Independence’s three school district superintendents struck on similar themes in their joint “State of the Schools” breakfast Friday morning.
Successful bond issues, bright new facilities, a focus on improving attendance and a call for businesses to join the schools in their intense college-and-career programs — for “real world learning,” Fort Osage Superintendent Jason Snodgrass said, as part of the overall mission “to reach every student and find their talent.”
The Fort Osage, Independence and Blue Springs school districts all continue to grow, building more community partnerships as they go, the superintendents said.
Independence Superintendent Dale Herl highlighted many programs, including AVID — Advancement Via Individual Determination — that launches students into the exploration of college and career paths from the sixth grade.
There are many new facilities ready to support that mission, plus one old one made new — the restoration of a vacant bank on The Square where students will work alongside Blue Ridge Bank & Trust in serving real customers.
Blue Springs is featuring expanded high schools this year as well, Kinder said, including new media centers, science labs, a black box theater, sports upgrades and solar power to 11 buildings that will save energy equivalent to 127 million miles of driving.
Fort Osage has completed energy-saving measures of its own in LED lighting, water efficiency improvements and other steps, Snodgrass said, that already brought savings to cover the costs of new roofs on three district buildings.
Snodgrass detailed Fort Osage’s “Every Minute Matters” attendance campaign because “it’s important academically, socially, emotionally and creates good habits for the future.”
The Mid-Continent Public Library is tracking success as well in support of the schools’ education mission, system Director and CEO Steve Potter told the breakfast crowd.
Students get their own library accounts with their student ID numbers, giving them the power to “unlock” the libraries’ resources “anywhere with a device and the internet.”
Research is showing the the Mid-Continent summer reading program is boosting participants’ performance in school the following fall, he said.
Independence Economic Development Council board chair Tom Waters closed the breakfast by turning to the business partners in the room to get engaged in the three districts’ growing college and career prep programs.
One way, he said, was to join the Missouri Work Ready Communities program.
“Consider this a charge,” he said, “a serious challenge for our students.”