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5/17/17 > Superintendent Higgins: Progress as OneMa1ze key during 2016-17 school year

We are wrapping up our school year, and our classrooms and students have been busy with field days, spring parties, final concerts, and high school graduations. 

Before we wish everyone a wonderful summer break, I'd like to reflect on just a few of the great things we have celebrated together as OneMa1ze this year:

My Superintendent Student Advisory Team has been a great group of high school students from Maize High School, Maize South High School, and Complete High School Maize who have provided invaluable feedback to me about strengths and weaknesses and areas for improvement.

On May 5, our district hosted a  Wellness Fair with about 50 community vendors. We also had a OneMa1ze walk in which our staff members together walked 266 miles (1,064 laps) around the Maize South High track. (Please click to watch a video of the event. ) Our Maize Education Foundation also awarded nearly $35,000 in grants to teachers that day. (You can read more about that below.) It was a great day. 

I have enjoyed watching the progress of our bond projects, and you can click here to read more about that, as well. We continue to be thankful for the community support that has made these improvements possible. 

We also are grateful for the work and dedication of our Student Placement Policy Team and Maize Board of Education members, who helped guide the process of our district's new student placement policy with middle and high school boundaries, which provide stability and certainty that much of our community had requested.

Our district continues a one-to-one Chromebook implementation to enhance learning.  This is just one way we are bolstering and furthering the district's vision to use technology to enhance, empower, engage, and educate. 

We continue to be careful with our budget and are hopeful that Maize USD 266 and other districts statewide will receive much-needed additional state funding with a new funding formula later this legislative session. Employees at all levels of our district also continue to maintain smart and careful spending to be responsible stewards of taxpayer money. We are investing in our teachers and employees, who are the heart of our district.

More than ever, we are  engaging with local businesses and organizations. At this month's Maize Board of Education meeting on May 8, for instance, we heard from three high school students who this spring have observed surgeries, been mentored by local doctors, and further fine-tuned plans for college and career while shadowing medical professionals through their Health Science III class.

We aim to provide even more opportunities like these through Maize:Connect, a formalized vision for organizing, promoting, and facilitating community members who support our schools and students. This may take a variety of forms, including internships, volunteering, mentoring, and sponsorships. This will tie in perfectly with our new Maize Career Academy, currently under construction. I look forward to sharing more about this plan with you in the coming months. (Please click here to find more information.)

A few more exciting developments just around the corner: 

  • Next year, our high school junior and senior students will build an airplane in partnership with Airbus and Tango Flight . We welcome mutually beneficial relationships with businesses and other organizations that strengthen our students' learning environment while enriching the community. 
  • Maize USD 266, with support from the City of Maize, is hosting the Special Olympics Kansas Summer Games 2017 early next month. Please click here to find out how you can sign up to volunteer.
  • We soon will jump into strategic planning for our district to polish our goals and vision for the next several years and to ensure that we are making Maize USD 266 the best place it can be for your child's education, well-being, and future.

Thank you for your support and role in making 2016-17 such a fantastic school year. I can't wait to start another one together as OneMa1ze in just a few months! Enjoy the summer with your child and make some great memories.

Sincerely,

Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools

chiggins@usd266.com | @SupHiggins

5/17/17 > Work on bond construction projects progressing despite rainy weather
Recent rainy weather has delayed the Maize Career Academy project, pictured above, but it still is on target to open in January 2018. The Maize Career Academy will be a new home for Career Pathways and Career and Technical Education for high school students across Maize USD 266.

A new drone video shows progress on ongoing projects at Maize Middle School, Maize Early Childhood Center, and more. Please click here to watch it.
Voters' approval in June 2015 will bring these projects to Maize Schools to provide  a safe and promising future for all of our students:
  • tornado safe rooms and a Career and Professional Center at Maize High School.
  • a renovated and expanded Maize Middle School.
  • additions and improvements at Maize South High School, including a new fine arts storage addition and an expanded gym and cafeteria.
  • a new transportation facility.
  • roof replacements at various buildings.
  • technology and infrastructure improvements at various buildings.
  • athletic upgrades, including new locker rooms, stadium upgrades, all-weather playing surfaces, bleachers, lighting and equipment.
You can learn more about the bond vision by visiting our bond resource page at www.usd266.com/bond.
5/17/17 > Join us in supporting Special Olympics Kansas Summer Games

Maize USD 266 is seeking #OneMa1ze volunteers to help us host the Special Olympics Kansas  Summer Games June 2 through June 4 at Maize South High School. Please click here to sign up for this life-changing opportunity . To learn more about the Summer Games, including for a map, schedule of events, and more, please click here .

(Photo courtesy of Special Olympics Kansas.)

5/17/17 > Maize:Connect a vision to strengthen, formalize community connections

Maize:Connect is a new vision the district is developing leading into the 2017-18 school year that will inspire our students and greater community to connect and engage. The effort formalizes relationships and community support that have been in place for years and that occurs anytime an outside organization, group, or business engages with Maize USD 266.

The program will feature new efforts, including a centralized point of organization for student internship and shadow opportunities and a centralized point of contact for potential advertising and home game sponsorships. Opportunities to support Maize Schools will be presented globally to businesses and organizations, which then can select how to support the district.

Please watch for more information about Maize:Connect in the coming months!

Above: Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools, in front of the future Maize Career Academy with Maize High School sophomore Bailey Griffin, who won a contest for designing the new logo for Maize:Connect.

5/15/17 > Maize Education Foundation awards nearly $35,000 in teacher grants

On May 5, members of the Maize Education Foundation Board of Directors presented nearly $35,000 in instructional, technology, and enrichment grants to Maize USD 266 teachers to supplement their classroom and school resources.

Complete High School Maize received this year's largest grant: $8,991 to implement a new gaming curriculum. Students will receive instruction in the traditional technological fields of coding, programming, and information technology. But at the heart of the lab will be Esports. In other words, students will play video games online. Their experience will help them qualify for Esports scholarships currently available at local colleges and universities. It will help them prepare students for future careers in the lucrative arena of gaming and computers. The grant will set up an Esports/Technology Lab within the school and create competitive Esports teams. Pictured above are teacher Mike Russell and Foundation President Darin Augustine.

The other grants awarded are:

  • Reading Around the Classroom (Trisha Begley, Maize Middle School): $606.42
  • Equipment to Improve Self-Regulation and Lifetime Fitness (Denise Hogan, Coop Functional Applied Academics teacher): $1,661.53
  • Learning with Legos (Shelly Jennings, Maize South Elementary School): $1,419.35
  • Google Expeditions (Rachel Delzer, Maize South High School): $488.95
  • MVPS Lego Robotics Club (Aly Hethcoat, Maize Virtual Preparatory School): 5,000
  • Analog to Digital Music: Bringing Music to 21st Century Students (Cathy Pierce, Maize Central Elementary School): $487.14
  • STEM Education (Angie Baird, Pray-Woodman Elementary School): $3,468
  • Full STEAM Ahead (Jenny Nash, Vermillion Elementary School): $5,411.88
  • Say Cheese! (Dan Loving, Maize High School): $4,981.71
  • Calming Down Kits for Classrooms (Becky Stephens, Maize Elementary School): $864.65
  • Inspiring the Next Generation of Scientists (Jessica Shurts, Maize High school): $628.61
  • Focus with Flexible Seating (Jessica Bloomquist, Vermillion Elementary School): $694.61
3/30/17 > Important 2017-18 enrollment dates, information

For current students:

Maize USD 266 will be processing current student enrollment in May this year, a change from previous years. Here is what parents need to know:


May 1:
Families will receive communication from Maize USD 266 with instructions on how to complete the 2017-18 enrollment process and transportation information. Those without Internet access may access a computer at the Maize Educational Support Center, 905 W. Academy Ave. in Maize, between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays in May.


Early July:
Families will receive communication from the district informing them of how to pay enrollment fees online through Skyward Family Access using a credit card or by mailing in a check. Families who qualify for free and reduced lunches and complete the Consent for Disclosure form will have fees waived, if approved.

The free-and-reduced lunch application will be available online. If families think they may qualify, a parent can print, complete, and mail in the application. Parents, please do not submit your payment until your application has been processed. Those without Internet access may access a computer at the Maize Educational Support Center, 905 W. Academy Ave. in Maize, between 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays between July 5 and July 27.

Have an enrollment-related question?

Please e-mail enrollment@usd266.com, and a district representative will contact you.

For new students:

New to Maize Schools for the 2017-18 academic year?

Maize USD 266's One Stop Enrollment for students new to the district will be on Wednesday, Aug. 2. Parents must attend One Stop and can pre-register online. Please watch for additional details to come.

1/19/17 > Superintendent Higgins: New year full of promise, potential for Maize USD 266

Just five days into 2017, Maize Schools already had something to celebrate in the new year: We announced that two of our teachers had been named winners of the Kansas State Department of Education's prestigious 2017 Horizon Award. 

This award recognizes outstanding first-year teachers and is given to only 32 teachers statewide. 
 
Congratulations to Vermillion Elementary School's Alexis  Schirmer, pictured with Principal Michael Dome, and Complete High School Maize 's Mike Russell, pictured with Principal Dr. Kristy Custer and a few of their students (who may have been in on the surprise).
On Jan. 5, both teachers received an unexpected phone call from Deputy Commissioner of Education Brad Neuenswander, who announced the news of their award. (Please click here to see additional photos from the day's surprise announcements.)

These award-winners join a growing list of teachers honored in our district, including Crystal May, who was recognized last fall as one of eight teachers statewide to be a finalist for the Kansas State Department of Education's 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year title.


Our teachers and staff members no doubt make Maize Schools an ideal learning environment. But it is a magic mix of community support, engaged parents, and eager students who thrust us into something exceptional.

Take a look at a few things I especially am looking forward to in 2017 for OneMa1ze:
Thank you for your continued support in this new year.

Sincerely,

Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools
chiggins@usd266.com | @SupHiggins
1/19/17 > District continues one-to-one Chromebook implementation

Maize USD 266 is dedicated to using technology to enhance learning in a way that engages and empowers our students. During the Jan. 9 board meeting, Gary Lewis, Assistant Superintendent of Education Outreach and Legislative Services, and Director of Technology Clark Fichtl presented information about the district's technology plan, including a five-year purchase plan. The district has a District Technology Committee and a 1:One Sub-Committee reviewing needs and plans.

There also is a technology support team and standardization across classrooms and schools. Maize USD 266 has 4,500 Chromebooks currently active district-wide, as well as desktops and traditional laptops. Chromebooks are thin computers that rely heavily on internet connection and take minimal time to load, allowing more valuable classroom time for instruction. The devices are less expensive and require less maintenance than laptops and provide the educational support students need. The district recently purchased two additional Chromebook carts and units for each elementary school, allowing greater access to curriculum resources. In 2018-19, Maize USD 266 plans to distribute Chromebooks to all middle and high school students. 

Curriculum drives need for technology in our classrooms, and Lewis said that the demand across the district is greater than it has ever been. Plans also are in place to build the district's infrastructure. These intentional steps will bolster and further the district's vision to use technology to enhance, empower, engage, and educate.

1/19/17 > Maize Early Childhood Center receives $2,000 grant for school library

Our Maize Early Childhood Center , which serves students from birth to pre-K, is the recipient of a recent $2,000 grant from bestselling author James Patterson in cooperation with Scholastic Reading Club. The school will expand its listening center library and add more books for students to check out each week.

As part of the grant, Scholastic matches Patterson's donation with "bonus points" that teachers can use to acquire books and other materials for their classrooms.

Teacher CoCo Bontrager's application for Maize Early Childhood Center was selected among thousands of applications in response to Patterson's $1.75 Million Pledge to School Libraries. Congratulations!

1/12/17 > District reminds families of inclement weather practices

Weather forecasts for Friday, Jan. 13 appear to indicate that Maize USD 266 will be able to safely hold school.

Administrators will continue to monitor forecasts and weather conditions and are taking the opportunity to remind families of our practice for announcing school dismissals and cancellations:

In the event of school being dismissed or canceled because of inclement weather, the district will send out an e-mail, phone notification, and -- for those who have opted to receive them -- a text message to the primary contact associated with both Family 1 and Family 2, if applicable, for each student.

Those phone notifications will go out as early as 5:30 a.m. on the day of the closure. If a decision is made the night before to call off school, calls and texts will go out no later than 10:30 p.m.

It is wise to verify that we have your correct contact information on file. To do so, please log on to Skyward Family Access and click on "Student Info." If you are unsure how to log on to Skyward Family Access, please contact your child's school for assistance.

District officials will update the district's Web site (www.usd266.com), official Twitter account (@maize266) and official Facebook page as soon as the decision is made to call off school. We also will contact local media outlets about any closures.

11/18/16 > New drone video highlights latest bond project work

During the Nov. 14 Maize Board of Education meeting, Hutton Construction and Schaefer, Johnson, Cox, Frey Architecture presented a bond update. They showed a new drone video by Maize South High School student Dominick Decker, which compares bond progress over the course of a month. Please click here to watch the video. Concrete panels for the Maize Early Childhood Center storm shelter now are standing vertically. Work on the median in front of the new school will be complete early next month.

Maize South High School recently opened its Commons addition, and work remains on the expansion to add a conference room, teacher work room, and small conference room for counseling. The school also will have new special education space on the north end and new fine arts storage space.

Thanks to the mild fall weather, work has progressed rapidly at Maize Middle School (pictured at right), including the addition of a roof. The new area to the north, including administration space, should be open during Spring Break. Work on a new locker room on the school's south side is scheduled to begin in January. Nearly every room will be upgraded in the building as part of the bond project by next August. The school will get new Project Lead the Way space with a classroom and dirty lab located where the kitchen is currently. The north addition at Maize High School should be open this month. The school now has a new rooftop air conditioning unit and will get a new batting cage soon. Crews are laying turf for the baseball and softball fields there and have been working lately past dark to take advantage of the good weather. Similar work is in progress on fields at Maize South High School.

Find complete news and updates about our #OneMa1ze Vision in Progress at www.usd266.com/bond .

Thank you for your support of Maize Schools!


11/18/16 > District launches searchable boundary map

Maize USD 266 has launched a web-based boundary map that will allow you to search for school assignment by home address.  Please click here to access it

For more information about the district's boundary map and new student placement policy, please click here.

We have developed resources to help our community navigate the new student placement policy.

Find many answers to common questions on the district's Q&A page at www.usd266.com/studentplacement .

You also will find attached:

* a flow chart to help guide families through their options.

* a description of the boundary lines, including a breakdown by neighborhood.

District administrators are preparing packets that will be mailed Monday or Tuesday to families who have decisions to make regarding various exemptions during the policy's transitional implementation phase.

Thank you in advance for your patience as we work to implement this new policy.

11/14/16 > Maize Board of Education approves boundary map, finalizes student placement policy

The Maize Board of Education during its monthly meeting Nov. 14 unanimously approved the boundary map as presented last month, finalizing the district's new student placement policy.

Maize Schools will be communicating with families in the coming days and weeks on the components of the new policy, specifically regarding any decisions students and their families may make this semester as a result of various exemptions during the policy's transitional implementation phase. The district is preparing packets that those families will receive in the mail soon, likely next week.

During the meeting, board members thanked those who have been part of the process, including volunteers who served on the Student Placement Policy Team since January, and families who have shared feedback. 

This new policy will allow for an improved environment for Maize USD 266 and its students and community. 

Please click here for information about the student placement policy, and please direct related questions to the Maize Educational Support Center at placement@usd266.com or 316-722-0614.

Find many answer to common questions on the district's Q&A page at www.usd266.com/studentplacement.

Thank you for your support as Maize USD 266 moves forward to implement this new policy.

11/04/16 > Via legal action, Maize USD 266 recoups financial losses
Please see attached for a statement from Superintendent Chad Higgins and positive news for Maize Schools regarding a development in legal action involving the district.

10/24/16 > Board approves new student placement policy, views proposed boundary map

Dear Maize Schools community,

During tonight's Maize Board of Education meeting, board members voted unanimously to move to a hybrid boundary-feeder system for Maize USD 266. Members approved the student placement policy as proposed Oct. 10, with a new amendment that allows for an exemption option for younger siblings in grades K-5 of students who currently are attending a USD 266 middle school or high school.

All younger siblings eligible for the legacy exemption must identify which feeder system to attend prior to Dec. 15, 2016. (This is only for those students whose preference differs from their boundary assignment.) Students who have identified a feeder system will not be eligible to modify their request prior to entering middle school and/or high school, regardless of residence.

Students granted the legacy exemption must waive district transportation. However, students may ride a bus to their out-of-boundary school from pre-determined bus stop, if available.

You can click here to read my recent message about the policy.

The board did not take any action regarding a boundary map or boundary lines.

I did present to board members this evening a proposed boundary map, which a team of administrators and I developed using advanced demographic software incorporating our enrollment and GIS (geographic information system) data. Please click here to view a larger version of the proposed map. The proposed map indicates which portions of our community would be assigned to attend Maize Middle School and Maize High School and which portions would be assigned to Maize South Middle School and Maize South High School. The middle and high schools would be tied together in a boundary-feeder system. The boundaries would not apply to elementary school students.

When developing the map, many factors were considered, including school building capacities, growth patterns, transportation, and demographics.

I will further explain the rationale of the map and will listen to community feedback and answer related questions during two upcoming community meetings. Those will be at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 1 in the auditorium at Maize South High School, 3701 N. Tyler Road in Wichita, and 6:30 p.m. Nov. 2 in the auditorium at Maize High School, 11600 W. 45th St. North in Maize. These meetings are informational meetings, not Maize Board of Education meetings, and no official vote or other action will be taken. The Maize Board of Education is next schedule to meet for its regular monthly meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Educational Support Center, 905 W. Academy Ave. in Maize.

As I have shared before, we realize that not all of our community members will find the policy and/or the proposed boundary map ideal. What is best for all of our students continues to be a goal for us.

The steps taken tonight are exciting and meaningful ones vital to improvement and progress for Maize USD 266.

Thank you again to all involved in this important process and for your continued support of Maize Schools.

Sincerely,

Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools


10/18/16 > Superintendent Higgins: Important student placement work continues with meetings

I am extremely thankful for the time, work, and ideas that so many in our community have devoted in recent months as we continue to fine-tune a proposed student placement policy. We have made great progress on the issue this school year. 

During this month's Maize Board of Education meeting on Oct. 10, members reviewed the updated student placement policy proposal. Please click here to read it in full.

As written, elementary students would be placed as they are now, in any of our elementary schools and following older siblings. Fifth-graders would attend boundary-assigned schools next year. Middle and high school students would return to their current schools until they advance to high school or graduate. Secondary students new to the district would attend boundary-assigned schools. All students attending our middle schools this school year would preference a high school during their 8th-grade year. 

Board members have indicated interest in taking action on a student placement policy separate from a boundary map, which a team of administrators and I are developing. 

Board members will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20 to hear community feedback about the policy and again at 7 p.m. Oct. 24 to potentially vote on the policy and see a recommended map. Both of these meetings are open to the public and will take place at the Educational Support Center, 905 W. Academy Ave. in Maize.

We also have scheduled two community meetings, during which parents and neighbors can share feedback and ask questions about the boundary map. Those meetings will be at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 1 in the auditorium at Maize South High School, 3701 N. Tyler Road in Wichita, and 6:30 p.m. Nov. 2 in the auditorium at Maize High School, 11600 W. 45th St. North in Wichita. These meetings are informational meetings, not Maize Board of Education meetings, and no official vote or other action will be taken.

While a new policy of this magnitude cannot please everyone involved, please know that what is best for all of our students has been a driving goal for our Student Placement Policy Team volunteers (including students and parents), our Maize Board of Education members, and our employees working on this policy change. All involved have read parent e-mails and feedback that you have been sending us. We are listening and will continue to do so.

Thank you for your support and feedback as we continue to work on this crucial project that will strengthen the future of Maize Schools.

Sincerely,
Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools
chiggins@usd266.com | @SupHiggins
10/10/16 > Superintendent Higgins: We each are part of Maize Schools’ rock-solid foundation

When all Maize USD 266 employees gathered at the beginning of the school year in the Maize High School auditorium, I told them about a metaphor that had occurred to me while I was laying rock landscaping at home this summer.

To me, my backyard rockwork is a beautiful finished project: Some rocks are big, some small. Some are a bit rough-around-the edges, while others are smooth and polished. They have different makeups, different backgrounds, different positions, and different stories. But together, they fit perfectly. Each stone has a purpose, and each is necessary. I would notice if a single one was missing. The project (pictured in part below) would be incomplete.

Our OneMa1ze team is no different. It takes hundreds of unique people who are experts and keystones in their own right working in the same direction. None of us is alike, but together, we are striving toward the same cornerstone, the same goal: A today and tomorrow that is best for our students. That is something that needs a strong base and something truly worth building well.

Whether a student, an employee, a graduate, a parent, or a member of our Maize Schools community, you each are a valuable piece of the mission of Maize USD 266. Your differences make you special. Along those lines, we continue to nurture a culture and environment within our district that affords opportunities to address nearly every student need. This is possible in part thanks to our strong virtual school, Maize Virtual Preparatory School , and Complete High School Maize , our nationally recognized alternative high school. We recognize that our students learn in different ways, and we want them to achieve success regardless.

We continue to introduce new programs to expand our students' access to career and professional education and post-secondary education. We have launched a new program, for instance, through which our students can become an LPN (licensed practical nurse) by the time they graduate from our district. In partnership with the Wichita Area Technical College, participating students will be poised to enter the workforce with high-demand skills earning $21 per hour. Our district program will cost students only about a tenth of current college tuition.

This year, we also are taking exciting steps toward working even more diligently at piecing together the way our district fits into our community. One step in this direction is a staffing change. This school year, we are happy to welcome Richard Bell to our district administrative team. He is the new Executive Director of Operations and Special Programs. The position is a new one the district created after the associate superintendent position became vacant this summer following longtime Maize Schools leader Marsha Beard's retirement.

We continue to work with Schaefer Johnson Cox and Frey Architects and Hutton Construction on bond projects throughout the district , including a massive renovation/expansion at Maize Middle School and a new standalone Maize Early Childhood Center preschool building, which will be built west of Maize South High School . A strong footing for these projects is essential. We must lay a firm groundwork before building up.

The same holds true as we build policies, plans, visions, and strategies: A solid bedrock will be critical as our district and surrounding community continue to grow and expand. We will need to work together to ensure that Maize Schools remains strong and that we have the best framework in mind.

Thank you for your support of Maize Schools!

Sincerely,

Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools

chiggins@usd266.com | @SupHiggins

9/26/16 > Superintendent Higgins: Teacher awards, nominations showcase Maize on state level

As members of our OneMa1ze community, you certainly realize the gem that is Maize Schools. The district shines thanks to its dedicated and skilled employees from multiple departments. 

It is an honor when that talent is recognized on a larger stage, and we have had a couple of special opportunities to celebrate Maize USD 266 with a broader audience.

I am proud to share that two of our teachers were honored Sept. 10 as Semi-Finalists for the prestigious Kansas State Department of Education 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year program. 

Congrats to Pray-Woodman Elementary School teacher Crystal May and Maize South High School teacher Mark Bradshaw!

Mrs. May also was named a Finalist, and she advances as one of eight teachers statewide to compete for the 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year title.  Our Maize teachers were honored along with 25 other regional nominees representing 16 area school districts.

Several members of our Maize Board of Education and Maize Schools staff and I attended the Region IV Awards Banquet at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Wichita. ( Please click here to see our gallery of photos from the event. )

Mrs. May is the next in a series of elementary-level finalists Maize Schools has produced in recent years:  Maize South Elementary School teacher Shelly Jennings, left, was a 2016 Kansas Teacher of the Year Finalist. Vermillion Elementary School Assistant Principal Marney Hay, right, was a 2014 Kansas Teacher of the Year Finalist. Members of the finalist team each year visit the school districts of their seven fellow finalists, learning about programs and their success stories. Maize Schools, in turn, hosts the finalist team for a day to showcase our schools and students. 

While the Kansas Teacher of the Year award recognizes teachers who have made a mark during their careers, I am especially proud of a couple of our newer teachers who Maize USD 266 has selected as nominees for the  Kansas State Department of Education  2017 Kansas Horizon Award. This award recognizes outstanding new teachers.

Congratulations to Alexis Schirmer, Vermillion Elementary School fourth-grade teacher and Maize USD 266's elementary-level nominee. She and I are pictured here with Mrs. Hay and Vermillion Principal Michael Dome.

And congratulations to Complete High School Maize teacher Michael Russell, Maize USD 266's secondary-level Horizon Award nominee, pictured here with his colleagues at Complete, the district's nationally award-winning alternative high school.

We are so happy to have these teachers as part of our #OneMa1ze team! I appreciate the teamwork from our mentor teachers, principals, and others who have helped them achieve their success for the benefit of our students and community.

Sincerely,

Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools

chiggins@usd266.com | @SupHiggins

9/26/16 > Research, work continues on proposed student placement policy

During the Sept. 12 Maize Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Chad Higgins provided an update on student placement and said that collecting feedback from parents and community members and visiting with them about the proposed policy has been a positive experience, with much passion about the district and students. 

He explained that the Student Placement Policy Team members spent quite a bit of time determining how to address legacy -- or how siblings are placed in schools -- when creating the policy they proposed to the board in August. Higgins presented information about the number of siblings in school buildings, student placement history, and student enrollment comparisons. 

Policy Team members met again this month and continue to evaluate the proposed plan and consider updated information, including this year's student enrollment numbers. 

Meanwhile, district leaders have attended training on new software that the district could use to draw boundary lines based in part on demographics, projected growth, and school capacity. This will help Maize Schools use its schools and staff members efficiently and at the same time reduce anxiety, build spirit and student connections, ensure a positive staff climate, and grow positive community relations.  The current plan would be for a finalized proposed placement policy and then proposed boundaries for the board to consider.

Please click here to access www.usd266.com/studentplacement to find updates, answers to frequently asked questions, and the recommended policy as presented to the Maize Board of Education. Additional information was added on Aug. 19.

Find agendas, meeting minutes, and contact information at www.usd266.com/schoolboard.

9/26/16 > Student group in its second year of guiding district programs, future

Our Superintendent Student Advisory Team features #OneMa1ze leaders from Maize High School, Maize South High School, and Complete High School Maize.

Student members will provide Superintendent Chad Higgins with feedback about school programs and practices to be a voice for the students and a change agent for future Maize students.

The group is in its second year at Maize Schools and met earlier this month for the first time this school year. We are eager to see what they have in store!

9/26/16 > Bond project progress captured in series of student drone videos

Maize South High School student Dominick Decker, via his company Apollo Sky Films, has been working with Hutton Construction to document the bond project as work continues. Please click here to watch a video that features drone footage .

During the Sept. 12 Maize Board of Education meeting, Higgins said that bids came in favorably for the Maize Early Childhood Center, which will be built northwest of Maize South High School. Construction will include an alternate classroom that was being considered, as well as an additional classroom, and still be on budget. He said that is phenomenal news for that project, as the number of students in the preschool continues to grow.

  • Voters' approval in June 2015 will bring these projects to Maize Schools to provide a safe and promising future for all of our students:
  • tornado safe rooms and a Career and Professional Center at Maize High School.
  • a new Early Childhood Center.
  • a renovated and expanded Maize Middle School.
  • additions and improvements at Maize South High School , including a new fine arts storage addition and an expanded gym and cafeteria.
  • a new transportation facility.
  • roof replacements at various buildings.
  • technology and infrastructure improvements at various buildings.
  • athletic upgrades, including new locker rooms, stadium upgrades, all-weather playing surfaces, bleachers, lighting and equipment.

You can learn more about the bond vision by visiting our bond resource page at www.usd266.com/bond.

9/26/16 > Foundation golf tournament raises $40,000 to support Maize Schools

The Maize Education Foundation, a 501(c)3 that supports Maize USD 266 schools, teachers, and students through grants, hosted its 8th-annual fundraising golf tournament on Sept. 19 at Reflection Ridge Golf Club.

In May, the Foundation Board of Directors presented more than $43,000 in instructional, technology, and enrichment grants to Maize USD 266 teachers to supplement their classroom and school resources.

Thank you to the many sponsors, golfers, volunteers, and other supporters to generously supported this event!

9/12/16 > Two Maize teachers recognized at 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year Region IV banquet

Maize Schools is proud to share that two of our teachers were recognized Sept. 10 as Semi-Finalists for the 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year.

Congrats to Pray-Woodman Elementary School teacher Crystal May and Maize South High School teacher Mark Bradshaw!

Mrs. May also was named a Finalist, and she advances to compete for the 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year title.

They were honored along with 25 other regional nominees representing 16 area school districts.

Superintendent Chad Higgins and several members of our Maize Board of Education and Maize Schools staff attended the Region IV Awards Banquet at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Wichita.

We are so happy to have both of them as part of our #OneMa1ze team!

ABOVE Congrats to Pray-Woodman Elementary School teacher and 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year Finalist  Crystal May , left, and Maize South High School teacher and 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year Semi-Finalist  Mark Bradshaw , right, pictured with Maize Superintendent of Schools Chad Higgins.

ABOVE From left, Security Benefit Senior Vice President of Distribution and Sales Operations Kurt Auleta, Pray-Woodman Elementary School teacher and 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year Finalist Crystal May, Deputy Commissioner of Education Dale Dennis, and Kansas Commission of Education Dr. Randy Watson.

ABOVE  From left, Security Benefit Senior Vice President of Distribution and Sales Operations Kurt Auleta, Maize South High School teacher and 2017 Kansas Teacher of the Year Semi-Finalist Mark Bradshaw, Deputy Commissioner of Education Dale Dennis, and Kansas Commission of Education Dr. Randy Watson.

9/02/16 > Two familiar Maize USD 266 faces step into different leadership positions
Maize USD 266 is pleased to welcome two returning employees to new administrative positions:
Richard Bell, pictured at right, is the district's new Executive Director of Operations and Special Projects. The position is a new one the district created after its associate superintendent position became vacant this summer following an employee retirement. Among other programs and projects, he will lead crisis planning, training, and readiness; work with special education; and oversee  the district's transportation and buildings, maintenance, and grounds departments. He also will work to further develop community partnerships, which will lead to additional student internship opportunities and other avenues of support for Maize Schools. 

Bell has eight years of experience in school administration, including working last year as Maize South High School assistant principal. He also has worked in Arkansas City and Clearwater. He has taught physical education and reading and has coached football, basketball, and track. 
He has served on the district's Crisis Committee and Maize Way Character Education committee, among others.
Bell has a bachelor's in Physical Education from Fort Hays State University, a Master's in School Leadership from Baker University, and earned his District Level License from Wichita State University. He and his wife Rachel celebrate 19 years of marriage this month and have two children who attend Maize Schools: 5th-grader Carley and Kindergartener Cooper.

New Maize South High School Assistant Principal  Alison Klock  previously taught math for 11 years, at Ottawa High School and then at Maize High School since 2011. Among other leadership duties, she will be overseeing the school's state assessments, ACT, and ACT Aspire.
She is a member of the Kansas National Education Association and Kansas Exemplary Educators Network.  Klock has undergraduate degrees in math and English from Ottawa University and is  certified in secondary education. She earned her Master's  in Educational Leadership and a Master's  in Curriculum and Instruction from Emporia State University.
She and her husband Jim have a son who is involved in Parents as Teachers through the Maize Early Childhood Center. 
Klock is pictured below with her fellow Maize South High School administrators. From left: Assistant Principal Dave Nash, Principal Dave Hickerson,  Klock, and  Athletic Director Curtis Klein.
8/30/16 > Superintendent Chad Higgins: New academic year off to a smooth start

The best part of my job is when I get to visit classrooms and observe the inspiring interaction and relationships between teachers and students. However, when students interact with me, it can be very interesting.

A student once thought I was the mayor. Another asked if I was the president. They often think I am their teacher's husband. (This spurs laughter and quick clarifications from both parties.) On the first day of school earlier this month, a little first-grade boy took note of my attire and remarked to his classmate, "Nice tie!"
There were many other things that had me smiling as I was visiting classrooms: We had 42 new teachers who, like our students, were diving into their first day of school. They included 14 first-year teachers, one of whom is a K-12 graduate of Maize USD 266.

We had veteran teachers welcoming back their new students as former students stopped by for a hug or a what-I-did-this- summer story. This was only a day after all of our employees district-
wide gathered together for our annual back-to-school meeting, during which we honored colleagues for reaching milestone numbers of years of service to Maize USD 266. We gave a special round of applause to Maize Middle School teacher  Randy Crow  (pictured here) for reaching the biggest milestone of the celebration: 35 years.

At Maize Middle School, teachers and employees (including Principal Brian Thompson, pictured at right) greeted students back to a partially renovated building still in the midst of a massive bond expansion project.
Whether it's because of a sincere compliment or the buzzing energy of a shared vision and visible improvements, it's simply a great feeling when things just seem to be going your way. 
I am filled with that it's-going-to-be-a-great-year optimism and would like to share with you a few of the things going right for Maize USD 266 at the start of this school year. Much of it is because of the diligence, talent, and focus of our employees and community, and I thank all involved for their work.
Budget: As I shared with Maize Board of Education members during their annual budget hearing on Aug. 8, Maize USD 266 is going in the right direction regarding the budget, including with cash reserves and Capital Outlay. 

While, under the state's block grant, our General Fund budget is essentially flat at $43 million, our mill rate will drop nearly 4 percent to 59.571. Our patrons will realize this in an annual property tax savings of $25.93 on a $100,000 home. The district's estimated assessed valuation is up 4.7 percent since last year at $401.5 million (following a 3 percent increase the previous year), meaning that the district's tax levy generates more money per mill.

Work continues to build up the Textbook Fund to prepare for needed adoptions. The bond issue, which will pay for some improvements, including roofing repairs that used to come out of the district's annual budget, has helped reallocate money and allow flexibility for the district to make needed improvements or purchases elsewhere. Bond state aid will increase again this year, more positive news for the district.

There still is work to be done, of course: We want to be in a position to better compensate our employees for their work. We could not afford to give raises this year and instead are providing a one-time bonus. And we know that many teachers pay more and more for what they need to teach our students out of their own pockets. To help in this regard, we are fortunate to have support from local businesses and organizations, among them our Maize Education Foundation, PTO groups, Booster Clubs, and Site Councils.

We expect for the 2016-17 spending to remain flat but have the ability to respond to any "what-ifs" that may arise this year, including anything tied to state revenue and potential cuts.

Elections:  Public education seemed to be an important topic to many voters during the Primary Election earlier this month. As we continue to share, one of the most effective and simplest ways supporters of Maize Schools and Kansas public education can support students is to vote. Those interested in casting a ballot in the Nov. 8 General Election have until Oct. 18 to register to vote. Your vote and your voice can make a difference and influence the future funding of our schools, the funding of the KPERS retirement system, and the future of Kansas public education! While the primary election showed promise in terms of voters' support for public education, community members' involvement in the General Election will be critical. Please find more information about the Nov. 8 General Election by clicking here.

Capturing Kids Hearts: One of several programs that we at Maize Schools use to emphasize character education is Capturing Kids Hearts, which provides our educators with training to grow their relationships with students and colleagues. Good relationships of trust and respect create safe environments that are solid foundations for learning. We have expanded this program from our preschool and elementary grades to sixth-grade this year, helping our students and staff continue to flourish as they bridge into our secondary level.

With talented employees, strong community support, and more of the training and resources we need to be successful as OneMa1ze, we are off to a great start. Best wishes to your child(ren) this school year! 

Sincerely,

Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools

chiggins@usd266.com |  @SupHiggins

8/30/16 > First phase of Maize Middle School bond renovation complete
Plans surge ahead for other new stand-alone buildings

At Maize Middle School, the first phase of renovations is 
complete, producing new science labs (pictured at right), innovation spaces where small groups of students will work on special projects , and a Family and Consumer Sciences room. Exterior work on the expansion will continue.

T he Maize South High School  expansion is coming along with framing. The athletics entrance there has been delayed a  bit because of this summer's rainy weather.
The storm shelter expansion at Maize High School is going well and is scheduled to be finished in early November. Work is being done to complete the school reroofing project, and crews are working late into the night to finish the soccer field project, including new turf.

For the new Early Childhood Center, plans now include cutting curbs to remove portions of median and create entrance points and turn lanes. The new school, as shown at right, will be built on 37th Street North west of Maize South High School. 
The school, now housed in Vermillion Elementary School, will continue to offer educational services to families and children from birth to age five. This new building will    provide the Early Childhood Center with a permanent home and needed space for programs, which prepare our youngest students for their future at Maize Schools and beyond.
On Aug. 8, Maize Board of Education members saw plans (pictured below) for transportation  that include a new stand-alone building with offices, training space, a lounge and conference room and more and a 7,000-square foot  expansion to the district's current maintenance building west of Maize High School to take advantage of shared spaces there and to add lifts, drive-through and wash bays, and storage.
Maize Schools operates its own fleet of buses and staff of drivers, who run more than 100 bus routes. About 4,000 students ride daily. Our facility at 7700 W. 53rd St. North was built for trash trucks. Drivers face a dangerous bottleneck daily while driving buses into and out of the center's narrow entrance. A safer new center will better maintain the district's transportation fleet. It will allow buses to be parked under a partial awning, protecting windshields and engines from the elements. There will be adequate space for bus repairs and maintenance.
Voters' approval in June 2015 will bring these projects to Maize Schools to provide a safe and promising future for all of our students:
  • tornado safe rooms and a Career and Professional Center at Maize High School.
  • a renovated and expanded Maize Middle School.
  • additions and improvements at Maize South High School , including a new fine arts storage addition and an expanded gym and cafeteria.
  • a new transportation facility.
  • roof replacements at various buildings.
  • technology and infrastructure improvements at various buildings.
  • athletic upgrades, including new locker rooms, stadium upgrades, all-weather playing surfaces, bleachers, lighting and equipment.
You can learn more about the bond vision by visiting our bond resource page at www.usd266.com/bond.
8/01/16 > Superintendent Chad Higgins: Major improvements in store for OneMa1ze in 2016-17

The countdown to the first day of school is on. We have been training new teachers, enrollment is in full swing, and school supplies dominate displays in stores throughout our community. 

The new school year will have many important developments for Maize USD 266 as we continue to work to keep our students and employees safe, improve our policies so they are fair and efficient, and live our mission to connect, learn, and lead.

Following are a few of the big changes we will introduce this 2016-17 school year:

Student placement: Members of the Student Placement Policy Team met for the ninth time this week to finalize a recommended policy that will guide which schools our students attend in future years. 

Maize Board of Education members will receive a recommendation during their 7 p.m. Aug. 8 monthly meeting at the Educational Support Center, 905 W. Academy Ave. in Maize. That will include strictly a policy and not maps or boundary lines, and board members have indicated that they will not take action on the policy that evening. 

Policy team members especially have given careful thought to potential transition options. They have worked for months to ensure that their recommended policy to the Maize Board of Education is palatable for families, neighborhoods, and our community and is something the district can manage in the immediate and long-term future. 

The transition period will be important, no doubt, but so will implementing and maintaining a consistent policy. We will aim to keep class sizes balanced throughout the district.

The current student placement policy is not one we can logistically sustain, as our current enrollment growth pattern would have us filling up one high school. We cannot continue to grow the student body in one building while underutilizing another. We realize that any change or new policy cannot possibly make everyone happy but strongly believe that a change will allow for an improved educational environment and community climate.

Maize USD 266 is in a unique situation, addressing this issue several years after opening our second high school. We do not have neighborhood schools, and our smaller high school is located closer to where the vast majority of our students and their families live. 

It certainly is a puzzle, but one that will have a good solution: Our students will be placed in classrooms with talented and caring teachers who will strive to help each individual reach his or her full potential. 

I appreciate the many, many hours that the Student Placement Policy Team -- made up of parent volunteers, staff members, students, and two board members -- has provided through this process. 

Crisis planning: Earlier this summer, staff members from every school in our district attended training that taught and stressed safety in our schools. When our teachers and staff members return soon to prepare for the upcoming year, they will receive new safety resources that will guide them in the event of a crisis, natural or otherwise. They will be better-educated and even more prepared on how to keep your children safe while they are in our care. This is our top priority. 

Efficiency: Maize USD 266 has been working with the Kansas Legislative Post Audit on an efficiency audit for the past year. We are sharing the full report with our community and appreciate and respect the outside opinion the process has invited. I will work with district leaders and the Maize Board of Education this year to further evaluate suggestions to continue to make our district more efficient. That is not an easy task given the work that we and districts statewide have been doing in recent years to accommodate ongoing reductions in state funding. We will continue to value resources in the classroom and balance our goals with our fiscal responsibility to our taxpayers. But we also do not want to lose sight of the fact that cheaper doesn't mean better. We value a quality education.

I look forward to my second year here at Maize Schools and, while I may no longer be "the new guy," I can't wait to meet more students and more families and to celebrate more successes with you. I am certain there will be many.

Sincerely,

Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools

chiggins@usd266.com | @SupHiggins

7/29/16 > District completes efficiency audit with Kansas Division of Legislative Post Audit

Earlier this week, Superintendent Chad Higgins met at the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka with the Kansas Legislative Post Audit Committee, a bipartisan group of five state senators and five state representatives, regarding an efficiency audit of Maize Schools.

The yearlong audit process included site visits, interviews, meetings, and research and culminated with a final report, which is available in full by clicking here. Maize USD 266 was randomly selected to participate in the audit process, which state law requires to involve three public school districts of various sizes across the state each year.

During the past year, Maize administrators have worked with the audit team to identify potential efficiency opportunities to save money.

The report includes auditors' suggestions, divided into categories of options that would have little to no, moderate, or significant impact on students or the community. The district then was given the opportunity to formally respond to those suggestions. Maize USD 266 is under no obligation to implement the recommendations but, in some cases, has agreed to either pursue or consider suggested changes.

The recommendations include those related to staffing levels, employee compensation, school schedules, district boundaries and transportation, and policies. District officials also conducted extensive research, especially along the lines of staffing levels.

As Superintendent Higgins shared with lawmakers in his written response for the meeting Wednesday, it is important to invite inspection and scrutiny from multiple perspectives. Maize Schools will be better for it in the long run. However, Higgins said that a superficial study of any aspect of the district or any other organization is not the same as a true in-depth analysis.

Maize Board of Education members are aware of the data produced by LPA and district staff members as a result of the audit. Throughout the year, board members and district staff members will continue to analyze the data and make decisions based on what is best for our students.

The process has allowed Maize Schools to showcase cuts and efficiency measures that already have taken place independent of the audit, steps that have saved taxpayers millions of dollars.

"Efficiency is important in education, as with other organizations, but not as important as student learning, student safety, and a positive work environment," Higgins said.

Please click here to explore the full report to learn more about the process, the recommendations, and the district's response.

7/06/16 > New activity pass prices will help offset athletics operational costs, expenses

Board members on June 13 approved an activity pass admittance price change, the first in six years. The goal is to increase revenue without affecting attendance. This will help offset operational needs and pay for expenses, including equipment, uniforms, event entry fees and hosting expenses, and maintenance of scoreboards, track timing equipment, and more. The change makes activity pass fees more comparable with neighboring schools.

A family pass is $150 for two adults and two students, and families can purchase additional student passes for $25 each, with a per-family maximum of $200. Student passes are for children in Kindergarten through 12th grade or college students ages 18 to 22. Single adult passes are $60. For current and retired employees (not substitutes), family passes are $50, allowing a spouse and two children into games without the employee.

Pep club passes will be accepted at middle and high school activities.

Fans can choose the package best for their needs or opt to pay single game admission. Pass maximums accommodate families with multiple children.

6/29/16 > Superintendent Chad Higgins: Summer work vital to smooth-running school year

The "lazy days of summer" phrase does not apply to the summer work list for those of us who work through June and July here at Maize USD 266.

This year's Kansas Legislative news has brought some additional attention to school districts' summer to-do lists, so I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you a bit more about ours. 

Simply put, when students are not in the classroom, valuable behind-the-scenes work takes place that otherwise would interrupt precious learning time. We continue to prepare for enrollment and that wonderful first day of school (Aug. 10 for us this time around). 

Take for instance just some of the things we have been working on throughout the district this summer:

Instruction/Curriculum: As soon as the school year ends, our staff members begin to prepare for the next year, updating teaching plans, training teachers (including those working to align our district with Next Generation Science Standards), and distributing teaching supplies and curriculum resources. For our elementary schools alone, we have distributed 2,100 social studies textbooks; 1,500 science textbooks; and 1,250 math workbooks.

Teachers also bargain shopped for items to assemble 110 tubs of materials, summer work that saved the district about $14,000. (Pictured are OneMa1ze teachers from left: Jami Weston of Maize South Elementary School, Alexis Branson of Vermillion Elementary School, and Laurie Koci of Maize South Elementary.) Students will use these materials in the classroom for hands-on science activities to supplement traditional textbook instruction and online learning. This summer prep work ensures that teachers have the resources they need to be as effective as possible when it comes to teaching their students from minute one. 

Maintenance, Grounds, and Custodial: There is an enormous and concerted effort from more than 50 people in these departments and summer painting and cleaning crews to move, clean, paint, fix, and mow throughout the summer. They clean every classroom, student desk, chair, office, library, and gym from the top to the bottom. These employees also address major electrical, plumbing, and HVAC issues/upgrades, getting everything ready for the first day of school. We make sure our learning environments are healthy and ideal for our students.

Human Resources: We are busy preparing training for the coming year, including that for supervisors, mentor teachers, and teachers -- including those in Special Education -- who are brand new or perhaps just new to Maize Schools. (We snapped the photo pictured at right during a new teacher training last August.) We update manuals and handbooks for the Maize Board of Education. We interview and hire new employees and help them acclimate to the district. Getting these things done during summer months is imperative to a smooth operation when school is in session. This work means we are fully staffed, appropriately trained, and ready to go as soon as the first bell rings in August.

Technology: Summer offers a time to do infrastructure upgrades, format/refresh devices that our students will use for curriculum and instruction, clean all projectors and desktop computers, and deploy new devices. Our technology employees are busy doing maintenance on devices, extending the lifespan of those machines without disrupting classroom time.

Finance: Staff members balance and perform a fiscal year closeout of 27 funds with a total budget of more than $100 million. They develop the budget for the upcoming school year (a task that grows more challenging each year), complete purchase orders, and pay bills for utilities, supplies, maintenance, and bond projects. 

Strategic projects: Summer allows time for our district leaders to dig into larger-scale projects. This year, we are focusing on new crisis training for our staff. Last week, for instance, representatives from every school attended a SafeSchools training. These employees will become trainers who help the rest of our 700-plus employees be better prepared in the event of a crisis. 

Superintendent duties: I miss our students in the summer, but their break means time for me to tackle my summer workload, which includes work on bond projects (please read more about that by clicking here), addressing policy updates, and collaborating with staff members to develop strategies for funding solutions, instructional improvement, and facility planning. This summer I also have spent time communicating with state lawmakers and monitoring the school funding situation. I do get to eat a few more dinners at home without the hectic evening student activities and meeting schedule, but the summer months can be busier otherwise.    

Indeed, when summer temperatures peak, so does the summer work here at Maize. I thank all who are part of it for their focus and commitment. It makes that first day of school even more rewarding, to know all that went in to make it happen.

Join me for story time at MOXI Junction! 

Parents, please bring your children to hear a few stories from me as I play guest reader during the local coffeehouse's weekly story time event at 10:30 a.m. July 5. Combat summer brain drain one step further by checking out our Summer Bookmobile, which will pull up to the location at 11:15 a.m. (You can read more about the Bookmobile by clicking here.) See you there!

Sincerely,

Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools

chiggins@usd266.com | @SupHiggins

6/27/16 > Maize South Elementary named first Lighthouse School in Kansas

Maize South Elementary School is the first school in Kansas to be named a Lighthouse School by the Leader in Me organization, which emphasizes with staff members and students FranklinCovey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

There are only 235 Lighthouse Schools worldwide but 2,634 in The Leader in Me process, according to the organization.

Maize South Elementary and other participants focus on leadership and life skills to teach students that they each have the potential to be a leader and be valued for his or her unique talents and gifts. The goal is academic success and more: happiness, confidence, and a successful future.

Thanks to a grant and continued ongoing support, Maize South Elementary has implemented and pursued the Leader in Me program. School staff members have intertwined the program with regular curriculum and the district-wide Maize Way character education program, which teaches students to be good people through traits including responsibility and friendship.

The school recently showcased its culture of leadership and strong student leaders during its annual Leadership Day.

Learn more about this program by clicking here.

6/16/16 > District working to recover losses following alleged fraud scheme

Maize USD 266 is working in the best interest of our community, including our patrons and - most importantly - our students, to recoup significant financial losses following an alleged fraud scheme.

Superintendent Chad Higgins on June 15 responded to media inquiries regarding an ongoing federal investigation into what authorities believe is an intricate plot of deceit that spanned years. A portion of Mr. Higgins' written statement included the following:

The district is pursuing action via a probate proceeding to recoup losses, the extent of which are yet‐to‐be determined through the U.S. Attorney's Office ongoing investigation.

Even though this investigation is ongoing, the district has taken appropriate legal steps to ensure that we are in a position to recoup losses that may be uncovered as a result of this investigation. We also want to make it clear that illegal activity in our schools is unacceptable in any capacity, and we will always take the necessary steps to protect the interests of our students and the community.

Maize Schools has cooperated fully in the ongoing investigation and will continue to do so, but we are unable to comment on it any further.

Prior to November 2014, the district already had begun an internal investigation. Typical practices, similar to what one might find in other school districts, already were in place, but, unfortunately, collusion can occur in any environment and be difficult to detect.

Maize Schools will use this damaging incident to continue to improve this and other procedures. We have reviewed our practices and have put into place additional checks and balances to protect our district. These improvements include a more robust technology inventory software system that utilizes bar codes for devices and changes to the approval tree hierarchy to require additional signatures.

The district also is committed to helping other school districts understand what occurred and how to protect themselves from something similar happening.

We appreciate the law enforcement agencies continuing this investigation and are eager for it to be completed so the district can recover our assets for the good of those most effected, our students.

5/31/16 > Join us for summer playgroups, stories

Parents and their children are invited to our Maize Early Childhood Center summer playgroups.

The events will include free story and playtime at 10 a.m. Wednesdays from June 1 to July 6 at the city of Maize park, 401 S. Khedive in Maize. On June 8, there also will be a stroller exercise class.

We hope to see you there!

5/23/16 > Superintendent Higgins: Thanks for a great year, OneMa1ze community!
In the past couple of weeks, I've addressed our entire staff at our annual all-district meeting and our Class of 2016 at the Maize South and Maize high school graduations.


Those events have prompted me to reflect on our school year and the many successes we've experienced. Below are just a few of the many highlights:


OneMa1ze: Our vision for a united school district has been wildly positive. It began as a collective vision among our administrative staff members at the beginning of the year. During  the May 9 Maize Board of Education meeting, the American Heart Association visited to thank Maize USD 266 for raising nearly $30,000, an effort they say will help save nearly 600 lives. It's another example of what we can do together as OneMa1ze. Speaking of OneMa1ze, Tyler Harrison, the Heart Association employee  who made the presentation and is pictured with me at right, is a 2008 graduate of our  district. The  reach our district has in our community and beyond is truly   impressive. Along these lines (and in case you're not one of the 35,000 people who have seen it already), please click here to watch a video of the OneMa1ze flash mob a few of our staff members put together earlier this month to celebrate this vision, singing, "We are unfazed, 'cause we're OneMa1ze." Indeed, we are stronger and better together.


Awards: We have celebrated with teachers, staff members, and students who have been recognized on the local, state, and national level this year, many of whom have been featured in previous issues of this newsletter. An exciting new addition to mention is that Maize South Middle School journalism teacher Mary Patrick is the namesake of a new award from the Kansas  Scholastic Press Association: the Mary Patrick Aspiring Journalist Award. I had to visit her after I heard the news, sharing that I never before had met someone with an award named after him or her. She, by the way, is retiring this year after spending 29 years at Maize Schools, the culmination of 43 years in education. Congratulations, Mrs. Patrick! (She is pictured herewith KSPA President Kathy Habiger. Photo by Maize High School teacher Dan Loving.)
Superintendent's Student Advisory Committee: Earlier this school year, I created the Superintendent Student Advisory  Team of students from Complete High School Maize, Maize High School, and Maize South High School. We met  topics and appreciated their honest feedback and insightful perspectives. What a powerful experience. I shared with my  throughout the year, and I challenged them on a variety of  district, adding a vital voice to the Student Placement Policy Team.  staff earlier this month that we must allow our students to be a positive change in their schools. Two of these students have invested even further in the  district, adding a vital voice to the Student Placement Policy Team.


Bond issue: As work has continued this year on the $70.7 million bond issue, I become more and more excited about the projects and the opportunities it will expand for our students and the community. Work will ramp up in the coming weeks once school is out for the summer. Pictured here is one of the newest project renderings of our career and professional center being added to Maize High School. Its programs will be available to all high school students district-wide.


Maize Way character education: The district's focus to mold students and teach them to be successful in the classroom and beyond continues to impress me. Take for instance the photo here that I snapped of a Maize South Elementary School student, who appeared perfectly comfortable speaking with our Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson during a recent visit. The quote behind them just made it that much better of a moment to witness: "Leadership is doing the right thing even when no one is looking."

Thank you, Maize USD 266 parents and supporters, for making this year a fantastic one. Enjoy the summer with your child. We look forward to great things ahead together in 2016-17!

Sincerely,
Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools
5/23/16 > Work on several bond projects scheduled to ramp up this summer
Representatives from Schaefer, Johnson, Cox, Frey Architecture and Hutton Construction provided a bond construction update and budget review during the May 9 Maize Board of Education meeting.  Some major bid packages are in, and  meetings continue. Some construction work begins May 23 with  school is out. 
Project leaders have shifted the size of the north shelter at Maize High School to be larger to accommodate crowds in the event of severe weather during a sporting event. The south shelter will be slightly smaller, but the two together still will accommodate 2,000 people as planned. 
Project leaders are working on a final floor plan for the Career and Professional Center at Maize High and showed renderings of that project (pictured below), which will showcase natural light and have flexible spaces for multipurpose use.

They also showed renderings of the new Maize Early Childhood Center (pictured below), expected to be full when the new building opens in August 2017. It will have collaborative learning space and a playful design with bright colors. 
The board approved a change order for Hellas Sports Construction to extend power to the Maize South High School football press box.
Voters' approval in June will bring these projects to Maize Schools to provide  a safe and promising future for all of our students:
  • tornado safe rooms and a Career and Professional Center at Maize High School.
  • a renovated and expanded Maize Middle School.
  • additions and improvements at Maize South High School, including a new fine arts storage addition and an expanded gym and cafeteria.
  • a new transportation facility.
  • roof replacements at various buildings.
  • technology and infrastructure improvements at various buildings.
  • athletic upgrades, including new locker rooms, stadium upgrades, all-weather playing surfaces, bleachers, lighting and equipment.
You can learn more about the bond vision by visiting our bond resource page at www.usd266.com/bond.
5/23/16 > Team evaluating proposed student placement policy transition

The Student Placement Policy Team, which consists of parent volunteers, staff members, students, and two board members, spent its May 4 meeting hearing a draft on Wichita State University enrollment projections. Those estimations look larger than those presented last year from Kansas City area demographers RSP. WSU will come back with a final report, likely projecting somewhere between 107 and 140 new students a year in coming years. WSU's research shows that Maize Schools continue to be a draw and that people want their children enrolled here.

The latter half of that policy team meeting involved editing potential policy and discussing phasing. The group still plans to present a recommended policy to the board this summer. The board plans to accept the presentation but take time to evaluate it through the summer and possibly into the fall. The team is evaluating options and answering questions regarding how the policy could be best implemented with a phased transition plan.

In the meantime, anyone can share student placement-related feedback by emailing placement@usd266.com.

Maize Board of Education members' next monthly meeting will be at 7 p.m. June 13 at the Educational Support Center, 905 W. Academy Ave. in Maize. Meetings are open to the public. Find agendas, meeting minutes, and contact information at www.usd266.com/schoolboard.

5/23/16 > Music Theatre Wichita recognizes high school students with Jester Awards
Music Theatre Wichita's 15th Annual Jester Awards on May 13 celebrated outstanding high school musical theater talent across the state.

Congrats to our Maize USD 266 students who received awards! They are pictured from left in the order listed below.


  • Outstanding Leading Actress: senior Sally Olmstead (Frog), "A Year With Frog and Toad," Maize High School
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor: freshman Keegan Johnston (Snail), "A Year With Frog and Toad," Maize High School
  • Outstanding Technical Achievement and 2015-16 Jester Scholarship Award: senior Lyric Cox (Scenic Design), "Elf Jr.," Maize South High School
3/29/16 > Superintendent Higgins: Inaugural year learning about Maize community continues
As I continue to flip the pages in my busy 2016 calendar, the dates remind me that I now am closer to  the one-year anniversary of my new job as superintendent of Maize schools than to the first day itself.

This year has been a tremendous learning adventure for me, one with rewarding and exciting days. They often are long days. I say this not to complain, but rather to compliment: During a typical workday, I often find myself darting from a staff meeting to a school building and then back to my office. Then it may be off to a concert or a game or an evening meeting with dedicated parents and volunteers. 

My days often are long because we have students engaged in learning and extracurricular events  from sunup to sundown. We have  teachers and coaches and volunteers and parents leading them and encouraging them. Maize USD 266 has employees working all hours of the day and days of the week to keep this district working -- and working well -- together as OneMa1ze.  We have an amazing and supportive community that rallies behind our schools. And now this is more important than ever. 

This inaugural year has taken me to a district-wide musical where the student-actors surprised me by pulling me up on stage to dance with them during a hilarious (for those watching me, at least) audience participation number. It's taken me to family nights at our schools, as pictured at right earlier this semester at Pray-Woodman Elementary School. I have seen our students proudly parading sometimes even three generations of their family through the halls to see their work and meet their teacher. 

Date nights for my wife, Drenda, and me often revolve around our district's extracurricular student activities, including ball games and concerts.  We very quickly have become a "Maize family," purchasing and sprucing up our new home in the district  and watching the growth continue to boom around us. We find ourselves craving Nancy's A-Maize-N Sandwiches and MOXI Junction coffee and have ventured into many of the local businesses.  The process of moving brings its share of challenges and anxiety, but the OneMa1ze employees and community have welcomed my family and me, and we are so thankful.  

Even though this year has been an ongoing tour of sorts for me of all things Maize, my learning will be ongoing in the months and years to come as I continue to get to know our community, hundreds of staff members, and nearly 7,000 students and their families.
I can't wait.
Sincerely,
Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools
2/25/16 > Superintendent Higgins: As Kansans, we must balance all facets of a good home
As a native Kansan, I love this state. Growing up here, I came to know and cherish a well-rounded safe place where residents and industries alike look out for one another. It's a place many of us have chosen to grow our families, our business, our dreams. Kansas is home. A decade ago, things seemed better in Kansas, from our schools to our roads to safety, to the overall climate of citizenship. Kansans take care of each other.

I also am someone who welcomes change and the opportunity to do things in a different way -- as long as that change isn't a detriment to others, as long as that change has been properly vetted, and as long as that change is the result of the best of intentions.

I am in my seventh year as a superintendent of a Kansas public school district, and I recall being told by a veteran during my first year, "This is the worst it's ever been, but it will get better." As an education leader in Kansas, I always have had to deal with cuts and funding reductions and repeatedly have been asked to do more with less, a philosophy easily applied to others but almost always meaning doing less with less. How is that the best for our students? That isn't going in the right direction, and I see and hear the discouragement in our teachers' voices on a regular basis.

Here at Maize Schools, reduced state funding has meant that the district has seen a reduction in the number of staff members and the elimination of advanced math and foreign language classes. Staff compensation hasn't kept up with inflation. We have fewer professional development and training opportunities for our teachers and staff members. We have fewer counselors and secretaries in our elementary schools. We cannot fund the summer school programs we used to offer. Our class sizes have increased, and teachers receive less money to spend on instructional supplies. Our students have fewer field trips. And, currently, there is no strategy to change this course. In fact, most of the current legislation keeps us moving down the same path or worse. 

How is this best for our students?

Maize USD 266 is a growing district, with residential and commercial property exploding within our district boundaries. Based on this, we must anticipate a growing student body in the coming years, yet our current school funding method would not increase to allow us to grow our teaching staff and services for our larger student body and their families. 

How is this best for our students?

There is much debate and rhetoric surrounding education in Kansas. My role as a school district leader requires a balance of public school advocacy while representing a school board and community with varied ideologies. What I can say is this: Get the facts, don't believe what you hear/read at face value, even from me. Those who stand to gain from the deterioration of public schools routinely claim to seek school improvement and do that by cherry-picking "facts," hiding critical contextual information, and repeating it over and over again until it is perceived as a reality. Ask questions, listen to both sides, read, and actually set foot in our schools before accepting the notion that our schools are bad, as many would have you believe. 

We need proper school funding that can provide an environment for the safe and effective education for our students -- for our tomorrow. 
Sincerely,

Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools
2/25/16 > Student Placement Policy Team begins work with goal of May recommendation

There were two meetings in February of the Student Placement Policy Team, the new group of parents, students, administrators, teachers, and select board members tasked to develop and recommend a new student placement policy for the Maize Board of Education by May, with a board decision to follow.

The team's goal is to develop a long-term policy that the district can adjust as growth and other factors, such as the possibility of adding another school in the future, arise. The policy is envisioned as one that will be fair and right across the district and strives to create an ideal educational culture while maintaining school autonomy and providing similar educational environments for our students and staff members.

Team members are evaluating and considering options and will meet throughout the semester.

During the Maize Board of Education meeting on Jan. 11, Maize Board of Education members and Superintendent Higgins discussed student placement and committed to finding a solution that is fair and right and that works better for Maize USD 266 students and the district.

In the meantime, anyone can share student placement-related feedback by emailing placement@usd266.com.

During the Feb. 8 Maize Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Higgins provided members with an update on student placement for the 2016-17 school year. The district's policy includes a guideline to have 1/3 of the district's high school students at Maize South High and 2/3 at Maize High. Last month, 54 students were randomly selected to be placed at Maize High. Families could submit a request for change form, which 44 did. Additionally, three students who had selected a preference of Maize South High requested a transfer to Maize High. These adjustments move the district toward a goal of a similar enrollment for 2016-17.

2/25/16 > Maize Board of Education sets spring meeting schedule
On Feb. 8, members of theMaize Board of Education rescheduled their regular monthly March and April meetings to be on March 7 and April 4, with a meeting with the City of Maize and a work session April 25.

Find agendas, meeting minutes, and contact  information at  www.usd266.com/schoolboard .

2/25/16 > Project leaders unveil new renderings of bond school expansions, renovation

Project leaders with Schaefer, Johnson, Cox, Frey Architecture and Hutton Construction provided the Maize Board of Education on Feb. 8 with an update on bond projects. They also showed design plans, which  include glass and natural light, helping with utilities and providing an open feel.

Maize Middle School: 

Demolition work for Maize Middle School's expansion began earlier this week. Pictured above is a rendering of the new addition. Project leaders will compile bids for earth, utility, and paving work, scheduled to begin this month. A new student drop-off traffic pattern should start this month for construction staging. Construction should start in May. A plan is developing to ensure adequate classroom space during the project. They are finalizing kitchen plans and working with audio-visual consultants.

Maize South High School:

The rendering above shows the new athletic entrance at Maize South High School. Also at the school, a contractor is reinstalling football field turf to correct an installation error. It should be ready when soccer practice begins later this month. 

Maize High School:

The rendering above shows the new athletic entrance at Maize High School. This work is part of the bond project to add tornado safe spaces to the building. At 303,000 square feet, it is the district's largest building but the only school without a tornado safe room. This addition will be on the building's north end. A second addition on the south end, which will be part of the new Career and Technical Education Center, will include a tornado safe room, as well. Each of the shelters will serve additional purposes to maximize space and utility. 

Also at the school, work on the stadium bleachers and press box will wait to allow a larger athletics bid to go out together, which may result in cost savings.

Maize Early Childhood Center:

The floor plan for the new standalone Maize Early Childhood Center is being finalized. The bond will provide a permanent home for the school, which currently is outgrowing its space housed inside Vermillion Elementary School. The Early Childhood Center serves the district's youngest students (those from birth to age 5) and their parents with various educational programs. 

Voters' approval in June will bring these projects to Maize Schools to provide a safe and promising future for all of our students:

  • tornado safe rooms and a Career and Professional Center at Maize High School.
  • a new Early Childhood Center.
  • a renovated and expanded Maize Middle School.
  • additions and improvements at Maize South High School, including a new fine arts storage addition and an expanded gym and cafeteria.
  • a new transportation facility.
  • roof replacements at various buildings.
  • technology and infrastructure improvements at various buildings.
  • athletic upgrades, including new locker rooms, stadium upgrades, all-weather playing surfaces, bleachers, lighting and equipment.

You can learn more about the bond vision by visiting our bond resource page at www.usd266.com/bond.

2/17/16 > Businesses, join us for our upcoming Wellness Fair
The Maize USD 266 Wellness Committee is organizing an employee health and Wellness Fair and is looking for local businesses and organizations interested in participating.
The event will be for all employees (more than 800 people) from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. May 6 in the Commons at Maize High School, 11600 W. 45th St. North in Maize. Participants can host a table to promote their services and provide giveaways to our staff members. Those interested also are invited to donate larger prizes. 
Participants may align with any of the following Five Essential Elements of Wellness (by Gallup).  For more information or to get involved, please contact the leader associated with the appropriate areas, as listed below:
  • Financial: Helping others to effectively manage their economic life to reduce stress and increase security. (Please email Deb Phillips at dphillips@usd266.com.)
  • Physical: Having good health and enough energy to get things done. (Please email Kelli Parson at kparson@usd266.com.)
  • Community: Providing others with a sense of engagement and involvement with the area where you live​. (Please email Clark Fichtl at cfichtl@usd266.com.)​
  • Career: How you occupy your time and like what you do each day​. (Please email Becky Stephens at bstephens@usd266.com.)
  • Social: Having strong relationships and love in your life​. (Please email Jen Kern at jkern@usd266.com.)
Thank you in advance for your support!
2/16/16 > Donations, volunteers needed for After Prom

For the past 28 years, Maize students have been able to attend the After Prom party, a drug- and alcohol-free event following the high school dances. Students can play games, eat food, and win prizes in a safe and supervised environment.

Maize High School and Maize South High School After Prom events are scheduled for April 9 and April 16, respectively.

After Prom events are completely supported by donations from dedicated parents, individuals, organizations, and local businesses. Any monetary or prize donations are greatly appreciated. Past prize donations have included gift cards, T-shirts and hoodies, TVs, laptops, cameras, headphones, flash drives, camping equipment, gift certificates, key chains, cups, water bottles, and board games. 

Please mail monetary donations to Maize After Prom, 11600 W. 45th St. North, Maize, KS 67101. If you would like your donation to go to either Maize High or Maize South High, please indicate so on the memo of your check. Otherwise, funds will be split between both schools.

If you wish to make a gift donation, please drop it off at the Maize High office to the attention of Teresa Claybrook or at the Maize South High office to the attention of Melanie Zorn or call 316-258-7341 to arrange a pick-up.

Volunteers are needed to make these events a success.

You do not have to be a parent to volunteer. Your help is needed prior to and on the night of After Prom. If you have any questions or would like to volunteer, please contact Teresa Claybrook at jaster91@prodigy.net or 316-258-7341 or Melanie Zorn at mzorn1@sbcglobal.net or 316-393-9517.

Thank you for your support.

1/29/16 > Superintendent Higgins: Goal: Student placement policy that is fair, right

During the Maize Board of Education meeting on Jan. 11, board members and I discussed student placement and have committed to finding a solution that works better for our students and district.

Our current student placement policy needs to change and must be fair and right for our students. Our  district is unique in the fact that it does not have neighborhood schools or  boundaries to determine which schools students attend. Elementary students are assigned to a school based on student enrollment numbers, and siblings are kept together. When a student enters middle and high school, families are given the opportunity to select a preference for school assignment. But  a preference does not guarantee a student's placement.

This year, we have made efforts to mitigate some of the future issues anticipated regardless of the policy. 

There are several reasons why Maize USD 266 needs a new policy, one being the internal culture of our school district. While our staff members have mutual respect for the other schools in our district, our policy has created some unintentional  frustration and animosity. Picking one school insinuates that another school is not as good. This creates unnecessary stress on our students, our families, and our teachers and other staff members.  As our student enrollment numbers rise, we also want to maintain current student and staffing levels among our buildings and minimize student demographic differences between our schools.

We know that many in our community have become frustrated and discouraged by this annual source of anxiety that we can minimize, even as we anticipate our student population growing in the coming years. 

Our goal is to create a  long-term policy that we can adjust as growth and other factors, such as the possibility of adding another school in the future, arise. 

Our new policy must be one that is fair and right across the district and strives to create an ideal educational culture while maintaining school autonomy and providing similar educational environments for our students and staff members.

We already have taken the next step toward that goal by forming a policy development team and establishing a process.  Joining me on that team will be select board members, administrators,  staff members, students, and patrons from our original Student Placement Task Force. We will evaluate and consider any student placement option and plan to provide a policy recommendation in May or June. 

Those involved will  continue to survey and collect data. Any student or parent interested in sharing their own opinions, stories, and/or suggestions about our policy can do so by emailing their thoughts to placement@usd266.com. 

We will continue to use data that consultants presented  in December 2014 that provided the district a demographic and enrollment analysis. The district also will update that data with information to shed light on  how  new residential growth, specifically apartment complexes and annexations, change our enrollment forecast.

We  know the new policy won't be perfect and that we will be unable to meet the wishes of each of our 7,000-plus students and their families.  We anticipate some opposing opinions, but we will search for the best possible option for our students and staff members. 

Thank you for your patience as we work through this process as OneMa1ze. 

Student placement certainly is an important decision -- just one of many that our school board considers for our district. We are wrapping up School Board Recognition Month. (You can read more about that below.) Please join me in  thanking our volunteer board members for the time and attention they devote to make Maize Schools better.

Sincerely,

Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools

chiggins@usd266.com | @SupHiggins

1/29/16 > Maize Early Childhood Center now enrolling for 2016-17 preschool

Maize USD 266 is excited to offer Pre-K to all children who live within the Maize School District. 

Our Pre-K sessions are Monday through Thursday and use Pre-K Reading and Literacy curriculum along with developmentally appropriate activities and are taught by licensed teachers. 

If your child meets at least one of our state at-risk criteria, there is no fee for the program other than the curriculum fee. If you would like your child to attend and he/she does not
meet a criteria, a monthly fee applies. 

Spaces are limited! Enrollment is first come, first serve.

Learn more by clicking here or by calling 316-722-3105.
1/29/16 > Bond projects taking shape in 2016
Project leaders with Schaefer, Johnson, Cox, Frey Architecture and Hutton Construction presented an update  on bond projects during the Jan. 11 Maize Board of Education meeting.

They and district administrators met with Maize Middle School neighbors earlier this month to discuss the school's upcoming projects, for which planning meetings are continuing.

The board reviewed the locker rooms/concession layout at Maize South High School. Those will be built to the northeast of the stadium. The school's football field is being improved, with completion expected in early February.  The bleachers for Maize High School will be disassembled and moved closer to the field.  High school athletics entrances are in the construction document phase.

Development continues on the Early Childhood Center plans.  For the Career and Technical Education addition at Maize High, a team is investigating the option of eliminating the building's photography studio and renovating and expanding the metals and woods area for a more advanced welding  program.

Signage and cameras will be coming to select projects to raise awareness and allow the community to see the progress.

Checks and balances are in place to keep budgets on track. There is a buffer built in for some inflationary protection, though construction costs are expected to rise.

Voters' approval in June will bring these projects to Maize Schools to provide  a safe and promising future for all of our students:
  • tornado safe rooms and a Career and Professional Center at Maize High School.
  • a new Early Childhood Center.
  • a renovated and expanded Maize Middle School.
  • additions and improvements at Maize South High School, including a new fine arts storage addition and an expanded gym and cafeteria.
  • a new transportation facility.
  • roof replacements at various buildings.
  • technology and infrastructure improvements at various buildings.
  • athletic upgrades, including new locker rooms, stadium upgrades, all-weather playing surfaces, bleachers, lighting and equipment.
You can learn more about the bond vision by visiting our bond resource page at www.usd266.com/bond.
11/24/15 > Superintendent Chad Higgins: At school, in life, there's so much to be thankful for

On Nov. 17, I joined a few administrators and a couple dozen choir students from Maize High School and Maize South High School for a special check presentation at Reflection Ridge Retirement Community.

The residents there recently raised funds and generously donated $1,000 to each school's choir. Maize High students performed the song "Thankful," and, as the lyrics show, it was an appropriate soundtrack for the event and for this time of year:

"It's up to us to be the change

And even though this world needs so much more

There's so much to be thankful for."

With our Thanksgiving break just around the corner, gratitude has been on my mind.

Ask an adult to list the top influences and supporters in his or her life, and you likely will hear about parents and family members. But you also likely will hear the name of a teacher, a coach, or another educator who shaped, pushed, and directed him or her to be who he or she is today.

Just as I challenge myself, I would challenge you to reach out to those people -- in our classrooms or ones farther away -- and let them know just how much their influence has meant to you.

As I have shared recently with various groups -- including our Site Council members and the West Wichita Rotary -- I am thankful to be the superintendent of Maize Schools. This job is a dream job for me and continues to be. I am thankful for community members, as well as our staff members and students, who have welcomed my family and me.

I am thankful for the challenge to collaborate on big decisions. (And we certainly have many of those here in our district that educates 7,300 students.) I am thankful for the ideas and perspectives others offer, including our students, staff members, and parents.

I am thankful for those who have embraced our OneMa1ze vision to be stronger and better together.

"Even with our differences

There is a place we're all connected

Each of us can find each other's light."

I am thankful for a Royals World Series win, a community and school that take care of each other, and a supportive and caring family. I am thankful for our staff members who give so much of their hearts and minds to our students.

I am thankful for the two Complete High School Maize graduations I have attended during my first months on the job, seeing how far those students have come. I am thankful for Maize South Middle School's recent Veterans Day program, during which students took the time to personally thank our veterans for their service. I am thankful for a success story at Maize Central Elementary School, where a student who came to us from Ethiopia and spoke no English last year has made dramatic improvements. Just recently the student wrote me a charming -- and very nicely done -- handwritten letter to thank me for visiting and reading a Dr. Seuss book.

I am thankful for the chance to share small -- but important -- moments, such as greeting preschoolers during their costume parade last month, reading to a classroom of first-graders, and hearing about our students collecting items for a food drive this month to benefit the local Caring Hearts organization.

"It's up to us to be the change

And even though this world needs so much more

There's so much to be thankful for."

Enjoy your break, and I hope it allows you some special extra time for the things -- and especially the people -- for whom you are most thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sincerely,

Chad Higgins

Superintendent of Schools

chiggins@usd266.com | @SupHiggins

11/17/15 > Superintendent Chad Higgins: Grading student success requires more than test score

This fall, we in Kansas public education will hear much about the results of the new state assessments, including how districts fared and how results reflect the job we are doing in our classrooms. 

Our results compare well with the statewide averages, and you will receive additional information from us in coming weeks about state assessments. But today, I want to be very clear with you about my perspective on student success: We cannot measure it with a single test score, and success itself means something different to each of our students. 

These state assessments are the first attempt at a new test measuring new standards. These standards raise the bar on public education in Kansas and, because of these transitions, the data from this assessment is far less valuable than the other tools we use. 

Effective schools and educators use a battery of student assessments and tools to inform and guide instruction. We, for example, evaluate how our students are performing via AIMSweb, DIBELS, ACT Aspire, ACT, and other classroom assessments. These resources help us zero in on the academic needs of students as individuals and as a collective student body.

We cannot, again, be driven down the path of allowing the tail to wag the dog, when the state assessment was viewed as the only way to measure teaching and learning. 

State assessments aside, the real test for us comes in figuring out how to transform and equip our students into the best versions of the productive, accomplished, successful young adults they can be.

Our Kansas Commissioner of Education and our schools have heard from the business community about the value of soft skills such as responsibility, integrity, and respect that will make our students successful in the future. We teach these lessons to our students, as well, and they are skills much more difficult to measure on a standardized assessment.

Our Maize Way character education program is just one way we are striving to teach our students how to be successful as future adults and community members. We want our students to know how to write and add. But we also want them to be trustworthy, kind, and hard-working. I would encourage you as parents to join us in considering these various facets when you measure your children's success and decide how you continue to help them become the best they can be. 

Education is a marathon, not a quick sprint, and we are focused on the big picture.

We will analyze our state assessment results and use them along with the many other tools at our disposal to continually improve. But we will not lose sight of our vision, our high standards, and our goal to connect, learn, and lead. 

Testing is part of this educational marathon, but it is only one race. Our students will have good laps and not-so-good laps, but we as OneMa1ze will focus on what lies beyond the finish line.

We have programs in the works that will continue to make Maize USD 266 the strong district you chose for your student. Please click here to read more about a couple of programs and classes we are providing to help our students explore careers and skills.

Sincerely,

Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools

chiggins@usd266.com | @SupHiggins

11/17/15 > New staff member, class help students explore various options for their future
Maize USD 266 has added some new offerings that will help our middle and high school students learn more about post-secondary educational and career options they may want to pursue.

Kelsey Vinopal (pictured at right), is our new College and Career Advocate who started her position in February and who has been taking our students on their days off to visit college campuses.  In September, 75 juniors and seniors from Maize High School,Maize South High School and Complete High School Maize visited Kansas State University. Later that month, 80 juniors from those schools visited Wichita State University. (Please see the photo below.) Vinopal also has coordinated visits from about 30 college, school, and military representatives .

Maize USD 266 recognizes that college is not for everyone and that there are many in-demand careers that we can start preparing our students for now. We will continue to develop our Career Pathway Programs, through which we offer classes and opportunities for college credit and licensure to students in 23 subject areas, including Business Entrepreneurship and Management and Web and Digital Communications The bond issue voters approved in June includes a  $9 million Career and Professional Center, a  place for these professional programs for high school students across the district.

Exposure to possible careers starts before high school. Take for example Maize South Middle School teacher  Amy Whitson(pictured at right), who has been hosting guest speakers, including law enforcement officials and educators, in her Careers class, new this school year. (Please see the photo below.) 
Maize USD 266 juniors paused for a photo with Wichita State University President John Bardo during a visit to the campus last month. Photo courtesy of Kelsey Vinopal.

Wichita Police Officer Tim Baird is among community members who have spoken about their careers this semester with Maize South Middle School 6th-grade students.
Photo courtesy of Amy Whitson.
11/17/15 > Staff members honored for excellence
Congratulations to Maize South Middle School Principal Gillian Macias, winner of the Kansas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance Administrator of the Year Award!
Earlier this school year, it was announced that Maize Middle School and Maize South Middle School both were awarded the 2015 Let's Move! Active Schools National Award.
Maize High School's  Dana Handy  has been named Kansas Cross Country Track and Field Coaches Association's 6A Girls Track and Field Coach of the Year.
The award recognizes coaches based on their achievement in the past year, as well as throughout their careers. She is Maize High's head girls track coach.
Maize High English and drama teacher Kathleen Barbara  has been awarded the Ruth  McCormick Theatre Educator of the Year award. The recognition comes from the Mary Jane Teall Awards  Committee, which represents the Wichita theater community.
Maize South Middle School math teacher  Randy Mark  was a recent winner of the Golden Apple Award.  Davis-Moore Chevrolet KAKE-TV , and  Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers  recognized him with the award and surprised him at school last month.  Mr. Mark was honored with a Golden Apple and a $250 check to be used in his classroom. His students were given treats from Freddy's.
Congratulations to all of our award-winners!
11/17/15 > Students, volunteers offer perspectives to help strengthen Maize USD 266
 
The newly formed Superintendent Student Advisory Team met for the first time earlier this semester. The group consists of eight students from Maize High School, eight students from Maize South High School, and two students from Complete High School Maize. Superintendent Chad Higgins has tasked the group with providing feedback about school programs and practices to be  a voice for the students and  a change agent for future Maize students.  This is a piece of the OneMa1ze goal of working together to ensure that  our district can be th e best in the state to learn and work.

Students include those who have exclusively attended USD 266 and others relatively new to the district. They represent a variety of diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences.  They will be asked for their perspectives on student success and safety, the efficiency of school resources, communication and collaboration methods, and school unity, among other topics.

School site councils kick off new year
In October, about 100 volunteer parents, community members, and Maize USD 266 employees gathered for the annual All-District Site Council meeting. Superintendent Chad Higgins updated the group on district visions and news, including the formation of a new  advocacy group. Afterward, school administrators met with their individual building-level site council members, who provide feedback and advice on school goals, programs, fundraising, and more. 
We thank all members for their participation and commitment to making OneMa1ze stronger and better together!
11/06/15 > New road to be built on south campus without need to close access road during school year
In September, the Maize School District sought legal action resulting in a judge's decision to temporarily halt the planned road closure of our access road to Maize South Elementary and Maize South Middle schools.
The developer has since decided to build the new road adjacent to our access road without the need to close our access road until late May, when the new road will be connected to Maize Road and the roundabout in front of Maize South Elementary School. This plan will allow the access our community needs to keep our students and employees safe.

Maize USD 266 thanks you for your support and patience regarding this issue.
10/27/15 > Superintendent Chad Higgins: Duties include ensuring community synergy

Nine days into my new job as Maize USD 266's superintendent of schools, I took a little break to head down Academy Avenue to be the weekly story time guest reader at the MOXI Junction coffeehouse/art gallery. 

Between school-themed stories, the children and I exchanged a few of our own stories and anecdotes. We talked about our summers, our pets and my new job. I explained that they would see me in their schools, where I will be to help their principals, who in turn help their teachers. 

They seemed to grasp one of my primary roles in this district of about 7,000 students. I have many other duties, of course, including working with administrators and Maize Board of Education members to see that Maize USD 266 is as efficient, safe, and successful as possible when it comes to educating our students and preparing them for bright futures. 

Community synergy is another important topic for me, and I look forward to working with you and other members of the Maize Schools community. I have heard countless stories of families who moved here so their children could attend USD 266, and I expect the theme to be a popular one as I continue to meet parents and community members. The school district certainly has been a catalyst for the changing makeup of the community, from its residential growth to its retail and business boom. I welcome the task of examining that synergy and identifying untapped and underutilized opportunities for support, partnerships, and relationships. A school district is only as strong as its community, and a community is only as good as its schools.

Some of those vital opportunities may be as simple as connecting interested individuals, organizations, and businesses to the many efforts we already have in place, including our booster clubs, Parent-Teacher Organizations and Maize Education Foundation, a 501(c)3 that raises funds to support our students, teachers, classrooms, and schools through grants.

With the June approval of our $70.7 million bond issue and the ongoing Kansas public school funding debate, Maize Schools is on the brink of a new chapter. I already have shared with my staff and our students' parents that I often will be asking, "What is best for our students?" It is a question that will guide me as we continue to write Maize USD 266's story together. 

Remembering back to my MOXI story time, one little boy assured me that I was doing a great job with my impression of a dog ("Woof! Woof!") while I read "Biscuit Goes to School." But the kids were not at all too shy to tell me that, no, they did not want to hear a poem from the book "My Dog Ate My Homework!" 

Whether in the story time circle or in the greater community, some plans and dreams work -- others need more input and refinement. But, just as I did with my young story time friends, we can discuss, imagine, and have a great time learning. I look forward to realizing the successes of this next chapter together. Thank you for your support of Maize Schools. 

Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools 

316-722-0614 | chiggins@usd266.com | @SupHiggins

9/30/15 > Judge’s decision temporarily halts planned road closure

A judge this afternoon has granted Maize USD 266's temporary restraining order, placing a stop to a planned road closure along the access road from Maize Road to Maize South Elementary School.

The court order mandates that the city of Wichita and developer not proceed as planned for now. The road closure was scheduled to begin Monday and last approximately six weeks. Judge William Woolley of the 18th Judicial District Court granted the temporary restraining order, which delays the planned project. Maize USD 266 understands that the developer first will build a road from 37th Street North to Maize South Elementary School. We expect that work to begin immediately. This will provide additional access to the school to maintain the current level of access now available. The finalization of that new temporary road will allow for the planned access road construction to begin. 

Citing significant concerns involving safety and logistics, the district on Monday took legal action and filed action seeking the temporary restraining order against the city of Wichita and the developer involved with the plan.

Please click here for additional information about the ongoing issue.

We at Maize Schools thank our community for the continued support. The district will continue to work toward the best - and safest - solution for our students, employees, and community.

The district will provide further communication about road construction and traffic patterns. In the meantime, please check www.usd266.com for additional information as updates are available.

9/29/15 > District takes legal action in effort to stop planned road closure

Accident illustrates safety concerns

On Monday, Maize USD 266 took legal action seeking a temporary restraining order against the city of Wichita and the developer moving ahead with a plan to close the access road to our south campus schools for approximately six weeks beginning Monday.

The Sedgwick County judge involved has not yet made a ruling regarding the injunction, and a decision may not come until Wednesday or Thursday. A temporary restraining order would delay the planned project until the developer can produce a reasonable solution to provide the district and its patrons adequate access to the schools. In the meantime, however, the district is prepared for the possibility that the project will continue. 

The district is running out of time to stop this project.

An accident involving several vehicles at the intersection of Maize Road and the access road on Monday morning illustrates the district's concern for this project. The accident forced all traffic to Maize South Middle School to be rerouted from Maize Road to Tyler Road. It caused significant congestion and buses to arrive late. Nearly 50 students being dropped off by parents were late to school.

If the project is not stopped, the district is asking parents to expect significant traffic delays involving school buses and school traffic. There will be a much higher volume of traffic on the school access road and the area surrounding our south campus, including in and around the Fox Ridge neighborhood. 

The construction of a new temporary road between 37th Street and the west roundabout, immediately behind Menards, seems an unlikely possibility at this time.

Please note that traffic on Tyler Road near our south campus schools is now open to south-bound traffic. While this will help alleviate some traffic concerns, it does not address the safety issues that the district has expressed.

Please click below to read the letter from Superintendent Chad Higgins that was emailed to all parents on Saturday. 

Maize Schools appreciates our community's continued support as we navigate this issue and work toward the best - and safest - solution for all involved.

Please check www.usd266.com for additional information as updates are available.


9/24/15 > District architects present construction timeline to Maize Board of Education

Maize Bond 2015

Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture, Hutton Construction and Maize USD 266 have been working together to determine a construction timeline for the 2015 bond projects. 

On Sept. 14, Maize Board of Education members received a bond update from Kenton Cox and Darin Augustine of SJCF, the district's architect. All parties are keeping in mind academic and sports schedules when planning the phasing of projects. ( Please click here or on the above graphic to view a larger version via our Board Docs portal. ) Since August, they have been meeting with administrators and key staff members, and the team continues to look for money-saving efficiencies. The next step is to further develop plans and survey land. 

Board members during the Sept. 14 meeting did agree to pursue the plan to build the new stand-alone Early Childhood Center on 37th Street North west of Maize South High School, as shown on bond maps previously.  

The bond plan includes working to get new bleacher seats in place before basketball season but may only be feasible at Maize South High, where seats are cracked. Plans include athletic improvements at that school to be timed between football and basketball seasons. 

At Maize Middle School, the most complicated bond project, architects propose working to demo the area to the north so buses can be routed there to make room for construction staging. At Maize High School, the plan is to build the north tornado safe room first. The new transportation center is scheduled to be constructed toward the end of the bond work.

Architects shared that the sooner they can bid the projects, the better prices will be. Cox and Augustine also said that they have been using a quote from Higgins as a mantra for the project: "We need to do this better than promised."

Voters' approval in June will bring these projects to Maize Schools to provide a safe and promising future for all of our students:

  • tornado safe rooms and a Career and Professional Center at Maize High School.
  • a new Early Childhood Center.
  • a renovated and expanded Maize Middle School.
  • additions and improvements at Maize South High School, including a new fine arts storage addition and an expanded gym and cafeteria.
  • a new transportation facility.
  • roof replacements at various buildings.
  • technology and infrastructure improvements at various buildings.
  • athletic upgrades, including new locker rooms, stadium upgrades, all-weather playing surfaces, bleachers, lighting and equipment.

You can learn more about the bond vision by visiting our bond resource page at www.usd266.com/bond.

9/24/15 > Middle schools win national health award
Maize Middle School and Maize South Middle School both have been awarded the 2015 Let's Move! Active Schools National Award.

The award is part of a nationwide initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama. Its goals include to combat childhood obesity, direct youth to a healthy future, educate parents, provide healthier school food, and help students be more physically active.

To earn a Let's Move! Active Schools National Award, a school must meet significant benchmarks in five areas: physical education, physical activity before and after school, physical activity during school, staff involvement, and family and community engagement.

At Maize Middle School, Physical Education teacher Lori Heger has trained teachers to take Brain Breaks to increase physical activity in the classroom utilizing different ideas to get students up out of their seats. She began the effort four years ago and also reinforces movement at faculty meetings. The school's staff will receive further training on the effort of movement during an inservice next month.

At Maize South Middle School, Physical Education teacher Brandon Wolff has implemented similar programs. He began the initiative several years ago. The school has a Let's Move Club charged with student-driven tasks, including developing Brain Boosts for teachers, the monthly fitness calendar, and the Bull Rush challenge course event.

Congrats to our schools on their Let's Move! awards!
 


ABOVE: Maize Middle School students take a 
Brain Break to increase physical activity in the classroom.
BELOW: Maize Middle School students do squats during physical education class.

9/03/15 > School day returns to normal protocol following modified lock down at Maize High School
The school day has returned to normal after a modified lock down at Maize High School was lifted.

Maize Police is working on an ongoing investigation, and the threat has been addressed. Student safety will remain a priority. The potential risk has been resolved.

The school day will continue as normal.

A social media post led administrators and police to work together on what was believed to be a threat against specific students at Maize High School.

Our employees followed protocol during the modified lock down, which means that students continued their lessons in classrooms with their teachers. All students were kept in their classrooms during that time. Additional administrators and additional police officers were on site at Maize High School this morning.

Safety of our students and staff remains a top priority.

During the modified lock down, our other schools followed normal protocol regarding safety.

Our staff members did a great job keeping our students safe.

In coming days, administrators will continue to evaluate the events of the morning.
8/31/15 > Maize staff working on bond timeline with architects, construction manager

Maize Bond 2015

Maize USD 266 administrators and staff members have been meeting regularly with Schaefer, Johnson, Cox and Frey Architecture, the district's architectural firm, and Hutton Construction, the Construction Manager At Risk for the bond issue.

 

Last week, staff committees met to discuss two bond projects: the new Career and Professional Center at Maize High School and the standalone Early Childhood Center. Maize USD 266 employees and professionals will work to fine-tune bond plans and project timelines. The bulk of the $70.7 million bond must be completed within three years.

 

There will be weekly bond construction meetings to keep the project on task. Soon, a bond phasing plan will be available to employees and the public.

 

Moving forward, there will be a bond-related agenda item at all regular Maize Board of Education monthly meetings. This will allow regular updates about the progress of the bond. Board members meet at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of the month at the Educational Support Center, 905 W. Academy Ave. in Maize. The meetings are open to the public.

 

In addition to the Early Childhood Center and the Career and Professional Center, voters' approval in June will bring these projects to Maize Schools to provide a safe and promising future for all of our students:

  • tornado safe rooms at Maize High School.
  • a renovated and expanded Maize Middle School.
  • additions and improvements at Maize South High School.
  • a new transportation facility.
  • roof replacements at various buildings.
  • technology and infrastructure improvements at various buildings.
  • athletic upgrades, including new locker rooms, stadium upgrades, all-weather playing surfaces, bleachers, lighting and equipment.

You can learn more about the bond vision by visiting our bond resource page at  www.usd266.com/bond .

8/25/15 > Maize Board of Education appoints Kate Doerksen as interim member

Maize USD 266 would like to welcome Kate Doerksen as the newest member of the Maize Board of Education. Board members voted to appoint her at their special Aug. 24 meeting. She was one of three candidates they interviewed for the District 1 vacancy that arose following Wendi White's resignation this summer.

Kate will serve as an interim board member until the current term ends in January 2018. The seat will be up for election in November 2017. At that time, she may choose to run to be elected to the position. She is an active community volunteer and has served on several district committees through the years.

In her application, she shared that she has four children who have gone through or are going through Maize Schools. She wrote that her family has "received great education, support and overall experience. I want every family in the Maize District to have that same experience. I believe this district has great potential, with excellent administration, competent caring teaching staff, supportive families and great kids."

8/25/15 > Superintendent Higgins: OneMa1ze a vision to unite district for 2015-16 and beyond

BY CHAD HIGGINS

Maize Superintendent of Schools

   
We employees at Maize USD 266 kicked off the school year earlier this month with an all-district staff convocation. Just joining the district in July, it was my first opportunity to get our entire staff together in one place.

We honored colleagues who have worked tirelessly at Maize Schools for up to 40 years. (Impressive!) I talked a bit about myself and my family and provided updates on some big-picture district projects, including our $70.7 million bond issue. We discussed the importance of supporting our Maize Education Foundation.

 I also spoke at last week's all-district meeting about my vision for Maize Schools.

There we were, new employees like me (including 30 teachers new to Maize Schools and 12 first-year teachers) alongside our USD 266 veterans who have walked these halls and impacted our students' lives for decades.

As a group, we handle all sorts of elements of the district: We drive buses, prepare school lunches, work the front offices, maintain the buildings, keep the schools clean and safe and more. In the coming days and weeks, we will be teaching 3-year-olds how to sit crisscross applesauce; helping our students factor polynomials; coaching our tweens and teens on various sports fields and in life; encouraging them to be good students and students of good character; and making sure our high school seniors are looking ahead toward their futures after they leave our classrooms.

We work at schools in Maize and others in Wichita. Regardless of those differences, we are all part of one team that has one common goal: Our students are all of our responsibility. Their tomorrow is hinged on us collectively today. Competition is healthy, but when it comes to preparing kids to be productive and thriving adults, education and school employees must all work in the same direction. There cannot be losers in that game.

That's why, with the feedback and guidance of my administrative staff members, I launched the OneMa1ze vision. It's not about who among us is best. It's about all of us being our best together. It's about complementing each other's strengths. This ties in nicely with my "What is best for our students?" guiding mantra that I shared with you on my first day of work at Maize. We can achieve the best for our students when we work cooperatively and cohesively, when we work as OneMa1ze.

It's been exciting to see staff members and parents alike use #OneMa1ze in various capacities already, including on social media. I especially loved your first-day-of-school photos that you shared with that hashtag, including one parent who shared a photo of her Maize South High School senior and her Maize High School freshman. Her tweet included, "Bring it on 2015/16!"

As OneMa1ze, we have great things ahead. Bring it on, indeed.
 
Sincerely,
Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools

chiggins@usd266.com

8/25/15 > Board chooses Hutton Construction to be bond's Construction Manager At-Risk

Maize Bond 2015

During their regular August meeting, Maize Board of Education members approved Hutton Construction as the Construction Manager At Risk for the bond issue.

A committee conducted reference checks and interviews and scored options before making its recommendation. Board members have said that a Construction Manager At Risk is a necessity because of the multiple projects, the bulk of which
must be completed within three years. Hutton's fee, which came in under projections, is built into the cost of the $70.7 million bond issue. Hutton's fee also was the lowest submitted to Maize. The goal is to help projects be completed on time and on or under budget.

Voters' approval in June will bring these projects to Maize Schools to provide a safe and promising future for all of our students:
  • tornado safe rooms and a Career and Professional Center at Maize High School .
  • a renovated and expanded Maize Middle School .
  • additions and improvements at Maize South High School , including a new fine arts storage addition and an expanded gym and cafeteria.
  • a new transportation facility.
  • roof replacements at various buildings.
  • technology and infrastructure improvements at various buildings.
  • athletic upgrades, including new locker rooms, stadium upgrades, all-weather playing surfaces, bleachers, lighting and equipment.
Architects have been meeting with district leaders about these various projects and are developing a timeline, which includes project starts this school year. Tasks include evaluating plans and traffic patterns and determining the location for the new Early Childhood Center.

You can learn more about the bond vision by visiting our bond resource page at
www.usd266.com/bond .
8/25/15 > Maize board members balance 2015-16 school year budget with Block Grant
When Maize Board of Education members met for the 2015-16 budget hearing on Aug. 10, Finance Director Steve Williams presented information, including the district's related accomplishments (such as a supportive community and the recently passed bond issue) and challenges (primarily maintaining the highest level of curriculum and programs for our students with continued state of Kansas funding issues).

The board approved a 1.853 mill increase, which translates to an annual tax increase of $21.31 per year on a $100,000 property. Tied to Block Grant funding, Maize Schools faces a state aid reduction of $67,374 in the 2015-16 school year. With state budget revenue forecasts down, the district also anticipates further state funding cuts later this school year.

Maize reduced its mill rate last year by 1.378 but was unable to maintain that level due to the Block Grant funding formula. After last week's increase, Maize, with a total mill rate of 62.818, remains competitive with area school district mill rates. For additional information, please click here to access the district's Board Docs portal .
8/19/15 > Online Credit Acquisition and Credit Recovery Courses to begin Sept. 1

Maize students interested in taking online credit recovery and acquisition courses can sign up by Sept. 1 to do so. The district offers credit acquisition and credit recovery through an online curriculum through our Educational Outreach Center. It is expanded and more affordable to participants. Credit acquisition courses will start again Sept. 1.

A student interested in earning credits otherwise unattainable because of scheduling conflicts may benefit from this program, as might students who need to retake a course they failed. Courses offered include English, algebra, chemistry, history and more. Please click here to see a complete list of courses and to register.

Maize USD 266 teachers teach the courses, and all teachers are certified in the course that they are teaching. The online courses also allow students to free up coursework time in their school schedule to allow them to take electives of interest to them. It could help a student graduate early or may assist the student in earning college credit or accessing skills for career readiness.

Course orientation will be at 3:15 p.m. Sept. 1 at the Educational Outreach Center, 201 S. Park in Maize.  Half-credit courses will be $150, and full-credit courses will be $300. Credit recovery courses are $30 a month. Registration must be done online at educationaloutreach.weebly.com . Payment is due at orientation or in Skyward if the student has taken courses in this program before.

Below are answers to additional questions you may have about the Educational Outreach Center online courses.

Q: What do I need in order to take courses online through Educational Outreach?

A: You will need a computer with internet access.

Q: How much time is required to take an online course?

A: Plan to spend at least as much time as you would if you were attending in the regular classroom, or approximately seven hours a week.

Q: How long do I have to complete a credit recovery course?

A: As long as it takes to complete it. A monthly fee of $30 will be due before the beginning of the month. The course will be shut off and reset if payment is not received by the 1st of the month.

Q: How will assessments for core credit acquisition courses be given?

A: Assessments will be proctored at the Educational Outreach Center at the end of the course.

Q: I have started working in my online course through Educational Outreach, but it's not for me. What do I do?

A: Simply choose not to pay the next month's fee, and the course will be shut off automatically if no payment is received.

Q: Can I earn college credit through any of the online courses offered for credit acquisition?

A: Yes. There are a few courses that can be taken for college credit through WATC for an additional $65 per credit.  Students must be second semester sophomores or older and must have an Asset test on file. Computer Applications is available for credit. Additional courses are being added this year.

8/18/15 > Sink hole repairs in the works at Maize South High School

Crews have installed a new section of storm pipe at Maize South High School, where underground erosion led to an apparent sink hole that caused a small portion of a drive to sink under a school bus last week.

A licensed geotechnical engineering firm has evaluated the subsurface conditions at the site, and crews made repairs according to their recommendations. Crews removed the broken section of pipe, as well as loose soil and debris, and will fill the hole before covering it with a new asphalt patch. Vehicle traffic will need to stay off of that section of roadway until it properly sets. It is the district's continued goal to work toward a repair to make the roadway fully operational as quickly -- but as safely -- as possible.

On Aug. 13, Maize USD 266 bus No. 12 was involved in what district administrators believed to be a small sink hole.

The bus, which was about to transport students home from Maize South Middle School and Maize South High School, was parked. Its left rear tire began to sink through the paved roadway.

There were no injuries, but it did lead to a bus route delay.

Maize USD 266 staff members quickly evacuated the students on board and transported them to another bus. Maize Schools communicated via email with parents of those students to explain the situation.

The sink hole measured about seven feet across and six feet deep.

Later last week, crews identified that underground erosion caused by a leaking pipe under the roadway created the hole. The pipe carries rainwater from the Maize South High School roof.

Maize USD 266 worked with architects, construction professionals and a consulting engineering firm to learn more about the cause of the hole.

On Friday, crews excavated around the hole and cleaned it out to allow for a closer examination of the situation.

Administrators and professionals have been working to ensure that the incident is isolated.

Maize leaders also continue to evaluate the situation to protect the safety of students, employees and all pedestrians and drivers who use that roadway involved in the incident.

Thank you for your patience and attention to safety during this ongoing matter.

8/14/15 > Underground erosion led to apparent sink hole at Maize South High School

A leak in an underground drainage pipe led to erosion that caused a small portion of a drive near Maize South High School to sink slightly under the weight of a school bus on Thursday afternoon.


The pipe runs under the roadway and carries rainwater from the school's roof.


Crews will repair the pipe, fill the hole and fix the road. It is a goal to work toward a repair to make the roadway fully operational as quickly - but as safely - as possible. 


Maize USD 266 on Thursday evening and Friday morning worked with architects, construction professionals and a consulting engineering firm to learn more about the cause of the hole. 


On Friday, crews excavated around the hole and cleaned out the hole to allow for a closer examination of the situation.


Administrators and professionals have been working to ensure that the incident is isolated. 


Maize leaders also continue to evaluate the situation to protect the safety of students, employees and all pedestrians and drivers who use that roadway involved in the incident.


On Aug. 13, Maize USD 266 bus No. 12 was involved in what district administrators believed to be a small sink hole on one of the paved roadways by Maize South High School.


The bus, which was about to transport students home from Maize South Middle School and Maize South High School, was parked. Its left rear tire began to sink through the paved roadway. 


There were no injuries, but it did lead to a bus route delay.


Maize USD 266 staff members quickly evacuated the students on board and transported them to another bus. Maize Schools communicated via email with parents of those students to explain the situation.


The sink hole measures about seven feet across and six feet deep.


Please be prepared for possible traffic delays while the district works through the situation.


Thank you for your patience and attention to safety. 

8/13/15 > Maize Schools evaluating apparent sink hole

This afternoon, Maize USD 266 bus No. 12 was involved in what district administrators believe to be a small sink hole on one of the paved roadways by Maize South High School.

The bus, which was about to transport students home from Maize South Middle School and Maize South High School, was parked. Its left rear tire began to sink through the paved roadway. There were no injuries, but it did lead to a bus route delay.

Maize USD 266 staff members quickly evacuated the students on board and transported them to another bus. Maize Schools communicated via email with parents of those students to explain the situation.

Maize USD 266 administrators will continue to evaluate the apparent sink hole and related traffic flow patterns. The sink hole measures about seven feet across and six feet deep.

Please be prepared for traffic delays on Friday, Aug. 14.

Thank you for your patience regarding this situation.


8/07/15 > Tyler Road construct to alter traffic patterns

When school starts next week, construction on Tyler Road between 29th Street North and 37th Street North will allow for north-bound traffic only. The city of Wichita anticipates that south-bound traffic on that stretch of Tyler will be closed until the project is completed in October.

Please allow extra time to travel to school in the mornings, and please be patient during this process. The safety of our students and families is a top priority. You will find traffic flow maps attached.

To protect the safety of our students and other pedestrians, the city of Wichita and Maize Schools are directing anyone needing to cross Tyler Road on foot along that mile stretch of road to do so at the intersections of Tyler and 29th Street North or Tyler and 37th Street North. Maize Schools provides busing to students living in Tyler's Landing and developments in that area. If you waived bus transportation but would like your child to ride a school bus, please click here to fill out and submit the necessary form .

The city of Wichita is ahead of schedule on its project to widen Tyler Road to a three-lane street between 29th Street North and 37th Street North. The city's project includes adding a new school entrance traffic signal, sidewalks along both sides of Tyler, and right turn lanes at all major entrances along that section of Tyler. There also will be new drainage improvements and landscaping.

The new traffic light, which will be installed at Tyler Road and the school access drive, is not yet operational. Drivers must turn left only onto Tyler from Maize South High School and the school access drive.

Maize USD 266 administrators have worked with the city of Wichita and Wichita and Maize police departments during the construction process, and we appreciate your patience during this process.

Thank you.


7/29/15 > Maize Board of Education now accepting applications for interim member

Those interested in applying to fill a vacancy in Maize Board of Education District 1 can now do so. Applications are due to Board Clerk Robin Brown by 4:30 p.m. Aug. 13. To apply, please type your answers to the 10 questions listed in the attached application.

 

The vacancy has arisen following board member Wendi White's resignation. During the July 13 board meeting, White, who sold her house and plans to move outside of the district boundaries, announced that she would be stepping down from the board. Her resignation was effective July 14. White fulfilled her one-year term as president at the July 13 meeting.

 

Board members will select an interim candidate, who will serve as a Maize Board of Education member until the current term ends in January 2018. The seat will be up for election in November 2017. The interim member may choose to run to be elected to the position.

 

During the board's July 27 work session, President Matt Jensby appointed members Jeff Jarman and Richard Stiverson to serve on a selection committee along with Superintendent Chad Higgins to screen applications. A select number of applicants will be invited for an interview with the board of education during a special meeting beginning at 7 p.m. Aug. 24. Applicants must be available to attend this meeting as part of the application process. Please find additional information in the attached application.

 

White, who served on the Maize Board of Education since 2009, represented Board Member District 1, which is the southwest portion of the Maize School District. Her replacement also must live within the voter district boundaries. A specific geographic description and a map of the District 1 boundaries is available in the Maize Board of Education Policy online at  www.bit.ly/266boedistricts.


Maize USD 266 thanks Ms. White for her service to the Maize Board of Education and USD 266.


7/28/15 > Tyler Road construction to alter traffic patterns

The city of Wichita is ahead of schedule on its project to widen Tyler Road to a three-lane street between 29th Street North and 37th Street North. 

The city anticipates that north-bound-only traffic between West Lakes Parkway (just north of 29th Street North) and 37th Street North will be open by Aug. 12, our first day of school. 

South-bound traffic on that stretch of Tyler is expected to be closed until the project is completed in October.

Before school starts, Maize USD 266 will share additional information about traffic patterns for those with students attending Maize South High, Maize South Middle and Maize South Elementary schools. 

The city's project includes adding a new school entrance traffic signal, sidewalks along both sides of Tyler and right turn lanes at all major entrances along that section of Tyler. There also will be new drainage improvements and landscaping.

7/27/15 > Superintendent Chad Higgins: Eager for inspiration as first day of school approaches

For school district administrators (especially new ones like me!), summer is a great time to buckle down, roll up your sleeves and take a closer look at the school district's budget and goals for the coming school year.

But, as I share often with parents and students during the summer break, it sure gets lonely.

Aug. 12 is only a few weeks away, and I am looking forward to my very first first day of school here at Maize USD 266. There is nothing like the wide eyes and big smiles of our youngest students, backpacks as big as they are, filing into a classroom for their first time. 

This August, we'll be new Maize kids together.

Classrooms full of eager students are a constant reminder of why we do what we do. I look forward to spending an hour or so a day in our school buildings to get to know our passionate teachers and employees. Even more fun is the endless supply of inspiration the students provide.

At 6-foot-4-inches tall in a suit and tie, I'm hardly a fly on the wall. Yet I enjoy ducking into classrooms to hear the back-and-forth exchange between student and teacher, the laughter, the lessons. No matter what happens within the board room or our district policy, those young hearts and minds are what it's all about. Plus, you never know what hilarious, poignant or insightful questions they will ask as they continue to learn about themselves and the world around them. 

I can almost hear the school bell now, and I can't wait. See you and your student soon!
 

Sincerely,

Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools
7/27/15 > Maize Board of Education to select Construction Manager At-Risk for bond

Maize Bond 2015

A small committee consisting of two Maize Board of Education members and Maize administrators on Aug. 6 will meet to interview potential companies for a  Construction Manager At-Risk for the district's bond project.


The committee will make a recommendation to the board during its next regularly scheduled meeting, 7 p.m. Aug. 10 at the Educational Support Center, 905 W. Academy Ave. in Maize. Maize Schools had a positive experience using the service during its past bond issue. The Construction Manager At-Risk will be responsible for helping ensure that the project comes in on time and on budget.

 

During the board's July 13 meeting, Bret Shogren with George K. Baum & Co., the district's bond council, presented bond-related information. Due to stress on interest rates, the bond will have a slightly higher interest rate of 3.16 percent rather than the 3 percent that was projected. However, the district received 39 percent state aid rather than the anticipated 38 percent.
 

Voters' approval last month will bring these projects to Maize Schools to provide a safe and promising future for all of our students:

  • tornado safe rooms and a Career and Professional Center at Maize High School.

  • a new Early Childhood Center.

  • a renovated and expanded Maize Middle School.

  • additions and improvements at Maize South High School, including a new fine arts storage addition and an expanded gym and cafeteria.

  • a new transportation facility.

  • roof replacements at various buildings.

  • technology and infrastructure improvements at various buildings.

  • athletic upgrades, including new locker rooms, stadium upgrades, all-weather playing surfaces, bleachers, lighting and equipment.

You can learn more about the bond vision by visiting our bond resource page at www.usd266.com/bond.

7/27/15 > Fiscal year ends with balanced district budget

During the July 13 Maize Board of Education meeting, Director of Finance Steve Williams provided a budget review, including the headline that the district ended its fiscal year in June with a balanced budget and did not need to access Capital Outlay funds.

 

Transportation fuel and heating costs were down because of lower rates, and the district's work to absorb positions through attrition saved money. Most departments and schools underspent their allotted budgets.

7/20/15 > Maize Board of Education member Wendi White announces resignation

During the July 13 meeting, Maize Board of Education board member Wendi White, who sold her house and plans to move outside of the Maize USD 266 boundaries, announced that she would be stepping down from the board. Her resignation was effective July 14. White fulfilled her one-year term as president at the July 13 meeting.

Maize USD 266, in compliance with state statute, will advertise a Maize Board of Education vacancy for 15 days. Members of the Maize Board of Education will accept applications for the board seat and will select an interim candidate, who will serve as a Maize Board of Education member until the current term ends. The seat will be up for election in 2017. The interim member may choose to run to be elected to the position.

Ms. White, who served on the Maize Board of Education since 2009, represented Board Member District 1, which is the southwest portion of the Maize School District. Her replacement also must live within the voter district boundaries. A specific geographic description of the District 1 boundaries is available in the Maize Board of Education Policy online at www.bit.ly/266boedistricts.

Maize USD 266 thanks Ms. White for her service to the Maize Board of Education and USD 266.

7/02/15 > Maize USD 266 administrative changes for 2015-16 school year


In addition to welcoming Chad Higgins, our new superintendent of schools, Maize USD 266 is proud to share this list of administrative changes for the upcoming school year. (Administrators are pictured from left, first row to second row, as listed below.)

Maize Elementary School: Lindsey Vincent will be assistant principal

Maize High School: Eric Wolgast will be full-time athletic director

Maize South Elementary School: Meg Thimmesch will be principal, and Eric Nachtigal will be assistant principal

Maize South High School: Richard Bell from Clearwater Schools will be assistant principal (not pictured)

Maize South Middle School:  Cort Haynes will be assistant principal

Pray-Woodman Elementary School: Karen LaMunyon will be assistant principal

Vermillion Elementary School: Michael Dome will be principal, and Marney Hay will be assistant principal

Maize Virtual Preparatory School: Dr. Jen Kern is full-time principal

7/01/15 > Superintendent Chad Higgins: Ready to hit the ground running

What is best for our students?

I have shared with my district administrative team that this is a question they often will hear me ask, as it will be a question that will guide my decision-making as the new superintendent of schools here at Maize USD 266.

Today is my first day on the job, and I wanted one of my first official tasks to be reaching out to you to introduce myself. I am a lifelong Kansan and a career educator who values integrity and is solution-oriented. You may have heard this in district communications or media coverage already, but taking the helm at Maize Schools truly is a personal and professional dream-come-true for me.

Before coming to Maize, I worked as the Moundridge Superintendent of Schools since 2009. I previously worked in Douglass as a principal and assistant principal/activities director and in Great Bend as a high school and middle school science teacher. I earned degrees from Emporia State and Fort Hays State universities and my District Level Licensure from Friends University. I am working to complete my Doctorate in Education from Wichita State University. 
 
My wife, Drenda, is an elementary school teacher in Valley Center, and we have two college-aged children, 21-year-old Taylor and 19-year-old Garrett. 
 
Maize Way Logo Maize is a phenomenal district with incredible potential. There are countless positive developments in the works, including the $70.7 million bond issue (please read an update about that by clicking here), nationally recognized Maize Way character education and an award-winning team of teachers. Our schools are poised for exceptional teaching and learning. We have educators attending exciting training opportunities this summer. And after several years of transition, all of our elementary schools will house kindergarten through 5th grades this year, with Maize Elementary School and Vermillion Elementary School adding 5th-grade classes.
 
It is an honor to become part of the district professionally and of the community personally, and with both come responsibility that I do not take lightly. I value collaboration and cohesion and want to continue to learn about the history and legacy that has made Maize Schools and the community surrounding it what it is today.

I have begun my work becoming acclimated to the district and community. I have attended meetings, gone on tours and/or met the leaders with the Maize Education Foundation, the city of Maize, the Maize Recreation Commission and the Maize Area Chamber of Commerce. I look forward to similar opportunities to meet our partners, leaders and supporters.

I want to ensure that Maize -- and its students and employees -- have great success. I aim to be fiscally responsible by striving for an efficient and strong education, not a cheap one, guided primarily by one question: What is best for our students? It will not always be an easy question to answer, but I look forward to the opportunity to seek an answer nonetheless.

Free children's story time: I will continue to be out in the community in the coming weeks and months, and I look forward to meeting many more Maize Schools parents and patrons. Please plan to join me at 10:30 a.m. July 14 at MOXI Junction, 319 S. Park in Maize. I will be a guest reader at the coffee shop/art gallery's weekly children's story time. Following the event, please visit our Summer Bookmobile, which will be parked out front as part of its July route to encourage summer reading. (You can read more about the roving library-on-a-school-bus by clicking here.)

Thank you again for your warm welcome as I join the talented team here at Maize Schools. I am eager to get started in this great district.
 
Sincerely,
 
Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools
chiggins@usd266.com

7/01/15 > Maize Schools to receive 39 percent bond state aid for 2015-16 school year

Maize Bond 2015

With voters' approval June 9 of Maize USD 266's $70.7 million bond issue, the district was able to lock in state equalization aid under the formula that had existed prior to July 1. The timing was critical for the district, as it is anticipated that Kansas public school bonds passed in the future will receive lower levels of state aid contribution.

The great news for Maize Schools is that, for 2015-16, the state aid level will be 39 percent, up one percent from the 38 percent that was available in 2014-15 in accordance to Kansas law.

The percentage of state aid is determined each year and is based on the district's property valuation per student enrollment of Maize USD 266 as compared with all other school districts statewide. The increase simply means that Maize Schools student enrollment did not increase proportionately with the district's assessed valuation as compared with other Kansas districts. Ultimately, this means that Maize Schools will receive a slightly higher state aid percentage to help pay bond principal and interest. A new grid is established each year to determine bond state aid for the coming fiscal year.

On June 15, members of the Maize Board of Education met to approve bond-related resolutions and agreements and to authorize the sale of the bonds. (Please click here to view those agreements via our Board Docs portal.)

Voters' approval last month will bring these projects to Maize Schools to provide a safe and promising future for all of our students:

  • tornado safe rooms and a Career and Professional Center at Maize High School.
  • a new Early Childhood Center.
  • a renovated and expanded Maize Middle School.
  • additions and improvements at Maize South High School, including a new fine arts storage addition and an expanded gym and cafeteria.
  • a new transportation facility.
  • roof replacements at various buildings.
  • technology and infrastructure improvements at various buildings.
  • athletic upgrades, including new locker rooms, stadium upgrades, all-weather playing surfaces, bleachers, lighting and equipment.

You can learn more about the bond vision by visiting our bond resource page at www.usd266.com/bond.

7/01/15 > District Chromebook initiative continues to maximize technology budget

During its June 8 meeting, members of the Maize Board of Education approved the purchase of 1,300 Chromebooks for $265,390.99. Chromebooks are thin computers that rely heavily on internet connection and take minimal time to load, allowing more valuable classroom time for instruction.

The devices are less expensive than laptops and provide the educational support students need. Last year, the district purchased 1,100 Chromebooks to upgrade aging district devices.

The ongoing Chromebook initiative is a cost-saving plan, as each device is half the cost of a new laptop. Purchasing these has allowed Maize Schools to buy twice as many new computers, getting new technology into the hands of more students and teachers.

6/30/15 > KMUW features nationally awarded Complete High School Maize

KMUW, Wichita Public Radio 89.1 FM, on June 29 aired a feature story about our Complete High School Maize alternative high school.

Complete is one of three schools this year to be named a Kansas State School of Character and has received the prestigious honor of winning a National School of Character award from the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization Character.org.

 

Please click here to listen to the KMUW feature story, which includes interviews with Principal Kristy Custer (pictured at right with KMUW's Deborah Shaar), as well as other educators and students.


Please click here to learn more about Complete High School Maize and the school's recent awards.

6/10/15 > Maize Schools working to issue bonds to lock in 38 percent state aid

Maize Bond 2015

With the June 9 announcement that voters approved a $70.7 million bond for Maize USD 266, the district is now focusing on locking in the 38 percent state equalization aid. That state contribution would be $26,866,000, plus interest for the approved Maize Schools bond projects.

State statue currently does not address state aid scenarios in which a district passes a bond before July 1 but issues the bonds after that date. The legislature has indicated that is an oversight, but the Maize Board of Education is poised to issue bonds before the end of June to ensure state aid at the full 38 percent for Maize Schools. It is anticipated that bonds passed and issued beyond the deadline will receive state aid at a lower level.

Maize school board members are planning a special meeting at 7 a.m. June 15 at the Educational Support Center, 905 W. Academy Ave. in Maize.

Visit our bond resource page for additional information about the bond projects.

6/10/15 > Current job openings include bus drivers, certified coop positions

Interested in joining our Maize Schools team? Many openings are part-time jobs with full-time benefits, including:

  • Group health insurance
  • Summers off
  • Winter break off
  • Spring break off
  • No evenings or weekends

School bus drivers start at $11.15 an hour, plus attendance incentives. Please call the Maize USD 266 Transportation Office at 316-722-0582 for more information.

Please click here to apply for any of our openings.

Certified positions with our special education cooperative

Sedgwick County Area Educational Services Interlocal Cooperative No. 618 also has the following openings:

  • Behavior Specialist/Coach - Coop wide Early Childhood Teacher - Clearwater Elementary West
  • Adaptive Secondary Teacher - Goddard Eisenhower High School
  • Adaptive Secondary Teacher - Goddard High School Adaptive
  • Secondary Teacher - Valley Center Middle School Adaptive
  • Secondary Teacher - Valley Center High School
  • Functional Secondary Teacher - Maize South Middle School

Please click here for additional information and applications .

6/10/15 > Board members approve contract with city of Maize police department for services

The Maize Board of Education during its June 8 meeting approved a memorandum of understanding with the city of Maize that would allow for district-funded city-employed police officers to provide safety and security services to Maize Schools.

Safety will continue to be a top priority for Maize USD 266, especially for students. The city of Maize's police department will aim to offer the same quality services to all students, employees and schools in the district. The contract provides for the city to provide two full-time officers, one at Maize High School and one at Maize South High School. During the summer, those officers will revert back to service as directed by the city.

Maize Schools also will have use of the city's community policing officer, who will be available to all schools, including elementary schools. There also will be a memorandum of understanding with the city of Wichita allowing Maize police to have jurisdiction on the south campus, as is now the case.

The change is a cost-saving measure that dissolves the Maize Schools police department consisting of three officers and one police chief to save about $80,000 a year.

6/10/15 > Maize Board of Education recognizes outgoing members

Maize Board of Education members on June 8 recognized their colleagues whose terms are ending this month.

Members congratulated and thanked outgoing board member April Barnard and At-Large Representative Amber Casement for their service and commitment to Maize Schools.

Barnard, pictured at top right with Maize Board of Education President Wendi White, has represented the west/northwest portion of the district.

She first  became involved as a district-level volunteer when she served on the Journey to Excellence - Soaring to New Heights steering committee in 2005.

Casement, pictured at lower right with White, served on the board beginning in July 2009. 

She is a long-time volunteer in the district, both in the classroom and with the Maize Education Foundation.

Two new members will join the board in July when new terms begin: Jeffrey Jarman will be the new at-large representative, and Scott Crawford will represent District 3.

Matt Jensby, who was appointed to the board in September to fill a District 1 opening, was elected to that same seat during the April 7 General Election. Incumbent Bruce Nicholson was re-elected to his District 2 seat.


6/09/15 > Community approves key piece of bond vision for Maize Schools

Maize Bond 2015

Results are in, and we are pleased to share that our Maize Schools community has approved a key piece of our proposed bond plan that will create a safe and promising future for all of our students.

Voters' support will bring the following exciting projects to fruition:

  • tornado safe rooms and a Career and Professional Center at Maize High School.
  • a new Early Childhood Center.
  • a renovated and expanded Maize Middle School.
  • additions and improvements at Maize South High School, including a new fine arts storage addition and an expanded gym and cafeteria.
  • a new transportation facility.
  • roof replacements at various buildings.
  • technology and infrastructure improvements at various buildings.
  • athletic upgrades, including new locker rooms, stadium upgrades, all-weather playing surfaces, bleachers, lighting and equipment.

Now the hard - and exciting - work begins.

The district will work to select a construction at-risk manager to help projects run on time and on budget. Maize USD 266 had a good experience using such services to implement the 2007 bond projects.

Our architects will kick off the next phase of design work, and district grounds and maintenance employees will begin work on smaller improvement projects, such as some of our athletic upgrades.

As plans and construction schedules develop, Maize Schools will share out additional information.

Voters made their opinion known about the natatorium, voting Proposition Two down. Moving forward, Maize USD 266 will continue to work in partnership with the Greater Wichita YMCA to provide a pool space for our winning high school swimming teams. Maize Schools will need to revisit how swimming might fit into the district's long-term future curriculum vision.

To view the official Sedgwick County Election Office bond election results, please click here.

You can learn more about the bond vision by visiting our bond resource page at www.usd266.com/bond.

Wrapping up my final superintendent's message at the end of my six-year tenure here at Maize USD 266, I would like to thank our staff members, employees, parents and Maize Schools community for your dedication to and support of this great district. It has been my honor and privilege to be a part of this journey and to witness the countless inspirational student accomplishments and achievements. It will be my joy to witness as a supporter the great things Maize Schools has in store in the future.

Sincerely,

Doug Powers, Superintendent of Schools

dpowers@usd266.com

5/22/15 > Superintendent Powers: Bond would give operating budgets much-needed relief

Maize Bond 2015

Maize USD 266, as with school districts across Kansas, is tightening our budgets in response to the state block grants, a change in the funding formula for Kansas public schools.

Here at Maize, our operating base budgets have been cut more than 15 percent since 2009, forcing the district to rely on its capital outlay fund to shore up operation costs. The choices our district have faced have not been easy. To balance our budget, Maize Schools has:

  • reduced the number of counselors at elementary and secondary levels.
  • reduced upper-level language offerings.
  • increased class sizes as a result of not replacing classroom teachers who have resigned or retired.
  • reduced technology staff via attrition and centralization of technology services.
  • reduced curriculum and software purchases.
  • centralized printing.
  • reduced clerical staff.
  • reduced paraprofessionals.
  • reduced elementary and secondary paraprofessional hours.
  • reduced nursing services.
  • increased student fees.
  • deferred maintenance.
  • delayed the replacement of athletic uniforms.

The Maize Board of Education at its next regular monthly meeting on June 8 will consider the elimination of the school district police department and a contract with the Maize City Police Department for services. ( Please read more about this by clicking here. )

Some have asked us why Maize USD 266 is considering a bond issue at a time when we are faced with budget cuts. The answer is two-fold: We cannot let the budget situation tied to state funding today prevent us from planning for a safe and promising tomorrow. And the bond issue has elements that actually would bring some relief to our operating budget.

The district has opted to move select capital projects (roofing repairs and HVAC and technology infrastructure improvements) to the bond issue. This will reduce Capital Outlay operating costs by moving large-dollar expenses out of the annual budget. Roofing repairs alone, for example, would otherwise cost the district $1 million a year out of Maize's annual budget.

The same is true for the bond's athletic improvements. Due to the rapid and fortunate growth that has surrounded Maize USD 266 in the past 20 years, past bond projects have appropriately focused on constructing and expanding schools. Many of our outdoor athletic facilities are lacking and require repair. The bond project would pay for athletic facility improvements, assisting the district in the ability to focus its general fund money on curriculum and classroom needs.

Finally, the storm shelter at Maize High School and the expansion/renovation to the 32-year-old Maize Middle School must be done, and Maize USD 266 does not have the money in its annual budget to fund those measures to keep our students safe and allow for the growth we know is coming.

I invite you to visit our Bond 2015 online resource page at www.usd266.com/bond for details about the bond and the voting process. If you have additional questions not answered there, please email us your questions at bond@usd266.com.

I thank you for your support of Maize Schools as we look toward the future.

Sincerely,

Doug Powers, Superintendent of Schools

dpowers@usd266.com

5/22/15 > Board of Education to consider contract with city of Maize police department in June

The Maize Board of Education at its next regularly scheduled monthly meeting June 8 will consider a memorandum of understanding with the city of Maize that would allow for district-funded city-employed police officers to provide safety and security services to Maize Schools.

During the May 11 board meeting, Superintendent Doug Powers explained to board members that the district would contract with the city for two full-time officers, one at each high school. During the summer, those officers would revert back to service as directed by the city. Maize Schools would have use of the city's community policing officer, who would be available to all schools, including elementary schools.

There also would be a memorandum of understanding with the city of Wichita allowing Maize police to have jurisdiction on the south campus, as is now the case. Board members would consider the one-year agreement for renewal annually on July 1. A 30-day severability clause would be added to the document the board considered.

The city of Maize's police department has applied for a grant to fund two additional school resource officers at no additional cost to the city or district. Wichita USD 259 has a similar arrangement. After-hours law enforcement presence at school sports and activities would be arranged through the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office using off-duty officers as happens now.

The change is a cost-saving measure that would dissolve the Maize Schools police department to save about $80,000 a year.

Safety will continue to be a top priority for Maize Schools, especially regarding its students. If approved, the city of Maize's police department would offer the same quality services to the students, employees and schools of Maize USD 266. Board members agreed to review the plan and to consider it at their June 8 meeting.

Powers said the district should not notice any difference in police support with the change, which would dissolve the USD 266 police department consisting of three officers and one police chief. View the memorandum via the district's BoardDocs portal by clicking here.

5/15/15 > Sixth case of pertussis at Maize South Elementary

There has been a new confirmed case of pertussis at Maize South Elementary School, bringing the total confirmed cases at the school this spring to six.

The Sedgwick County Health Department deems more than two cases from two or more different households to be an outbreak. Parents of students deemed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Sedgwick County Health Department to have been in close contact with the infected students will receive a letter with additional details.

Maize USD 266 has been in communication with parents whose child(ren) attend school and/or ride a bus with the infected students. Today, the district deemed it necessary to notify and educate all parents about this situation and pertussis in general.

The health and well-being of our students is a top priority. The district continues to work closely with the Sedgwick County Health Department and, in conjunction, KDHE, on these cases. The departments, in turn, work with school nurses and medical providers. The Health Department has stated that there already have been confirmed cases of pertussis in Sedgwick County and that, while contagious, it is not easy to contract. Individuals must be in close proximity to an infection person for an extended period of time, according to the health department. Students known to have pertussis do not return to school during the period of time when they are still contagious.

Pertussis is a contagious bacterial respiratory disease that usually starts with cold-like symptoms. Early symptoms can last for one to two weeks and usually include a runny nose, low-grade fever and mild occasional cough. Pertussis can cause violent and rapid repeated coughing until the air is gone from the lungs and one is forced to inhale with a loud "whooping" sound. Pertussis is especially dangerous for babies under the age of one.

If your child has these symptoms, please take him or her to a medical provider for evaluation.

You also can learn more about pertussis by accessing the health department's Fast Facts sheet online by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's informational page at http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/.

Thank you for your support as we work together to care for and protect all of our students.

5/07/15 > Superintendent Powers: Now is the time to harness possibilities of tomorrow

Maize Bond 2015

The Maize USD 266 logo features a rising star, symbolic of the district's vision for its Journey to Excellence - Soaring to New Heights plan to become a top district in the state of Kansas and beyond.

Through our two-question $83.55 million proposed bond, the stars are aligned perfectly to situate Maize Schools for a future with a safer, stronger school district for all of our students and the community.

Thanks to a 38 percent ($41.9 million) state contribution, near historically low interest rates and a shorter-than-normal 14-year financing period, taxpayers can support this bond and Maize Schools and its students for less than $1 a month on a $100,000 home. This is an 2015affordable and necessary investment in the school district and children at the heart of our community.

This is an opportunity our community has said it wants, and we ask you to please educate yourself about the issue and participate in the upcoming mail-in election.

Explore the upcoming Spring 2015 Maize Messenger district newsletter and www.usd266.com/bond for information, and email questions to bond@usd266.com.

Doug Powers, Superintendent of Schools

5/05/15 > Chad Higgins to be Maize USD 266’s next Superintendent of Schools

Maize USD 266's next Superintendent of Schools will be Chad Higgins, who is the current Moundridge Schools superintendent. The Maize Board of Education met this morning and unanimously approved the new superintendent contract.

Higgins, who officially starts on July 1, was present at the meeting and told those gathered that this is a personal and professional dream come true. He said he is excited to work with the passionate and committed Maize USD 266 team, to meet everyone and to learn more about employees' future hopes and dreams for Maize Schools. He said he intends to spend the remainder of his career in Maize.

He is a graduate of Emporia and Fort Hays State universities. He earned his District Level Licensure through Friends University and is working to complete his Doctorate in Education from Wichita State University. Mr. Higgins previously worked as the Douglass High School principal and assistant principal/activities director.

His professional experience includes the Kansas School Superintendents Association Board of Directors and Finance Task Force, as well as the Moundridge Housing Task Force and Moundridge Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet.

He was one of four candidates for the Maize Superintendent of Schools position.

5/04/15 > Special board meeting scheduled regarding superintendent of schools contract

Members of the Maize Board of Education have scheduled a special meeting for 7 a.m. Tuesday, May 5 to vote on a contract for the district's new superintendent.

Board members will meet at the Maize USD 266 Educational Support Center, 905 W. Academy Ave. in Maize. The meeting will be open to the public, and employees, parents and community members - as with any public meeting - are welcome to attend. The district will share news from that meeting immediately once board members take action via the Maize School District official Twitter account (@maize266) and Facebook page (Facebook.com/MaizeUSD266) .

Maize Schools last week hosted four candidates for Superintendent of Schools. To read more about the candidates, please visit the district website at www.usd266.com .

4/27/15 > Four superintendent candidates visit Maize USD 266

Maize USD 266 on Thursday hosted Chad Higgins, candidate for Superintendent of Schools.

Higgins, who has worked as the Moundridge Schools Superintendent since 2009, is a graduate of Emporia and Fort Hays State universities. He earned his District Level Licensure through Friends University and anticipates the completion of his Doctorate in Education from Wichita State University in July. Mr. Higgins previously worked as the Douglass High School principal and assistant principal/activities director.

His professional experience includes the Kansas School Superintendents Association Board of Directors and Finance Task Force, as well as the Moundridge Housing Task Force and Moundridge Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet.

Mr. Higgins is one of four candidates for Maize Superintendent of Schools.

On Wednesday, Maize Schools hosted candidate Chris Ruder, who has served as McPherson USD 418's Associate Superintendent since 2008. He is a graduate of Kansas State and Fort Hays State universities. He is an Adjunct Professor in Educational Leadership at Baker University and is working on completing his dissertation through K-State. Mr. Ruder has worked as a middle school principal, athletic director and assistant principal in McPherson. He is active in his community, and his service includes involvement on the McPherson Convention and Visitors Bureau Board and McPherson Education Foundation.

On Tuesday, Maize Schools hosted candidate Cory Gibson, who has been the Valley Center Superintendent since 2012. He is a graduate of Pittsburg State University and is working on his Doctorate in Education through the University of Arkansas. He previously has worked as the Halstead-Bentley Superintendent and the Pittsburg Schools Assistant Superintendent. He is the President Elect for the Kansas School Superintendent's Association, and his community involvement includes his role as a United Way of Crawford County board member and member of Pittsburg State University's College of Education Advisory Council.

On Monday, Maize USD 266 hosted candidate Dr. Andrew Koenigs. He has been the Associate Superintendent for Human Resources at Emporia Public Schools since 2012 and is a graduate of Kansas State University and Wichita State University. He has worked as Andover Public Schools' Associate Superintendent for Academic Affairs and Pratt USD 382's Assistant Superintendent. His community involvement includes participation in Leadership Wichita, the Rotary Club of Andover and United Way of the Plains.

4/23/15 > Four candidates for Maize Superintendent of Schools to visit district next week

The Maize Board of Education will be interviewing four candidates for the Superintendent of Schools position. The name of each candidate will be announced on the morning of his or her visit. Visits will be Monday through Thursday next week, and the public is invited to attend a reception with each candidate from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on those days at Maize South Middle School , 3403 N. Tyler Road in Wichita.

Twenty-three talented candidates applied for the position, which "is a testament to how appealing Maize USD 266 is," BOE President Wendi White said. BOE members were able to narrow the field because the district's search firm, Topeka-based Kansas Association of School Boards, had been so diligent in its efforts.

Board members met Wednesday evening to discuss the superintendent search and identify finalists.

On March 9, board members approved Maize Superintendent Doug Powers' resignation effective June 30. KASB employees on March 31 met with nearly 100 people from various USD 266 groups, including employees and community members. The process allowed them to gather input about what kind of characteristics the Maize Schools community wants in its next superintendent. Please click here to read more about that process .

4/17/15 > Five cases of pertussis at Maize South Elementary School

There have been a total of five confirmed cases of pertussis at Maize South Elementary School. The Sedgwick County Health Department deems more than two cases from two or more different households to be an outbreak.

Parents of students deemed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Sedgwick County Health Department to have been in close contact with the infected students will receive a letter with additional details.

Maize USD 266 has been in communication with parents whose child(ren) attend school and/or ride a bus with the infected students. Today, the district deemed it necessary to notify and educate all parents about this situation and pertussis in general.

The health and well-being of our students is a top priority. The district continues to work closely with the Sedgwick County Health Department and, in conjunction, KDHE, on these cases. The departments, in turn, work with school nurses and medical providers. The Health Department has stated that there already have been confirmed cases of pertussis in Sedgwick County and that, while contagious, it is not easy to contract. Individuals must be in close proximity to an infection person for an extended period of time, according to the health department. Students known to have pertussis do not return to school during the period of time when they are still contagious.

Pertussis is a contagious bacterial respiratory disease that usually starts with cold-like symptoms. Early symptoms can last for one to two weeks and usually include a runny nose, low-grade fever and mild occasional cough. Pertussis can cause violent and rapid repeated coughing until the air is gone from the lungs and one is forced to inhale with a loud "whooping" sound. Pertussis is especially dangerous for babies under the age of one.

If your child has these symptoms, please take him or her to a medical provider for evaluation. You also can learn more about pertussis by accessing the health department's Fast Facts sheet online by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's informational page at http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/ .

Thank you for your support as we work together to care for and protect all of our students.

4/02/15 > Characteristics forum feedback to guide superintendent search process

The Maize Board of Education earlier this month agreed to work with Topeka-based Kansas Association of School Boards in the superintendent search process. On March 9, board members approved Maize Superintendent Doug Powers' resignation effective June 30.

KASB employees on Tuesday met throughout the day with nearly 100 people from various USD 266 groups, including employees and community members. The process involved 19 principals/administrators; 14 students; four community members; five members of school Site Council groups, Parent Teacher Organizations and booster clubs; 21 assistant principals; 17 classified staff members and 16 teachers. One hundred and eighty-two people were invited to participate.

On Tuesday evening, members of the Maize Board of Education met in a special meeting to hear information from KASB about what kind of characteristics the Maize Schools community wants in its next superintendent.

Participants in all groups discussed:

  • the most important qualities or traits in the new superintendent.
  • strengths of the district the new superintendent will need to understand and support.
  • challenges of the district the new superintendent will need to be aware of and address. 
  • one term that will separate the best candidate from other qualified candidates.

After receiving the information from KASB, board members discussed the same topics. KASB will use the data, which is available to view via the Board Docs portal, in the process of screening applicants to ensure that they meet the district's needs.

Moving forward, the timeline is as follows: 

  • April 20: Application deadline.
  • April 22: The board will meet with KASB at 5:30 p.m. at the Educational Support Center, 905 W. Academy Ave. in Maize, to receive information about candidates.
  • April 27-May 1: Board members will meet and interview finalists.

The Maize Board of Education's next regular monthly meeting will be at 7 p.m. April 13.

Board President Wendi White also clarified at Tuesday's meeting that members are interested in considering applicants with experience as a superintendent or a district-level administrator.

3/27/15 > Congrats to our Celebrating Excellence in Education 2015 winners

Congratulations to the following Maize Schools employees, who have been named winners of the Celebrating Excellence in Education 2015 awards. These teachers have been nominated by their peers as leaders who:

· use effective strategies for improving student performance.

· interact positively with parents and patrons in the community to promote education.

· provide leadership and mentoring to fellow teachers.

· work as a team player in the district to provide quality educational experiences for students.


Early Childhood Center:
Crystal Elliott






Maize Elementary School: Ashley Gibson






Maize Central Elementary School: Stacy Wagner






Maize South Elementary School: Shelly Jennings






Vermillion Elementary School: Angie Baird






Maize Virtual Preparatory School: Karen Podschun






Pray-Woodman Elementary School: Crystal May






Maize Middle School: Tammy Barney






Maize South Middle School: Carla Cothern  






Maize High School: Cara Poole 






Maize South High School: Jennifer Kerr

3/25/15 > Superintendent search underway; applications due April 20

On Monday evening, the Maize Board of Education had a special meeting to discuss the superintendent search. Members agreed to work with Topeka-based Kansas Association of School Boards in the process.

Earlier this month, Maize Superintendent Doug Powers submitted his resignation effective June 30. Board members officially approved his resignation during their regular monthly meeting on March 9.

Dr. Doug Moeckel, KASB Deputy Director of Leadership Services, told board members at Monday's meeting that Maize USD 266 is a desirable destination school district that will attract quality applicants from the surrounding area and neighboring states. KASB already has received completed applications and has fielded inquiries about the position, he said.

The opening is posted online on KASB's website.

Board members worked with KASB to establish a timeline for the superintendent search process, which will include: 

  • March 31: Throughout the day, KASB staff will meet with Maize USD 266 students, parents, employees and community members to identify common qualities and characteristics desired in a new superintendent. The findings will be presented to the board at 5:30 p.m. at the Educational Support Center, 905 W. Academy Ave. in Maize. 
  • April 20: Application deadline. 
  • April 22: The board will meet with KASB at 5:30 p.m. to receive information about candidates. 
  • April 27-May 1: Board members will meet and interview finalists.

The Maize Board of Education's next regular monthly meeting will be at 7 p.m. April 13.

Board members have indicated that they hope to find Maize's next superintendent and avoid the need to have an interim superintendent. However, members stressed that they want to find the right person for the job.

During discussion Monday, they indicated interest in a candidate who either has a doctorate degree or is pursuing one. They also said they would be interested in considering applicants with experience as either an assistant superintendent or a superintendent, depending on the size of the school district.

3/24/15 > Maize Schools stops sale of all Blue Bell products

Following recent reports of listeria-contaminated Blue Bell ice cream products, Maize Schools on Monday made the decision to suspend the availability of all Blue Bell products for the remainder of the school year.

This is purely precautionary to protect the health and well-being of our students and employees. Maize 266 has not had in its inventory any of the Blue Bell Creameries ice cream novelties that have been recalled or that the Food and Drug Administration has advised people to discard.

Maize Schools has, however, sold select Blue Bell ice cream products as late as March 12 - again, none on the FDA's list of cautioned items - as part of a la carte options in lunch rooms at our two middle schools and two high schools (Maize Middle School, Maize South Middle School, Maize High School and Maize South High School).

No Blue Bell products have been part of the traditional school lunch served at any of our schools this year.

3/13/15 > June bond issue gives community chance to propel Maize Schools into bright future

By Doug Powers

Superintendent of Schools

Before we take a week off for Spring Break next week, I wanted to reach out to you with highlights from this very busy week here at Maize Schools.

On Monday, the Maize Board of Education met and made some important decisions regarding several key issues for USD 266:

June bond election: Board members voted unanimously to proceed with a June mail-in bond election. Our patrons will vote on two items. They will consider approving $70.7 million to fund: 

  • a new Early Childhood Center.
  • a renovated and expanded Maize Middle School.
  • a Career and Professional Center and FEMA Storm Shelter at Maize High School.
  • additions and improvements at Maize South High School, including a new fine arts addition and an expanded gym, cafeteria and library.
  • a new transportation facility.
  • roof replacements at various buildings.
  • technology and infrastructure improvements at various buildings.
  • athletic upgrades, including new locker rooms, stadium upgrades, all-weather playing surfaces, bleachers, lighting and equipment.

Voters also will consider approving $12.85 million for a new natatorium for Maize Schools that will allow us to provide a place for curriculum, our winning swim teams and community members.

The $83.55 million bond would result in an annual tax increase of $11.50 on a $100,000 home.

Please watch for additional details from us about this tremendous opportunity to propel Maize Schools into a future that allows our students the best advantages for their education and futures.

Student placement: Board members voted 4-3 to continue with our current preference placement process. This concludes a thorough process of examining our student placement options and involving a community task force, scientific community telephone survey and additional research.

We are confident that our students receive a top-notch education regardless of which school they attend within our district.

We thank our many volunteers and patrons who have guided us on both of these substantial issues.

Superintendent search: Board members will meet at 7 p.m. March 23 at the Educational Support Center, 905 W. Academy Ave. in Maize, to discuss the process to find a new superintendent. Board members on Monday approved my resignation, effective June 30.

I have enjoyed my time here at Maize Schools and am committed to seeing the important bond project through these next few months.

3/05/15 > Superintendent Doug Powers Announces Resignation

Superintendent Doug Powers on Thursday announced that he has submitted his resignation effective June 30. The Maize Board of Education will consider his resignation during its next regular meeting on Monday.

Powers said that he plans to continue his career in Kansas public education in a leadership position in another district. He joined Maize Schools in 2009 after working for districts in El Dorado, De Soto and Marysville.

Powers said he has enjoyed his time at Maize USD 266 and has been inspired by the talented and passionate team of educators and employees. He assured the Maize Schools community that work on student placement, facilities needs and other initiatives to carry out the district's vision to connect, learn and lead will continue under his leadership through June and under his fellow administrators and ultimately Maize's new superintendent.

Board members will arrange details about the process and timeline for hiring the new superintendent.

3/04/15 > Maize book tour stop for acclaimed author Mark Goldblatt, Open to Public

Maize USD 266 is honored to host Mark Goldblatt as a VIP visitor at both Maize Middle School and Maize High School during his book tour that also includes Atlanta and Cincinnati.   Mr. Goldblatt's work includes two young adult books, 'Twerp' and 'Finding the Worm.'

During the day the acclaimed author and writing professor will conduct a brief presentation, instruct writing workshops for students and then sign books.   An evening presentation and public book signing event will be open to the public and free of charge at our Maize High School, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, March 9.

In honor of the author's visit, posters of student illustrations of his books will be on display.


3/02/15 > Kindergarten & Pre-K Pre-Enrollment Open March 2nd thru 26th

ONLINE KINDERGARTEN AND PRE-K PRE-ENROLLMENT NOW OPEN!

Online pre-enrollment will be March 2 through March 26 and must be completed before arriving at the March 26 Kindergarten and Pre-Kindergarten enrollment sessions. If you are new to the district, visit www.usd266.com, click on "Quick Links" and then on "Kindergarten Enrollment" or "Pre-K Enrollment." If you have a sibling/student enrolled, use the "New Student Online Enrollment" link in your Family Access account. If you have questions for Kindergarten, call Maize South Elementary at 316-462-8300 or visit www.usd266.com/kindergarten. If you have questions for Pre-K, call Early Childhood Center at 316-722-3105 or visit www.usd266.com/pre-k. We look forward to serving you and your student in the coming year, and we welcome you to our Maize USD 266 family!

12/11/14 > UPDATED: USD 266 continues to cooperate in ongoing investigation
On Dec. 8 following the Maize Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Doug Powers visited with local journalists who had questions regarding the investigation that began Nov. 18 when the Federal Bureau of Investigation served a search warrant at the Maize Educational Support Center.

The case is in the hands of the FBI, and Maize Schools will continue to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

We would like to emphasize that the case does not involve Maize USD 266 students or the safety of our students. No personal data has been compromised. The payment information in our Skyward Family Access student data portal has not been compromised.

As always, we value the safety of our students and continue to focus on the day-to-day operation of our school district and of your students' education.

Media inquiries may be directed to FBI Public Affairs Specialist Bridget Patton at 816-512-8200 or Jim Cross, Public Information Officer with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, at 316-269-6552.

Thank you.
12/11/14 > Maize Board of Education update: RSP presents enrollment analysis

Dec. 8 was the Maize Board of Education's final regular monthly meeting of the year, and board members heard a presentation from RSP regarding demographic and enrollment analyses.

Rob Schwarz with RSP presented three key points:

  1. Enrollment is projected to increase about 7 percent in the next five years.
  2. Enrollment will exceed our middle school capacity.
  3. There are significant areas of land that will be developed with residential subdivisions.

The majority of new homes will shift to the city of Maize, as the bulk of city of Wichita residential space has been developed. His presentation included many maps showing planning areas, Census estimates and more. Data included that on past, current and projected enrollment and class sizes; residential growth; projected future land use; and student in-migration and out-migration (students coming into or leaving the district).

Schwarz explained that his firm analyzed housing market changes, economic conditions, demographic trends, our building capacities and more.

RSP's projections are that Maize USD 266 enrollment could exceed 7,500 students by the 2019-20 school year.

Board members agreed to continue to analyze the information and to discuss it at their Jan. 12 meeting, with will be at 7 p.m. at the Educational Support Center, 905 W. Academy Ave. in Maize.

Please click here to view the full presentation on our Board Docs portal.

Later in the meeting, board members discussed the timing of a possible bond issue. A June 2015 in-person election or mail-in ballot are options to consider.

Find agendas, meeting minutes and board member contact information by clicking here.

12/08/14 > Job openings with Maize Schools, Sedgwick County Area Educational Services Interlocal Cooperative No. 618

Our students have important places to be, and we need important people to get them there safely.

Please click here to apply for one of the jobs with our transportation department or to view any of our other openings, including those in food services and buildings and grounds.

Our current transportation needs include:

  • Activity Trip Drivers to help transport student-athletes to activities in the afternoons and evenings.
  • On Call Substitute Drivers for bus routes.

Sedgwick County Area Educational Services Interlocal Cooperative No. 618 also has openings and is in particular need of full- and part-time nurses and paraeducators. To learn more about them, please call 316-794-8641 or visit sped618.org and click on "Employment Opportunities."