Monday, December 22, 2014

An Update on Miscellaneous Items from YPS

The information below will be published as a "guest column" in the York News-Times this week.

Professional Development Day on January 19th
Thanks to Beth Ericson and our talented and dedicated staff, we will once again host one of the state’s most dynamic professional development days on January 19th at York High School. We anticipate over 400 attendees to include YPS teachers, paras, and substitutes as well as staff members from Emmanuel Faith-Lutheran, St. Joseph’s Catholic School, Epworth Village, York College, York County Head Start, and numerous other school districts in the area.

The day will feature over 55 break-out sessions on a variety of topics to include special education, student engagement, math interventions, technology integration, early childhood programming, motivation, high ability learners, writing strategies, and much, much more.

We’re also excited about our two keynote speakers. Dan Waldschmidt is a leading innovator in the business strategist world. He is the author of “Edgy Conversations” and publishes a great blog that can be found at Dean Shareski is a leading educational consultant that is based out of Canada. He has many awesome ideas to share with us. Please visit his website,, to learn more.

Thanks again to Cornerstone Bank for providing a sandwich bar for our lunch on this important day of learning.

“The Main Thing is to keep the Main Thing the Main Thing”
Our “main thing” within York Public Schools is our students and providing as many opportunities as possible for them to be successful. We’ve started an Agronomy Academy with Seward and Centennial School Districts to expose juniors and seniors to potential agriculture careers that is paid for by Pioneer, Syngenta, Monsanto, and Mycogen.

We’re launching an on-line advanced placement environmental science course in January. We continue to expand our K-8 school day and school year. We’ve added “Math Counts” and “Invention Convention” at YES and YMS. These are exciting times for York Public Schools.

I continue to be so impressed with our students. They inspire me every day. Our future is in great hands as these young people continue to mature and chase their dreams in the upcoming years.

School Budget and Finance Update
With the upcoming legislative session that will include a new governor and 19 new senators, it’s going to be an interesting few months. YPS remains very diligent in our pursuit of property tax relief, other revenue streams to support our schools, and conservative spending. We remain part of a legislative advocacy group called STANCE that is made up of 13 mid-sized schools. STANCE has met with the Farm Bureau, Open Sky Institute, Lt. Governor Mike Foley, numerous state senators, and others to discuss school finance issues and concerns. We will continue to do so throughout the winter and spring.

Here are some interesting facts and figures from annual financial reports that all school districts must turn in each year to the Department of Education. This data relates to revenue and spending of public school districts in our state from 2002-03 to 2012-13, which is the most recent year we have audited annual financial report data.

Property Tax Revenue
• In 2002-03, the total amount of property taxes for all public schools in the state came in at $953,082,982
• Ten years later in 2012-13, the total amount of property taxes for all public schools in the state tallied $1,579,619,633
o Statewide total property tax revenue for K-12 public school districts increased 65.7%; or an annual average increase of 6.57%

• In 2002-03, York Public Schools received $5,266,584 in property taxes
• Ten years later, in 2012-13, YPS received $7,851,906
o This is an increase of $2,585,321; or 49%
o The property tax revenue of YPS had an annual average increase of 4.9% compared to the 6.57% annual average increase of the state as a whole

State Aid Revenue
• In 2002-03, total state aid paid to all Nebraska public school districts was $661,940,176
• Ten years later in 2012-13, total state aid across the state for all schools was $852,084,074
o This was a 28.7% overall increase in that 10-year span for an annual average increase of 2.87%

• In 2002-03, York Public Schools received $2,689,852 in state aid.
• In 2012-13, YPS received $2,004,816
o This is a decrease of $685,036 or loss of 25.5%; which is a far cry of the +28.7% increase that has been statewide

Total Spending
• In 2002-03, all public school districts in Nebraska combined to spend $2,150,922,022
• Ten years later in 2012-13, all public school districts in our state combined to spend $3,219,961,366
o This is an increase of 49.7% or an annual average increase of 4.97%

• In 2002-03, York Public Schools spent $10,442,549
• In 2012-13, YPS spent $13,749,972
o This is an increase of $3,307,423
o This is a percentage increase of 31.7% or an annual average increase of 3.17% for York Public Schools; which compares very favorably to the statewide annual average of 4.97%

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Have a wonderful Christmas and a prosperous and healthy 2015. This new year is going to be another awesome one for the York Dukes. We hope to see you at a concert, play, speech meet, extra-curricular activity, wrestling match, school lunch, or ball game soon! Thanks for your continued support.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

YHS One-Act Repeats as Class B State Champions

The YHS One-Act Team took First Place for the second year in a row at the State Competition in Norfolk on Friday, December 12. The team performed the play "Under Jekyll's Hyde." In addition to the team taking home the First Place trophy, senior Kalon Beeson was selected as Class B's Outstanding Male Actor.

Under the direction of Becky Stahr and assistant director Andee Bubak, the YHS One-Act Program has ascended into rare air. Winning one state championship is amazing. To do it two years in a row is off the charts.

We are VERY proud of all of the participants and our sponsors. They put in a lot of time, extra efforts, and dedication.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

FFA Programs Remain Strong

We are very proud of ALL of our wonderful programs throughout YPS. Our FFA program is no different. Just look at what they accomplished at a district competition just this week.

What a day for York FFA, qualifying state bound competitors in 10 of 12 contests!

Jr. Parliamentary Procedure
Team 1 - 5th Place (Gage Sinsel, Madison Harcrow, Jaiden Vanderheiden, Leon Linhart, Sydney Samson, Reegan Cast, Schuyler Hellerich)
Team 2 - District Champions and State Qualifier (Tenly Hansen, Julia Lee, Simon Otte, Bryce Danielson, Kourtney Muhlberry, Lauren Riley, Nicole Mittman)

Ag Literacy Speaking
Lauren Kaliff - District Champion and State Qualifier

Ag Discovery Speaking
Hailee Pohl - District Champion and State Qualifier
Max Kohmetscher - 3rd Place and First Alternate State Qualifier

Jr Public Speaking
Leon Linhart - District Champion and State Qualifier

Sr Public Speaking
Josie Lee - 3rd place and First Alternate State Qualifier
Allee Maronde - 4th place and Second Alternate State Qualifier

Cooperative Speaking
Brody Garner - District Champion and State Qualifier

Natural Resource Speaking
Allison Riley - District Runner Up and State Qualifier

Creed Speaking
Genevieve Tonniges - District Runner Up and State Qualifier
Schuyler Hellerich - 8th Place

Ag Demo
Team 1 - 7th Place (Evan Pohl, Teagan Thorrell, Garrett Rediger)
Team 2 - 6th Place (Jesse Hoblyn, Hayden Sandall)

Extemporaneous Speaking
Tonya Grotz - District Runner Up and State Qualifier
Josh Garner - 3rd Place and First Alternate State Qualifier

Job Interview
Catie Bergen - District Runner Up and State Qualifier
Whitney Staehr - 5th Place and District Finalist

Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas Kids Project for 2014

A few years ago, a fantasy football league buddy of mine named Randy Goetz (Lansing, KS) and my wife and I spread a little extra Christmas cheer to some children in need. We bought some coats, gloves, shoes, hats, and little things for about 10 children living in poverty that we were sure needed something to feel excited about. It was a great experience so we've kept it up over the past few years.

This year, I decided to kick it up a notch and sent out an email to about 12 of my friends here in York asking them to consider donating $10 or $20 to what we're calling the "Christmas Kids Project for 2014." Todd Kirshenbaum, our Chamber of Commerce Director, was on that email list and he encouraged me to allow him to forward the request on to the Chamber Ambassadors. We did.

I also sent the email to Randy Goetz and a few others down in the Lansing/Leavenworth, KS area. The email also went to a few school attorney friends we do business with.

As the mail began coming in today, we've already received $525! We have over $300 more that has been pledged! This is UNBELIEVABLE!

We're focusing on 16 students right now ranging from pre-school through 11th grade. We're going to be able to surprise them with the basics. Nothing fancy. These youngsters need clothes, food, etc. We're also going to do our best to get each of them at least one thing that is beyond the basics. Toys for the younger kids, maybe some iTunes cards or something for the older kids or a Subway card. You'd be amazed to know how many of these kids don't EVER get to eat out anywhere. What a BLESSING it is to be around such caring people. What a TREMENDOUS FEELING it is to know that so many adults truly care about our community's children.

I've been around lots of tough times in my life but my family always made Christmas special. It is a great honor to try and help make some others' Christmas a little bit brighter this year. I called one mama on the phone today (she has five of the kids we've targeted) to tell her what we were up to and she began to cry because she's so appreciative.

Yes, there is a lot of money in York. However, what many people don't yet understand is there also lots of poverty. Over 54% of our K-5 students qualify for free/reduced school meals today. Yes, over 54%.

We can't make it better for everyone but we can make a dent in it. We're going to make a difference for several kids this Christmas. Kids that are on the honor roll, kids that are respectful, kids that appreciate a new school folder or a pen that writes. Kids that don't take for granted a school meal because it's hot and they might not get another hot meal until school the next day.

As a superintendent (or stupid-intendent as I often refer to it), I don't get to do a lot of fun things with kids anymore. THIS project brings more joy to me than I can describe.

THANKS for all of the help and support. We have some amazing kids here in York, Nebraska!