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USD #417 will be closed on Thursday, February 22nd due to the icy conditions.

Morris County USD 417

USD #417 will be closed on Thursday, February 22nd due to the icy conditions.
  • Senior Night Re-Scheduled

    Due to Burlington High School’s league affiliation responsibilities and its need to re-schedule a league contest on the final night of the regular season, the Council Grove-Burlington basketball games re-scheduled for Friday, February 23, have been canceled. Council Grove High School will conduct its Senior Night recognition at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 27, prior to the Girls’ Sub-State basketball game with West Franklin to be played in Braves Gym.

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  • USD 417 New Superintendent

    Aron Dody will be the new Superintendent of Schools beginning on July 1st.  The USD Board of Education approved his two-year contract at their meeting on February 22nd.

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  • Sunflower Spotlight

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  • Summer Capital Projects

    With school now started and most of the summer projects completed, I wanted to share with our district patrons what we did with our facilities and the costs of these projects.  The two primary sources for paying for these capital projects are our capital outlay fund and, for a couple projects, the district’s redemption fund.  The redemption fund consists of dollars remaining from the construction of the new addition to CGJSHS.  The primary purpose for this fund is to help us hold down the Bond & Interest mill levy in coming years but we can use a portion of these funds to correct problems with the new addition.

    In addition to tax dollars, our capital outlay fund (the primary source for facility improvements) also has revenue generated from “other local revenue sources”.  For 2016-17 that revenue included:

    • $4,700 in interest earned on the capital outlay account.
    • $39,000 on e-rate reimbursements from a prior year.
    • $50,000 from the resale of old computers.
    • $136,000 from an insurance claim on our roofs.
    • $61,000 legal settlement from the sale of the Dwight facility.
    • $6,000 in rental fees.

    As you can see, there is extra income that comes into the capital outlay fund in any given year.  Several of these “other sources” reimbursements were or will be targeted for a specific project.  In addition to these sources of additional revenue to the capital outlay fund, on July 7 we competed a 10-year lease purchase transaction for $500,000 for the purpose of building and renovating facilities at the stadium.  Here is a list of the work we completed this summer.

    CGJSHS Stadium – There were three projects that we completed this summer at the stadium.  The total cost for these three projects came to approximately $556,394.  $500,000 of this cost was paid for by the lease purchase dollars and the remaining came out of capital outlay funds.

    • One project was to repair the concrete bleachers including repairing spalling of the underside of the concrete, closing up windows and doors on the stadium, and weather sealing the upper side of the concrete bleachers.  The cost for this project was approximately $78,047.
    • A second project was to renovate the old concessions stand and restrooms into a new official’s dressing room and a new, larger storage space with a garage door for ease of use.  The cost for this project was $27,760.
    • The third project was the construction of a new concessions stand, larger restroom spaces, and a covered pavilion for patron use at stadium events.  This particular project had been targeted by the BOE for many years and in fact was one of the BOE goals for 2016-17.  The final cost for this project was approximately $450,587. 

    Installation of Pier System and Other Moisture Related Issues – In the spring we discovered that we had quite a bit of settlement in the NE corner of the CGJSHS north gym foyer.  To protect this from further issues, we installed 7 helical piers to support the foundation of this portion of the building.  To do this we had to tear out then replace the ADA ramp and we addressed a couple other items in the new portion of the school.  All told, the cost of all this work came to over $40,000 with more work perhaps to come.  We are still working on this issue.

    Stadium Locker Room & CGJSHS North Gym Foyer Roof Replacements – These were two of the oldest roofs on our district facilities, well beyond their respective replacement dates.  We put on a new Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) membrane roof with new gutters and downspouts at each location.  The cost for this work came to $68,950.  It actually came in $10,000 under budget.

    CGJSHS Cafeteria, Halls, & Offices Flooring (New Addition) – This work became a necessity due to a constant moisture issue with the concrete floor pad.  Since the inception of this addition there has been a moisture issue that caused tiles to lose their mastic and pop off the concrete pad.  The new floor has a guaranteed moisture sealant as part of the epoxy floor system.  The cost for this work came to $112,785 and was paid for out of the redemption fund.

    Classroom Door Handle w/ Locks Replacement – As of this time, 99% of our classrooms in the district have a new, ADA accessible door handle with a push button lock on their classroom doors. We did this for both safety and compliance reasons.  The cost of this project was $48,993 and came from the funds the district received as a legal settlement on the sale of the Dwight facility.  We are now studying phase 2 of this project which is to replace all remaining door handles in the district with ADA compliant hardware.  The other major benefit in doing this is that we will have all doors within the district under one key system.

    Concrete Pad at PHES Playground – We extended the sidewalk in the rear of the school to reach the playground area and poured a decent sized pad for students to have to play on a hard surface.  We will enlarge this pad this fall as it was not quite as large as we first thought it would be (my error).  The sidewalk extension and the pad poured this summer cost $6,336.

    CGES Intercom System – The district replaced the old intercom system in the school and added a couple new speakers in areas where they were needed.  This cost $7,541.

    New (Renovated) CGJHS Science Lab – The classroom that has houses the junior high science lab is not really a science classroom.  To this end we have replaced the carpeted floor with tile, painted the walls, added electrical outlets and purchased new science tables for the room.  We have also contracted for new science cabinets/counter top space and two classroom sinks.  This is an on-going project that we hope to complete in the coming two months.  The cost for this work comes to approximately $63,000 when it is all added up.

    Other Summer Work – Other summer work (costs not included here) included:

    • Cleaned out drainage tubes at CGES;
    • Replaced the roof on the west portion of the former CGMS building and a portion of our house next to the CGES (defective product claim, cost us nothing);
    • Painted half of this same house as well as replaced rotting boards on the porch of the house;
    • Cleaned up and placed rock in several areas around CGJSHS;
    • Painted exposed wood on the roof trim at PHES, the lower half of the hallway walls at CGES, and the trim on the district office building;
    • Chemically washed the wall at the stadium with tuck-pointing yet to follow this fall.
    • Worked diligently to keep our grounds looking good throughout the summer.

    In addition to this we still have as unfinished projects to do a window system replacement for much of the district office.  We took bids for this work but I have decided to explore other options while we wait to re-bid this winter.  We hope to have more competition at that time for this work.

    As you can see, this was a very busy summer.  We have several projects planned for this school year as well.  Having said all of this, I want to thank our custodial and maintenance staff for their willingness to work around many of these projects.  They do a fantastic job getting our buildings and grounds ready for the school year.  Also, I want to thank Mike Gentry for all of the work he has done for our facilities.  Mike is leaving USD 417 to become head of maintenance at the Morris County Hospital.  Mike is a major reason that our facilities are in such good shape.

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  • Feature image-4

    Stop telling kids you’re bad at math. You are spreading math anxiety ‘like a virus.’

    “How was skiing?” I asked my 14-year old daughter as she hauled her boot bag into the car. “Well, the ratio of snow to ground was definitely low,” she replied, adding that she had tried to figure the ratio of snow-to-ground during practice but had received only mystified looks. “Stop the math!” demanded a coach. “You are confusing us!”

    Why do smart people enjoy saying that they are bad at math? Few people would consider proudly announcing that they are bad at writing or reading. Our country’s communal math hatred may seem rather innocuous, but a more critical factor is at stake: we are passing on from generation to generation the phobia for mathematics and with that are priming our children for mathematical anxiety. As a result, too many of us have lost the ability to examine a real-world problem, translate it into numbers, solve the problem and interpret the solution.

    Mathematics surrounds us, yet we have become accustomed to avoiding numerical thinking at all costs. There is no doubt that bad high school teaching and confusing textbooks are partly to blame. But a more pernicious habit does the most damage. We are perpetuating damaging myths by telling ourselves a few untruths: math is inherently hard, only geniuses understand it, we never liked math in the first place and nobody needs math anyway.

    Often adults are well-meaning when telling children about their own math phobia: after all, won’t it make the children feel better if they know that others feel that way as well? Research shows the answer is a resounding “no.”

    Anxiety over mathematics has been recognized as a grade killer. The National Mathematics Advisory Panel of the U.S. Department of Education has found that anxious students perform lower than their abilities. What’s more, there is growing evidence that mathematical anxiety can be passed on like a virus from teachers to students as well as from parents to children.

    Girls are especially affected when a teacher publicly announces math hatred before she picks up the chalk. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that female — but not male — mathematical achievement was diminished in response to a female teacher’s mathematical anxiety. The effect was correlated: the higher a teacher’s anxiety, the lower the scores.

    Parents’ mathematical anxiety can have a similar effect on their children. Researchers observed that children who received math homework help from mathematically fearful parents showed weaker math achievements than their peers, which in turn resulted in increased math anxiety for the children themselves.

    What we need to do instead is encourage our children to persevere. In France, for example, math skills are appreciated and it is quite cool to be good at math. Teaching — especially math teaching — is a highly respected and well-paid profession, even at the preschool level and children there are trained early to appreciate the art of mathematics.

    Working on mathematical skills is not unlike practicing a sport: neither can be learned by watching others perform the activity and both require encouragement and effort. In the words of Michael Jordan: “I’ve missed 3,000 shots. Twenty-six times the game-winning shot has been trusted to me, and I’ve missed. I’ve lost over 300 games. I’ve failed over and over and over again, and that is why I’ve succeeded.” (Notice the math in that statement?)

    You do not need an innate mathematical ability in order to solve mathematical problems. Rather, what is required is perseverance, a willingness to take risks and feeling safe to make mistakes. The next time you help a student with homework, try to repress the “I hate math” instinct, which is even worse than making a few flubs.

    Instead try to have fun and give reassurance that perseverance will yield results. Numbers are always simple, clean and beautiful — and nothing to be afraid of.

    By Petra Bonfert-Taylor

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  • Feature image-5

    Helping Your Child Develop a Growth Mindset

    One of the most important attributes in children and adults is the ability to form hope. To live without hope is to live without joy, peace and happiness.

    Everyone should be familiar with the definition of hope. But the origins of hope are more complex to distinguish.

    Subconcepts of hope are optimism, a belief in oneself, and self-confidence. One can hope to win the lottery or have exterior circumstances fall in your favor, but true hope is the perception that you can change the course of an outcome based on your skills, knowledge and abilities. In order to attain this true belief in oneself, a growth mindset needs to be developed.

    There are two types of mindsets—fixed and growth. A fixed mindset is the belief that one’s abilities and attributes are natural and relatively unchanging. It is a belief that we are born with a certain amount of skills and intellect and those stay with us for life at roughly the same level.

    A growth mindset is the belief that skills, talents, and intellect can change and improve over time. There are varying degrees between these two types of mindsets. But the more one moves to the growth mindset side, the more apt the person is to believe that hard work, perseverance, dedication, effort, and time dedicated to a craft or subject, will produce more proficiency.

    How do we, as parents, help our children develop healthy growth mindsets? We can begin by emphasizing the importance of the process as opposed to the outcomes. We need to pay attention to our language, which innocently enough, can lead to a fixed mindset if not used carefully.

    How many of us have told our children that they were so smart when they received an A on a test? This is not a bad thing of course because children need to be self-confident and have a belief that they are smart. But what happens when the same child brings home a D on the next test? If the outcome is always an indicator of how smart they are, bringing home a D makes them feel they are not so smart after all.

    Instead, when a child brings home an A, if we focus on their effort, the time dedicated to studying, and the perseverance to push through things like fatigue, boredom, or distractions, they begin to see the importance of the process instead of their natural abilities. Likewise, when the child brings home a D, their self-confidence is not rattled to the core because they know they could have done better if they applied themselves more.

    If a child has a fixed mindset, he or she will avoid challenges because failures will indicate they do not have the capabilities to succeed. I’ve failed, so I must not be good at whatever the task is at hand. So they are not motivated to try again as this will be more proof of their limited capabilities.

    With a growth mindset, a child will be more willing to try new things as it is not an inditement on their talents. Furthermore, the child will tend to persevere with the task or activity as they have a belief they can improve their abilities.

    Another strategy parents can use to help their children develop a growth mindset is to role model this effort and perseverance. Start a hobby with your child and let him or her see that you can really stink at something in the beginning and improve over time. Help him or her through this hobby so you can both improve together. Hobbies could be activities such as cooking, camping, fishing, arts and crafts, photography, sports, woodworking, chess, etc.

    Yes, children tend to have more natural abilities in certain areas than others. So it may help if you start with a craft your child shows an inherent aptitude for and interest in. But remain focused on the effort and work put toward the activity. Then explore more activities outside of the child’s comfort zone and continue the development of incremental successes.

    Support and encouragement are also key ingredients to helping a child develop a growth mindset. Challenging and “pushing” the child are also OK if the challenge is focused on the effort and dedication. But support and encouragement are key to developing the child’s belief that he or she can be successful.

    Share examples of your past where you had to overcome obstacles and hardships. Share your failures with your child so they know failures are a part of life and they don’t make a person bad or unlovable. Share examples of famous people who have had to overcome setbacks and adversity to be successful.

    We all enjoy giving and receiving gifts, and one of the greatest gifts we can give to our children is the ability for them to believe in themselves.




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Notice of Non-discrimination USD #417 does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Doug Conwell, 17 S Wood Street, Council Grove, Kansas 66846 (620)767-5192