Board of education announces goals for upcoming school year

Initiatives include new approaches to learning, security and student health


By Jonathan Atchley

After giving his presentation on school security at the Board of Education meeting on Monday, Aug. 13, assistant superintendent Alvie Cater looks at his fellow board members.

Elizabeth Joseph, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief

The Board of Education announced goals for the upcoming school year at a meeting on Monday, Aug. 13. Students may notice new changes implemented at the school and district, such as a focus on technology, safety and mental health.

While some changes will not be visible to the community, many directly impact the students, such as an increased focus on student access to technology through a ‘One for One’ plan, according to board member Kevin Makalous. At the school, this plan will be piloted in social studies teacher Chris McAfee’s classes. 

“One of the things I’m most excited about is that we’re going to be piloting ‘One for One’ which means that all students in a classroom will have a computer or an iPad, some sort of device to explore learning with technology,” Makalous said. “This is something that I’ve personally been passionate about as a board member, seeing if technology is effective in the classroom.”

Along with access to technology, information and training for parents regarding suicide awareness and prevention will be a focus for the district starting in September. This movement will be spearheaded by superintendent Frank Harwood and assistant superintendent Alvie Cater.

“We’re drawing attention to suicide awareness and prevention, but we’re going to … [have] a more unified approach to draw awareness to suicide awareness and prevention,” Cater said. “A couple things we’re going to do for our families is that we’re going to provide for parents to come and receive information and basically the same training we provide our employees.”

In addition, security systems in the district will be changed, with a new visitor access system in particular.  According to Cater, these systems will include audio and video footage of visitors requesting access to the school, before allowing visitors into the school for additional verification.  

“The whole idea of the secured door visitor access system is to provide that barrier, just a little more time, before we let anyone in,” Cater said.

Students may also have noticed a change in seminar policy, such as closing travel for the full block on Monday afternoons and a quarterly meeting to utilize tools such as Career Cruising. This is due to a new focus on Independent Plans of Study (IPS) being implemented at the middle and high schools.

“Individual plans of study are … the board’s way of saying that when you graduate from USD232, you should be prepared to go to college,” Cater said. “We want to expose students to developing a plan about what it is they like, and then we will give them more opportunities to learn about those things, and over time they can refine those plans.”

Cater also anticipates larger involvement from the business community in regards to student career exploration.

“I think really what you’re going to see over time is a better partnership with our business in the Kansas City Metro working with schools to expose our young people to opportunities that you probably didn’t know exist,” Cater said.

Ultimately, Makalous hopes that these changes will demonstrate the importance of the district to the wider community.

I hope that the more we can engage the community, the more they feel connected to the fact that this is a phenomenal district and that it is an investment in our community and our students,” Makalous said. “We live in an incredibly busy world, so it’s finding ways to break through that noise and finding ways to connect with the community at large with our district. I have confidence that we have the right people on board to figure that out.”

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