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MAIZE unified school district 266
Maize USD 266 Parent Newsletter - September 2018
Superintendent's Message
Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Maize Schools
Maize USD 266's successful future hinged on multiple voices, perspectives


Before the first day of school this year, all of our employees met together to kick off the year. Among our orders of business was to honor our colleagues who have reached major milestones in their service to Maize USD 266. This year alone, employees who have reached their 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, 30th, or 35th year of service total a staggering 1,830 years of service!

I want to give a special thanks to Maize South Elementary School 1st-grade teacher Linda Robillard , Maize South Middle School psychologist Edie Burklund , and Maize High School hearing impaired instructor Melinda Smeltzer , who each reached their 35th-year milestone, the longest milestone honored this year.

Clearly, we have impressive wisdom, experience, and expertise in our district, a benefit for our students and community. There are a couple of key initiatives underway that emphasize the value our district places on various ideas and perspectives. These efforts are vital to me as a superintendent, as I prefer to lead, not just manage. And leadership, often, has much to do with listening.

This fall we have launched Lead Within, a new internal program with two ob jectives: to provide sustained, focused professional learning opportunities for teachers who desire to lead from the classroom, and to provide opportunities for teacher leaders to make meaningful contributions to the work of their school. I am thrilled about the possibilities for this group and how its members, a dozen of our teachers, will continue to help Maize USD 266 connect, learn, and lead. It is exciting to think about how many teachers in the near future will have honed their leadership skills to more effectively improve teaching and learning for the students and teachers they work with.

Also in the works right now is a 360-degree superintendent evaluation. Maize Board of Education members want to hear from employees, students, parents, and community members regarding how you think I am doing. As the survey asks, what are some areas I can continue to build on, and what are some things I can focus on improving this year? Please check your e-mail for details on how you can participate via the Thoughtexchange platform. Thank you for your honest feedback. Participation is anonymous. The survey closes Sept. 26.

Some decisions that need to be made for a school district are difficult ones, involving complex issues surrounding finances, curriculum, and safety, among other topics. I appreciate the voices and perspectives from across our OneMa1ze community to help ensure that even the difficult decisions are the best possible decisions for the sake of our students.


Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools
Share your feedback
If you are a Maize USD 266 parent, employee, student in grades 7 through 12, and/or community or business member in the OneMa1ze community, you are invited to share your feedback in the 360-degree superintendent evaluation via Thoughtexchange. Please check your e-mail for an invitation to participate. If you did not receive one, please call the Maize Educational Support Center at 316-722-0614 or e-mail Communications Director Lori O'Toole Buselt at lbuselt@usd266.com. Thank you!
Mark Your Calendar
Important dates
  • 26: Parent-Teacher Conferences, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • 27: No school & Parent-Teacher Conferences, noon to 8 p.m.
  • 28: No school, conference comp day

  • 12: End of Term
  • 15: No school, Professional Development Day

  • 19-23: No school, Fall Break

  • 21: End of Term
  • 24-31: No school, Winter Break

  • 1-3: No school, Winter Break
  • 4: No school, Teacher Work Day
  • 21: No school, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
National Merit Semifinalist
Maize South High School student wins prestigious honor
Congratulations to  Corey McDowell Maize South High School   senior and National Merit Semifinalist!

He is among 16,000 students nationwide named a semifinalist, including 25 from the Wichita area.

2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year
Congratulations to Maize USD 266's teacher nominees!
Maize USD 266’s 2019 Kansas Teacher of
the Year nominees were honored Sept. 8 during a regional banquet in Wichita. Maize South Middle School 7th-grade science teacher Jill Frye, pictured at right, was the district’s secondary nominee.

Maize Elementary School 4th-grade teacher Andrea Nietfeld, also pictured with Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools, was the district’s elementary nominee. She also was named one of three 2019 Kansas Teacher of the Year Region IV Elementary Semi-Finalists.
Maize Board of Education Updates
As student enrollment numbers continue to climb, district leaders planning for future building, facilities needs
During the Maize Board of Education's Sept. 10 regular monthly meeting, Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Maize Schools, reviewed the district's five-year Capital Outlay Plan, which includes more than $2 million to spend. They also discussed plans to pay for relatively expensive projects and future facility needs, especially as student enrollment numbers continue to grow. The Capital Outlay Plan lists planned projects through 2021-22, including flooring improvements, restroom improvements, parking lot maintenance, water pumps and piping, buses, HVAC, and other projects.

Dr. Higgins said that administrators are being conservative on estimates. He explained that the district will not receive the same level of aid from the state for future bond issues as it has
in the past. This means Maize USD 266 and other districts throughout Kansas will need to spend Capital Outlay and cash reserves to pay for athletics, offices, and/or items not specifically tied to classrooms. The district also will consider whether and when to pursue another bond issue to pay for needed facilities expansions.

Though figures won’t be official until after the Sept. 20 count day, Maize USD 266 has grown about 250 students since last year. Cohort sizes fluctuate from grade level to grade level.

Dr. Higgins also shared his plan to form and lead a Facility Planning Committee. First, he will assemble a group of administrators to review enrollment projections and class sizes. They also will consider potential options, which may include elementary school space, middle school space, or both, and study what is needed and when. At that point, Maize Board of Education members, employees, community patrons, and design and construction professionals will join to form a larger committee.
Next meeting
The Maize Board of Education meets next at 7 p.m. Oct. 8 at the Maize Educational Support Center, 905 W. Academy Ave. The meeting is open to the public.
Additional Board of Education updates
  • Budget hearing: The school board had its annual budget hearing Aug. 13. Director of Finance Steve Williams gave an overview of the 2018-19 budget, which includes a $59.1 million combined General Fund and Local Option Budget. For the third consecutive year and the fourth out of the past five years, the district has dropped its taxes slightly. The total mill rate will be 59.790, a .760 decrease. The district’s mill rate, which includes one mill for the Maize Recreation Commission, remains competitive with other area public school districts. Increased state funding this year, a result of a new funding formula and last year’s student enrollment increase, is budgeted to pay for salary increases reached through the two-year negotiated contract, an increase to the board-paid health insurance, new teaching positions, and increased utility costs, in part to operate new schools and spaces added in the bond issue.

  • Substitute pay increase: During their regular monthly meeting on Aug. 13, board members approved a $5 a day substitute teacher pay increase to $100.
Members of the Maize Board of Education
Employee Recognition
Maize Board of Education President Dr. Jeff Jarman on Sept. 10 honored Pray-Woodman
Elementary School's Angela Knapp, finalist for the Presidential Awards
for Excellence in Mathematics & Science Teaching.
Dr. Jarman and fellow board members on Sept. 10 recognized Complete High School Maize award winners, from left: teacher
Mike Russell, 2018 Civic Advocacy Network Award; teacher Sheryl Tillery, Kansas Personal Finance Teacher of the Year; and Dr. Kristy Custer, Complete Principal and 2018-19 Kansas
Secondary Principal of the Year.
Board Vice President Kate Doerksen, left, on Aug. 13 recognized Director of Communications
Lori O’Toole Buselt for an Award of Excellence from the Kansas School Public Relations Association/Kansas
Association of School Boards.
Board thanks Matt Jensby for leadership, service
Maize USD 266 thanks school board member Matt Jensby for his leadership, serving three years as the board’s president. All board members are volunteers who give many hours of their time and devote great care to our district, employees, students, and OneMa1ze community in general.

Pictured: Maize Board of Education Vice President Kate
Doerksen and her fellow members on Aug. 13 thanked Matt
Jensby for his years of service as the board’s president.
Election 2018
Your vote, your voice matters
One of the most effective and simplest ways supporters of Maize Schools and Kansas public education can support students is to vote. Kansas voters can influence the future funding of our schools and the future of Kansas public education. Voter turnout is critical to the future of the state.

The deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 6 General Election is Oct. 16.

Thank you for your civic contribution, which allows Kansas to maintain strong public school districts, including Maize USD 266.
Maize USD 266 updates
  • School yearbooks: Parents, if you'd like to purchase a yearbook for your child this year, you may do so online via Skyward Family Access through Sept. 30. After that date, you have the option to purchase a yearbook through the vendor your school uses. Please direct any related questions to your child's school. Thank you.

Kansas Horizon Award Nominees
Teachers surprised in classrooms with nomination news
Congratulations to Maize USD 266's nominees for the Kansas Horizon Award: Maize South Elementary School teacher Katie Wolfe and Maize High School teacher Becca Doerksen ! The Kansas Department of Education's award recognizes exemplary new teachers in classrooms across Kansas. The teachers were surprised with the news of their nomination last week.
Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Maize Schools, surprised Maize High School teacher Becca Doerksen with the news of her nomination.
Maize South Elementary School teacher Katie Wolfe and her class pose for a photo after administrators surprised her with news of her nomination.
Maize Education Foundation Updates
Foundation's 10th Annual Golf Tournament raised nearly $37,000
Thanks to all of the sponsors, golfers, and volunteers for supporting this year's golf tournament, which benefits students and teachers in the Maize School District! A special thanks to presenting sponsors Hutton Construction and SJCF Architecture.

Student Enrichment Grant applications due Oct. 16
The Maize Education Foundation  strives to support opportunities that encourage Maize students to find their own versions of success and to become civically responsible adults.

Students in grades seven through 11 can apply for a grant of up to $500 to help cover the costs associated with enrichment activities like leadership seminars, expeditions, educational camps, competitions, and more.

Around School
Pray-Woodman Elementary School students on Sept. 14 hosted a First Responder Reception to thank local law enforcement officials for their service and to learn about their jobs. Please click here to see more photos of the event .
Maize High School observed a day of service on Sept. 11. More than 1,000 students volunteered in the community. It was a way to honor those who stepped forward to help others on Sept. 11, 2001. Students volunteered at  Ronald McDonald House Charities Wichita ; worked in gardens, painted a gymnasium, and worked in Maslow's Pantry at their school; served as ball spotters for a charitable golf tournament; picked up litter; sewed pillowcases for hospitals; painted kindness rocks; and so much more. Please click here for additional photos , and check out coverage of the day:
On Aug. 17, Maize USD 266 welcomed back Shane Konicki , a 2007 Maize High School graduate who attended school here from grades kindergarten to 12.
He now is the Shane of the Where's Shane? morning feature on KWCH and KSCW.
He visited his alma mater district for a series of live broadcasts with his former teachers. Click here to watch the broadcasts and see more photos from his visit .
Shining Stars
Congratulations to Pray-Woodman Elementary School Principal Nils Gabrielson , recently honored as the Coop Wide Outstanding Principal of the Year by the Sedgwick County Area Educational Services Interlocal Cooperative No. 618.
Congratulations to Maize High School junior Elijah Santiago, honored recently as the Power 93.5/Super Car Guys Super Kid of the Week!
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. Bus driver positions pay up to $15.25 an hour. The district also is looking for a new bus mechanic. Please call the Transportation Office at 316-722-0582 for more information.

Maize USD 266 also is looking for:

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.
Thank you, donors!
Thanks to OneMa1ze community members who donated hundreds of items during the Aug. 10 Fill the Bus Chick-fil-a school supply drive. The items will be used by teachers and students for learning and enrichment.
#OneMa1ze www.usd266.co m

The mission of the Maize School District
is to inspire students to discover their potential through
connecting, learning, and leading.