Tomorrow is the big day!
We hope your students have their outfits picked out, backpacks organized and are ready for an amazing new year! Their teachers are excited to see them and we are excited to get started on the 2018/19 school year.
This summer we celebrated some great 2017-18 successes— increasing our graduation rate, lowering the number of schools that receive D’s or F’s from twenty-three to one in just four years, improving the grades at sixteen of our schools and increasing our teacher retention rate.
In 2018-19 we are focusing on the ABC’s – attendance, behavior and classroom success. We want students in school and learning. We will focus on positive behavior intervention and support so we can help our students emotionally as well as academically. In addition, we are implementing a plan to accelerate learning while building proficiency in all core curriculum areas.
We know that students cannot learn if they do not feel safe. Over the summer, we reached agreements with our law enforcement partners to ensure that we will have an SRO in every school. We hired three new zone security managers who will work in school buildings to make sure safety protocols are being followed, and to implement best practices. The first phase of our mental health awareness training and threat assessment training is underway. We are working to put a video entrance system in every school so visitors cannot gain access without front office staff admitting them. Nearly all of our schools are single point of entry and we are continuing our red lock program, which allows a teacher to lock the door from the inside.
Our Business Services Division made safety and security a priority in a very tight budget year. Just last week our School Board approved a tentative budget that is less than last year’s due to lower revenue from federal, state and local sources. With $31-million in losses due to Hurricane Irma, increased operational costs such as medical insurance, and capital costs in construction and maintenance, our budget is being stretched like never before.
That is why we are asking voters to decide on a half-cent sales tax referendum on November 6. We have lost more than $200-million in capital funding over the last ten years while our student population continued to grow. We are running out of space and money to house students and maintain our schools. Please learn about this issue by going to www.leeschools.net/changeforchange.
In addition, we have been working to make it easier to get information about what is happening in your child’s school, and at the District. We have new websites to keep you better informed, and two new apps. WheresTheBus tells you how far away your child’s bus is from his or her stop. SchoolMessenger Communicate will help share event information, schedule changes and emergency messaging. Plus, it comes with an app so teachers can communicate with you either individually, or in groups. Ask your school for more information about these new resources.
Finally, this year all of our schools will offer free breakfast and lunch to make sure your students have a nutritious meal to help them learn.
As you can see, it has been an extremely busy summer, one crammed with projects and learning to prepare us for this school year. Your students have been our focus. We want to thank you for trusting us with your child and for partnering with us in his or her education. We look forward to seeing the amazing things they will accomplish over the next year.
Gregory K. Adkins, Ed.D.
Cathleen O'Daniel Morgan