I am reaching out to each of you to give you an update and to offer some reassurance. In addition to being on the School Board, I am a parent of a freshman and a senior at Hutch High. I know emotions are running high right now. I feel them too. The news of the closures of Kansas schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year was a shock to us all. It presents many, many challenges. The school district has been involved in so many aspects of our students lives beyond education, from providing meals, to health and mental wellbeing, to extracurricular activities and entertainment. The directive from the Governor yesterday does not change our support of our families, but it does change how it will look.
In addition to state and federal laws we still have to follow, in 308, we have many challenges. The size of our district, the number of IEPs we have and the make-up of our student body are all things that we have to consider. I would like to reassure you that our 308 District staff is working hard on solutions to these challenges. I am proud to say that USD 308 was the first district in the area to make sure our students have food so families do not have to worry as much about that. In fact, we served the most lunches and breakfasts in the State of Kansas our first day of curbside service. We are continuing to evaluate how we can improve that program and make it even better.
Today, Governor Kelly’s task force will be releasing its guidelines and regulations for going forward. Our administrative staff has already been meeting and working on potential solutions. As this new information comes in from the State, they will be incorporating it into the plan.
Please understand we would like nothing more than to have answers to every question right now. The truth is, there are still too many things beyond our control to have a plan for everything or a plan that will not be ever changing and improving. USD 308 has some of the most compassionate people I have ever met working on the best solutions they can right now. I ask that we all please give the administrative staff some patience, grace and time to work. I know they have our students’ best interests at heart.
I would also like to take a moment to thank our amazing teachers, principals and staff. We know you care about your students deeply, that’s one of the things that makes USD 308 so special. Many of you have already been reaching out to your students to check in on them. I know that it is not easy being asked to wait on a plan and not to be as informed as you might like to be. The admin team is sending out updates as they can. They are trying to balance getting out meaningful and accurate information with the need to be working on plan development.
In the meantime, I am trying to look at this time as an opportunity, one to slow down and spend some quality time with my kids. They grow up way too fast. I have had more family meals in the past 3 days than we sometimes pull off all month. This 2019-2020 school year does not look anything like what we thought it would, and It’s not going to be easy for any of us, but I am hopeful that by shifting our mindset we will make some incredible memories with our kids and we can teach them resiliency in a real-world setting.
USD 308 Board of Education President