Two Days Under Our Belt — Resiliency Abounds
I’d like to publicly thank our staff members, parents, and students for their resiliency as we’ve begun the school year with so many improvement projects still underway. Every step forward, it seems, has also been made with a half step backwards as another issue emerges. When working on the drainage project out back, for example, workers hit one of the tubes for the geothermal heating and air conditioning system for the media center and a classroom. Yet unexplained, however, there doesn’t appear to have been enough liquid in the tube to operate well in the long term, which may be related to why the geothermal pumps are giving us fits.
Even prior to this issue with the geothermal line, however, we were prepared to spend nearly $7,000 on various heating related issues. These expenses serve as a reminder that replacing the boiler last summer was only phase one of a complete three phase HVAC plan that will resolve nearly all of the heating pipes issues within the building AND provide efficient heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. We are practically “shovel ready” for this project, and we are thankful for the Gala supporters and OLV Foundation who have contributed toward the funding needed for our HVAC project.
We would also like to thank everyone for your flexibility while the Sturdevant drive is unavailable due to the drainage project. As you experienced on Friday morning during the rain at drop off times, having many drives available makes everything run so much smoother. That’s one reason why our campus safety recommendations included having all of the drives open for drop off and pick up times and for funerals. The drainage project should be completed within about a week.
Actual Bus Times Greatly Improved
We hope to see the actual bus times continue to improve. On Friday, our last arriving bus in the morning was only about five minutes late while one bus (a different one than Friday) was nearly 20 minutes late to JFK on Thursday. There are still some issues in the afternoon, and, although improvements were made, the improvements were not nearly as great. However, we think we’ve identified a transfer issue with Assumption that is delaying a bus from arriving at JFK on time and holding up several other buses from leaving. On Friday, our latest departing bus left 14 minutes AFTER the first student was supposed to have been dropped off at home!
Morning Drop Off and Breakfast:
As in the past, regular supervision on the blacktop will begin 15 minutes before school begins: 7:10 a.m. If the weather is inclement, students will be let into the building and wait in designated areas until classes begin.
Students who ride the bus will be allowed to enter the building and wait in the cafeteria until 7:10, when they will join their other arriving classmates either on the blacktop or in other supervised locations. Our buses were supposed to arrive on campus between 7:04 – 7:06, but we haven’t seen them this early yet.
New this year is a light breakfast program. Students arriving between 7:00 and 7:10 may purchase a light breakfast of a fruit, milk, and cereal, bagel, muffin, or the like in the cafeteria. Cost of breakfast is $1.50 and will be deducted from the funds in a student’s lunch account. Although the time for purchasing breakfast is only ten minutes, students can remain in the cafeteria and finish eating until classes begin. This new breakfast program is intended to be a service for those early morning bus riders who may be dropped off before 7:10 and those who may have used our previously paid for before school care program. Other students may also take advantage of the program by arriving before 7:10. There may be some adjustments to the breakfast program as we see how it progresses. We have four eaters on Friday, and no eaters on Thursday.
Work on campus safety projects continues. Cameras are being installed, and the wiring may be finished this week. I anticipate the system being operational within two weeks. Security cameras can help staff monitor the entire campus, serve as a deterrent, provide an early warning to potential suspicious or dangerous situations, be used by first responders should an event be in progress, and help with after the fact investigations. We received a Scott County Regional Authority grant for this project. We will soon have approximately 22 cameras covering the outside of the school, the main church entry, and several large common areas/hallways within the school.
We are waiting for Lovewell Fencing to install the additional gates, bollards, and basketball hoops to complete the work on the parking lot. Phase III, when funded, will create a new visitor and handicapped parking area off of 42nd Street level with the office entrances.
Sad to See Tree Go – What Will Replace It?
To make way for the drainage project behind the school, a large tree had to be removed. What might we do instead when the final grading is done in the spring? A rosary garden? Butterfly garden? Let’s think about how we might utilize the land with which we have been blessed. Send me your ideas!
Not Too Many Dress Code Issues
I didn’t notice too many dress code issues during our first two days. About the only thing I noticed that needs a larger community reminder is that while the board approved logos for socks, it limited logos on all attire to one per item. Each sock can only have one logo.
Please read the parent and student handbook, available HERE, and on our website: https://www.olvjfk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Parent-Handbook-2018-19.pdf. Then, print off the last page, sign it, and return it to the school office — one per family. Thank you for helping us to reduce our printing costs.
Parish Picnic and Outdoor Mass
September 15th — Outdoor Mass at 4:30
Picnic following: bounce houses, Iowa/UNI game available, huge pork tenderloins
Price: $1 and a dish to share. Please bring a serving utensil and mark all dishes and utensils with your name for return.
Last name ending in: A – H bring Salads
I – P bring Desserts
Q – Z bring Vegetables
Principal’s Post Availability
Principal’s Posts are written each weekend and posted on our website, available off the front page. I also send a link via email and post it to the school’s Facebook account. It then gets sent home via hard copy via “backpack mail” with the “youngest or only child” in a family at the beginning of each week. I use the Principal’s Post to reach the whole school community and sometimes highlight happenings in particular grades. It does not replace the many communications you will receive from your children’s teachers.
We also utilize a JFK Facebook page, and there is a closed Facebook group, JFK Moms & Dads, where people can post to others in the group. JFK’s Facebook page can be accessed from the front page of our website as well. Make sure you “like” us there! Highlighted Events and Headlines on our website also tend to be updated each weekend.
An Update About Me and My Family
I am beginning my 18th year as principal at JFK. Each year brings new challenges and has its own excitement. Prior to coming to JFK, I worked for ten years at Assumption High School where I taught religion and worked in student services for one year. I grew up in South Milwaukee, WI, and attended Marquette University for my bachelor’s degree in sociology and theology. I received a master’s degree in religion from the University of Chicago, and my master’s degree in education administration is from Western Illinois University. My superintendent’s certificate work was done through the University of Northern Iowa.
Lynn and I have been married for 23 years. She holds two degrees from St. Ambrose and one from Drake University. Together, we are cash poor but education rich! Lynn has worked in a variety of roles at Assumption High School, where we met. She is also a graduate of Assumption and St. Paul’s.
Our four children continue to scatter. Our oldest, Colleen, moved to North Carolina this past year, and she works at the Y. She has degrees from Ashford University and the University of Dubuque. Tom moved to Cedar Rapids during the winter. He manages three mattress stores in Cedar Rapids, Cedar Falls, and Waterloo. He has an associates degree from Des Moines Area Community College. Kirsten is in her last semester at St. Ambrose and doing her student teaching at Lourdes this fall. She is planning on graduating in December and looking for a teaching position in the Des Moines area. Caitlin is in her second year at the University of Kansas. I can’t say it’s her “sophomore” year really as she already had 34 college credits when she graduated from Assumption, and she’s in a program that combines both undergraduate and graduate level work so she can finish with a law degree in six years rather than the normal seven.
The end of summer hit Lynn and me the other weekend at Mass. Lynn and I were there without any of our children and without upcoming plans for any of them to be around for any more special summer activities. It was kind of depressing. We better start planning some fall activities, or at least start working on Thanksgiving plans!