Maize School District
    Connections - Maize USD 266 Parent Newsletter - February 2018 - #OneMa1ze
In This Issue
Important dates

  • March 9: End of term
  • March 19-23: No school, Spring Break
  • April 2: No school, Conference Comp Day
  • April 27: No school, Professional Development Day
  • May 8: Last day for high school seniors
  • May 22: Last day of school and end of term

Thanks to the  Maize Elementary School for the student artwork pictured above.
Student enrollment growing faster than expected

Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Maize Schools, is forming a committee for facilities planning. 

In the past year and a half, enrollment has increased
by nearly 300 students, above professional demographic projections.

Enrollment at both Maize Middle and Maize South  High schools is growing faster than expected, contributing toward projected middle school space concerns.
Elementary school teacher celebrated as top in nation 
at Washington, D.C. gala

Pray-Woodman Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Crystal May was celebrated in Washington, D.C. this month as one of only five recipients nationwide of the The NEA Foundation Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence 2018. 

Pictured with her are Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Maize Schools, left, and Pray-Woodman Elementary School Principal Nils Gabrielson.
Maize USD 266 teachers honored on state level
Earlier this month, Heidi AlbinComplete High School Maize science teacher and winner of the prestigious Milken Educator Awards was recognized by the Kansas House of Representatives in Topeka. She was honored  for her innovative practices and her work to build meaningful relationships with and improve the lives of her students. The recognition also served as a field trip for students, who learned more about state government and its proceedings. 

Albin also was honored by the Kansas Department of Education this month, along with Maize South Middle School English Language Arts teacher Hannah Martin, winner of the 2018  Kansas Horizon Award.
Shining Stars

Maize High School student Hannah Soderstrom encourages you to donate blood to help people like her who are fighting leukemia. Please click here to see a news story about a community blood drive she organized.

Congrats to 5A state wrestling champ and Maize High School students Duwayne Villalpando (at right) and Devin Onwugbufor

Devin recently was featured by The Wichita Eagle and Varsity for his achievement despite setbacks in his life. Please click here to read the story.

Congratulations to the Maize High School Business Professionals of America (BPA) students who successfully competed at state and qualified for Nationals. A total of 16 students qualified, and five were state champions.
U.S. Congressman Estes tours  Maize Career Academy
U.S. Rep. Ron Estes visited Feb. 21 to tour the new Maize Career Academy and learn about its programs, including the airplane aerospace engineering students are constructing and health students shadowing professional mentors. He took note of the opportunity for students to earn industry certifications while in high school and posted the following on Facebook following his visit: " The future of our state and nation is bright with these individuals leading the way."
Enrollment open for 
parent-child preschool class
One preschool option Maize USD 266 offers at its Maize Early Childhood Center is its 
Parents as Teachers Starlets parent-child classes. 

These classes meet once a week, and a parent (or other caring adult) and child
attend together. Any family who lives within the Maize USD 266 boundaries and has a child who is age 3 or 4 by Aug. 31 may enroll.

Classes will fill quickly, so please print the enrollment form and return it to the school, along with a  nonrefundable $35 enrollment fee.  Placements are be made on a first come, first served

If you have questions, please call 316-722-3105.
Panel answers high school students' questions about relationships
Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Maize Schools, and his wife of nearly 25 years, Drenda Higgins, shared their story and answered questions as part of a Complete High School Maize  Valentine's Day relationship panel. Thanks to all who participated!
Foundation accepting Student Enrichment Grant applications

Maize USD 266 students in grades seven through 11 are invited to apply for a Maize Education Foundation Student Enrichment grant of up to $500 to help pay for an academic/leadership seminar, workshop, fine arts camp, etc. Applications are due March 26. The Foundation has committed to awarding up to $5,000 each semester. Please click here to apply and to access complete details.

Foundation accepting memorial scholarship applications due March 26

The  Maize Education Foundation  now is accepting applications for the 2018 Kyle Thornburg Memorial and 2018 Shelley Woodard Poynter Memorial scholarships.

Please click here for more information and the applications, and thanks to the families whose generosity makes these opportunities possible for Maize USD 266 students.  Please encourage deserving and qualified students to apply. 
Find events, opportunities on
Online Bulletin Board

Maize USD 266's Online Bulletin Board  is the place to go for information about upcoming events, fundraisers, and  other opportunities available through the district and partner agencies. Those interested also may sign up to receive e-mail updates when new information is added.

Saturday, March 24 is the Run2Believe 5K Memorial Run/Walk. Join us to honor the memories of two Maize High School graduates, Kylie Jobe and Kyle Thornburg, who were killed by a drunk driver.

Superintendent's Message
Maize USD 266 continues 
to seek ways to support student needs for a better tomorrow
Like the winter weather, thoughts and conversations have been swirling around us and throughout the country regarding the need for schools to identify and then act when one of our own students is in need.

Some may look to the awful school shooting tragedy in Florida, in which the teenage suspect is reported to have suffered from depression and previously exhibited warning signs, and wonder, "Why didn't someone catch that?"

My message today is not about casting blame or making an example of another school dealing with losses none ever should. Rather, my intention is to point out steps we are taking to improve the lives of our students. I also want to emphasize that we cannot do this ourselves. We rely on your help and are very appreciative for the support that already exists for OneMa1ze. We need to continue to partner with our supporters, local agencies, and community at large to further develop the resources, awareness, and advocacy that we need.

Even in cases when violence or threats to safety are not at play, student needs that go unaddressed can lead to a variety of problems and concerns, including those on the social-emotional scale or even simply preventing a student from finding happiness and achieving his or her full potential.

This is a responsibility that falls to any educator: Do we have students in our care who need help but do not want -- or know how -- to ask? What are we doing to fill those gaps, find those resources, and make lives better? How are we connecting with our students and building meaningful relationships with them?

We can't just teach them. We must reach them.

This is a conversation our district addresses through our Maize Way Character Education program and many nationally award-winning related efforts, including Capturing Kids Hearts, Second Step, and The Leader in Me.

But make no mistake: Maize USD 266 is not resting on our laurels or considering our work done. Earlier this school year, we assembled a OneMa1ze team of counselors, teachers, nurses, and administrators to review how we support our students and to find ways to do an even better job than we already are doing.

We are investing in student support and are looking to hire an interventionist at the elementary level to coordinate and facilitate student support efforts. We are adding counselors in two of our elementary schools where we have identified a need, with plans to expand counseling services at all elementary schools in the future. At the secondary level, we are adding a counselor at Maize South High School to address the growing student population. Additionally, we are in ongoing conversations with professionals and agencies outside of the district, including a social worker, therapist, drug counselor, and health professionals, to provide resources for students and their families.

I thank our parents and community members for your role in supporting our students. Just this month, for example, a local business donated valentines for our elementary school students whose families couldn't afford to purchase them for the Valentine's Day class party exchange. The donor told one of our administrators, "I was the kid who went without. I don't want that to happen to someone else." Many in our community this month have donated dresses, shoes, and other formal wear items to help make some of our students' prom dreams come true.

A recent inquiry into significant needs for a family spurred me to create a network of staff members and patrons who may be called upon when a situation warrants. A family of ours, after being homeless for several months, were able to move into housing but needed everything. One of our amazing principals was able to rally the troops and take care of many of the family's needs. It occurred to me that, with the connected and compassionate staff members, students, and parents in our OneMa1ze family, we can do even better. If you are interested in being a part of this network, which may be called upon to provide food, supplies, clothing, bedding, appliances, or services, please let me know by e-mailing me at

As we continue to be aware and seek ways to care for our students, I am confident their futures -- and, in turn, ours -- will become that much brighter.


Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools
District exploring options to make up instruction time lost to snow days

snow-shovel.jpg Maize USD 266 has canceled school four times (Jan. 11 and 16 and Feb. 20 and 22) this semester due to inclement weather and unsafe conditions.

The Kansas State Department of Education mandates that students have a minimum of 1, 116 hours of instruction. District leaders are working on options to address the shortfall of a specific number of hours schools currently face. 

Options include one or more of these options: adding minutes to the currently scheduled school day, adding a day of school to the school calendar, and/or modifying Wednesday Professional Learning Clusters that currently require early release time for students.

District leaders realize  each of these options creates a hardship for some and  will work to navigate this issue in a way that meets requirements while seeking the best solution for OneMa1ze students and staff members.
Thanks to OneMa1ze community input, strategic plan underway
On Feb. 5, 74 parents, students, business owners, teachers, and employees gathered to develop a draft vision for the district's new strategic plan. They discussed and identified core values, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that the district faces. 

Participants were fully engaged during the eight-hour session and shared their own perspectives and histories with Maize Schools. Collectively, the group developed seven draft goals with related objectives. District administrators will formalize and format the material to share with the group and building principals to continue working toward a strategic plan to share with board members later this spring. The goal is to begin implementing it next year.

Thanks to all who participated and to the greater community, which participated in the Thought Exchange survey in December. Feedback and themes collected will continue to be integral throughout this process.
Maize Board of Education update
Board members earlier this month approve 2018-19 district calendar

During the Feb. 12 monthly meeting, Maize Board of Education members approved the 2018-19 school calendar. 

Spring conferences in 2019 will take place in April, as opposed to the typical February time frame. Teachers will be encouraged to communicate any concerns with parents when they arise earlier in the semester rather than waiting until conferences. Informal parent-teacher conferences can happen at any time year-round as part of ongoing communication between school and home.

A few other highlights:
  • First day of school: Aug. 14
  • No School/Fall Break: Nov. 19-23
  • No School/Winter Break: Dec. 24 through Jan. 4
  • No School/Spring Break: March 11-15
  • May 22: Last day of school
Please click here to access the 2018-19 Maize USD 266 Calendar.

Read and Ride program celebrates technology, reading, and exercise

Spearheaded by Maize Central Elementary
School Library Media Specialist Jackie Foltz, the
new Read and Ride for a Better Me
program encourages and promotes health and reading in an innovative way.

In October, the school received a grant from the Kansas Health Foundation for nearly $20,000. Statistically, elementary school-aged children should have at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. And research shows movement helps build reading skills and comprehension. With this in mind, students are Reading and Riding in the library with higher reading engagement. The program has had a soft opening and will continue in development this year and next year.

The grant purchased 26 recumbant bikes, iPads for e-reading and health apps, and related supplies. Various departments district-wide, including maintenance and technology, worked together to implement the program. The district also funded two Read and Ride grants totaling about $4,700 via its Innovative Technology funds. This included funds to place two Schwinn recumbent bikes and two mini cycles in each elementary media center.

Pictured above: Maize Central Elementary School fourth-grade students Raegan Casey, left, and
Norah Morrow demonstrate Read and Ride for a Better Me program.

District's Legislative Priorities document addresses, highlights range of important OneMa1ze needs

Board members approved the 2017-2018 USD 266 Legislative Priorities, which include providing stable,
adequate, and equitable school funding; supporting education professionals, and maintaining local control of
education.  Please click here to see the approved document with additional details.

The board meets next at 7 p.m. March 12 at the Maize Educational Support Center, 905 W. Academy Ave. in Maize. The meeting is open to the public. 
Connect with your state legislators

Five members of the Kansas House of Representatives and two members of the Kansas Senate represent the #OneMa1ze community. Please click here for their phone numbers and e-mail addresses. You also will find information for government contacts with the cities of Maize and Wichita, Sedgwick County, and the Kansas State Board of Education.
Wichita Mayor Longwell expresses support of See Beyond solar initiative

Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell, a former Maize Board of Education member pictured at left, featured Maize High School science teacher Stan Bergkamp and his  Maize Solar Initiative - See Beyond Campaign at his media briefing Feb. 15. 

Mr. Bergkamp has raised more than $50,000 for this project, which will purchase and install solar panels to reduce energy costs and increase the district's use of renewable energy. It also will provide many educational opportunities for our st udents throughout OneMa1ze.

Mayor Longwell said Kansas is prime for solar energy and challenged the community to support this initiative.
Pre-K, Kindergarten enrollment night March 29 at Maize High School

If you have an incoming Pre-K or Kindergarten student who will start school at Maize USD 266 in August 2018, please plan to attend our e nrollment night,  5 p.m. to 8 p.m.   March 29  at Maize High School, 11600 W. 45 St. N. in Maize.

For incoming Pre-K families: Maize USD 266 is excited to offer Pre-K to all children who live within the Maize School District. 

Our Pre-K sessions are at our Maize Early Childhood Center on Monday through Thursday and use Pre-K Reading and Literacy curriculum along with developmentally appropriate activities and are taught by licensed teachers. If your child meets at least one of our state's at-risk criteria, there is no fee for the program other than the curriculum fee. If you would like your child to attend and he/she does not meet a criteria, a monthly fee applies.

Spaces are limited! Enrollment is first come, first served.  Learn more by clicking here or by calling 316-722-3105.

For incoming Kindergarten families: Please note that arriving early has no impact on your child's building assignment or class placement. 

(Pictured above: Pray-Woodman Kindergarten teacher Michele Brownlee welcomes her students on the first day of school in August 2017.)
Join our team!
Interested in joining our Maize Schools team? Many openings are part-time jobs with full-time benefits, including:
* Group health insurance
* Summers off
* Fall,  Winter, and  Spring break off
* No evenings or weekends
* Bonuses

Click here to read three reasons to take the wheel and drive a school bus for Maize USD 266. Please call the Transportation Office at 316-722-0582 for more information.

Maize USD 266 also is looking for:
* food service workers.
* Sedgwick County Area Educational Services Paraprofessionals.

Come and work in our OneMa1ze community, supported by parents, graduates, and Maize and Northwest Wichita. This would be a great opportunity to participate in the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System.
Maize USD 266 Mission Statement  The mission of the Maize School District is to inspire students to discover their potential through connecting, learning and leading.