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Maize USD 266 Parent Newsletter - March 2019
Superintendent's Message
District likely to consider two new school buildings to meet growth needs

BY DR. CHAD HIGGINS 

Greetings!

The challenging work continues on research and plans for new spaces to learn for our growing student body. As I shared with you in January , our district is growing rapidly, and our schools are 87 percent full. We have added about 500 students in the past two years.

The committee is working with the understanding that we are aiming to build new spaces for learning and, among other components, will consider building capacities, estimated construction costs, funding sources, enrollment projections, and special education program needs.

This rapid student enrollment growth likely will warrant the construction of two new school buildings. This is among considerations before our team that is exploring options for new space for our school district. The group met for a second time in February and will convene again right after Spring Break. Last week, I presented an update to nearly 50 people involved with Parent Teacher Organizations, Site Councils, and Booster Clubs and encouraged those employees and parent volunteers to talk with others in our OneMa1ze community. I also have been meeting with employees in each school building to share updates and gather feedback.

Today, I would like to share highlights with you, as well. Please keep in mind that this is a work in progress, with no specific decisions or recommendations at this point. There is no easy answer, and all options have pros and cons. The group will continue to weigh those in the coming weeks and months.

Potential realignment of grades: Options we are considering include building two intermediate schools that would house fifth and sixth grades and shifting our elementary schools to housing kindergarten through fourth grade. This would relieve the space in our crowded elementary schools, which are 91 percent full, and Maize Middle School , set to reach capacity in the next two years.

Accelerated timeline: We are working quickly through this process, anticipating that we will need to open new schools by August 2021. You also may remember from my January message that new state legislation limits the amount of bond money schools statewide can cumulatively seek each year. We intend to finalize our plan and approach the Kansas State Board of Education on July 1 to request approval to seek any bond funding we may need. This is a new necessary step because of the new bond cap.

Feeder systems: We are considering an option that would have students in one feeder system matriculate through buildings/grade levels differently than the other feeder system to maximize current and future space needs. Some options would require a transition to a feeder system that dictates how students progress through our schools from kindergarten to twelfth grade, which may not yet be considered during this expansion project. Currently, of course, our feeder systems apply to grades six through twelve and tie together Maize Middle School and Maize High School in the north feeder and Maize South Middle School and Maize South High School in the south feeder.

In addition to new construction, we will explore improvements and renovations and work to be good fiscal stewards of your tax dollars. We will address how much space to add and where to add it along with our educational priorities, financial efficiency, and transportation needs.

We will take this opportunity to consider other facility and space needs, including shared space for a swimming pool and/or large auditorium, remodeling needs, elementary playgrounds, classroom additions, and safety and security upgrades.

There certainly is not a single perfect option. Whatever we do is going to be difficult in some aspects. With our growth and limited funding, there are always some challenges.

I appreciate your ongoing support. If you have comments, questions, or suggestions, please e-mail facilityplanning@usd266.com .

Sincerely,

Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools
Mark Your Calendar
Important dates
March:
  • 8: End of Term
  • 11-15: No school, Spring Break

April:
  • 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

May:
  • 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
Reminder:
No school
March 11-15
Maize Board of Education Update
Maize Board of Education sets 2019-2020 district calendar
During its regular monthly meeting Feb. 11, the Maize Board of Education approved the 2019-20 district calendar.

Parent-teacher conferences will be in September 2019 and February 2020. A few dates worth noting:
  • First day of school: Aug. 13, 2019
  • Fall Break: Nov. 25-29, 2019
  • Winter Break (and Teacher Work Day): Dec. 23, 2019-Jan. 3, 2020
  • Spring Break: March 16-20, 2020
  • Last day of school: May 20, 2020
District considering change to valedictorian/salutatorian process
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During the March 4 Maize Board of Education meeting, board members discussed a proposal to update the way Maize USD 266 recognizes top graduating seniors.

Rather than name a valedictorian and salutatorian, the district is considering a laude system in which it recognizes the top 3 percent of the class with summa cum laude (highest honor), the top 3 percent to 10 percent with magna cum laude (high honor) and anyone with a weighted grade point average of 4.0 or higher with cum laude (honor).

This system would encourage the exploration of courses, including fine arts electives, without students worrying about sacrificing academic recognition.

This potential change, proposed by high school principals, is one the district has researched. Dr. Higgins has discussed it with the Superintendent Student Advisory Team. Generally, students are very supportive and like that it would recognize more people for achieving very highly academically.

The district may opt to transition to this system in coming years. It could fully replace the valedictorian and salutatorian system beginning with the class of 2023. Should the district move forward with this system, it will be considered through the annual policy update process later this year.
Maize High School Climate Club wins $10,000 for scientific research
to help improve quality, safety of community's drinking water
During the February regular monthly Maize Board of Education meeting, members of the Maize High School Climate Club spoke about their fascinating research on water in Cheney Reservoir, which
serves as a source of drinking water for the community.

Their weekly work of collecting data at the water source is contributing to scientific studies of why harmful algal blooms occur. You can click here to watch a recent news story from KAKE-TV, Channel 10.

Students also won $10,000 in scholarships and grants via the Lexus Eco Challenge and are competing for an additional $30,000.
Sophomore Isaac Stanton , founder of the Maize High School Climate Club and
a student of teacher Amy Hammett ’s, explained the club’s water research to
KAKE-TV recently. He and fellow club members presented to Maize Board of Education members on Feb. 11.
Next meeting: The Maize Board of Education meets next at 7 p.m. April 8 at the Maize Educational Support Center, 905 W. Academy Ave. in Maize. The meeting is open to the public.
Shining Stars
Michelle Hilliard named 2019 Kansas Master Teacher
Michelle Hilliard, math teacher and assistant principal at Complete High School Maize, has been named a 2019 Kansas Master Teacher.

She is one of seven educators statewide to receive the distinction. Please click here to view more information about Michelle and her fellow winners, selected by Emporia State University.

Mrs. Hilliard also receives $1,000 via the Bank of America Charitable Foundation. She will be recognized on Master Teacher Day, April 3 at Emporia State University.

In 1954, Emporia State began the annual Kansas Master Teacher awards, which recognize "the outstanding qualities of earnest and conscientious teachers."

Earlier this month, Mrs. Hilliard and a few of her students presented to the Maize Board of Education about Complete High School Maize’s General Store, which students operate at Reflection Ridge Retirement Community near 21st Street and Tyler Road in Wichita. The experience builds relationships and teaches finance and marketing, among other subjects. Please click here to learn more.

Mrs. Hilliard leads the General Store project and uses it to teach her students. It is just one of many examples of how she uses heart and innovation in her teaching.
Two Maize High wrestlers win state
Congratulations to Maize High School students Devin Gomez and Kyle Haas , 5A state wrestling champions!

Devin, pictured at left, is a j unior and competed in the 145-pound weight class with an undefeated record of 54-0. Kyle, a sophomore, competed in the 182-pound weight class with a 48-1 record.
Good luck at state!
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The Maize South High School girls basketball team and the Maize High School boys basketball team are headed to the state tournament this week.

The Mavericks face St. Thomas Aquinas at 4:45 p.m. March 6, and the Eagles face St. James Academy at 3 p.m. March 7.

Good luck to our OneMa1ze teams!
From left, Vermillion Elementary School students Hadlee McConaghie , Maggie Jennings , Allison Owens , and Katareena Birkner were selected to participate in the Kansas Music Educators' Association Elementary honor choir this year. They performed at the KMEA Annual Conference on Feb. 21.
Congrats to Vermillion Elementary School student Johnathan Wilson , recently named Super Car Kid of the Week!
District News
Pre-K, kindergarten enrollment night March 28 at Maize High School
If you have an incoming Pre-K or kindergarten student who will start school at Maize USD 266 in August 2019, please plan to attend our enrollment night, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 28 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. 

For more information about kindergarten enrollment, please click here or call the enrollment hotline at 316-350-2050. 
Maize Education Foundation Updates
Join the Foundation for its new March 28 Spring Breakfast event
The Maize Education Foundation is excited to host its inaugural Spring Breakfast and bring together the business and education communities in support of local public education. The event, at Abode Venue at 1330 E. Douglas in Wichita, will be catered by the Maize Career Academy culinary students and feature a pop-up shop hosted by the Complete High School Maize General Store. 

Join us for the breakfast and hear Superintendent Dr. Chad Higgins deliver a State of the District address followed by an inspiring message from Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson!

The Foundation also will take a special moment during the program in honor of Kenton Cox for his many contributions to the Maize School District.

Tickets and more event information can be found at www.maizeeducationfoundation.org .
Test drive a car April 6 to help raise money for the Foundation
The Maize Education Foundation is partnering with Mel Hambelton Ford to host a Drive 4 Ur School event. It will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 6 in the parking lot at Maize South Elementary School , 3404 N. Maize Road in Wichita.

Each qualified test drive raises $20, with a chance to raise more than $10,000 to support the students and educators of Maize Schools! 

Contact Executive Director Travis Bloom at  tbloom@usd266.com  or 316-350-2029 for more information.
Students can apply to receive up to $500 for enrichment opportunity
Student Enrichment Grants are due March 20. Students in grades 7-12 can visit  www.maizeeducationfoundation.org  for eligibility requirements and to download your application!
Around School
Annual Run2Believe 5K Memorial Run/Walk scheduled for March 23
Registration is open for the March 23 Run2Believe 5K Memorial Run/Walk, which honors the memories of Kylie Jobe and Kyle Thornburg. Tragically, the Maize High School sweethearts and graduates were killed in 2011 by a drunk driver.

Run2Believe proceeds help raise awareness in local high schools against drinking and driving and support the Maize High and Maize South High School After Prom programs. In collaboration with the Maize Education Foundation, p roceeds also benefit scholarships to two Maize students in Kyle’s name, one for Architecture and one for Soccer, as well as the Kylie Jobe Endowment at the Oklahoma State University Foundation.

Register today to participate at run2believe.org.
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.