Journey of a Superintendent: Coming Together

Dr. Cynthia Lane, Superintendent of Schools

Remember when . . . We all have experiences that create lasting memories that we think about fondly, even as the images fade. I had a “remember when” moment last week as the district, community and parents came together to dedicate our new Central Office and Training Center. Long after the ceremony and celebration, the structure will continue to serve as a powerful symbol of what we believe about the importance of educating our children.

The new building is in the heart of the district, and was constructed to replace two separate facilities. One had been condemned, and moving from the other will allow us to work together much more efficiently, while also expanding public library services.  It is noteworthy that even in this difficult economy, the district put together a financial plan that resulted in a state-of-art facility at a lower cost (over a 20 year period) than that of leasing and maintaining the previous locations. The creative financing, along with the improvements in the quality of the facility, might have been reason enough for a gathering. Yet, for me, the building was only an excuse for the real reason for the celebration: our students.

I hope the community will come into the facility to see the halls filled with photographs of our students. These images are on display as a constant reminder of why the work we are doing is so important. Paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and many other forms of art, created by our students, adorn the halls and are on display in the art gallery. At the entrance to the building, a sculpture of towering hands holding a globe (designed by a recent graduate and a high school senior, and constructed by a craftsman-employee) represents the district, community, and parents coming together around the importance of educating each child.

At the end of each day, and sometimes long into the night, I replay in my mind the experiences of the day. No matter what occurred during the day, I look for what seemed to be right on or what missed the mark. I believe that on this night, we got it right. We came together to view a new community asset. And we left knowing that it is our kids we celebrate, every grownup, every child, every day.  “It’s up to us!”

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To view an online photo album of the open house and dedication ceremony for the new Central Office and Training Center click here: http://www.kckps.org/photos/openhouse/.

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10 Responses to Journey of a Superintendent: Coming Together

  1. LaRonna Tisdale says:

    The building is nice and all but as a tax payer to USD500 I would have rather seen the money go to getting our students books. Did you know some of our schools classrooms dont have books? or the books they do have are very outdated? or how about some afterschool programs to get the students in our district at ATLEAST meeting math and reading goals. Our schools are failing academically. I would like to see my monies put toward solving THIS problem.

  2. Nancy Jensen says:

    I agree with LaRonna Tisdale. I am an elementary teacher in USD 500,married to a teacher in this district and a taxpayer in Wyandotte Co. I’m sure the new building is wonderful, but the schools in this district are missing a lot of technology and even more basic items like text books at the secondary level and reading material at the elementary level. Much of our building reading material is hopelessly outdated and worn to the point of falling apart. And we don’t always have enough books to give each child in a reading group a book without copying entire books. As teachers, we shouldn’t have to fight to get the books and materials we need for instruction. Neither should we have to buy it out of our own pockets as many of us do. I know there are some budget line items that cannot be transfered to others, but let’s put our money and efforts where it really counts–on the students, not the housing of the out of school building administrative staff.

    • Dr. Lane says:

      Nancy,
      Thanks for the comments. We realize that there are some cases where the materials are not in the condition that we would like for them to be, but we have been making strides to improve them. This past year we have purchased new textbooks for middle school Language Arts and Science. New Biology and Chemistry textbooks were purchased for the high school as well. We’ve budgeted to add new Mathematics textbooks for the high school next year along with resources for American Government, Economics and sixth grade Social Studies. We’ve added new science resources for a third of our elementary schools with plans to add the resources to the remaining schools over the next two years. We increased the amount of reading resources to provide an equitable amount across the district this year. We replenish materials for our elementary math classes each year.

      We are working to improve resources at all levels, including technology resources. The funds used for capital improvements cannot be spent on materials. We may want to advocate with our legislators for more flexibility with the financial resources provided by the State.

      We are concerned about our resources for Reading. That must be our next focus. If there are specific things your school is lacking, please let us know.

  3. Beth Brown says:

    Please correct me if I am wrong, but the money that was used to fund the new offices comes from a different budget specifically for new buildings or building improvements. I am a parent of children whom attend KCK schools so I completely understand where the above comments are coming from, but thise funds could not be used in the classrooms. It also was done somewhat out of need not want, because Indian springs is being torn down and the district offices had to be removed by the end of 2010.

    • Dr. Lane says:

      Beth,
      You are correct. The funds for the new building come from sources that can only be used for construction and repairs. I want to learn more about the materials that the teacher mentioned are not available. We need to and will develop a plan to address the need for materials. I applaud you both for putting the information out there.

  4. Charlie says:

    Dr. Lane:

    While in the elevator of the new building several of us were in conversation about where the money came from for the new building. While some of us understand the budgets, or financial side of what the district has to follow, we are finding that the community and staff do not understand what funds can support what for the district.
    Is there a way to educate the community on how this works and why the funds given are allocated the way they are. To understand this will allow the community to understand that as our superintendent you have to follow state guide lines and laws for the money given. Then maybe our community would be more willing to be more supportive when our district makes what seems “unreasonable spending”. The new building is a much need place for our valued employees to come together and work and meet in one place. It is definitely a cost effective move on the districts part. Thank you for chosing to improve our district in ways that benefit our students, parents and community.

    • Dr. Lane says:

      Charlie,
      Thanks for the encouragement to clarify the funds for the new building. You are correct that the sources used for the building are limited to capital expenditures. Some of the funds we received, such as the construction bonds, could only be used for this particular project. We will put something on the District’s web page that helps explain the funding sources.

    • Tammy says:

      Charlie,

      As promised, there is information posted on the district website that details the sources of our funding for the new building. You can access it at: http://www.kckps.org/about/.

  5. Concerned says:

    Although, I agree we needed a space to relocate, we knew this when we left the old elementary buildings and the Minnesota building and relocated to Indian Springs. We spent money of signs, on special equipment, decor and such that could not be moved and was a waste for the few years we were there. I think our schools need the same attention. Our schools look rundown and dirty. Take that money – which can be used for improvements and make our schools an inviting place to learn. Don’t our kids deserve the best – and our teachers as well.

    The new building has new furniture, where did that money come from? That could have been shared with our students. I would love just a set of chairs and desks in my classroom that were from 1980 or after. Some that are not torn up and are safe for my kids and myself to use. Some that don’t wobble so our kids can use manipulatives to learn. Some that don’t tear clothes or put splinters in bodies.

    I understand supplies are necessary, but when I go to meetings and the higher ups have all the nice things and we sit with little ability to ask for supplies and are not even given appropiate raises while you pay millions to an outside agency from curriculum funds to come into our rooms on occasion and maybe or maybe not help us at all.
    Maybe a look really does need to be taken, are we doing what is best for kids? Are we being equal to all schools across the district? Do we have the ability to help ourselves or do we need to pay Millions (more than we need to cut) to an outsider to tell us what to do? If we can’t figure out what they have told us, maybe we need to look at if we have the right people in the right places, or if we just have some who have befriended the right person?

    Our kids deserve the best and when teachers don’t feel appreciated, heard or valued they can’t give what they need to their students.

    • Dr. Lane says:

      Concerned,
      Thank you for informing me of the challenges in resources. I often see things in the schools and ask for plans and action to address the needs.
      You are right to ask about funding for the Central Office and about items that were not removed from Indian Springs. Believe me I wanted us to take everything down to the sheet rock. However, the lease did not allow us to do so. The new Central Office was constructed with funds used to relocate the Education Center after the condemnation. In addition, Federal Stimulus funds were used to finance the building at 3% interest. This allowed us to use the dollars we were spending for rent to be used to pay for on bonds over a 20 year period for the new facility. Over a twenty year period our payment is less than the rent for Indian Springs.
      Much of the furniture was brought from the Central Office and the Education Center. What was replaced was done so as a result of trading in all of the old furniture at a cost less than moving the old equipment.
      None-the-less, you are right our schools have many needs. Over the last 2 years we have constructed a new preschool, renovated 4 elementary schools and a high school. We have plans to renovate several other facilities in the near future.
      You are absolutely correct about is the need to plan for furniture replacement. Don’t assume that everyone is aware that what you are using is in poor condition. I have learned that our processes for communication are not always effective.
      Thank you for putting that in front of my thinking. As we manage through the dramatic loss of school financing ($46 million over 4 years), we still must find a way to do what our kids and teachers need. Help me by providing the details of what is needed through email or direct communication.

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