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Maize USD 266 Parent Newsletter - January 2019
Superintendent's Message
As student enrollment climbs, plans are in the works for new spaces to learn



Maize USD 266 student enrollment is growing rapidly. Just as a family would plan to make room when expecting an addition, we at Maize Schools are looking ahead to the future.

Our schools are 89 percent full. We grow by about 10 students a month and are running out of room in our elementary schools, which are 95 percent full, and our middle schools, which are 90 percent full. About 60 new students have joined us this month alone. Residential construction in our district continues. We plan to hire new teachers next year to accommodate this growth, approximately 500 new students in two years, which will cost the district more than $1 million. It's not enough: We need our great teachers and students to have appropriately sized classes and ideal spaces to learn.

We have assembled a team to explore options for new space for our school district. This may mean renovating, expanding, building, and/or even reconfiguring grade level organization within our schools. This involves considering which grades are housed in different schools and how our students transition from one level to the next, such as from elementary to middle school. Major options being considered include the addition of one or two elementary schools, repurposing an elementary school for middle school use, or adding a new middle school. Expanding space onto existing schools is an option only at a few sites and still only solves a portion of the problem temporarily.

Our team, which met Monday for the first time, currently consists of 38 students, parents, teachers, Maize Board of Education members, architects, and other district employees who already are engaged in our school community. They represent different perspectives, different schools, and children of various ages. This week, they began to discuss the pros and cons of various options. I will continue to encourage them to use data and research to guide the process and to question and challenge the plans as they develop. We want the best for our students.

We are working under a deadline for two reasons. For starters, new classroom and school space takes time to develop and construct. There is a new reason now that we must plan ahead: New state legislation limits the amount of bond money that schools statewide can cumulatively seek each year. With our Maize Board of Education's approval, I intend to approach the Kansas State Board of Education on July 1, the earliest opportunity possible, to request approval to pursue any bond funding we may need. A proposal that reaches the state board after July 1 would likely result in a one-year delay in the process. If our growth continues, this could mean the purchase, installation, and use of temporary modular units for the space required. Even with the state’s approval, such proposal still would go before our OneMa1ze community members for consideration via an election.

Thanks to some fiscally responsible decision-making and budgeting during the past decade, it would be possible for the district to use Capital Outlay money to fund some projects. Again, just like a family considering its budget, we must make careful decisions that consider short- and long-term needs and are the most fiscally responsible. That will happen in the coming six months. Regardless of which outcomes are selected as the best solutions for our district, change will have to happen, and change is difficult.

The team and I will meet regularly to review school capacity and enrollment, projection estimates, and options. We will consider classroom sizes, costs, and ideal learning environments. We will discuss related needs, including technology and school safety. We have a lot of work to do and the best reason to do that work. We will continue to update you as we progress through the process. I thank you in advance for your ongoing support. If you have comments, questions, or suggestions, please e-mail facilityplanning@usd266.com .


Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools
Mark Your Calendar
Important dates
  • 15: No school, Professional Development Day

  • 8: End of Term
  • 11-15: No school, Spring Break

  • 17: Parent-Teacher Conferences, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • 18: No school & Parent-Teacher Conferences, noon to 8 p.m.
  • 19: No school, Conference Comp Day

  • 7: Last day of school for seniors
  • 9: Maize South High School graduation, 6:30 p.m., Hartman Arena
  • 10: No school, Professional Development Day
  • 12: Maize High School graduation, 6:30 p.m., Wichita State University's Koch Arena
  • 22: End of term and last day of school
No school Feb. 15
Maize Board of Education Update
Board members approve elementary schools' official mascots
During the December regular monthly Maize Board of Education meeting, board members approved proposed elementary school mascots. Last semester, elementary school administrators engaged with students, staff members, and parents to identify new school mascots to further create school identities and build school pride.

Board members voted to approve the recommended mascots:

Schools worked on a shared timeline within parameters to have their own unique selection process to identify their own school mascot. Future work may identify official school logos and colors for purposes of branding and school pride.
TOP: Vermillion Elementary School siblings Addelyn Paredes (fourth grade), Rosalind Paredes (second grade), and Lincoln Paredes (kindergarten) submitted this colorful chameleon for the school’s mascot contest.

BOTTOM: Vermillion first-grade student Graham Yocam submitted this smiling chameleon.
District moves forward on See Beyond Maize Solar Initiative
During the Jan. 14 regular monthly Maize Board of Education meeting, board members accepted a bid from King Solar for the construction of ground-based solar panels west of Maize Career Academy. This is part of the See Beyond Solar Project championed by Maize High School science teacher Stan Bergkamp and supported by many
employees, alumni, and OneMa1ze community members.

Board members also approved a lease agreement between the district and ICM, which will save the district more than $100,000 in the installation of the panels. After the lease agreement expires in six years,
the district will own the panels and save an estimated $30,000 a year.
Kindergarten students practice leadership through presentations
Maize Elementary School kindergarten students Maya Young, left, and Lila Harris gave presentations to the Maize Board of Education on Jan. 14. Maya demonstrated how to make a dessert, and Lila demonstrated a science experiment.

These leadership opportunities are a part of the weekly experience for their class. Students work with their parents to develop a lesson to present to their peers in class. Their teacher is Cheryl Rodriguez.

(Also pictured: Board President Dr. Jeff Jarman, left, and member Matt Jensby.)
Additional Board of Education news
  • TransNet property: Board members approved a final purchase agreement for the sale of the TransNet property on Tyler Road in Wichita. The plan includes a mid-March closing on the property.

  • Legislative Priorities: Board members approved the 2019 Legislative Priorities document, which has since been distributed to the Kansas legislators who represent constituents living within the Maize USD 266 boundary. Added is the priority that legislators support local control by rejecting legislation that overrides authority to implement safety measures. Please click here to access the document.

  • Superintendent’s contract: Following an executive session for matters related to non-elected personnel, board members approved the superintendent’s contract through June 2021.

  • Acquisition of property: On Dec. 31, the Maize Board of Education had a special meeting and met in executive session for matters related to the acquisition of property discussion. Following the executive session that day, the board voted to authorize the superintendent to present the property sale and purchase agreement, oversee the necessary due diligence, and negotiate the purchase price and other contract details as necessary. On Jan. 14, Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools, said there was not yet an update.

  • Next meeting: The Maize Board of Education meets next at 7 p.m. Feb. 11 at the Maize Educational Support Center, 905 W. Academy Ave. in Maize. The meeting is open to the public. To avoid a conflict with Spring Break, the board will meet briefly for its regular monthly March meeting at 7:30 a.m. March 4.
Thank you, Maize Board of Education members!

January is School Board Recognition Month, and we want to say thank you to our Maize Board of Education members.

These volunteers are elected officials who give so much time to our schools and students.

We appreciate all they do!
Celebrating Excellence in Education Support Staff Awards
Congratulations to the most recent winners of the Celebrating Excellence in Education Support Staff Awards! The award celebrates Maize USD 266 support staff members for the amazing work they do for the district and its mission of connecting, learning, and leading. This award is intended for any non-teacher employee who works with Maize USD 266 students. (Teachers are recognized annually with the district's Celebrating Excellence in Education Awards.) Nominees were surprised with a visit from Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools, at their workplaces this week.
Maize Middle School Bookkeeper
Patti Roberts

Also pictured from left: Dr. Higgins, Assistant Principal Cristy Kerbs, Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Chad Cramer, and Principal Brian Thompson
Pray-Woodman Elementary School Instructional Para Jody Ralph

Also pictured from left: Assistant Principal Karen LaMunyon, kindergarten teacher Donna Bever (among those who nominated Mrs. Ralph), Library Media Specialist Kristin Rodell, Dr. Higgins, and Principal Nils Gabrielson
Maize South High School Head Custodian Eddie Henderson

Also pictured from left: English teacher Shelly Walston (among those who nominated Mr. Henderson), Principal Dave Hickerson, and Dr. Higgins
Maize South Middle School Head Custodian Monie Prilliman

Also pictured from left: Assistant Custodian Steve Magnusson, C ounselor Amy Beckmann, Counselor Steffanie Moore, Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Shane Paulus, Assistant Principal Megan Hemmerling, Dr. Higgins, Principal Cort Haynes, English teacher Andrea Burnett, English teacher Molly Herd , English teacher Lori Nicholson, and Assistant Custodian Pete Everett
Maize Early Childhood Center update
Preschool enrollment for new incoming students begins Friday, Feb. 1
Enrollment at Maize Early Childhood Center for new students who will be age 3 or 4 by Aug. 31 begins on Friday, Feb. 1.  Families who are interested can follow this link to get information and required forms. After enrolling online through Skyward, parents must drop off the forms and/or deposit at the Maize Early Childhood Center office, 9405 W. 37th St. North in Wichita, between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to complete enrollment. We will accept enrollments daily until all spots are filled. We hope to see you and your preschool child at Maize ECC!
Maize Education Foundation updates
  • Student grant updates: The Maize Education Foundation has revised the eligibility requirements for Student Enrichment Grants. Students are limited to receiving one grant per school year (changed from one grant per school career). This change goes into effect immediately. The Foundation currently is accepting applications for Spring 2019 grants. Applications are due by March 20. Please see your school counselor or follow this link for application forms.

  • College scholarships available: The Maize Education Foundation also is now accepting applications for the Kyle Thornburg and Shelley Woodard Poynter Memorial Scholarships. Applications are due March 20. Please see your school counselor or follow this link for application forms.

  • Free student application workshop: The Maize Education Foundation will host a grant and scholarship application workshop for Maize students who would like coaching. Any student seeking guidance on any application (even non-Foundation programs) is welcome to attend. The free workshop will be from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21 in the Commons at Maize Middle School, 4600 N. Maize Road in Maize. Please contact Foundation Executive Director Travis Bloom at 316-350-2029 or tbloom@usd266.com to register.
Maize Career Academy students give back
Students support TSA employees with heartfelt homemade lunch
On Jan. 24, students from the Maize Career Academy , representing both Maize High Schoo l and Maize South High School , prepared and shared lunch with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers at Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport. Please click here to view additional photos and to read coverage from several local media outlets.
Innovative senior project builds customized motorized chair for local girl with cerebral palsy
In December, four seniors from Maize High School and Maize South High School spent their semester as engineering students at the Maize Career Academy envisioning, designing, and building a 12-year-old girl in our community a rare gift.

Carrie has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. Thanks to this senior project, she now has her own custom-designed motorized chair that she can drive using a joystick. Carrie's father Michael said this gives her new mobility and independence, including a chance to initiate play with neighbors and friends. He said he is blown away with the opportunity and work the students have done.

The students explained during a school presentation that they utilized the resources and knowledge from Maize Career Academy engineering, robotics, and health science teachers to make this possible. They developed the plan and pitched it to local supporters for funding. Thank you to everyone who made it possible.
Get cooking
Did you know you can be a student in the Maize Career Academy? The Maize Recreation Commission, a partner organization of Maize USD 266, teaches occasional cooking classes at the academy. The next one is a date night-themed class for those ages 14 and older from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 13. The cost is $30 per registrant. Please click here to learn more.
Winter Weather Reminder
Inclement weather, snow day notifications
A shovel is propped up on a snowy porch.
In the event of school being dismissed or canceled because of inclement weather, the district will send out an e-mail, phone notification, and -- for those who have opted to receive them -- a text message to the primary contact associated with both Family 1 and Family 2, if applicable, for each student. Those phone notifications will go out as early as 5:30 a.m. on the day of the closure. If a decision is made the night before to call off school, calls and texts will go out no later than 10:30 p.m.

It is wise to verify that we have your correct contact information on file. To do so, please log on to Skyward Family Access and click on "Student Info." If you are unsure how to log on to Skyward Family Access, please contact your child's school for assistance.

District officials will update the district's Web site (www.usd266.com), official Twitter account (@maize266), and official Facebook page (Facebook.com/MaizeUSD266) as soon as the decision is made to call off school. We also will contact local media outlets about any closures. When in doubt, we encourage parents to verify school closings by consulting multiple official sources.

Similarly, in the event of an emergency in your child's school, the district will use the Blackboard Connect parent notification system to notify you of the situation and alert you to steps you need to take in order to reunite with your child. Communications would go to all contacts listed in Skyward Family Access "Family 1" and the main contact in "Family 2."
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 bus paras. 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.
#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.