Last week, we were excited to welcome back our students and staff for the 2018-19 school year! While the excitement of the new school year is here, summer was a busy time for all of us in the South Washington County School District. Our staff participated in many professional development opportunities, which focused on preparing them for the start of the year and the implementation of new strategies and curriculum materials. Our support staff were also busy completing projects that can only be undertaken when our schools are empty.
The month of May ushers in a number of end of the year celebrations that highlight and honor the achievements of our students. At the high school level, these celebrations culminate with our graduation ceremonies on June 3. We have so much to be proud of in our district. Our students distinguish themselves academically, athletically, artistically and socially, through their selfless community service. They also distinguish themselves personally through their kindness toward others and their willingness to make our schools a positive place for all to enjoy and learn.
This month we celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. If Dr. King were alive today he would be 89 years old.
As we near the end of 2017, we reflect on what has brought us to today and look forward to all that lies ahead. For us at South Washington County Schools, that forward thinking centers on our students, their futures and the variety of options that lay before them. We want our students to be career and college ready. We work hard to ensure our students are prepared for college, technical school, the military or the workforce. My dad was a machinist.
On Nov. 7 our community will be asked to cast their vote on three referendum questions. Like 99 percent of school districts across Minnesota, we are funded, in part, by levies approved by our community. These questions will help us to maintain the excellent educational opportunities we provide for our students, and ensure we regain and maintain a system of strong financial health. We have worked hard to inform voters of the details of the referendum through community conversations, e-mails and a newsletter that went to every household in our school district.
On my way home from work recently, I stopped at a store to pick up a few items. As I checked out, I was struck by the cost of the items. Grocery expenses are just part of the monthly bills that increase each year and make it more difficult for families to manage the household budget. We all continue to experience the increased cost of our necessities and monthly bills. As a school district, we face the same challenges as our costs of educating students and maintaining schools and facilities continue to rise.
As the summer vacation winds down for our students, the excitement of a new year comes, in part, from the opportunity for students to rekindle friendships and meet new friends. We know the social aspect of school can sometimes overshadow the academic focus, but we falsely assume the importance of friends is a common characteristic of immaturity, and something we put behind ourselves when we become adults. Certainly, we learn to overcome the desire to be popular as a status symbol.
As we quickly move toward the completion of another school year and we prepare to say goodbye to our graduating class, I have been thinking about the journey we all have taken in our educational careers but also in life.
As part of our strategic plan to enhance our climate and culture, new this year is the acknowledgement of a select group of our workforce of more than 3,500 full- and part-time employees.
We appreciate the love and commitment our families have for their children. We appreciate the support of the community who helps us through our efforts. Together we can succeed in areas where alone we may not.