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Pictured top: ESU #17 Administration Building in Ainsworth Pictured bottom: (Left) ESU #17 Training Center In Ainsworth, (Right) ESU #17 Special Education Office in Valentine

The 2012-13 school year was extremely busy and rewarding at the same time for the staff at ESU #17. As you will notice in the report, there were many ESU #17 activities and accomplishments that impacted the teachers and students in the area schools. ESU #17 strives to meet the needs of our schools through the dedicated and knowledgeable staff that are committed to helping our school districts. ESU #17 is governed by an eightmember board that represents the five school districts of Ainsworth Community, Cody-Kilgore, Keya Paha County, Rock County, and Valentine Community. Our board members are elected to a four-year term and represent a similar population base. An advisory council that consists of the five

superintendents from the area schools determines services that are provided to area schools. ESU #17 was proud to receive the AdvancED accreditation, which is a voluntary accreditation option through a nongovernmental agency. Our staff has spent many hours during the past few years in preparation for the AdvancED external review. We also received confirmations from the external team and from our schools on our successes and suggestions for changes at the service unit. I so appreciate all of the dedicated work of the staff in the achievement of this goal. Please read the annual report to see the many happenings throughout all of the ESU #17 departments.

The 2012-2013 school year brought many changes to ESU #17 that have positively impacted not only our agency, but also our fellow ESUs and area schools. Perhaps the change with the largest impact on our area at large was the purchase and installation of the Radvision Distance Learning Bridge. This new bridge allows up to 30 different school or ESU locations to connect to one another in high definition. In addition, this system creates a new environment of ease by allowing its users to connect to others via Polycom (DL) carts or their webcam-equipped computers. While it has been installed for less than a calendar year, the utilization by our ESU, our fellow ESUs, and area schools has created a cost savings throughout the state. In addition, the bridge has allowed for expanded curriculum for our schools by creating an environment for virtual field trips, event broadcasting, and collaboration projects. For instance, in February of 2013, the ESU #17 bridge allowed 25 schools and over 2000 middle and high school students across the state to participate in a Holocaust Survivors presentation. The Radvision Distance Learning Bridge allowed students the opportunity to gain first hand knowledge of a historic event directly from a Holocaust survivor without leaving their classrooms. While the bridge has allowed our ESU to grow technologically, receiving accreditation this year through AdvancED has allowed us to grow as an agency. After years of preparation, ESU #17 was visited by an AdvancED accreditation team in April of 2013. The visit proved successful and ESU #17 became an NCA accredited institution. This accreditation process has been especially meaningful for our staff members, as it has given each of us a greater sense of vision, focus, and purpose as it relates to our day-to-day activities. Finally, changes in our physical locations have also impacted nearly every realm of ESU #17. With the start of the 2012-2013 school year, our Media Department, which was formerly located in Valentine, moved into our Training Center in Ainsworth. This move allowed all members of ESU #17 Core Services to be united under one roof. With the Media Department under a new roof, the remaining staff members in the Valentine Office also changed office spaces. Now located on South Hall Street in Valentine, the new office allows for decreased costs, a conference room, and private rooms for greater confidentiality. Lastly, our Administration Building in Ainsworth was able to receive a facelift this summer as the office portion of the building was remodeled. The remodeling gave the building a more updated, unified look. This year has brought several changes to our agency, but one thing continues to remain constant – our commitment to partnering with schools in order to provide support and resources to enhance teaching and learning.

Children between the ages of 021 in Nebraska are eligible for special education services if they meet state verification guidelines. ESU #17 provides these special education services to students and schools in the areas of speech pathology, resource, school psychology, assistive technology, transition, and program supervision. Early Intervention and service coordination finds services for families to help meet the needs of children below age three. The services coordinator provides assistance in services to families to meet developmental, financial, educational, health care, respite care, and other needs of children. ESU #17 employs 18 special

The ESU #17 Media Department experienced a myriad of changes during the 2012-2013 school year. Not only did the physical location change from Valentine to Ainsworth, but the Department also welcomed a new coordinator, Becky LeZotte. Streamlining was the focus of the Media department during the school year as they worked to move away from physical media distribution and worked towards online streaming and downloading. In order to implement this new focus, the department subscribed to a media on demand program, Learn 360. Staff then conducted four on-site trainings at local schools in order to ensure proper use and understanding of the new system.

education employees. Services are provided to all area schools. Additionally, program supervision is a support service available to the schools to provide effective supervision, consulting and guidance regarding special education services. ESU #17 financial services are available to all schools in the ESU area. Final financial services, IDEA Poverty/Enrollment, and Medicaid in Public schools are examples of support to school districts. ESU #17 uses the Student Record System (SRS), which provides consistency in documentation to meet state and federal requirements on a web-based service.

Using online resources has allowed schools and teachers to access curriculum-enhancing media almost immediately. In addition to Learn 360, schools also have access to WorldBook Online Power Pack, Marshall Cavendish Children’s eBooks, Visual Thesaurus, and online streaming of NE Titles through SNAP. If schools did request physical media, an effort was made to give the schools their own copy of the requested item in order to limit circulation costs. As part of the NNNC group the ESU #17 Media Coordinator helped host the annual Media Workshop in September of 2012 at which 99 media specialists and librarians participated in a day of training and opportunity.

The ESU #17 Technology staff provides technical support and training in the schools and at the Training Center in Ainsworth. A total of 24 workshops serving 194 staff members were provided. Workshop topics included: Using your iPad as a Creative Tool in the Classroom, Using Online Resources and Apps to Engage Your Students in the Core Curriculum Areas of Reading, Math, Science and Social Studies, Google Apps for Education, Productivity and Collaboration Tools and various other educational technology applications. ESU #17 staff also scheduled one-on-one training sessions with teachers at each of our districts. A total of 68 educators throughout our service unit scheduled one-to-one training sessions. Tech staff also conducted workdays for area school staff members who are submitting NSSRS reports and E-rate applications. As part of the NNNC consortium, we

provide broadband Internet access and video services for schools through Network Nebraska. The Technology Center staff is currently maintaining more than 373 email accounts. School web pages and email accounts are hosted on a server owned by the consortium (ESUs 1, 2, 7, 8 and 17). Teacher web pages are hosted on servers at the Tech Center in Ainsworth. As part of the NNNC group the ESU #17 Tech Staff assisted and helped host the 6th annual Summer Tech Institute in May of 2013 at which 332 educators participated in two days of breakout sessions and workshops. ESU #17 also provides for both Internet and distance learning video equipment located in the schools, network support, computer repair and troubleshooting.

ESU #17 Staff Development hosted and/or supported several training opportunities for local educators throughout 2012-2013, including a Hal Urban workshop for educators and parents, C4L Item Submissions, MAP Regional Meetings, NDE Fall Assessment Meeting, NNNC Writing/ Scoring/Data Retreat Sessions for Grades 4, 8, and 11, NDE School Improvement Workshop, and the Valentine/ESU #17 Quiz Bowl.

Onsite continuous improvement assistance was provided in the areas of data, curriculum revision and alignment, steering committee planning sessions, and school improvement goal selection. Additionally, ESU #17 conducted Focus Interviews with each member school district in order to articulate specific areas of support for the 2013-2014 school year.

Additionally, several educators were involved with the Perkins Grant Design Teams (2, 3, and Counselors), which took place in Norfolk. Career Educators were also supported in attending SkillsUSA and the Nebraska Career Education Conference. A new Advisory Committee was formed and met on March 27 via polycom connection to four local locations.

The ESU #17 Staff Development Department also spearheaded our recent AdvancED Accreditation process, which spanned the course of nearly three years. This led to ESU #17’s successful accreditation visit which was held in April of 2013. To read more about our AdvancED Accreditation, please visit page 14 of this annual report.

In addition, the technology staff integrated our new DL bridge system, which you can read about here.

ESU #17 participates in statewide Cooperative Purchasing, a buying consortium that mass purchases school supplies and equipment for Nebraska school districts and State Colleges. Because of the huge volume involved, school districts have been able to realize dramatic savings of tax dollars when participating in the program. During the 2012-2013 Annual Buy, ESU #17 schools purchased $118,062 worth of goods and services through their statewide cooperative purchasing service. In addition, another $185,590 worth of goods were purchased through the food

program, custodial program, and direct buys.

ESU #17 provides health services to students and staff members of any school contracting for a school nurse. The services provided vary from school to school, however the primary goals remain the same regardless of the school environment. Our nurses strive to improve student health and promote healthy lifestyles, which, in turn, will impact student achievement and success.

In addition to health checks, the Miles of Smiles program was also utilized in Rock County. Miles of Smiles is a school-based fluoride varnish program for kids from the age of 3 years old through 6th grade. It offers oral screening and fluoride varnish application free of charge.

During the 2012-2013 school year, ESU #17 nurses and contracted employees performed health checks across the ESU #17 service delivery area. These health checks allowed health deficiencies to be discovered early in order to ensure the best outcomes for children grades K-12. Health checks were done in 4 of our area school districts.

In addition to saving ESU schools throughout the state valuable dollars, the Coop statewide department staff members also underwent major changes as the staff implemented the new ESM ordering system. Both school and ESU staff underwent several trainings in order to successfully submit orders online during the Annual Buy. In the future, it is the hope of the Coop staff that online ordering at reduced prices will be available to schools year-round.

While the chief concern of each school nurse is the health of the children attending each school, training the staff in proper medical technique was also an essential duty during the 20122013 school year. First aid and CPR trainings were offered to school staff members. This collaboration between staff and nursing promotes wellness and a safe, nurturing environment for children with any level of health concerns.

ESU #17 special education staff members provide training opportunities to both area teachers and area parents on a regular basis. During the 2012-2013 school year, several opportunities were given to local stakeholders to attend these events in various central locations in our ESU #17 delivery area. An Early Learning Guidelines training was held in Valentine and focused on mathematics. In addition to this training, the Power to Protect training, Love & Logic trainings, and a workshop featuring Jackie Meyer were also held. Many of these workshops not only gave ESU #17 teachers a new perspective on working with children, but also allowed parents to gain valuable insight on their parenting techniques. MANDT trainings were also held on several occasions and lead by ESU #17 staff members. These trainings equip teachers, para educators, and other school staff members with the skills necessary to effectively manage a potentially negative or even dangerous situation by first calming your emotional response and managing your own behavior so you can interact with other people positively. Excellence, efficiency, and effectiveness are the core focuses during the MANDT training. ESU #17 also had the opportunity to host both the Early Childhood Mental Health Forum and the Early Childhood Interagency Coordinating Council Statewide meetings this year. Both meetings were held in Valentine.

MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) assessments are administered to students in the fall and spring of each year. The spring results are reported to the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) for specific grade levels in order to meet the norm-referenced assessment required. Although these assessments are available for grades K-12 primarily as a formative testing option, not all grade levels from all schools participate fully in all assessments, so these results are not included. The RIT score (Rausch unIT) is an equal interval scale used to demonstrate the growth of all students. RIT scores typically fall within a 100-point range, from 150-250. In both Reading and Math, students from the ESU #17 area performed slightly above the state average and the national norm in Spring 2013. Students also take MAP assessments in Language, General Science, and Concepts and Processes (Science), but because not all grade levels from all school districts participate in these assessments, results are not displayed.

In Reading, Mathematics, and Science, the percent of students performing "Below Standard" is around 20%. Overall, the percent of students performing "Below Standard" in writing is 39%. The percent of students performing at the "Exceeds Standard" level for each content area except Writing has been increasing steadily each year. While overall trends are positive, it is important to note that ESU #17 schools are performing, overall, slightly below the state average performance in most content areas and grade levels, indicating that other school districts are also improving, but at a slightly higher rate. While our member schools are lower than the state averages in some areas, we have seen consistent improvement throughout the years. The goal is to see an ever-increasing percentage of students performing at the “Meets Standards” and “Exceed Standards” levels. Overall, that trend is occurring in ESU #17 schools, most noticeably in both Reading and Mathematics.

The Carl Perkins Grant provided $21,487 to the ESU #17 Perkins Grant Consortium. Since July 2008, ESU #17 has partnered with ESU #1-Wakefield and ESU #8-Neligh in the formation of a Northeast Nebraska Perkins IV Collaboration [NNP4C]. The goal of the NNP4C is to work very collaboratively in promoting 21st century teaching and learning opportunities for the school districts that are served.

The Perkins Report Card is issued one full year after the program year because one of the State Goals (5S1) is not determined until the fall following graduation of the students identified as Senior Concentrators. As a consortium of five school districts, ESU #17 met each of the eight State Goals included on the Perkins Report Card. Consortia that do not meet a State Goal area within 90% are also required to submit a Performance Improvement Plan. All of the state Goal percents are determined by the federal government.

Nebraska's Career Education Model is comprised of six career fields, 16 career clusters, and numerous specific career pathways. School districts offer programs of study (a series of 3 or more courses designed to support demographic needs and student interests) that help students to develop and apply technical skills in order to be collegeor career-ready following graduation.

On April 21-24, ESU #17 hosted its first-ever AdvancED External Review. The purposes of this visit were to undergo an assessment regarding agency improvement efforts and services provided to member school districts, and to complete the application process for AdvancED accreditation. ESUs are required to meet the requirements of Nebraska Rule 84 - Accreditation of Educational Service Units in order to be accredited institutions. To date, 7 of the 17 Nebraska Educational Service Units have opted to complete an External Review for AdvancED accreditation, a more rigorous process that reflects a commitment to higher quality of service, which likewise satisfies the accreditation requirements outlined in Rule 84. The five-member External Review team was charged with conducting numerous interviews involving agency employees and board members, school district representatives, and other constituents, reviewing documents and other various artifacts, deliberating on agency performance relative to the 5 Standards for Quality Education Service Agencies, and identifying Powerful Practices as well as Required Actions, in addition to making a recommendation regarding AdvancED accreditation. The following table summarizes both the ESU Self-Assessment that was completed by agency staff in January compared to the findings of the External Review Team in April. Each Standard is comprised of 3-6 indicators that are scored on a 4-point rubric. The scores reflect an average of the indicators for each Standard.



External Review

Standard 1: Purpose and Direction



Standard 2: Governance and Leadership



Standard 3: Teaching and Assessing for Learning



Standard 4: Resources and Support Systems



Standard 5: Commitment to Continuous Improvement



As part of the accreditation process, External Review Teams are required to identify Powerful Practices and Required Actions, which acknowledge both unique strengths as well as required follow-up activities for institutions wanting to attain/renew AdvancED accreditation. The following Powerful Practices were identified: 1. The collaboration with the NNNC Northeast Nebraska Network Consortium (consisting of 5 Educational Service Units) enables a regional partnership that has produced a cost savings program that has expanded program opportunities and services that benefit all constituent districts. 2. The agency has made a substantial investment and improvement in its delivery of Distance Learning and collaboration throughout the service area and the state of Nebraska (through the recent purchase of a Radvision multipoint conferencing unit ‘MCU’). The following Required Actions were also identified. Within two years ESU #17 is required to submit an Accreditation Progress Report detailing progress made toward addressing the Required Actions. 1. Initiate a comprehensive evaluation process for all personnel; certificated and classified. The process should be consistent with Nebraska school law, and include both formative and summative evaluation that features professional growth goals based on specific timelines and feedback. The sole purpose of the evaluation process is based on continuous improvement for the purpose of improving overall agency effectiveness. 2. Develop and initiate an evaluation process of programs and service to determine the impact on student and adult learning, cost-benefit analysis and the overall effectiveness of the agency. 3. Collect and analyze trend data that is synthesized and reported to determine the effectiveness of professional development opportunities, technology support and those designated programs related to improving student engagement and learning.







Coop Annual Buy


School Nurse








Core Services




Local Taxes








2012-2013 ESU #17 Annual Report