Superintendent’s Message: Investing in the Vision for Emporia
As 2015 comes to a close, I am humbled once again to see Emporia filled with the holiday spirit of giving – service projects to collect food or clothing and to raise funds for the important work of non-profit agencies and volunteers in our community.
Some of these projects are supported by school employees and by students learning first-hand how acts of kindness can improve everyone’s quality of life. Even our youngest children are collecting items that will be mailed to service men and women or donated to local food pantries. The list is long and the generosity of Emporians taking care of Emporians today is ever-inspiring.
As 2016 begins, our city leaders will continue their work on a long-range visioning plan for Emporia. After months of gathering input from many sectors of the city, Imagine Emporia Together has formulated this vision: Emporia thrives because of its vibrant, entrepreneurial spirit and educated people, who work together in a welcoming, healthy, prosperous community for all.
Education at all levels is key in the unique richness of Emporia’s past and future; certainly, Emporia Public Schools plays an important role in making this new vision a reality. Just as the Student and Family Resources Office is coordinating a city-wide clothing drive for students in need today, the Board of Education is studying the infrastructure needs and long-term capital expenditures that will serve Emporia students for generations to come.
We take great pride in well-maintained schools and up-to-date learning environments. Even in times of financial stress, the Board of Education met the challenge to strategically support ongoing maintenance needs such as replacing roofs, installing energy-efficient lighting, and replacing plumbing and HVAC equipment to insure safe and comfortable environments conducive to learning.
Likewise, in the mission to build each child’s future, the board invested in a robust wireless infrastructure to support the one-to-one initiative that provides a Chromebook or tablet for every student. These technology tools have become an ongoing capital expenditure for schools, just as important as textbooks, chalkboards and paper.
Even our newest buildings are nearing their 15th anniversary and the time when maintenance issues and outdated spaces begin to surface. This month, the Board of Education will take a closer look at the equipment and infrastructure needs of our schools over the next five to 10 years. This long list details a price tag well above available resources. So once again, the board will be challenged to allocate available dollars in an efficient manner and to find alternative sources of funding for the improvements necessary to assure the unwavering commitment to young learners.
In addition to routine repairs and renovation projects, some of the things finding their way onto the list address our charge to assure graduates who are truly college and career-ready. Others deal with a renewed emphasis on safety and security – adding high-wind shelters at all our campuses and making school entrances more secure. At the same time, the board will examine the ongoing need for well-maintained playgrounds and athletic facilities often used by individuals and community groups during non-school hours.
The fiscal challenges have not gone away. Once again, the decisions facing the board will not be easy ones, but today’s students deserve the same educational quality and competitive edge as their past, present, and future peers.
To assure that Emporia thrives because of its vibrant, entrepreneurial spirit and educated people, who work together in a welcoming, healthy, prosperous community for all, we’ll need to support the many demands on students and families while we position ourselves to serve those who come after them. The Emporia Board of Education is scheduled to review and discuss capital needs at a special meeting on Dec. 16. It is critical that we plan wisely in order to meet those needs in a responsible and strategic way.
A special holiday THANK YOU to all those who support Emporia Public Schools in ways big and small!