Posts tagged with Usd 232

Student art gallery unifies district, showcases talent

De Soto school district facilities employee Doyle Baker and administrative receptionist Dena Wilkerson collaborate to hang the newest works of art in the district's permanent gallery of student art on Tuesday, Nov. 15. "This is the gravy of my job, the best part of the year," said Baker. "For two or three hours once a year I get to hang these great examples of talent and I love it."

De Soto school district facilities employee Doyle Baker and administrative receptionist Dena Wilkerson collaborate to hang the newest works of art in the district's permanent gallery of student art on Tuesday, Nov. 15. "This is the gravy of my job, the best part of the year," said Baker. "For two or three hours once a year I get to hang these great examples of talent and I love it." by Laura Herring

Those entering the De Soto USD 232 administrative building for the first time might think they've gone to the wrong address and instead entered an art museum. Lining the walls, and in one case even hanging from the ceiling, are more than a decade's worth of student artwork from every school in the district.

"People always love coming into this building and seeing all the great artwork," said building receptionist Dena Wilkerson. "I'm lucky I get to see it all day every day, I have the coolest office in the building."

The gallery, which started with artwork from Lexington Trails Middle School in 1999 and went district-wide in 2000, is the brainchild of LTMS art teacher Nancy Roberts.

"My high school has a similar gallery and as a student one of my pieces was selected," said Roberts. "I can still go back to Wisconsin and see my work hanging in that gallery and show my kids and I love it. I wanted to do something like that for our students here."

Once Roberts planted the seed for the gallery, it caught on quickly and made it's way through the district, she said.

"My principal at the time was very supportive of the idea and I think everyone could agree that the [administrative] building had these big, blank walls that needed something," she said.

That "something" has grown and filled the walls of the main lobby of the building. Wilkerson, who hangs the artwork each year with the help of facilities employee Doyle Baker, expects to be moving pieces down hallways soon.

"It's always kind of a puzzle, getting everything to fit year after year," Wilkerson said.

From the classroom to the wall

The pieces added to the collection each year are selected by the art teacher or teachers in every building in the district and each has his or her own method for selecting a work. Pieces from the elementary and middle schools hang until the student graduates and then the work is gifted back to him or her. Works from the high schools are always the work of seniors and they remain on permanent collection, these students also receive $100 from the Board of Education for their piece.

"I can't say how wonderful the gallery is to these students, it really shows that we value art in this district," said De Soto High School art teacher Tim Mispagel. "There comes a point when artists have to realize that their work has value and [the gallery] shows them that yes, their work is worth something."

Mispagel selects the DHS piece each year from his AP art class, which usually has five-10 students enrolled. While he does keep in mind other recognitions the students may have received in an effort to balance out scholarship funds, Mispagel says that for him the decision is "fairly spontaneous."

"There are guidelines that come into play, for example the work must be of an appropriate theme and show talent but usually something always jumps out," he said. "I tend to gravitate more towards portraits, especially self-portraits, just to add to the student presence the piece is showing."

For Roberts, at the middle school level selecting the art is more about recognizing creativity and problem-solving skills.

"Some pieces just stand out in some years but other times it's more about what the student has put into the piece and how hard he or she worked to create it," she said.

The teacher with perhaps the biggest challenge in selecting a piece of art each year is Chris Cappel at Starside Elementary.

"It was difficult when the gallery was first started to select a piece and essentially take it from the student because at the elementary level we just don't get to complete as many projects," he said. "Now it's easy to see the importance of the gallery and how awesome it is for our district but it can still be hard to ask a student to give up something he or she worked so hard on."

Cappel's students spend one hour a week in art class, making for a grand total of 36 hours of art each year.

"Our limited time makes our projects more precious but seeing those walls fill year to year sends a clear and important message: we are one district and we value art," he said.

For Cappel, the unification of the district is the best outcome of the gallery. He selects Starside's contribution each year based on how well it represents the school as a whole and not just the individual student.

"The gallery shows that we are a creative district at all levels. It shows that we are all unique and unusual and that's amazing."


Board votes to move forward with bond refunding plan

The De Soto USD 232 Board of Education voted 6-0 Monday night, board member Randy Johnson was absent, to move forward with a bond refunding plan that would restructure the district's debt payments and save money in interest in the coming years.

According to district Director of Finance Ken Larsen, the approved bond refund will not only save the district money in interest, it will also level out their debt payments and help maintain a steadier mill levy. The board authorized Larsen and the district's bond advisory company to move forward with the bond bidding process. They will return to the board with bids before approving the sale.


Board of Education to consider bond refunding proposal

The De Soto USD 232 Board of Education will vote whether or not to approve a proposed bond refund at their meeting tonight, at 6 p.m., at the district administrative building.

District Finance Director Ken Larsen brought a refund proposal before the board at the October meeting that would save the district money in bonded interest and keep the district's mill levy more constant over the coming years.

Also on tonight's agenda is a discussion of updated core studies standards for students. The full agenda, along with supporting documents and reports, may be downloaded from the district's website.


Mize Elementary up for $100,000 in national grants

Mize Elementary School is up for a total of $100,000 in grants with voting under way for one and about to begin for the other.

Each grant that Mize is a finalist for is worth $50,000 and would go toward interactive learning technology.

Voting for the Clorox Power a Bright Future grant competition began Monday and will continue until Dec. 9. Community members can each vote for Mize up to twice a day by visiting or texting clorox9019 to 44144.

Voting for the Pepsi Refresh Project grant begins Nov. 1 and continues until Nov. 30. Community members can vote for Mize up to four times each day, either online or by text message. Online voters can make their selection at or by texting a code that will be revealed on Nov. 1 to 73774.

The school began its campaign for the two grants in August by going viral, posting a music video on YouTube filmed by the school.

By Stephen Montemayor


De Soto schools earn Standards of Excellence

Each school in the De Soto school district earned Standard of Excellence marks in at least one category in 2011, the Kansas education department revealed this week.

Each year, grades 3-8 and high school students are given state assessments and assigned one of five performance levels for their work: exemplary, exceeds standard, meets standard, approaches standard and academic warning.

Belmont Elementary School and De Soto High School are the only two schools to not receive a Standard of Excellence in math. Both, however, received a Standard of Excellence in reading.

Kimberly Barney, the De Soto school district’s director of elementary curriculum, instruction and assessment, said Belmont’s being a new school may have made it more challenging to earn a Standard of Excellence out of the gate.

“Not that it excuses it,” she said, “but it makes it more difficult than being a building that is well established.”

Barney said Belmont, which opened in 2010, has had to bring together a new community of students, teachers and leadership in its first year.

Educators have had since the spring to review the data. In August, Annual Yearly Progress results were released, with the De Soto school district meeting AYP.

To receive a Standard of Excellence, grades 3-6 must have at least 25 percent of its students score exemplary and no more than 5 percent receiving an academic warning. In grades 7-8, 25 must score exemplary and have no more than 10 percent of students receiving an academic warning and at the high school level, 15 percent of students must score exemplary with no more than 10 percent receiving an academic warning. For a grade or building to receive a standard of excellence, its school must also make AYP in the all students group.

By Stephen Montemayor


ACCESS House students learn valuable skills with dog biscuit business

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ACCESS House students learn valuable skills with dog biscuit business by Laura Herring

The students at De Soto's ACCESS House are more than students, they're entrepreneurs. Under the guidance of their teachers, the students operate a dog biscuit business, which brings in approximately $150 each month. The treats are made by hand by the students and come in chicken, cheese or peanut butter and can be purchased for one dollar. Orders may be placed by email,, or by phone, (913) 667-6200 ext. 3360.


Bowling teams to be added to district high schools for 2012 season, swimming failed

After a great deal of discussion and patron input, the De Soto USD 232 Board of Education approved the creation of a co-ed bowling team at both high schools in the district 4-3 at their meeting Monday evening. All swimming options at both schools failed.

An early motion that tied all teams together, combined swim teams for both boys and girls and individual bowling teams, failed 5-2. Further discussion of the matter began the process of breaking out each team for approval.

"We've been tying all these teams together in our discussion, both as far as time to get organized and funding go and I'm not sure that's fair," said board member Angela Handy. "There's still plenty of time between now and when the bowling and girls' swimming start to figure things out."

The bowling season begins in January and girls' swimming in February.

Board members Handy, Tammy Thomas and Dick Dearwester fully supported adding all teams and did not sway in their convictions. Board member Bill Fletcher supported adding bowling but not swimming at this time.

"We have an opportunity to give something to these kids and we can do this," said Thomas. "[These kids and parents] aren't here asking for a multi-million dollar project, they're asking for a coach, transportation, a location and an opportunity. Yes, we're here to provide for education but if we can give kids a way to participate, a reason to study because they have to to participate then I support this 100 percent. There's no good reason to say 'no'."

Board members Randy Johnson, Mitch Powers and Tim Blakenship remained firm in their belief that the board was moving too fast in consideration of the teams and hadn't fully explored what the cost would be to the district beyond this year.

"Yes, we know we have the money in the budget this year but we don't know beyond that, we don't know that we'll be able to continue to support these programs next year or the next," said Johnson. "I feel like we're being pushed into [spending money on] this when at the same time we're trying to save all the education dollars we can."

Powers echoed Johnson's sentiment and pointed to specific education areas that stood out to him as requiring additional funding before adding sports teams.

"While I greatly appreciate the interest of everyone in this room and understand the value of team sports, I've done some research and our technology department in struggling," he said. "If our conservative budget is already pulling from there and creating larger classrooms and cutting supplies then I don't want to see where we'd have to pull from to keep these teams going. I would love to say 'yes' tonight but as much as I hate to I can't."

Board member Fletcher, who cast the deciding vote that approved bowling but passed on swimming, asked that the discussion and research into what would be needed to create swimming teams be started earlier next year.

"We need to be sure a program like this is done right, even if that means waiting a year," he said. "There's a lot behind the scenes and we need to be sure we have qualified coaches, especially for diving, and know more about where these kids will be practicing, we can't rush into things."

The proposed cost of the approved bowling teams, as presented to the board at the September meeting when it was first discussed, is $10,910 per school, for a total of $21,820. This cost includes salaries for a head coach and assistant coach for each team, travel expenses, shirts and event entry fees. Practice lanes for the teams would be provided for free by Mission Bowl in Olathe.


Board approves DHS Phase II bid of nearly $9.3 million

The De Soto USD 232 Board of Education approved a total bid of $9,298,917 for Phase II of the De Soto High School construction project on Monday evening.

The bid, which was broken down into more than 20 work packages, can be covered completely with the leftover money from Phase I construction, which was $9.7 million. The board approved the final site design back in March of this year with instruction that bids were not to exceed $9.3 million.

While the total bid for the project is just shy of $9.3 million, the project will actually cost the district even less as approximately $827,000 will be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the storm shelter that is included in the design.

The board also approved an alternate bid of $42,295 for new speakers to be installed in the current gymnasium at the school, which will become the alternate gymnasium once construction is complete.

Little discussion occurred before the board approved the bids 6-1. Board member Randy Johnson was the sole disenting vote.


Oct. 10 De Soto USD 232 Board of Education meeting

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Board to consider DHS Phase II construction bids

The De Soto USD 232 Board of Education has one action item listed on the agenda for tonight's 6 p.m. meeting: the approval of final bids for Phase II of the De Soto High School construction project. The proposed final total for the project, after a nearly $830K reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the built-in storm shelter, comes to $8,471,578.

The board is also set to further discuss the possibility of adding swimming and bowling teams at the high school level in the district. The full agenda and supporting documents may be downloaded from the district's website.