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Rick Schmitt: Welcoming students and parents to our learning environment

Rick Schmitt
Rick Schmitt

Welcome to the 2018-19 school year!

As the summer months begin to fade, a new and promising school year is fast approaching. The Board of Education, administration and staff welcomes back all returning students and parents and sends special greetings to all new families joining Sandwich CUSD 430.

The combined communities feeding into our learning environment are great, and, of course, only as great as its commitment to its youth.

It has been a busy summer at Sandwich CUSD 430 as we prepare to welcome approximately 2,050 students on Friday, Aug. 17. If you cannot tell by the calendar that it is nearly back-to-school time, there is little doubt about it when you see what stores have on display, such as markers, pens, notebooks and clothing items.

Teachers, too, are getting ready for the new school year, setting up their classrooms. Many of our teachers, paraprofessionals and administrators were students themselves this summer, attending professional development seminars and conferences.

Summertime is when our custodial staff cleans schools and performs preventive maintenance such as changing lightbulbs and ceiling tiles, fixing desks, waxing floors, cleaning carpets and sanitizing.

The maintenance department has been overseeing numerous projects such as masonry and concrete work, electrical work, seal-coating all parking lots, refinishing gym floors and installing updated security equipment.

The technology department has been busy cleaning and updating all electronic devices and has wired all K-5 attendance centers for security cameras.

Our buses are ready to roll out, and our drivers are prepared to transport our students to and from school in a safe manner. The district upgraded its fleet by purchasing four buses and installed a new fuel system that will be shared with the city of Sandwich.

District administrators, principals, secretaries and board members spent much of their time making sure the district is focused on doing what is right for students.

The coordination of 2,050 students, more than 250 staff members and six school attendance centers does not happen by accident – and it won’t happen at all if we aren’t working together at keeping our students’ best interests a top priority.

In the end, schools are more than indicators, test results and standards. While we do embrace accountability regarding state assessment results, they are not a top priority; improving overall student achievement is our top priority.

The Board of Education, administration and staff are genuinely concerned about your student’s overall success. I want to encourage you to continue to take an active part in your student’s education. Our partnership is critical to the success of your student, and I urge you to attend school functions, communicate with your student’s teachers, and continue to talk to your student on a daily basis. Together, we can encourage all students to rise to their greatest potential.

Although we are proud of our successes, we are always looking to improve in every aspect. Prior to and throughout this school year, our school improvement plans will continue to evolve as we continue to implement the AdvancED model for school improvement. The AdvancED process is student- and data-driven and allows for the district to guide students to show growth both academically and socially.

AdvancED provides nationally recognized accreditation, the purpose of which is continuous school improvement focused on increasing student performance. To earn accreditation, schools must meet AdvancED’s high standards, be evaluated by a team of professionals from outside the school and implement a continuous process of school improvement. Accreditation is granted on a five-year term, and CUSD 430 is in year three of the cycle. Accreditation demonstrates to our students, parents and community that we are focused on raising student achievement, providing a safe and enriching learning environment, and maintaining an efficient and effective operation staffed by highly qualified educators.

In regards to school safety, last spring Campbell ACNC Consulting LLC was employed by the district and completed safety and security assessments throughout the district along with a full review of all emergency operations plans. The assessment and review was completed in two phases, and recommendations for improvement will be discussed with the safety committee and district personnel.

When returning to school, you will notice security cameras have been installed at all K-5 attendance centers. All schools are now fully equipped with security cameras. Entrance “buzz-in” systems at our K-8 buildings have been replaced with upgraded equipment.

We thank the city of Sandwich for partnering with the district to employ a full time school resource officer (SRO), Officer Brian Fasnacht. Our SRO begins his duties this month and will be visiting all schools on a weekly basis.

You may have noticed, the district has designed a new and improved webpage we hope you will find both informative and efficient. Please be sure to visit the district’s website at I hope you enjoy researching the types of information located on our webpage, such as eBulletin and building-level newsletters, and will consider ways that you can help our schools and students achieve even greater success.

Thank you for your support and commitment to quality public education. It is truly an honor and privilege to work and live within a learning community that values education.

Throughout the 2018-19 school year, may we continue to work together for the betterment of our students, our schools and our communities. Best wishes for a successful school year.

• Rick Schmitt is the superintendent of Sandwich Community Unit School District 430.

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