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R EPORT TO THE COMMUNITY

SPRING 2013

Educating each child for success

Farewell to Dr. Smith Board Selects New Superintendent Promises Kept on Community Projects


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REPORT TO THE COMMUNITY SPRING 2013

Board Names New Superintendent

Dr. Fred Czerwonka of West Plains Will Lead SJSD A West Plains, MO, educator will be the next Superintendent of Schools in St. Joseph. Dr. Fred L. Czerwonka, 41, currently Superintendent in West Plains will succeed Dr. Melody Smith as Superintendent on July 1. The Board of Education announced his selection on March 1. The St. Joseph School District is considered one of the top districts in the state, said Dr. Czerwonka, a fact that made his decision to accept the Board’s offer an easy one. “My first step will be to build relationships with all stakeholders to communicate that children are priority one,” said Dr. Czerwonka, who describes himself as a child-centered decision maker. “I firmly believe that you must listen your way to solutions, so I will listen to St. Joseph.” The new Superintendent was introduced by the Board President, Dr. Dan L. Colgan. “We believe Dr. Czerwonka will do a great job for us and that his passion for the success of all children will translate into continued progress in student achievement and a great relationship with the staff and the community,” said Dr. Colgan. “He also has a strong background in school finance, which will be of great benefit in the coming years.” Dr. Czerwonka, born and raised in Houston, TX, said he will forge a relationship with the community so as to maintain the SJSD’s reputation as one of the top districts in the state. “I am honored to be a part of the future direction of one of the premier academic school districts,” he said. Dr. Czerwonka, who attended the Harvard Leadership Institute for Superintendents (2012), has

doctorate (2005) and specialist’s (2005) degrees from St. Louis University. He holds master’s (1995) and bachelor’s (1993) degrees from Freed Hardeman University in Henderson, TN. He has spent the last 10 years in West Plains as Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Middle School Principal and High School Principal. Prior to that he was a classroom teacher at Doniphan High School, Doniphan, MO, and at Chester County High School in Tennessee. In addition he has served as an Adjunct Professor of Education at William Woods University in Fulton, MO, since 2004. He and his wife, Wendy, have three children: a son is married with two children; a daughter is a freshman at Harding University; and a son who is a sophomore at West Plains High School. At West Plains, Dr. Czerwonka led the development and implementation of a new strategic plan, restructured operations to reduce expenditures by 10 percent, coached other superintendents through the Kansas/Missouri Superintendents Forum, led the district as it consistently earned “Top 10 Highest Performing School” recognition from the state. Dr. Colgan thanked Dr. Smith for her leader- Dr. Fred Czerwonka will be the new Superintendent. ship and commitment to the District. “We appreciate the progress you have made struction of the first new schools in approximately in student achievement,” he said, referring to Dr. 40 years. Smith. “You have served us well.” Dr. Czerwonka will receive a base salary of Dr. Smith announced her resignation in De$190,000, plus a $12,000 annuity, a $500 per month cember after serving as Superintendent since 2006. car allowance, and the normal staff benefit package. During her tenure the community approved the con-

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Report to the Community Spring 2013

11

Visit Family Place, a fun new learning place for children 0 - 6 and their families, at the Downtown Library Children’s Area, 927 Felix Street

The St. Joseph Public Library supports learning for all ages.

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Report to the Community Spring 2013

It’s about HEALTH, and it’s about time. 

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2

Report to the Community Spring 2013

Todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s students are tomorrowâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s leaders. Quality public schools are a great investment.


REPORT TO THE COMMUNITY SPRING 2013

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A few words from the Superintendent

Dr. Melody Smith Superintendent

Around 12:01 AM each January 1, millions of people begin to hum a tune derived from a poem by Robert Burns’ from the late 1700s. The lyrics for auld lange syne are translated in a variety of ways with most of them referring to memories of the past. These few words are grounded in a chapter I will fondly entitle Times Gone Before. For 25 years I have walked into the halls of the St. Joseph School District. Although my heart has chapters full of memories of events, successes, failures, regrets, celebrations, and sadness in times of tragic loss, mostly my heart is full of faces. There is a special page reserved for the colleagues with whom I served this great community. Their faces reflect love and care for those precious lives that join us six-seven hours a day, intensity of purpose, and unwavering commitment. Not one of my colleagues (educators and all of those who provide educational support services) takes lightly the job they have

Proudly Supporting... Our Community Our Schools

to do for the sake of educating and caring for kids. I can see and feel their stories. Words will never articulate the fullness of heart I feel in having worked alongside such professionals for a quarter-of-a-century. It’s a story yet to be written. After reading this short message, I hope you find yourself humming along with me – let’s raise a cup of kindness, friend, for the sake of times and people gone before. I take my leave from the SJSD with a prayer of gratefulness for this chapter that mostly includes the names of people who taught me what real collaboration for the sake of kids means. My experience in the SJSD is punctuated through stories that are exemplary of the measure of the commitment to integrity, excellence, purpose, mission, and partnership that are framed through the life of a SJSD child’s future. And mostly moments of laughter, love, and labor in service of children and youth in St. Joseph with friends I love is the repeated theme

that finishes the last line. What a blessing it has been! To those who make it happen? Keep on keepin’ on! It’s time for us to turn the page…and write the next chapter as Larry and I continue to support you through our commitment to the St. Joseph community. Godspeed to you, Friends. Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind?  Should auld acquaintance be forgot,  And auld lang syne!  For auld lang syne, my dear,  For auld lang syne.  We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,  For auld lang syne. – Robert Burns 

Dr. Melody Smith Send your input and questions to officeofthesuperintendent@sjsd.k12.mo.us

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REPORT TO THE COMMUNITY SPRING 2013

School Board Members Serve without Compensation The St. Joseph School District Board of Education consists of seven elected members, who serve without compensation. The Boardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s main duties involve selecting and evaluating the superintendent, approving a budget and making policy. Board members serve a term of six years and may not serve more than two consecutive terms. The Board members include: Dr. Dan Colgan, President; Brad Haggard, Vice President; Sue Wagner; Sarah Siemens; Chris Danford; Martin Rucker; Dennis Snethen.

Sue Wagner

The Board divides its work through three standing committees: finance, curriculum and personnel. Each Board member serves on two committees, and the Board President serves as ex officio member to all committees. The Board normally meets the second Monday of each month during the school year. The June and August meeting dates are set to accommodate the adoption of the budget and the setting of the tax rate. The Board does not meet in July.

Sarah Siemens

Chris Danford

Dr. Dan Colgan President

Brad Haggard Vice President

Martin Rucker

Dennis Snethen

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REPORT TO THE COMMUNITY SPRING 2013

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1213 N N. Belt Hwy. Hwy While patrons of the St. Joseph School District await the construction of two new schools, the behind-the-scenes work of preparing for the sale of bonds to pay for the work has occurred quietly and steadily. Janet Pullen, Chief Financial Officer for the District, has worked with Piper Jaffray and George K. Baum to develop a timetable for the sale of the $42 million in bonds and to implement the sale in three components. The District issued approximately $11 million in general obligation bonds in September 2012. A portion of these, $1,130,000, were Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZABs), which qualified for a federal subsidy of the interest rate resulting in interest cost to the District of only .76 percent. Because the other $9.98 million was less than $10 million (in a calendar year), they were eligible to be “bank qualified.” Bank

qualified bonds generally have interest rates that are up to 50 basis points (1/2 percent) lower than other general obligation bonds. The average rate on these bonds was 2.541 percent. This first sale paid for the air conditioning of several schools, plus the early costs associated with the construction of the two elementary schools. So, of the $42 million of bonds authorized by voters in April 2012, that leaves $30,890,000 still to be issued. Plans are to issue about $21 million in April 2013 and the remaining $9.5 million in 2014. This plan for the timing of the sale of bonds is important for several reasons. First, the last $10 million of cash will not be needed for construction expenditures until next year. Deferring the issuance until then avoids interest expense until the bonds are issued. Leaving slightly less than $10 million

for 2014 makes that eligible to be bank qualified, which, historically, means a lower interest rate. Second, issuing $21 million in April is planned because the sale will be after bids for the two elementary schools and the air conditioning projects have been opened, and early April is considered a good time in the bond markets as there are usually not as many municipal issues, which could increase demand and lower the cost for these bonds. The contracts for building the two schools, the first in nearly 40 years, are expected to be awarded in early April. Finally, issuing a substantial portion earlier reduces the risk of interest rates increasing before the bonds are issued. The District and its financial advisors will monitor the outlook for interest rates closely to determine if it makes more sense to lock in the interest rates earlier on the entire $30.89 million.

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REPORT TO THE COMMUNITY SPRING 2013

A Page Turns in the St. Joseph School District Dr. Melody Smith will step down as Superintendent of Schools for the St. Joseph School District on June 30. Dr. Smith assumed the Superintendency on an interim basis on January 3, 2006, and was named Superintendent in March of that year. She held several positions during her career, including Director of Secondary Education, Assistant Principal at Benton High School and Coordinator of Language Arts. She taught language arts for most of her career, which began in North Platte School District in 1987. Some of the milestones during her tenure as Superintendent: • The District earned Distinction in Performance for its student achievement for six years • The District conducted an 18-month long community

engagement initiative – PACT (Planning A Course Together) • The community renewed a 63-cent temporary operating levy • The community passed a bond issue that will build two new elementary schools and provide air conditioning As she prepares to turn the page on a new chapter in her life, and the District’s, Dr. Smith talked about these accomplishments, as well as the challenges of her Superintendency in the following interview.

What are the achievements you are most proud of and why? First of all, achievements are never the result of one person but rather the efforts of a team of dedicated professionals fixed on the same goal – in this

case the goal is educating our children and youth so they are ready to walk into any post-secondary opportunity with the skills they need to succeed. As a team, we have accomplished the following goals together. I think there are three major ones. The professional development of staff continues to be powerful in this District, not only because it is evidence- and researchbased, but because it puts tools in the hands of teachers so they can deliver even greater instruction. And under professional development, I would add these bullet points: continuation of instructional coaching, and job-embedded professional development and data teams working together to better educate our students. As well as the addition of specialists proficient in training for instructional technology, connections to federal programs, curriculum writing

for special services, training of special services teachers with regular education teachers and use of the “train the trainer” model to keep up with the pace of change in the world of public education. Also, we have made sure that we have invested in our educational support personnel by giving them the training they need to do their jobs. I believe that what we did yesterday must be replaced by what we need to do tomorrow – that is the model for continuous improvement and ought to be our goal. The second accomplishment would be community engagement. In order to provide high quality staff and high quality educational programing that meets the needs of the students who walk in the door, you must have an engaged community. My personal philosophy is that the public deserves to be part of its school district’s present and future. After all, we serve them through direct services to their children and youth. The third would be the results of that community engagement. As part of that initiative, we put a microscope on our facilities and celebrated what we had, but also recognized that some of our schools needed to be re-purposed or retired. The St. Joseph community made the decision to invest in two new schools and I was happy to participate in the conversation that made that happen. Mr. Weston of NPG recently asked me what I thought the impact of new schools would have on the St. Joseph community. I shared that one thing I have learned during the past seven years is that businesses and people looking for a new town as their home frequently shop online before they physically visit our great city. St. Joseph has many amenities that appeal to the quality of life that newcomers want in a place they decide to call home. Two new schools, renovations and air conditioning in several of our schools will add to that appeal. Hopefully, over time, we can look back and know that the community’s decision to build two new schools will have


REPORT TO THE COMMUNITY SPRING 2013

the size of the pot shrank. Revenue that we had forecast from the state decreased. And as the recession hit, there came the challenge of a local election. The recession hit the community’s homes and businesses as hard as it hit the state. Those two things caused the great challenge of looking at how we said we would What were the greatest function in the future. As a result, we challenges? One has certainly been the ever-in- reduced the number of elementary creasing rate of poverty in the District. schools from 18 to 16. However, from that challenge As citizens we have a sense of how came what I call a mandate that the poverty impacts our community, but community wanted to be part of the the depth of impact poverty has on a decision-making concerning the child who needs to learn is immeasurschool system. During the summer able. Children and youth cannot learn of 2009, a community group came to when they are hungry. They cannot the Board with a two-pronged remedy: think and pay let us help attention when you renew they don’t the 63 cent know where temporary they will live. levy, and let Kids cannot us be a part of function as the District’s normal when decision makthey have such ing through great needs a community they cannot engagement concentrate. initiative that The SJSD freewill provide and reduceda long range rate has facilities plan increased from and recomjust over 51% mendations to right at 63% for other key since 2006. As areas, such as needs increase, – Dr. Melody Smith, technology, our challenges Superintendent financing, staff as educators salaries, early increase. We childhood must not look education, safety and security, and back to days gone by. We must figure continued engagement. out what is needed for their future. So what was a tragic reality from Perhaps the greatest challenge, the April 2009 election, became a though, was when the great recession victory in November 2009, and led to hit home. The District depends on community engagement, which led to three pots of money – federal, state the building of two new schools and and local. The foundation formula a “yes” vote of 65.49 percent. Defeats was drafted so that districts could and victories are a part of life itself and project and count on state revenue – definitely they were indicative of the districts could forecast how funding past three years. would look in the future. What I learned, personally and proBecause of the recession, although fessionally, was a true understanding the state continued to commit around of stewardship – that the St. Joseph 30 percent of its money to education, impacted economic development for the better. But the most important impact new schools will have on our community is that close to 1,000 elementary children will be learning in a new facility. That’s the real impact!

St. Joseph is more than a pin on the map. I believe it has unlimited, untapped potential. No matter where you go in St. Joseph, you always run across a friend.

7

School District operates only from the generosity of taxpayers – broadly at the federal level, more specifically at the state level, and most importantly at the local level. Looking back, it was clear that a former board member, Mr. Ed Murphy was correct when he advised me in March 2006: “It’s time for the ‘public’ to be part of the ‘public education system.’”

The St. Joseph School District is the third largest employer in St. Joseph, among the top 20 largest school districts in Missouri – how does someone prepare for the leadership of such a large district? Preparing for the SJSD superintendency means grounding one’s roots, first, in the values that have driven you personally throughout life, but most importantly grounding one’s roots deeply in the community, whether one is local or from afar. Understanding and investing in the community comes right after teaching and learning, in terms of preparation. Like any community that is diverse, there will be ups and downs. St. Joseph is more than a pin on the map. I believe it has unlimited, untapped potential. No matter where you go in St. Joseph, you always run across a friend.

What challenges do you see in the future for the school district? One of the greatest challenges facing us is that we are all that the children have and they are all that we have. Our job is to prep them with the skills – technical, speaking, writing, thinking, problem solving, decision-

making – all the attributes they will need to be effective citizens. It’s our job to make them able to walk through any door that opens in their future. The District must be visionary for the sake of our community. Since the job of teaching and learning is our core business, we must see that resources are in place to do the work of the present and for the future. Nothing less is good enough for our children and youth who are depending on us to make the right decisions for them. However, another large challenge that lies ahead will be to maintain an intense focus on our core business, which is teaching and learning. Nothing productive or good happens because of a single person. Results come when everyone (students, teachers, parents, support personnel, administration, community and the Board of Education) moves in the same direction, with the same energy and the same intense focus. We must be wise and forward thinking in advocacy for future generations. We must show up for them! And with all of the opportunities that lie ahead, I wish blessings to the new superintendent as both of us turn a new page in our lives. Godspeed, friends.


8

REPORT TO THE COMMUNITY SPRING 2013

SJSD Expenditures, Revenue Explained The budgeted operating revenues for fiscal year 2013 are $117.7 million, an increase of 0.1 percent from fiscal 2012. The largest amount, 33.8 percent, comes from the state’s foundation formula. Another 33.7 percent comes from local property taxes. Approximately 12.3 percent comes from the federal government; all federal revenues are designated for special programs.

The budgeted expenditures for fiscal year 2013 exceed operating revenues by approximately $8.6 million, which will be paid from District reserves. A large portion of this deficit is due to net expenditures of $3.8 million for the construction of athletic facilities ( field houses and press boxes) at the District’s high schools. The field house projects are public-private partnerships. Superintendent Search

Dr. Bob Watkins of the Missouri School Boards Association discusses the search process for a new SJSD Superintendent with community members.

Governor Visits Hosea

Dr. Melody Smith introduces Governor Jay Nixon during a visit to Hosea Elementary School. The Governor visited a classroom and discussed his proposals for additional revenue for K-12 education and early childhood education while at the school.

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REPORT TO THE COMMUNITY SPRING 2013

9

SJSD Promises Kept: Project Update Community Priorities

St. Joseph School District Response

Early Childhood – Explore opportunities to improve the overall quality of early childhood education (preschool) in the St. Joseph School District and offer the service to all qualifying children with certificated teachers.

• Added four pre-kindergarten (PK) classrooms, expanding to 500+ seats - Complete • Exploring additional preschool opportunities with partners – Ongoing • Added local funding for Parents as Teachers Coordinator to FY12 budget and continued support through in-kind and resources - Complete • Opened SJSD Early Learning Center with 3 PK classrooms and Early Childhood professional training classroom – Complete • Adopted High Scope Curriculum and an assessment program to ensure quality and accountability - Complete

Security – Ensure a safe teaching-learning environment for all students and staff by offering the highest level of safety/security conditions and procedures in all District buildings.

• Provided funds for keyless entry doors – Complete • Provided funds for security cameras – Complete • Provided funds for improved exterior lighting – Ongoing

Facilities – Develop and implement a comprehensive Facilities Master Plan.

• Passed No tax rate increase GO bond referendum with 65.49% approval to build 2 new elementary schools and air condition as many elementary schools as possible – Projected completion Fall 2014 • Installed air conditioning at Parkway, Coleman, Hosea, Lindbergh, & Skaith Elementary Schools – Complete • (Mark Twain, Pershing, Field, Ellison, & Pickett scheduled for FY14 and FY15) • Address a portion of needs identified in long-range capital improvement projects plan – Ongoing • Public/Private partnerships – BHS, CHS, HTC facility additions – BHS Complete, CHS mid-January completion, HTC private fundraising ongoing

Staffing – Recruit and retain an exceptional teaching staff dedicated to educating SJSD students.

• Provided for ~1% annual raise, provided steps on salary schedule, and educational attainment step – Ongoing • Provided funds for powerful professional development and/or training – Ongoing

Technology – Create and put in place a long-term plan for technology and the learning environments necessary for success in a competitive, global society.

• Implemented student technology immersion project (Project Connect) at selected grade levels at Benton, Central, and Lafayette High Schools; Bode, Spring Garden, Truman, and Robidoux Middle Schools; Edison, Lindbergh, Hosea, Noyes, Mark Twain, Humboldt, Lake, & Hall Elementary Schools –Phases 1 Complete & Phase 2 Ongoing

Finance – Take action to address SJSD’s long-term financial solvency in order to provide a quality education.

• Passed 63-cent Operating Levy with Sunset in November 2009 - Complete • Restricted reserves for current and future projects to address various needs - Ongoing

Other Recommendations

• Continued community engagement between the community and the SJSD • Communicate results through status reports

Report To The Community: St Joseph School District Magazien, Spring 2013  

Report To The Community: St Joseph School District Magazien, Spring 2013

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