Posted Date: 04/16/2020
Board approves Friday, May 22 as the last day of school
Friday, May 22 will be the last day of school for the 2019-20 year, following the Board’s unanimous approval of a recommendation made by Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler. Also, additional time will be added to the school day for students in grades 6-8 beginning Monday, March 23, and continue through the end of the school year.
“Due to two days of school that were cancelled due to inclement weather, the district calendar had to be adjusted to meet the minimum state requirement of 1,080 hours of instruction,” Hartzler said. “We wanted to adjust the calendar so students don’t have to come back after Memorial Day.
Modifications to the school schedule will be made as follows:
1. Add one day at the end of the year, with Friday, May 22, being the last day of school;
2. Elementary schools: No change to the schedule. They have enough school hours to meet the required 1,080 hours.
3. 6th & 7th Grade Center: 4 minutes added to the end of the school day effective Monday, March 23 (the day after spring break).
4. 8th Grade Center: 2 minutes added to the end of each day after March 23.
5. Union High School Freshman Academy: No change to current times.
6. High School: Friday, April 10 will be a “virtual day,” with students working on assignments from home.
Update on Year 2 of Strategic Plan presented; Graduation rate soars to 92.67%
Union continues to make great progress in its mission of “100% Graduation, College and Career-Ready,” as evidenced by a growing graduation rate. In 2019, Union’s certified graduation rate of 92.67 percent is the highest the district has seen in years.
“We are on track and moving forward,” said Dr. Todd Nelson, senior executive director of Research, Design and Assessment, who presented a progress report on Year 2 of the district’s strategic plan. “[Our progress] is a credit to all at Union, as each staff member, parent, and student has a stake in progressing toward achieving ambitious goals. We continue our trajectory toward 100 percent.”
Nelson said Union “is known for proactive innovation, a commitment to excellence, a devotion to the needs of students, and achieving high expectations.” He called the strategic plan “a living document that serves as a guide in a continuous improvement process of our organizational efforts in all areas.”
Year 2 of the implementation of the strategic plan has been a fruitful one. Forty strategic objectives have been combined into one document aligned to the strategic goals and posted on the website so various stakeholders can see how the district is performing in the areas below:
Teaching and Learning
Nelson said the district is demonstrating meaningful gains in student achievement, though challenges remain:
“While the assessment indicators have shown increases in several areas, we are not satisfied with outcomes,” said Nelson, “and we continue to look for additional ways to support learning and take appropriate action.”
Family engagement is on the rise, with 85 percent of parents participating in conferences and logging over 34,000 volunteer hours.
Nelson said the district continues to focus on its learning model, “Learning – The Union Way,” with a focus on the foundation of literacy for all learning, the building of students’ cognitive capacity, engaging students in and outside the classroom, and the development of social/emotional learning skills for students.
“Three or four years from now, we’re going to be hard-pressed to come up with a strategic plan that is better than this one,” said Board President Ken Kinnear.
ASBO Awards Union Public Schools for Excellent Budget Presentation
One again the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) recognized Union Public Schools for excellence in budget presentation with the Pathway to the Meritorious Budget Award (MBA) for the 2019–2020 budget year. This is the 27th year in a row that Union has won this honor.
“I am very pleased to announce Union Public School has been awarded the ASBO International Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting. It is the highest recognition for a school district offered by ASBO, recognizing significant achievement in school system financial reporting,” said Dr. Trish Williams, Union’s Chief Financial Officer, who credits the team of administrators and staff working in the Finance Division for making the honor possible.
Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler commended Williams and her staff for award at the meeting.
Board accepts amended bid from Crossland Construction for stadium construction project; Approves $29 million bond sale
Board members unanimously approved an amended bid contract for $5.6 million to Crossland Construction, Inc., for the construction of the High School Expansion and Renovation Project, the bulk of which is the construction of the new stadium.
This amendment will become part of Crossland Construction's CM at Risk agreement for construction work activity involved with completing the High School Expansion and Renovation projects. Subsequent amendments will follow, which will add phased projects to the Crossland Construction CM contract.
This amendment will provide for the concrete foundation, structural concrete, and structural steel work for construction of the west side stadium. “We want to get these slabs in before the rainy month of May,” said Fred Isaacs, Director of Construction Services.
In other action, the Board approved a resolution calling for the issuance of $29 million in building bonds authorized by the 2018 five-year bond election.
“We received bids from five interested parties in spite of uncertainty in the markets this morning,” said Chief Financial Officer Trish Williams. “Also, Union’s general obligation bonds received an AA+ rating last week from Standard & Poor’s, which is excellent news heading into the market for the sale of our bonds.”
Citigroup Local Markets was the lowest bidder, offering an interest rate of 0.967, which is the lowest Union has seen in the last five years.
USEF’s ‘Night of Surprises’ a hit
Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler thanked Executive Director Shea Ludwig for the stellar “Night of Surprises” Annual Dinner & Auction hosted Saturday, March 7, with proceeds benefiting Union Schools Education Foundation.
“More than 600 people were present at the event, and while we haven’t heard a final number on the dollars raised, we believe it is going to break all previous fundraising records for the foundation,” said Hartzler. “It’s always fun to go to that event and see some of you outside the normal work day. It’s for a great cause and we appreciate all of the hard work done by Shea Ludwig, Kulsum Siddiqui, and their team of volunteers. We appreciate their efforts greatly.”
Since then, it has been announced the Foundation raised more than $254,000.
Board Seat Election April 7 for District 5
Citizens living in Union’s Board of Education’s District 5 will head to the polls on Tuesday, April 7 to choose two candidates. Running are incumbent Board President Ken Kinnear and challenger Brandon Swearengin.
Kinnear is treasurer of Kaiser Francis Oil Company and was elected to Union’s Board of Education in 2015, and has served more than 10 years as a member of the Long-Range Planning Committee. Kinnear is a former president of the Union Baseball Booster Club and treasurer of the Basketball Booster Club. His three sons have attended Union schools K-12.
Swearengin is a graduate of Tulsa Community College and the University of Oklahoma, with degrees in accounting. Additionally, he has worked as a tax preparer at DP Financial & Tax Inc. for several years, and has worked as a private policy consultant at the state capitol to pass legislation in education and other policy areas. He is a Union lifer, having spent all of K-12 in the Union district as a student.
Only those registered voters living within District 5 may vote. District 5 (pictured here) is bounded on the east by Garnett and on the west by Yale Ave. with its northernmost border at 76th Pl.
To seek election to a Board seat, candidates must have resided and been a registered voter for at least six months preceding the first day of the filing period in the Board district open for election, and all candidates must hold a high school diploma or a certificate of high school equivalency.
Please vote on April 7 if you live in District 5.
Kinnear reflects on board governance
Coming off his first five years on the Board of Education, President Ken Kinnear said he has much to be proud of with regard to the district’s progress. With a new strategic plan that has been in effect since 2018, he shared his thoughts on board governance with attendees at last night’s board meeting.
“Good school board governance confronts obstacles to our mission of graduating 100% of our students as college and career ready,” said Kinnear. “At the same time we fight the obstacles, we build on pillars of excellence that preserve, promote, pursue and personify excellence. That’s the Union Way – despite obstacles, we expect high results because we set high standards.”
Kinnear said, while there is always room for improvement, Union Public Schools is a center of excellence. He cited the district’s expertise at expertly managing significant revenues and assets as a sign of the district’s focus on excellence. He also lauded the strong performance of the boys and girls basketball teams as another center of excellence, as both head to the state championships this weekend.
“For me personally, as a Union School Board member, building on the pillars of excellence means:
“About a year ago, my colleagues told me it was my time to lead. So as president of the school board, I was honored to help kick off the 2019-20 school year by defining ‘Uncommon Vision.’ The definition I used was, ‘a person or organization with extraordinary ability to think about or plan the future with creativity, inspiration, wisdom and discernment.’ I chose those words carefully and intentionally. While many people have abilities and creativity, there is no governance substitute for experience when it comes to leading with wisdom and discernment. Life experiences inherent in raising a family, selecting a school for children to attend, owning property, managing budgets, paying property taxes, serving on PTA or booster clubs, are examples of necessary experiences for school board members to exhibit wisdom and discernment.”
Kinnear is excited about Union’s focus on the science of hope in helping to address student social and emotional learning. ““Hope is real and hope is measurable when goals are established with pathways and a desire to achieve those goals. I look forward to supporting the science of hope within the framework of Social and Emotional learning.”
Lastly, Kinnear says good decision-making is inherent in good governance. “My decision-making considers whether or not a proposal fits within the district’s strategic plan. Specifically, for Teaching and Learning, that focus is on literacy, cognitive capacity, engagement and social and emotional attributes.”
Going forward, President Kinnear said he is concerned about the diversion of tax dollars away from public schools to for-profit and private entities and the teacher shortage.
“Great board meeting tonight ...Thank you, Cedar Ridge Boy Scouts for doing the flag salute tonight,” – Board member Lisa Ford