Saturday, October 30, 2010

Schools Win Challenge Awards

Congratulations to the following schools for receiving a Certificate of Merit as part of the 8th Annual Challenge Awards. The award recognizes schools for outstanding achievement and uncommon accomplishment based on the 2010 Kansas Assessment results and other qualifying factors including the sample size, ethnicity and socio-economic status of those taking the test.
The awards are presented by the Confidence in Kansas Public Education Task Force. The schools were honored at a recognition dinner November 10 in Junction City.

McCarter Elementary – 4th Grade Math
McCarter Elementary – 4th Grade Reading
Stout Elementary – 5th Grade Reading
State Street Elementary – 5th Grade Math

Website Picture (left to right) Kansas State Department of Education Commissioner Diane DeBacker, McCarter Elementary teacher Kimberly Bayless, Kansas State Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Dale Dennis, McCarter Elementary Principal Kathy Cooney, McCarter Elementary teacher Vanessa Rosalan and Kansas State Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Brad Neuenswander.

Friday, October 29, 2010

HPHS v. Topeka West Game Time Change Oct. 29

The football game between Highland Park High School and Topeka West has been changed to 3:30 this afternoon. The change was necessary due to copper theft that affected the stadium lights.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Above & Beyond Award Winner

Congratulations to Maria Arafat, our latest Above and Beyond Award winner. For the past two years, Ayala has taken the city bus to McCarter Elementary School where she volunteers during the lunch hour. Ayala helps students open their milk cartons, she cleans up spills and wipes the tables. McCarter Principal Katherine Cooney says, “Maria is a very hard worker who does this as a way of spending time with her children. She makes the entire lunch process run smooth just by her being here.”

Monday, October 25, 2010

Foundation Awards Grants

The TPS Foundation "Grant Patrol" visited ten teachers on October 20 to personally deliver the news that they were the recipients of Foundation dollars. Surprise visits to grant recipients and their classes were complete with distribution of a "big check" and balloons.
 
While all grant recipients did not receive a personal "Grant Patrol" visit, all were notified of the status of their application.
 
Twenty-six grants were funded at 16 schools, spanning all grade levels. The total amount awarded was nearly $24,000.

ShareFest Benefits District Schools

Six Topeka Public Schools are shining brighter this week, thanks to hundreds of volunteers participating in the annual ShareFest event. For the fifth year in a row, members of 14 area churches spent a Saturday morning painting railings, planting shrubs , trimming bushes and spreading wood chips under playground equipment. The schools benefiting from ShareFest were Bishop Elementary, McCarter Elementary, Meadows Elementary, Randolph Elementary, French Middle School, Robinson Middle School and Topeka High School. Joining the hundreds of church volunteers in ShareFest were many staff members from Topeka Public Schools.

Thank You to NFUSSD Sponsors

Topeka Public Schools would like to thank Brier Payne Meade Insurance, Durham School Services and Stormont-Vail HealthCare for helping sponsor the 2010 National Federation of Urban & Suburban School Districts conference hosted by Topeka Public Schools October 10-13.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Facility Master Plan Recommendations

Changes could be in the future for Topeka Public Schools. Board members last night heard recommendations from a district-wide facility master plan from representatives of Wilson and Company. Wilson was hired to conduct a physical and educational adequacy assessment of the district’s schools. A community-based facilities committee has been meeting for months. The committee studied a number of areas including district demographics, physical condition of buildings, grade configuration and facility consolidations. Committee members developed the recommendations in keeping with the goals outlined in the district’s strategic plan as they related to efficiency and infrastructure. The committee’s recommendations call for the district to move to a new education model of schools of pre-kindergarten through 8th grade. The report also calls for the closing of some schools, others would be consolidated and several new schools would be built. The Board of Education received the report and will discuss it at their next meeting on November 4.


To view the Topeka USD 501 District-Wide Facility Master Plan Recommendations, click:

TPS Master Plan Recommendations

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Prairie Band Potawatomi Supports Students

The Indian Education Program at Topeka Public Schools has received a $5,000.00 donation from the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. Karen Shanks and Jennifer Bagshaw accepted the donation on behalf of Topeka Public Schools during the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Charitable Contribution Awards Ceremony on October 7. The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation is a federally recognized soverign nation with nearly 5,000 members. Topeka Public Schools has over 400 Native American students enrolled this school year.

Please Complete Our Website Survey!

We are conducting a brief opinion survey about our district website ( http://www.topekapublicschools.net ).  Your opinions will help us improve the web services that we provide to you.  The survey is anonymous, and should only take a few minutes to complete.

Please click here to participate in our survey!  Our survey is now complete.

Thank you for your participation.

Young Leaders Promote Reading

The United Way’s Young Leaders Society is helping promote reading and a love of books. The group gave a book to each kindergarten student at Scott Magnet School yesterday, part of the junior leader readers program. The United Way’s Young Leaders Society is a philanthropic group of young professionals under the age of 40. Dr. Ryan Yamka, a United Way volunteer, launched the reading program and chose the book, Edward the Emu, to give to the students. The book was read to the students by Brendan Wiley, the new director of the Topeka Zoo.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Students Involved in Downtown Development

High school students from Topeka Public Schools are showing they are interested in the future of their hometown. Stephanie Carroll and Daphne Matheny-Lewis from Hope Street presented ideas at a recent Kansas Avenue Design Workshop. Stephanie and Daphne summarized and presented ideas that came from a student group that included fellow students Chaz Graber, Matthew Gage and Jennifer Norton. Before attending the workshop, the students took a tour of downtown Topeka. Students from other high schools in the district were also involved in the workshops.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Message for Parents about PowerSchool

Dear Parent or Guardian of Middle & High School Students,

The Topeka Public School district is continuing our efforts to enhance communication with parent(s)/guardian(s). As of October 20th, you will have access to view your student’s grades, attendance and other information securely via the Internet using the PowerSchool Parent Portal.

At this time, only students enrolled at the middle and high school levels will have data accessible in the Parent Portal.

On October 20th, you will be able to access the Parent Portal by clicking on the PowerSchool link on the District's website (http://www.topekapublicschools.net). Located on this site are easy-to-follow instructions, actual screen shots of PowerSchool and other support documentation.

You will need to obtain a username and password for each student. Each parent/guardian will be required to provide your student’s school with photo identification and sign an agreement which will result in the distribution of a username and password. You may have already signed an agreement during enrollment.

You may obtain your username and password during your school’s parent conference night, which is scheduled to begin October 20th. Additionally, you can obtain PowerSchool access by contacting the school and arranging for a time after October 21st to present identification required for your individual PowerSchool access.

Each of your middle and high school students will have a unique username and password assigned to their records. Keep your password(s) confidential so only you will have access to the information. At any time you believe your password has been compromised, or if you do not want access to your student’s records through the Parent Portal, please contact the help desk at 438-4750.

Grades will be posted in the teacher grade book and viewed on the Parent Portal. Teachers are expected to regularly post assignments and grades in the PowerTeacher Gradebook. Parent(s)/guardian(s) are encouraged to use the information on the Parent Portal to talk with their students about their progress in school.

Should you have any problems gaining access to the Parent Portal, contact your school’s office or the Help Desk located in the Information Technology Department at 438-4750.

Sincerely,

Bill Bagshaw
General Director Curriculum & Instruction

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

NEA-T Approves Contract with Topeka Public Schools

NEA-Topeka ratified the 2010-2011 Professional Agreement with USD 501, Topeka Public Schools, yesterday, (Monday). There are 1301 teachers and certified staff covered by this agreement. The ratification vote was 60% yes; 40% no. The USD 501 School Board is expected to vote to approve the tentative agreement at their next meeting on October 7, 2010.

NEA-Topeka President Mary Masters said, “The vote for the ratification was much closer than in past years. Topics that had generated a lot of discussion throughout the District during the ratification process were related to health insurance, high school plan time, and professional employee evaluations.”

Larry Robbins, Executive Director of Operations and the school district’s chief negotiator said, “The leadership team is very pleased with the results. It was our goal to reach an agreement that provided a fair and equitable package for our certified employees and had provisions that would also enhance student achievement.”

Key changes to the Professional Agreement relate to Memorandums of Understanding for health insurance, high school plan time, and professional employee evaluations.

· Certified staff will receive step movement on the existing salary schedule which is equal to $500.00 per year. Individuals off the salary schedule will also receive $500.00

· Significant increases have occurred in the cost of the employee’s health insurance plan. With the ratification of the agreement, employees may choose to participate in a wellness program. In return for participation the District will bear the increased cost of the insurance for those individuals.

· With the ratification, a change in high school plan time will occur. The change involves a reallocation of the amount of time established for plan time to be divided into “personal plan time,” and “collaboration time.” “Collaboration time is non-instructional, non-plan time to be used . . . to generate creative solutions to mutually defined problems . . . by instructional partners.”

· During the 2010-2011 school year representatives from the Interest Based Bargaining (IBB) team and the District’s Administrative Team will be working to “develop a teacher evaluation system that will include student achievement as a part of the evaluation process.” The system will be piloted at Highland Park High School as a requirement of the “transformation model” selected as part of the School Improvement Grant.