Friday, February 1, 2019

Grandview C-4 removes half days from 2019-20 school year

by Mary Wilson

The Grandview Board of Education typically adopts the school calendar for the following year each January without much discussion, as the overall scope of it doesn’t change year after year. However, Grandview families and teachers will see significant changes in the 2019-20 school calendar. 

“This board item is a bit lengthier than it usually is because we have a dramatic change in our calendar for next year,” said Superintendent Dr. Kenny Rodrequez during the Board of Education meeting on Thursday, January 17. “We’re looking at the removal of early release days in our district and going to full professional development days. This removes the half days and would give us more opportunities with our teachers to work with them on professional development, not just our certified staff, but our classified staff as well.”

Districts in Missouri are required to provide 1,044 hours of student attendance, with no minimum number of days. School calendars must also include 36 make-up hours for inclement weather, for a total of 1080 hours. After several input meetings from district personnel and staff and parent surveys, a proposal to move to full day professional development was considered.

“With the staff survey that we did, and we were provided a lot of input from a variety of different sources throughout our individual sites, we saw that staff is 70 percent in favor,” said Rodrequez. “The survey was also completed by district families, and 70 percent of our families were also in favor of this. I know that I have heard, since I’ve been in this district, several parents who struggle with the early release days.”

The proposed 2019-20 calendar creates eight full-day non-student attendance days, eliminating all but two half days (during parent/teacher conferences in October and the final day of school). The 175-day calendar, which the district has had for many years, provided for approximately 1,091 student attendance hours. Although the draft 2019-20 calendar exceeds the number of state required hours, five minutes will need to be added to the daily schedule in order to maintain approximately the same state funding.  Doing so provides 1092.16 hours, comparable to the current calendar.

“How adding that five minutes plays out in regards to each school’s schedule, we’ll get into that later on as we’re developing this,” said Rodrequez.

The district did its best in the calendar to keep the full days off on Fridays, providing for a long weekend for students. Non-student attendance days are designated as Professional Days. In November and April, they will fall on election days to alleviate safety concerns and disruptions to schools that are polling stations. 

“Overwhelming feedback from our sites that are polling stations was that they would rather not be in school on election days,” said Rodrequez. “It is a security risk for us, in our opinion, and it can be very disruptive.”

The calendar also includes a transition half day for incoming sixth and ninth-grade students.  All middle school and high school staff will be on site to help and support those students the day before classes officially begin on the first day of school. Elementary staff will have an additional half-day without students. The first day of school will be all day. 

The Board of Education unanimously approved the adoption of the 2019-20 school calendar with the proposed changes, and a copy of it will be available in the coming months on the district’s website.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

US Army awards Military Outstanding Volunteer Service medal to Grandview fireman

by Mary Wilson

For firefighters, community engagement can come with the territory, but one local fireman is receiving national recognition for his involvement in Grandview. Service is second nature to Grandview Fire Department Engineer Rodney Baldwin, who was recently honored by the 7456th Medical Backfill Battalion Army Unit in Des Moines, Iowa, for his work with the Grandview Assistance Program.

Baldwin also serves as Command Sergeant Major for his Army Reserves unit. On his last tour, he met Dr. Gary Morsch, co-founder of Heart to Heart International, who retired from the US Army Reserves in 2012 and has written a handful of books focused on humanitarian efforts. Morsch gave Baldwin several copies of books he authored and the two got to talking.

“Gary Sinise was doing his USSO show, and I mentioned to Morsch that I’d like to meet him. So, Gary Morsch pulls out his cell phone and calls Gary Sinise,” said Baldwin. “I was like, holy crap, you know Gary Sinise? So, I met Gary Sinise, and I read the book.”

At the time, Richards says, the Grandview Fire Department wasn’t doing much as far as community outreach or service projects. Baldwin began his career as a volunteer paramedic, and wound up working in Grandview because he thought he would see more action here. What started as a way to help his neighbors in the town he grew up in evolved into a career that makes him proud.

Knowing that his friend Morsch was able to make great things happen in his own community with the organization he started, Baldwin knew he wanted to do something here.

“I knew I couldn’t do something that great,” said Baldwin, “but I knew I could at least be doing something and be a part of the community.”

Wondering how the rest of his crew felt, he decided to go around and ask his coworkers why they joined the fire department.

“Only one guy said he did it to help the community,” said Baldwin. “I knew we needed to be a part of this community.”

The first thing he did after the deployment where he met Morsch was research Grandview and its people. Seeing a great need for mentorship with students, Baldwin wrote a program, which has since developed into the Lunch Buddies in Grandview elementary schools.

“It was going pretty well, but I then realized that there were a lot of kids that we saw who didn’t have food,” said Baldwin. “I did a little more research, and I found that about 70 percent of students in the Grandview School District are food insecure.”

Wanting to find a way to help the families he serves, Baldwin organized a food drive for the Grandview Assistance Program’s (GAP) Back Snack program in the spring. This led into another drive in the fall for holiday needs.

On December 1, 2018, Grandview Fire Chief Ron Graham traveled to Des Moines to witness Baldwin receive the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service medal, awarded for substantial volunteer service to the local community above and beyond the duties of the United States Armed Forces.

“I was talking with another guy at the ceremony who told me this is something he hardly ever sees awarded,” added Graham. “It was a really, really big deal. I didn’t even realize how big of a deal this was until I got up there.”

Baldwin added that it is an award he’s never seen given before. The impact to the community from Baldwin’s efforts is immeasurable, according to Graham. The number of backpacks filled, hours spent with children, and pounds to food donated can likely be calculated, but the lasting impression on the community is what Baldwin was recognized for.

“It was truly an honor to be there to see it. I was really proud of him,” said Graham. “With these programs, it can be hard to see what an impact you are having, but the guys just continue to go in and hope they’re making a difference.”

Graham said that volunteering on their own time can be a hard sell for his crew members, but once they go and they see that they are needed, they fall in love with it. He added that the community service aspect has become a part of the change in culture in the department, and he thanks Baldwin for his role and leadership to make a positive impact.

Baldwin is gone one weekend a month, or two weeks a year, for the Army Reserves. He works in a medical unit, where they are currently focusing on readiness processes for soldiers heading overseas. Back at home, and after seeing living circumstances in the community he works in, Baldwin has also begun other efforts to help GAP, including a coat drive.

“Giving back makes you feel good,” said Baldwin. “It’s good for our guys to see the good of what we’re doing, and it makes them feel good about themselves, too.”

To help Baldwin and the Grandview Fire Department with future coat or food drives, follow them on Facebook.