Category Archives: Superintendent’s Weekly Update

State Superintendent Jillian Balow sends an update to school district superintendents at the end of every week so they can see the memos which will be sent out the following week and highlight statewide education work.

COVID-19 Guidance Updates

Dear Superintendents,

Wyoming was approved to receive a federal waiver that will provide relief from certain accountability and assessment requirements under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), including the spring assessment of the WY-TOPP. I recognize that there are many unanswered questions at this time. We are evaluating the impacts of the waiver and issue guidance to Wyoming school districts as soon as possible.

Memos:

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Special Update from Superintendent Balow

Thank you for your time on the conference call this morning with me, Governor Gordon, Dr. Alexia Harrist and my staff from the WDE talking through issues associated with school closures. In light of the various questions please read carefully the memos below. Thank you again for your commitment to keeping students and staff safe with preparation and prevention.

Memos to be released:

  • 2020-040:   Temporary K-12 Block Grant Guidance
  • 2020-041:   COVID-19 Guidance Updates

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WDE Launches Its COVID-19 Resources Website

Dear Superintendents,

As conditions changes rapidly, the WDE will update the website, communicate with superintendents and others, and provide support to school districts. I urge you to use full capacity of resources in your school and community to make proper decisions. It is also imperative that your deliberations on school closures are done in consultation with the Wyoming Department of Health. They will be following the Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidance that was sent out earlier today and exists on WDE’s online repository. Please find the Temporary School Closure Form on our website.

This update and memo is being sent to all subscribers with links:

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Infographic from CDC–Guidance for School Settings. Click on image to go to guidance.

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My Statement on COVID-19

Dear Superintendents,

The following memos have been released:

  • 2020-035:   2020 WAVE Call for Proposals
  • 2020-036:   2020-2022 TANF Grant Request for Applications
  • 2020-037:   Literacy Needs Assessment Survey

I released the following short statement on COVID-19 on Tuesday, March 3:

https://edu.wyoming.gov/blog/2020/03/03/state-superintendent-of-public-instruction-jillian-balows-statement-on-the-covid-19-virus/

Members of the WDE staff and I will continue to update school personnel. Every school and community in Wyoming is equipped with the expertise to maximally prevent and mitigate COVID-19. Please continue to work with local and state health entities, nurses, transportation officials, custodians, and others as you ensure best prevention practices and consider school closure scenarios.

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Molly Matthaei of Jackson, a culinary arts instructor at Jackson Hole High School and Summit Innovations School, will be featured on The Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship, Season 6. The show premiers at 7 p.m. MST on March 9.

CTE

WDE CTE Supervisor Dr. Michelle Aldrich is in Sheridan for Sheridan College’s Demo Day. This free event gives high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to experience career and technical programs firsthand, with a tour of the Technical Education Center, student and faculty demonstrations, and hands-on activities in welding, diesel technology, machining, construction, computer sciences and culinary arts.

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The Fight Against the Coronavirus in Wyoming

Dear Superintendents,

As of writing this update, Coronavirus has spread to at least 50 countries. In Wyoming, state agency leaders, including myself, are meeting to receive updates, develop response plans, and provide guidance.

Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has detailed information about the Coronavirus, including a page with information specific to schools and communities. At this time, much of the information available is about prevention, including distancing measures and good hygiene practices.

Also, the AASA, the School Superintendents Association, is working closely with the CDC and has information on preventative strategies for districts on their website.

I will share additional resources as they become available.

THE WEEK IN PHOTOS:

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District teachers of the year and their principals from across Wyoming gathered for the inaugural meeting of the WDE’s new leadership program – called Level Up – that seeks to elevate Wyoming’s education professionals by providing leadership development to an annual cohort of Wyoming’s leading educators. Upon completion of this program, these educators will be better prepared to tackle the daily challenges of providing an exceptional education to Wyoming students as well as become leaders in their community.

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Wyoming First Lady Jennie Gordon, along with WDE Nutrition Supervisor Tamra Jackson, explained the benefits of starting a Breakfast After the Bell program at schools to the 2020 class of Level Up educational leadership members. Students who get breakfast miss fewer days of school and are more likely to graduate high school.

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Bill Hardesty, Troops to Teachers Wyoming’s representative, met with Superintendent Jillian Balow Wednesday about the national organization. Troops to Teachers was established in 1993 to assist transitioning Service members and veterans in beginning new careers as K-12 school teachers in public, charter, and Bureau of Indian Affairs schools. While at the Capitol, Hardesty was fortunate to meet Wyoming Service members.

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Wyoming’s Teacher of the Year, Dane Weaver, gave an inspirational speech to the Wyoming Senate.

Memos to be released on Monday, March 2:

  • 2020-030:   CTE Demonstration Project Grant:Request for Engagement Due June 1, 2020
  • 2020-031:   English Proficient Definition for ALT ACCESS
  • 2020-032:   Call for Educators – WY-TOPP Science and Math PLD Educator Panels
  • 2020-033:   2020 Student Voices Award Applications Due March 20
  • 2020-034:   Call for Proposals: 2020 Wyoming Innovations in Learning Conference

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Wyoming Teacher of the Year Nominations Open

Dear Superintendents,

What a great Random Acts of Kindness Week! Thank you for sending stories and photos – we loved sharing them on social media.

On Thursday, Governor Gordon signed a proclamation recognizing February as Career and Technical Education (CTE) month. The room was full for the signing – students, teachers, government leaders, employers, and others spoke about the impact of CTE.

Coming up this week 24:

In the fall, we announced Level Up, an educator leader initiative, and we are excited to launch cohort #1 in Cheyenne. Participants will network with elected officials and other leaders while engaging in leadership training and professional development. Many of the cohort #1 participants are 2020 district teachers of the year. Memo 2020-028 (below) is the application for 2021 district teachers of the year. We would love to see every school district participate!

Also, the University of Wyoming announced three finalists for president. The finalists will visit the Laramie and Casper campuses beginning February 24. There are opportunities to interact with the candidates virtually and in-person. All forums will be live-streamed and there are links to give comments about candidates before and during the interview process. Wyoming’s student and educator voices are particularly important. Here is a link to information about the candidates, the interview process, and how to participate:

http://www.uwyo.edu/uw/news/2020/02/uw-trustees-to-consider-three-finalists-for-presidency.html

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CTE students, business and industry leaders, government leaders, and teachers speak about the importance of CTE at the governor’s proclamation signing.

Student Safety and Security

While SF79 (threat assessment best practices in schools) moves through the Wyoming Legislature, the U.S. Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Justice met with families from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting at the White House and launched SchoolSafety.gov.

The website has resources for K-12 education administrators, educators, parents, and law enforcement to prepare for and address various threats related to safety, security, and support in schools. 

  • School Safety Readiness Tool, an assessment that assists users in evaluating their school’s posture across 10 foundational elements of school safety (after completing the assessment, users are presented an action plan with task prioritization, options for consideration, aligned resources, and grant opportunities specific to individual needs);
  • secure information sharing platform for designated school personnel to share school safety ideas, practices, plans, and tactics in a protected environment; and
  • best practices and resources on key school safety topics to assist with building awareness within the community to promote vigilance and develop capacity to respond to incidents.

 

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The choir from Afton-Star Valley sang the national anthem and other songs to open the week. They sounded beautiful. Also picured, Representative Simpson.

Memos to be released on Monday, February 24:

  • 2020-025:  Call for Presenters for 2020 Native American Education Conference
  • 2020-026:  Preliminary 2020-21 ESSA Consolidated Grant Allocations
  • 2020-027:  Families Urged to Participate in the 2020 Census
  • 2020-028:  2021 Wyoming Teacher of the Year Application
  • 2020-029:  2020 WY School District Technology Directors Conference

 

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The Legislative Session Kicked Off This Week

Dear Superintendents,

The legislative session kicked off last week. Here is a link to Governor Gordon’s State of the State Address:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKUrbgfoEYI#action=share

Since this is a 20-day budget session, bills need two-thirds vote to be introduced and the work moves swiftly. In addition to the budget bill, there are a handful of education bills–some of which have been introduced. Here are a few:

HB40 – Select Committee on Recalibration- By law, Wyoming re-examines education funding every five years. We rightfully invest a lot into our K-12 system and we also need to take the time to ensure that the system we are investing in provides our students with the best probability of success in school and beyond. With our funding situation and the realization that we haven’t made any substantial changes to the core content of our basket of goods, other than computer science, since the mid-1990s, it is time to rethink what we ask of school districts in law. I am advocating for a recalibration of costs and an examination of the basket of goods.

HB119 – Medicaid claims in schools. We are the only state in the country that ignores this revenue stream and it is the only proposed cost-saving measure that would not cut services for students. Over the past year, the WDE and Dept. of Health have studied the best way to implement Medicaid reimbursement for school-based services with minimal administrative burden on school districts. This bill is in line with those recommendations.

SF79 – Student safety and school security. In 2019 I supported a school safety and security bill that did not make it over the finish line. SF79 helps Wyoming accomplish the goal of every school and district having a threat assessment protocol in place. The bill has been pared down to allow enough flexibility for districts and has been vetted by a stakeholder group of superintendents from small, medium, and large school districts.

SJ1 – Firearm and hunter education elective in high schools. This is an issue near and dear to my heart as an avid hunter who learned hunter safety in PE class.

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FCCLA members Gracelyn Troxell and Sophia DeMatteo from East High in Cheyenne, along with advisers Maureen Eldridge and Jessica Gerwig, came to the WDE to help give teammates a better understanding of the national Career and Technical Student Organization. FCCLA offers intra-curricular resources and opportunities for students to pursue careers that support families.


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Wyoming’s Teacher of the Year, Dane Weaver, is on the Google Campus attending induction with other teachers of the year.

Memos to be released on Tuesday, February 18:

  • 2020-021:   March 2020 WDE684 Data Collection Window and Training
  • 2020-022:   CTE Construction Trades Sector Connector March 25
  • 2020-023:   2020-21 Virtual Education Program Information
  • 2020-024:   WAPSD Public Meeting Set For March 17

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