."

District Superintendent Doug Sumner echoed Handy in his support of adding the teams.

"It's good for our students to have competitive interests and I feel good about adding swimming now. Does that mean we can promise swim teams will still be here for students in seventh grade right now? No, but the sad fact is we can't promise anything to seventh graders at this time," he said.

Estimated cost for the teams is $35,838 based on 24 students participating. The district will transport participating students to rented practice facilities at Olathe's Oregon Trail Middle School.

Board member Mitch Powers, who cast the only dissenting vote, voiced his concerns with spending "spare" money on athletics instead of academics.

"I'd like to say yes but I still have to wonder, if we have this extra money, nearly $40,000, is this really where we want to spend it or do we have other needs?" he asked.

The vote approves four swimming teams for the two high schools, a boys and girls team at each, providing the student interest can support individual teams. If initial registration is low, the teams can easily be combined for the two schools, according to Van Wyhe.

"It's hard to say this early whether or not we'll have enough kids to support four individual teams but we've heard a lot of interest from the students," he said. "For now we'll just have to get the word out that this opportunity will be available and see what happens."


Board approves shortened academic year, summer food program

Students in De Soto's USD 232 will get an extra week of summer this year before starting classes for the 2012-2013 academic year thanks to efforts by the Board of Education to shorten the academic calendar and save money.

The board approved the calendar, which begins the school year a week later in August compared to the current year and ends a day earlier, at its meeting Monday night. According to staff reports on the change, the district will save approximately $82,000.

"It's a rough estimate based on utility, transportation and fuel costs," said district Director of Administrative Services Alvie Cater.

While days are being dropped from the calendar, it is important to note that no education time will be lost, board member and calendar committee spokesman Randy Johnson said. The majority of the dropped time comes from shortening breaks and reducing the number of student half-days.

According to the new calendar, winter break for 2012 will only be 10 days as opposed to 13 for 2011, two built-in snow days have been moved to the ends of the year instead of spread out and two days previously designated as half-days for students been eliminated all together.

In other actions the board approved Starside Elementary's Summer Food Program for 2012. The program was deemed a major success in its inaugural year.


Jan. 9 USD 232 Board of Education meeting

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Board of Education to discuss capital outlay projects, potential swimming teams

The De Soto USD 232 Board of Education will meet at 6 p.m. tonight for their monthly meeting.

The board is scheduled to discuss multiple potential capital outlay projects and possibly approve spending slightly more than $2 million on repairs in 2012. Some proposed improvements include roof and parking lot repairs at multiple district buildings.

According to the meeting agenda, the board is also slated to further discuss the possibility of adding swimming teams at the high school level for the 2012-2013 academic year.

The full agenda, with supporting documents, may be downloaded from the district's website.


Mize Elementary wins $50,000 national Pepsi Grant

Mize Elementary's choreography (and technology) skills have paid off, enough to catch the eye of the Pepsi Refresh Project and earn a $50,000 grant.

Earlier this year, Mize uploaded a YouTube video to spice up its pitch for the grant, as teachers, parents and students all lent a hand.

The grant — which was awarded to Mize on Monday, Dec. 19 — will allow Mize to purchase interactive whiteboards for 23 classrooms, laptop computers and interactive classroom response systems.

"It's refreshing to see a community come together to help us purchase technology tools to enhance the learning of our students," Mize principal Lori Bradley said in a news release.

Mize became one of the project's top vote-getters after voting began on Nov. 1. During that time, Mize was also in the running for another $50,000 grant, by way of the Clorox Power A Bright Future contest. Mize started out strong, hanging around the contest's top five schools. Now it must wait until the contest's five winners are announced in January.

By Stephen Montemayor


USD 232 receives perfect audit for the 13th year in a row; agrees to place swim team vote on January agenda

The De Soto USD 232 Board of Education got good news at their regular meeting Monday night, for the 13th year in a row, the district has had a perfect, financial audit. District accountant James Long of Long CPA, reported that the district's annual fiscal audit revealed no exceptions, a nearly unheard of feat in the current economic environment.

The board also heard more patron input from students in the district requesting that they board add swimming to the district's athletic offerings. District Athletic Director Roland Van Whye presented a written report to the board updating information regarding potential swim teams, which were voted down for the current school year at the board's October meeting.

After hearing Van Whye's presentation of the matter and reviewing the timeline for registering teams with the state for the 2012-2013 academic year, the board agreed to place the matter on the agenda for the next meeting on Monday, Jan. 9.


Dec. 12 De Soto USD 232 Board of Education meeting

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Board of Education to review fiscal year audit

The De Soto USD 232 Board of Education will review the 2010-2011 fiscal year audit at their monthly meeting at 6 p.m. tonight at the district's administrative building.

The board is also set to consider approving the purchase and installation of a new HVAC system for Monticello Trails Middle School.

The full agenda, along with supporting documents, may be downloaded at the district's website.


De Soto USD 232 newsletter now available

The most recent De Soto USD 232 school newsletter may now be downloaded here. Inside is an update on the Phase II construction project at De Soto High School and a report on the district's Adequate Yearly Progress.


As student bodies diversify, school districts have trouble finding minority candidates

Public school districts across the country lag behind employing teachers of color as the nation’s K-12 student body nears the point of having no clear racial or ethnic majority.

Minority students already make up more than 40 percent of the nation’s public school population with that number being just 17 among teachers, according to the Center for American Progress.

Those numbers are further skewed in and around Shawnee. The De Soto and Shawnee Mission school districts are seeing their populations of minority students increase — still far short of the national average — but must recruit from pools still largely composed of white education majors at Kansas universities.

Further complicating matters, some school officials are finding that minority candidates are choosing districts different than De Soto or Shawnee Mission because they believe they will make a greater difference teaching in urban environments.


Prairie Ridge Elementary third-grade teacher Brandi Leggett helms the school’s year-old diversity committee.

Parents, teachers, Principal Michelle Hite and De Soto director of professional development Jessica Dain attend the weekly meetings where everything from the school’s international fair to teacher diversity is discussed.

“My concern is to show students that people of color can do this position as well,” parent Tammy Thompson said.

Jessica Dominguez, agreed, saying having an Hispanic teacher could show her son that he could one day be in front of a classroom if he wishes.

Another parent, Jeff White, conceded that the composition of the area makes it difficult to further diversify school districts’ teaching corps.

“I think the numbers are slanted against us,” he said.

Jessica Dain, the De Soto district’s director of professional development, said the forthcoming Common Core Standards curriculum will begin placing greater emphasis on college readiness which she says will help funnel more minority students into fields like education whereas more of a focus in previous years was placed on simply graduating them.

For now, it’s slim pickings at Kansas education schools.

• Of the 213 Kansas University education students scheduled to graduate in 2012 who opted to specify their race or ethnicity, 92 percent were white. Just two black students identified themselves as did three Asian students and nine who identified themselves as multiracial. Of that group, three did not specify.

• Of Kansas State’s 186 Spring 2011 graduates, 95 percent were white while the other five percent did not specify their race.

• Of the 78 students expected to graduate from Emporia State’s education school, 88 percent (or 69 students) identified themselves as white. That left five Hispanic students, two black students and two Asian students.

Shawnee Mission, whose enrollment is more than four times that of De Soto’s, recruits at more than a dozen schools in Kansas and Missouri. Dillon said the district also publishes openings in publications like Teachers of Color and She said minority teachers sometimes assist in recruiting and other avenues for hiring minority teachers have included finding candidates that were former Shawnee Mission students and hiring from its student teaching cadre, Human Resources Manager Amy Dillon said.

“We do a lot to recruit,” she said.

Absent larger numbers of minority candidates at Kansas colleges, Dillon said, recruiting on both sides of the state line has helped broaden opportunities to find such candidates.

“We try to go to so many colleges because we want to get a good sampling of urban and more broad universities like KU and K-State,” Dillon said.

Alvie Cater, director of administrative services and community relations for De Soto, said that the district only recruits at Kansas universities but also receives between 2,000 and 3,000 applicants each year from across the country. When Leggett applied, for example, she was moving from Philadelphia, where she began her teaching career.

“We’re not in a pickle to find teachers,” Cater said.

Making a difference

Cater said the district’s student body, although more than 83 percent white, is growing more diverse. He said the number of white students attending De Soto schools is at its lowest level in a decade.

Still, he said, the district’s population makeup might influence teachers with two or three other job offers. Cater said its not uncommon to hear of a teacher of color choose a school in a more urban setting because he or she believes they can make a greater difference there.

While the area’s demographics may not change dramatically in the near future, Leggett still sees benefits in having a diverse crop of teachers in front of the students.
When she graduated from the Olathe School District, Leggett said she felt prepared for college — something she said not all of her peers at Temple University in Philadelphia could say right away. For many, it was their first time seeing a black student — or, conversely, their first time comparing notes with a white student.

Leggett said she applied to work in the district in large part because her husband found work in the area, but that she also wanted to give back to the region near where she received her education.

Stephanie Thompson, a 2006 graduate of Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, is herself in her first year teaching third-graders at Prairie Ridge Elementary after graduating from Kansas University.

She said she wanted to work in the district because a friend who worked at De Soto High School talked up the community feel of the district.

Thompson said that, to her knowledge, she was the only black female graduate of the school.

Seeking the best, regardless of color

In Shawnee Mission, teachers may theoretically have the chance to make the difference they’d see themselves making in a more urban setting.

Shawanoe Elementary School is the only school in the district where white students are themselves a minority group — 33 percent, according to data from a ProPublica report this summer. Hispanic students meanwhile form Shawanoe’s majority at 42 percent. Similarly, just half the population at Nieman Elementary was made up of white students, according to ProPublica’s data gathered from the 2009-10 school year. More than one-fifth of students at Shawnee Mission North High School are Hispanic.

Dillion, though, said she doesn’t see candidates choosing to work in the district because of demographics, but rather to make a difference more broadly.

“It’s key to get the best teachers in front of our kids,” Dillon said.

By Stephen Montemayor