Thirteen TPS Schools to Receive Free Meals

Parents of students at 13 TPS schools were happy to hear of a new federally-funded meal program that will provide breakfast and lunch to all students-regardless of their income- at no cost. Topeka Public Schools is the largest district in the state to take part in the new program, which launches this school year.

Niki Jahnke, General Director of Child Nutrition Services for Topeka Public Schools, is excited that all of the school applications she submitted were approved for the program. “My ultimate goal was to make sure every child eats breakfast and lunch, and to stop the stigma of free and reduced meals in the lunch lines.” With this program, all students, regardless of their income, will be provided with two nutritious meals every school day, ensuring that hunger won’t interfere with learning.

The following schools will be receiving free meals this year:
Chase Middle School
Eisenhower Middle School
Robinson Middle School
Highland Park Central Elementary
Meadows Elementary
Lowman Hill Elementary
Pine Ridge Prep
Quincy Elementary
Ross Elementary
Scott Elementary
Shaner Elementary
Stout Elementary
Williams Elementary

These schools were selected because of the percentage of student who are directly certified, meaning students who are homeless, children of migrant workers, receive food assistance, are foster children, attend Head Start, or receive Temporary Assistance to Families (TAF). Janke says she hopes to add more schools to the list in the coming years. However, to do so the district would need documentation of directly certified students. Officials in each school can help identify these students, increasing the odds of adding schools to the program.

Students not attending one of the 13 free meals schools can still qualify for free and reduced lunch.

This program is not just beneficial to the students, but to the district as well. The school district will save time and money throughout the school year.

-Hours of paperwork to process free and reduced meal applications will be cut.
- For delinquent meal accounts, the district’s Nutrition Office sends three notification letters, followed by one from the Business Office, ending with the account being sent to a collections agency. This program will eliminate labor and costs associated with this process.
-Cash and check meal payments will no longer have to be processed at schools, and school officials will no longer have to leave their schools to make bank deposits.
-The district will save on postage for the thousands of applications and hundreds of collections letters that are sent every year.
There has been some concern that providing free meals to students was wasteful because students don’t care for the nutritional standards introduced in 2012. However, new research suggests that students seem to be acquiring a taste for the healthier fare and are, in fact, cleaning their plates.

Janke echoes that sentiment, saying that after some trial and error, food manufacturers have modified their products to meet the new standards and school menus have been modified to offer more selection. These efforts have led to tastier meals and happier students.

We are excited to offer this program to our students, and are looking forward to a wonderful new school year!

HPHS Theatre Students Depart for Scotland

The Highland Park High School theatre students, led by teacher Scott Kickhaefer, departed for Edinburgh, Scotland bright and early this morning. 

The seven students will be performing their play, "Play it Til We Get it Right" at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the world's largest performing arts festival. After months of fundraising efforts, and a last-minute $10,000 donation by an anonymous supporter, the students finally raised the $65,000 needed to make the two-week trip.

This morning was filled hugs and smiles, and a few nervous tears, as the students prepared to depart. Cynthia Gross, who will be a junior this year, said she is most excited about "all the great things we're going to find over there. There's a lot of culture and history in Scotland. It's going to be amazing!"
Recent HPHS grad Corey Jackson said this will be his first time flying and his first time to see the ocean. He is happy to be going with this tight-nit group because, he said, "We're like a family."

Janet Reed, whose son Elijah Reed is Scotland-bound, said she's not nervous at all for Elijah, also a recent HPHS grad who is headed to Washburn University in the fall. "He's a big boy and he can handle it!"
Dr. Beryl New, principal of Highland Park, is also excited for the students. "It's a trip of a lifetime for the kids to go to Scotland and perform. I'm sure it's a dream come true for them."

Many local media outlets were on hand to document the send-off, while the students' parents took pictures and gave their good bye hugs.

 It is sure to be a magical trip for these students, one that they won't soon forget, and we here at Topeka Public Schools wish them the best on their journey. Have fun, kids!

Highland Park Central Under Construction

Wow! Major changes are happening at Highland Park Central Elementary School these days!

In addition to new principal Kelley Norman joining the staff, and new HPC Facebook and Twitter pages being unveiled, there are also major structural changes taking place at the school.
Thanks to the overwhelming public support of the Securing Our Future bond initiative last April, Topeka Public Schools was able to secure funds to make numerous enhancements across the district. This summer, the Information Technology department has been implementing many of the technology upgrades. But the first major structural enhancement has taken place at Highland Park Central.

The lower level kindergarten classrooms have long had exterior doors, exposing the children to the elements and potential security risks each time they moved to another part of the main building. Deputy Superintendent of Operations Larry Robbins said, "It was one area that we identified as a security issue and we wanted to make sure we addressed it as quickly as possible to make the students safer and more comfortable at school."

Walls and ceilings have been cut through to make room for a new interior staircase, and an exterior hallway and new entryway will be added for extra security and convenience. 

Even the playground has a fresh look with lots of new mulch. So many exciting new changes at HPC are sure to make this year an awesome one!

2014-2015 Budget Discussed at BOE Meeting

The mill levy for Topeka Public Schools will drop nearly four mills.  That was the word from Budget Director Pam Leinwetter as she addressed TPS Board of Education members about the 2014-2015 school district budget Thursday night.  Leinwetter said the budget would lower the mill levy from 56.3 to 52.5 mills.  For someone owning a $100,000 home, it would mean a tax decrease of $44.00.

Board of education members approved the publishing of the 2014-2015 budget in this Sunday’s Topeka Capital-Journal.  A public hearing on the budget will be held at the next board of education meeting on August 7.

TPS Receives $31,000 for Tech Ed Programs

Topeka Public Schools received $31,000 from the Kansas Office of the Governor for 31 students receiving industry certifications and graduating from high school in 2014. The district receives $1,000 per student earning a certification identified on Senate Bill 155 Qualifying Credential Incentive List. Part of this funding will reimburse students for their expenses paid for the certification, and the remainder of the funds is to invest in career and technical education pathways in the high schools.

Counselors, teachers, and principals encourage students to take advantage of programs at Washburn Tech, and work to increase awareness of the benefits of completing technical education pathways within our high schools. The primary goal of SB155 is for students to gain certification and graduate from high school so they can go directly into the workforce, fast forward into post-secondary education earning tuition- free college credit for their coursework, and have the ability to earn a living and pursue continued education to move to the next level in their career.

Topeka Public Schools received the highest distribution of SB155 funds in Shawnee County, and increased from eight students in 2012-2013 to 31 students in the 2013-14 school year. We encourage students to enroll in technical education courses in our high schools and at Washburn Institute of Technology to earn an industry certification to help them progress in their choice of career.

Head Start Applications Being Accepted

Applications are being accepted for Topeka Public Schools Head Start program at Sheldon Child Development Center. Stop by on Wednesday, July 30th between 10 am and 6 pm at Sheldon Head Start, 1155 SW Seabrook (2 blocks behind Sonic on Gage), to apply.

Applications will not be considered without:
-Child's legal birth certificate
-Current Proof of income- parent or legal guardian (2013 tax return or TANF Verification)
-Child's immunization record
-Child's Social Security card
-Physical exam
-Dental exam
-Lead results

Head Start offers bus transportation and services for eligible children, including children with special needs and disabilities.

Call 438-4530 for more information.

Student Projects Presented at 2014 Summer Experience

TPS' summer school program, the 2014 Summer Experience, concluded last Friday, June 27th. Students spent the day presenting research projects they had worked on throughout the session to their peers and teachers. Each of the five schools hosting the Summer Experience had its own theme that the students centered their research on.
During the program, the kids spent their mornings at school, where they were fed breakfast and lunch, and had a great time while maintaining their academic skills. When they weren't looking up facts about their topic on the computer and in books, the students worked on math and reading and enjoyed recess time with their friends.
Scroll through the pictures below to see some of the great projects completed by students at Ross and Scott Elementary schools

THS Teacher Awarded Fellowship

Topeka High School social studies teacher Dustin Rimmey has been awarded a James Madison Fellowship by the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation in its 23rd annual fellowship competition. Mr. Rimmey was one of only 51 awardees in a competition that spanned each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the nation’s island and trust territories. This Fellowship supports further study of American history by college graduates who wish to become history teachers, as well as by experienced secondary school history teachers, like Mr. Rimmey.
This fellowship will fund up to $24,000 of Mr. Rimmey’s course of study toward a master’s degree, and is intended to recognize promising and distinguished teachers, to strengthen their knowledge of the origins and development of American constitutional government, and to expose the nation’s secondary school student s to accurate knowledge of the nation’s constitutional heritage.
Mr. Rimmey is an Emporia State University graduate and has taught at THS since 2007. He is also an assistant debate and forensics coach, Model United Nations sponsor, senior class co-sponsor and chair of the International Studies Program.
Congratulations, Mr. Rimmey--- we’re so proud of you!

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