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Dr. Higgins: New school year brings continued focus on Maize USD 266 student needs, not wants

Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools Despite still-warm summer temperatures, pool towels and goggles have been replaced with crayons and notebook paper in key locations of local stores. This means two things: the first day of school is approaching, and it is time for parents and their children to have that quintessential needs-versus-wants conversation. As a father, I remember having that back-to-school conversation with my own two children: The box of 24 crayons was a need. The box of 64 was a want.

At Maize Schools, we have needs-versus-wants conversations about our growing school district. Like you, we want Maize USD 266 to be the best school district in the state of Kansas and beyond. We balance this vision with the needs of our students and employees. We are in the midst of two initiatives to address these needs:

OneMa1ze, OneVision: We will venture into the second year of our ongoing strategic plan. We will continue this important work, developed thanks to community feedback last year and focused on the following four areas.

  • World-Class Academic Preparation
  • Professional, Civic, and Social Development of Students
  • High-Quality Employees
  • Responsible Operations

Our students will benefit this school year from strategic planning work. Maize USD 266 will employ three new Student Support Specialists, who will serve in a coaching role for teachers. Just as high-performing professional athletes benefit from continual coaching on their craft, we believe our highly skilled classroom teachers will benefit from the support of instructional coaches. Among other goals, these coaches will assist teachers in using student data to drive instruction and support teachers in delivering high quality teaching strategies.

We determined that better support in the classroom and with curriculum was something our district and our students need. We are excited to see what other new and improved programs and practices emerge from this work.

Aug. 27 bond issue: The $108.2 million bond issue, which would not raise the local bond and interest tax levy, would address the following three key needs.

  • Growth: Maize USD 266 is running out of room in its five elementary and two middle schools and needs more space. Student enrollment has jumped 9 percent (600 students) in just five years with indications that the trend will continue.
  • Safety: Maize Schools must address safety concerns, including an outdated building access system, a storm shelter for Complete High School Maize, updated security cameras, and the ability to better secure classroom doors.
  • Opportunity: A bond issue would provide new opportunities for students, including safer playgrounds; labs to teach science, art, and technology in elementary schools; a district indoor pool; and a new auditorium for fine arts.

I encourage you to visit www.usd266.com/bond for additional information about the bond issue.

We look forward to welcoming our students back for another year of learning and success stories. We will continue to focus on what our students need to guarantee their best futures. We appreciate your ongoing support in making that happen.

Sincerely,

Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Schools
chiggins@usd266.com