Submitted by Mr. Ethan Sickels,
Rock Port R-II Superintendent
Hello Blue Jay Nation! If you are reading this, it can only mean one thing . . . the calendar says it’s almost time for the 2019-20 school year to begin. Time sure rolls fast over the summer months, and I am excited to see what is in store for our students and staff this upcoming year.
The flooding situation continues to hamper not only our district, but our families as well. Whether you are displaced, living or commuting long distances across the river during the week, or dealing with government officials, I am sorry for the continued stress in your lives. It was apparent during our last two months of school how many of our students were dealing with upheaval in their lives. If the school, or myself, can try to be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Obviously the flooding we have had at Blue Jay Stadium hasn’t made the summer any easier. The first one caused enough paperwork and headaches for our staff to deal with . . . and then round two hit. We will get through it, but it has put a damper on some things this summer. Hopefully cleanup can begin soon so that we are ready for activities at the stadium in a few weeks. I should mention our insurance and cleaning companies have been great to work with and very accommodating to us so far.
Speaking of the stadium . . . and specifically the track. After the first flood they came and inspected it, and were of the belief that although the top layer was ruined and will have to be removed, the asphalt and base underneath were going to be fine. That removal and relaying of the surface is slated for a week this fall. After this new round of flooding, I am not sure if that scenario will hold true; but am hopeful we will be hosting track meets here this spring.
I will be excited to see our students and staff back in the building. I do enjoy the quiet hours during the summer, as you can get plenty of paperwork done and the building looking sharp. But our school just isn’t the same place without the energy and learning that takes place every day. Teachers report back on Monday, August 12, with two days of curriculum work, followed by meeting and preparations for the upcoming year. Our students return on August 20, which will be an early dismissal day. I wanted to make sure you know our Meet the Teacher/Open House Night will be on Thursday, August 15, this year. We moved away from doing it the night before school starts, because we wanted everyone to get a little more rest before the always exhausting first day of school.
Our building and grounds look absolutely awesome, and I want to send out a huge note of thanks to our crew: Mark McMahon, Valeria Grossman, Steve Grossman, Georgia Criger, Brianna Gutierrez and Trejan Criger. They have worked long and hard this summer getting this place to look fantastic. I appreciate what they do, and more importantly that they care so much for our district.
By the time this goes to print, we will be almost done with our audit for this year. I am spoiled and thankful to have Debbie Young as our bookkeeper, keeping me in line and making sure we stay running strong. I knew when I took this job that my first three years were going to be financially challenging, and then there should be more revenue on the horizon. We traversed last year pretty well . . . we were able to acquire more state and federal revenue through a couple of avenues, but obviously our county revenues really dropped off after March. I am very appreciative of the hard work of everyone on our staff for doing their best to help keep spending to a minimum this past year. If our local and county revenues continue to run smaller than normal, there will have to be some adjustments in planning for next (2020-21) school year. With that being said, I am confident we will weigh all the options to make the best decisions for the school district. Our tax rate hearing and budget review for the upcoming year will be August 15, beginning at 7:00 p.m., here in the Board Room. Please feel free to attend if interested.
Our big change that hit all Missouri schools, and I have mentioned before, were the new requirements concerning our calendar. We will have 169 days of instruction this year for 1,103 hours (state requirement is 1,044 hours). To ensure we have the same amount of time in both buildings, we will be running on the exact same schedule. This means the JH/HS will begin at 8:00 a.m. this year, and both buildings will run on an 8:00 a.m. – 3:07 p.m. schedule. Sorry teenagers, but you will have to drag yourselves in 10 minutes earlier than in the past!
I believe that sums it up from my office. I know both Mr. Waigand and Mr. Parsons will have some information for you after we begin the school year, and I am extremely lucky and thankful to have two fantastic leaders like them guiding our schools. We are also blessed with an amazing staff who work with our students every day, and care for them as if they were their own. I hope you notice it as well, but our school district really does produce fantastic students and results year after year.
With that, I hope the end of what I consider summer is a good one for you, and we wish for all our Atchison County counterparts a fantastic school year as well. As always, I leave you with three important words . . . GO BIG BLUE!