A Look Back, A Look Forward
A New School Year Is Full of Hopes and Plans
By Dr. Michael Rice
Greetings! It is always fun to welcome our community to a new school year!
Last school year, we had a number of memorable moments. We had rising enrollment for the 11th year of the last 13. We had rising reading and math achievement, as measured by our NWEA-MAP testing.
In February, we announced that our class of 2017 had recorded the highest four-year graduation rate in the Promise Era. In April, in partnership with the Kalamazoo Public Library, our board approved a OneCard program, in which all KPS students will receive KPL library cards.
In May, we passed the largest bond issue — $96.7 million — in the district history.
In June, we celebrated our class of 2018, which had the largest number of high school graduates in the Promise Era. We also finished the third year of our district mentoring program—with more than 400 staff and community mentors supporting more than 1,100 students in 9,572 mentoring sessions.
to our voters for their support of the bond. Thanks to our teachers, support staff, administrators, community members, and community organizations for their continued work to improve student achievement. I appreciate especially those staff and community members who have made once-a-week mentoring in support of children a part of their weekly work.
I am excited about this school year for several reasons.
First, we have begun our Washington and Woodward pilot program to combat summer slide. Thanks to our Washington and Woodward teachers, support staff, and administrators for their work on this important groundbreaking project.
Second, we’ll be completing our introduction of new Eureka Math materials in grades 4 and 5, which follows on last year’s introduction of new math materials in grades K through 3.
Third, we’ll be implementing new Being a Writer writing materials in grades K through 3, after the implementation of new materials in grades 4 and 5 last year.
Fourth, we will be redoubling our efforts on early literacy in the district.
Fifth, we will be working to establish diverse classroom libraries in many of our classrooms. Thanks to all those who have contributed to this exciting initiative.
Sixth, we will be working to improve student achievement for our special needs students.
Seventh, we will be working to expand our district mentoring program in support of our children.
Eighth, we will begin a number of major capital projects in the district: the design and bidding of the addition onto Phoenix High School; the design, bidding, and construction of a new transportation center; the beginning of the design of the new Edison Environmental Science Academy; and the design, bidding, and summer construction of security projects in a number of schools, among a range of other projects.
Ninth, we have added a number of positions to the bud- get to help work with and sup- port work with students in the schools. ese positions include three social workers, a climate/ culture coach, a literacy interventionist/coach, a math interventionist/coach, a Tier 2/ Tier 3 interventionist to help teachers and support staff work with challenging academic and behavioral issues, and two English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers to work with English language learners.
Tenth, we will be providing additional professional development in the following areas: trauma-informed care, restorative practices, multi-tiered systems of support, and security training for our staff.
Thanks to Communities in Schools of Kalamazoo, the YMCA, First Day Shoe Fund, Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes, the Kalamazoo Promise, and our 200-plus other partners in the community.
Let’s make it the very best year possible for KPS children! Best wishes for a great school year!
Cutline: Students head to their buses on the first day of school at Washington Writers' Academy.