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Maize USD 266 Parent Newsletter - May 2020
Superintendent's Message
Now more than ever, our world illustrates the necessity to meet all students' needs


My years of training and experience as an educator have led me to learn about, prepare for, and imagine all kinds of scenarios schools and students would find themselves living.
I never could have imagined a district, community, and world that looked like what we have seen in the past two months. Our classrooms are empty, sports and activities are canceled, and we even are exploring simply how to handle high school graduations for the Class of 2020. Just when we need like never before to lean in, we instead must keep our distance.
The silver lining is that we have pulled together as OneMa1ze in an environment that truly tests us. I was confident before that our district can be the best on a good day. Now we are facing a trial on whether we can be the best on more challenging days.
When our school buildings and others across Kansas closed, we had more work to do than moving our learning online, which was no small feat in itself. We had to figure out how our food service department could feed our students, especially those in need who depend on us for their meals. Our school nurses had to return vital student medicine to families who need it. Our counselors were faced with the puzzle of how to help students struggling with existing and new social-emotional stresses brought about by a global pandemic.
Clearly, our students, the youth of our community, depend on school for even more than their education. I have shared with you before that I guide the district and my own decision-making with the question, "What is best for students?" We especially can see now and in these recent weeks that the plural S in students represents so many needs.
I am proud of the grab-and-go meal distribution our food service department is facilitating, providing thousands of meals for our students. Our technology department has worked tirelessly to distribute devices to families who needed them for online learning. I am grateful to the Maize Education Foundation , which has generously funded the purchase of hot spots for district families needing internet connectivity for Continuous Learning. I am inspired by the daily emotional health tip counselors and social-emotional educators are sharing on social media. I hope parents find the OneMa1ze Continuous Learning Parent Resource page at bit.ly/OneMa1zeLearns as helpful as we have designed it to be.
These su ccess stories aside, I will be the first to recognize that we can continue to learn how we can better support our students and families. We will be reviewing the results of our ThoughtExchange survey, in which we asked parents and students the following question: What are your thoughts and questions about Maize USD 266’s response to COVID-19, and how can we best support each other?
Thank you, parents, for partnering with us during a very difficult time. I know it has been challenging for many to juggle our Continuous Learning Plan and your other responsibilities, including your career and family. As a district, we have relied on you and other parents to find a place in your homes and lives for our technology, curriculum, lessons, Google Meets, and more. Your living rooms and kitchen tables have been our school libraries, classrooms, and gyms. For this and your support and grace, I would like to express thanks on behalf of everyone at Maize USD 266.  
We are stronger and better together. I look forward to seeing you each soon and for our schools and community to be once again safe and look more like what we know and love.


Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools
ThoughtExchange Survey

We asked our school community: What are your thoughts and questions about Maize USD 266’s response to COVID-19, and how can we best support each other?

Thank you to the 1,610 people who provided 1,223 thoughts and more than 27,000 ratings. District leaders are reviewing the data, which populated this word cloud.
Mark Your Calendar
Important dates
  • 12: Last day for seniors
  • 20: End of Term Four and last day of school
Class of 2020 graduation ceremonies rescheduled for July 24
In the interest of the safety and health of our students and community, the previously scheduled Maize High School and Maize South High School graduation ceremonies have been rescheduled for July 24 at Hartman Arena. District leaders are in contact with Class of 2020 families on details, which are pending and based on current COVID-19 safety measures.
2019 Bond Project Update
District moves forward on phase one of safety improvements
Maize Board of Education members in March unanimously approved $426,319.19 in purchases to support the first phase of security upgrades. The district will use bond funds where appropriate, as approved by voters in August, and Capital Outlay funds for additional equipment and installation.

Phase one includes the installation of Salto Systems locks, door contacts, servers, and software at Complete High School Maize , with work occurring concurrently with the storm shelter addition bond project; the Maize Early Childhood Center ; and Maize South Elementary School . The district will work on the second phase, the rest of the elementary buildings, while work is being completed on phase one.

Salto Systems will provide digital locks that are programmable and have monitoring capabilities. New district buildings will include them, as well as all existing buildings in the next three years. Overall, security improvements will allow for secure classroom doors, improved cameras and storage for cameras, and exterior access control so the district can better manage who is coming and going, including with those renting facilities.

Please see below for news about another safety measures coming to Maize USD 266.
Improvements to 45th and 119th streets scheduled to begin
May 11, road closure planned for majority of summertime
Bond projects will add a new intermediate school to the northwest corner of 45th and 119th streets in Maize and the new aquatorium pool-auditorium center to the southeast corner of Academy Avenue and 119th Street.

To prepare for those changes and the extra traffic they will bring, upgrades, including a new turning lane, are coming to the intersection of 45th and 119th streets.

Work is scheduled to begin May 11, and 119th Street and 45th Street North will be closed to traffic for a majority of the summer. Please note that all 45th Street entrances to Maize High School will be closed at that time. Anyone needing to access Maize High School during that period must do so by entering the parking lot by the baseball and softball fields from the north. Road closures are indicated in yellow on the accompanying map.

Work is scheduled to be finished by Aug. 10. School for 2020-21 is scheduled to begin on Aug. 11. Please click here to read more about infrastructure and roadway improvements coming to that area .

Please watch district accounts on Facebook and Twitter for details about road closures.
Maize Board of Education Update
New safety tool coming to all classrooms throughout school district
Maize Board of Education members on April 13 approved the installation of Safe Defend for school security. The Capital Outlay project will provide fingerprint-coded boxes for staff members that would house tools needed in a crisis and also alert school contacts and first responders to the location of an emergency. Installation is expected to be complete in August, and training will be provided for employees.
Maize USD 266 to assume its own special education starting in 2021-22 school year via new cooperative with Renwick USD 267
The Kansas State Department of Education in April approved the dissolution of the Sedgwick County Area Educational Services Interlocal Cooperative and formation of a new cooperative with Maize USD 266 and Renwick USD 267. The district will continue to develop its transition plan, which will include needed teachers, support staff members, and administrators. A transition team will address these and other details. On April 13, the Maize Board of Education approved Dr. Christy Skelton to be the new Assistant Superintendent for Special Services to lead special education for Maize USD 266.
Next meeting: The Maize Board of Education's next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 11. Since its March 9 meeting, the board has been meeting virtually and broadcasting live on the district YouTube channel at bit.ly/Maize266YouTube . Those interested can visit the link to watch meetings. 
District News
Kindergarten news and updates for 2020-21 school year
Enrollment: 2020-21 kindergarten enrollment is online this spring now through May 15, 2020. Students must live in the district and be five years of age on or before Aug. 31, 2020 in order to attend kindergarten next school year. Please find complete details on the district website by clicking here . Those who enroll by May 15 will learn about placement by June 1.

Kindergarten Adventure:  Please be aware that due to concerns and practices surrounding COVID-19, there will be no Kindergarten Adventure event in 2020.

Half-day kindergarten locations: Maize USD 266 has seen an increase in demand for half-day kindergarten, a result in part because of the district’s new approach to kindergarten . To accommodate this, Maize USD 266 will add two sections of half-day kindergarten at Pray-Woodman Elementary School . This is in addition to the half-day offerings at Maize Elementary School .

Pray-Woodman also will become a new ESOL school along with Maize Central and Maize South elementary schools. This will help ESOL educators manage and better balance the gradual increase in cases.
Maize Transportation Department rolling out new system
The Maize Transportation Department is working to implement a new system that will provide improved safety and real-time management of the passengers, drivers, and bus fleet. Part of the process with the new Transportant system is for school bus drivers to physically drive each bus a few times on its normal school day route. Driving the route, including stopping at designated bus stops, allows the computer’s GPS system to create a map that will be used by drivers and substitute drivers daily. During this calibration period, you likely will see Maize school buses in your neighborhood. Drivers will not be picking up passengers.
Shining Stars
Six schools receive Capturing Kids' Hearts National Showcase honor
Congratulations to our 2109-2020 Capturing Kids' Hearts National Showcase Schools!

The award reflects schools recognized for successfully implementing Capturing Kids’ Hearts processes and experiencing positive gains in attendance, advancement rate, climate/culture, and academic performance, as well as decreases in discipline referrals.
Celebrating Excellence in Education Awards
Congratulations to the Maize USD 266 2020 Celebrating Excellence in Education winners!
They have been recognized by their peers and administrators as professionals who use effective strategies for improving student performance, interact positively with parents and patrons in the community to promote education, provide leadership and mentoring to fellow teachers, and work as a team player in the district to provide quality educational experiences for students.

Cheryl Rodriguez and Katie Wiechman also have been selected as the district's nominees for the Kansas Department of Education's 2021 Kansas Teacher of the Year.
Dr. Chris Botts named KSPA Administrator of the Year

Congratulations to Dr. Chris Botts, Maize High School Principal, recently named Kansas Scholastic Press Association Administrator of the Year. The non-profit organization supports student journalism students and teachers via contests, conferences, and activities. The award recognizes a Kansas school administrator who supports student media and opportunities for students and staff members.
Students win state journalism awards

Congratulations to Maize USD 266 high school students who recently won the following journalism honors from the Kansas Scholastic Press Association:
Around School
Parents invited to show support during Teacher Appreciate Week
It's Teacher Appreciation Week! The community has seen again these past few weeks how diligently Maize USD 266 educators work to support OneMa1ze students and families. To show them appreciation, the district invites parents to please post a photo of their child either learning from home and being supported by his or her teacher or holding a message of gratitude. Please use the hashtag #OneMa1zeCares. Thank you, teachers, for all you do!
OneMa1ze Cares

Our world today may not look like anything we recognize, but one thing has not changed: OneMa1ze cares! Please click here to watch a video message from our district and building leaders.

Daily tips: During this challenging time, Maize counselors and social-emotional educators are sharing a daily tip to help others persevere and remain strong and emotionally healthy. Find them on the district's social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter .
Maize Education Foundation Updates
Student Enrichment Grants: Last month, the Maize Education Foundation awarded nearly $5,000 in Student Enrichment Grants, supporting a variety of student experiences, including Kay Leadership Camp, Gonzaga Debate Institute, Yale Young Global Scholars, and more. Each semester, Maize students in grades seven through twelve are encouraged to apply for individual grants up to $500 to help cover the costs of enrichment activities. Learn more about the Maize Education Foundation Student Enrichment Grant program here .

Donations: Like many other organizations around the world, the Foundation recently canceled one of its most important events: its annual Spring Breakfast. The Foundation is so incredibly grateful to its 2020 Spring Breakfast sponsors who were able to convert this year's sponsorships into donations totaling nearly $14,000 to support this year's programs, including Challenge Grants, Celebrating Excellence Awards, and Student Enrichment Grants.

Upcoming events: The Foundation has confirmed its 2021 Spring Breakfast date at Botanica for April 1 and is still planning to host its annual Charity Golf Tournament at Reflection Ridge on Aug. 24, 2020. Visit MaizeEducationFoundation.org  to learn more about how you can support the Foundation.
Maize Virtual Preparatory School student Lincoln DeBok installs his first beehive with the help of a Student Enrichment Grant.
District Reminders
See something? Say something! Speak Up tip portal can help
Safety is a top priority for Maize USD 266, and Speak Up is a tool in conjunction with the Crime Stoppers in Schools program in Sedgwick County that accepts anonymous tips to help keep students and schools safe. Click here to check it out.
Join our team!
Interested in joining our Maize Schools team?

Maize USD 266 currently has these positions open, among others:

Open positions also include bus drivers and bus paras. Many openings are part-time jobs with full-time benefits, including:
  • Group health insurance 
  • Summers off 
  • Fall, Winter, and Spring breaks off
  • No evenings or weekends 
  • Bonuses

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.

The Sedgwick County Area Educational Services Interlocal Cooperative has special education para positions open in Maize USD 266 schools, as well. Please click here to learn more .
#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.