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Back to School Letter
Brent Garrison
Sunday, August 04, 2019

UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT 444

Little River & Windom

Brent Garrison, Superintendent

455 Prairie, P. O. Box 218

Little River, Kansas 67457

bgarrison@usd444.com

620-897-6325

FAX 620-897-6788

Dear Parent and/or Guardian:

It has been a busy summer at the district office preparing and planning for the upcoming school year.  I want to be the first to welcome you and your child or children back to another school year. I am thankful and excited to have your family as part of the district.   District staff members have worked hard to prepare the buildings for the upcoming school year. Summer is also a time for staff members to attend workshops, seminars, or classes in an effort to improve instruction and opportunities for students. This summer was no exception for many staff members.  Thanks to the support of the community and parents, our teachers, administrators, and support staff, I am confident that our schools will continue to be schools that our community is proud to be part of. Thank you for your support as your Superintendent the past three years. It is an honor and a privilege to serve this community and district.  I am very excited to begin a new school year. I am confident that with the support of you, as parents, it will be an outstanding year.   

I would like to take the opportunity to update you on the district happenings.  As is the norm, facility improvements have been taking place over the summer. Each year the board of education and myself look at ways to improve our school facilities over the summer months with the funds that we have to spend.   I am proud of the facility improvements that will be in place before schools starts. The board has authorized and have been very supportive of all of our board goals and the direction that we are headed in improving facilities both temporary and also planning long term.   By the time students return to the buildings, the following projects will be completed. New carpet in classrooms at Little River, security upgrades and cameras in both buildings, internet upgrades, new bleachers at the football complex visitors side, sidewalk repairs, upgrades to refrigeration units at both buildings, painting  and soffit repair at Windom, and of course other general maintenance and upgrades throughout both buildings. Two of the most noticeable improvements are the addition of a new bus barn and shop area at Little River and the new outdoor classroom at Windom Elementary. The new metal building at Little River allows us to house our buses and vehicles and to better care for them throughout the year.   With the new addition, maintenance items can and will be completed on site instead of using outside vendors. The outdoor classroom was very much a community and teacher led effort at Windom. The funds from the Greenhouse sales plus generous donations funded the majority of the outdoor classroom. It is my belief this will be a place for students and staff to enjoy for generations to come. It is first class and is an example of a vision by our staff that has now come full circle to a reality.  If you get a chance please take time to come visit the new outdoor classroom this fall.   

This year has been a very busy year for myself, many patrons and community members, along with the board of education.  A number of special meetings and many extra hours have been spent by your board of education members this year regarding facilities.   The board, along with my guidance, and many other outside experts have spent the last year carefully evaluating and assessing our facilities needs and more importantly planning for future generations.   A steering committee made up of board of education members, administration, teachers, parents, and other community patrons met several times over the course of the year to evaluate facilities. Ultimately, the committee has made a recommendation, based on months of research and multiple opinions,  to pursue facility improvements that would include the need to levy bonds to fund the improvements. Our facilities have served the students of Little River and Windom very well for many years, but the aging infrastructure, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, lighting, and out of date classrooms all need addressed if our schools and the community are going to continue to thrive.   It is the board of education’s belief that now is the time. Our facilities are in need of the upgrades if we want to be a school of choice and be the school that our students deserve to be a part of for the next 50 years. A final decision will be made at this month’s board meeting regarding the project and a resolution to levy funds and to have an election. It is my desire that if you have questions you speak to myself, administration, teachers, board members, and the committee members.   The process of educating and informing patrons will be in full swing come August. The board and myself are looking for and would welcome your insight and input and help in a campaign effort this fall. If you are interested in helping out, please contact me. 

One other aspect of our schools, that I am very proud of, is that we are a Gemini II district.   We are formally in the process of redesigning our schools. I am excited about the process of looking at how we can redesign our schools to best serve all of our students.  Our goal of post secondary success of students must come with some redesign at the secondary level. We are currently working hard to give our students as many options as possible to tailor their education to their interest and future employment.  It is my goal to have the finest academic program for all students; a program with robust options allowing students and parents a choice. Redesign should grant opportunities to tailor schedules to meet individual needs, interests, and abilities. I feel that over the past two years we have made gains in meeting this goal.   The redesign process will only increase the opportunities for our students in a small rural school. If you are interested in more information, please feel free to contact your building principal or myself.   

I want to remind you that our website (www.usd444.com) is available to provide the necessary information to parents, students, and all stakeholders in a quick and user-friendly format.  Facebook at (https://www.facebook.com/Little-River-Junior-Senior-High-School-271857683554/ and https://www.facebook.com/groups/windomelementary/), Twitter (https://twitter.com/USD444) and our district app (USD444 Little River - Windom), are also ways to keep up with events at the school.  I encourage you to utilize every avenue we provide to maintain a positive level of communication with your district, your respective school and especially with your child’s teacher.  As always, we value the input and suggestions of community members, students, and parents. There are many different avenues to communicate with our district and its employees. Contact information and telephone numbers are posted on the district’s website.  Please be sure to keep in touch with us by downloading the USD 444 district app that is available by searching USD 444 Little River - Windom in your app store I urge all parents and guardians to update their contact information on the Parent Portal so you receive the most up to date information.   

As we work together toward our common goal of the success and well-being of our children, I look forward to another wonderful school year and the daily accomplishments of our students and staff.  As the year unfolds, I will be in touch regarding our progress and asking your input, in the meantime, please feel free to send me an email, at any time, should you have questions or concerns. My email is bgarrison@usd444.com.   I encourage you to be involved in your child’s education and to be active in the school and community as we work to develop a plan to improve our facilities.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve your student and this community.  I understand the very important role all of our staff plays in the lives and futures of our children.  I also understand that USD 444 has a staff that will assure each student is treated fairly, challenged academically and successfully guided toward the goal of graduation and post secondary success.

Sincerely,

Brent Garrison

Superintendent