Unified School District #444

July 20, 2017

Dear District Parents:

It is with great anticipation and excitement that I welcome you back to the 2017-18 school year.  On behalf of the entire staff and USD #444 Board of Education members, I sincerely say thank you for choosing our district.  Our staff is committed to making your experience at Little River/Windom a positive one.  In one short year as your Superintendent, I have enjoyed getting to know many of the patrons and parents that make up this great district.  If you haven’t, please feel welcome to come visit the district office or catch me at the many activities throughout the school year.  I am always looking for ways to improve for the benefit of all students.

I am excited about the many positives that our district has to offer your child and for the positive direction that the district is moving.  This is due to the many dedicated staff members that make up the district's staff.   USD #444 continues to strive to offer our students the best opportunity possible to be successful during and after graduation.  The board of education, administration, and staff is committed to providing your child a great educational experience.  We take the opportunity to serve this great community and encourage you to be active and involved in your child’s education.   

Staff has worked hard and will continue to work to prepare for the upcoming school year.  Many staff members have attended workshops, seminars, and other trainings to better serve our students this summer.  It is our goal to provide the best quality of education and to maintain a "Tradition of Excellence" in education.   As always, our staff welcomes your involvement in our schools and any ideas to help our district improve.  Please make it an effort to communicate with your child's teacher and principal regularly throughout the year.   

I want to take this time to share with you a few quick district updates.   Several changes have taken place over the past year and  summer.   In addition to other smaller changes, the board of education elected to realign the buildings.   Windom will now house all Pre-K-6th graders with Little River becoming a 7-12 building.   This decision was made for many reasons, but a couple were to maintain and utilize current staff members and save monies.   This new alignment will better serve the students and allow more flexibility in scheduling and additional opportunities for students.

Last spring the board of education committed monies to update school security.  School safety is hard to measure or put a price tag on, but is a high priority for the board of education and myself.  The access control system was completed by the end of the school year and is now up and fully operationally.  If you visited the schools recently, you noticed that a buzzer system has been installed on the front doors to maintain maximum safety and security for staff and students.   The system allows us to control and monitor who comes in and out of the building.  Another security item, high on the list of the board, was to install security cameras on all buses.  Beginning the 2017-18 school year all buses will have cameras.   The addition of the cameras will address student behaviors and will assist our drivers in keeping the bus safe and orderly to assure your child is delivered safely to and from school.   Additional cameras have been installed and will continue to be installed throughout the buildings this school year as well to improve the safety and security of the building.

You will also notice some additional and new technology for the coming school year.  Every student grades 3-12 will be provided a chromebook.  This preserves and maintains the 1 to 1 initiative that the district has been proud of for several years. The chromebooks were expanded to the lower grades as well.  The chromebook is a much more affordable, yet educational friendly, device that will serve your child well.  Our teachers are and will continue to receive training to maximize the use of the device to benefit your child.  In addition, iPads will be used throughout all grades where appropriate and necessary.  Pre-K-2nd grade will continue to use the iPad as its primary device.  Students in grades 7-12 will have availability to Macbooks and Windows machines as appropriate.   The monies saved on the chromebooks will allow the district to maintain a 1 to 1 initiative and expand in other areas including additional technology and courses.  

Facilities are a constant challenge in the district.  Normal routine maintenance along with a couple new heating and cooling units were installed over the summer.  New siding has been installed at Little River Jr./Sr. High School. This siding is a big improvement to the building.  Windom Elementary School will have a facelift by the start of school with an added vestibule, which will also enhance security and heating/cooling efficiency.   I am pleased that both projects will be completed this summer.  Of course, many other improvements are made throughout the summer, but both of these are noticeable and will certainly improve the facilities cosmetically and also preserve buildings for years to come.  

Curriculum improvements were made at the junior high and high school school level to meet the needs of our students and to meet the vision of education in Kansas.   You can read those offerings specifically in your letter from the building principal.  We are particularly excited to add the agriculture pathway and to add a teacher in that department.   Little River High School will have its own chapter of FFA and will have the opportunity to expand and grow this program from the ground up.   Other increased course offerings are also reflected in the master schedule this year to enhance offerings and possible career choices after high school.

As always, I encourage you to communicate with your child’s teacher and building administrator.   I highly encourage you to attend the parent information night at your respective buildings.  I feel strongly that communication is key to the success of your child.  We want to do our part to communicate to you so please plan to attend.   I am also excited about the new website and communication tool that will be in place for you as parents.  More information about the new webpage and app will be shared at the parent information night.   As always, follow the Facebook pages to get timely updates.

Lastly, I would encourage you to become active in supporting the school in anyway possible.  One example is becoming a booster club sponsor for the coming school year at the Little River Jr./Sr. High School.   Included in your packet is a flyer from your local booster club.  Every small amount adds up for the club.  Your support to this organization will increase greatly opportunities and experiences for all activities.   Please take the time to look over it and return the form with any donation you can afford to give.  I would like to see the booster club grow and expand its role this school year.   Booster club is one example of where parents and patrons can assist in providing experiences that may otherwise not be possible.  If you are a parent of a child at Windom Elementary School, I would encourage you to become active in the PAWS organization.  This organization has provided opportunities to our students over the past several years that may not have been possible.   It is an example of how patrons and parents can help our schools.  I would like to highlight that USD #444 has an Education Foundation that is a non-profit charitable organization that is 100% tax deductible.  The foundation is set up to encourage and welcome donations to the district to be used for special projects.  Please see the enclosed brochure for more information and help spread the word of possible donors or donations.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you as Superintendent of Schools.  I wish you and your child(ren) the best of luck for the upcoming school year.  


Brent Garrison

Superintendent of Schools

USD  #444 Little River

455 W. Prairie, P.O. Box 218

Little River, Kansas 67457-0218

620-897-6325 (Phone)

620-897-6788 (Fax)