By Dr. Jim McIntyre, Superintendent of Knox County Schools
This month, our high schools celebrate commencements. Proud parents, grandparents, siblings and friends join principals and teachers—and your superintendent—get to witness graduating seniors cross the stage and move toward bright and promising futures. Of all of the events I participate in throughout the school year, commencement makes me perhaps the proudest.
As I watch students cross that stage, I think about their pathway through our schools. Many of these students started in the Knox County Schools as kindergartners just 13 short years ago. I feel proud of the educational enrichment we’ve provided. Today, would they say they feel prepared for their futures? Did they learn real-world skills? Do they feel ready for what lies ahead?
I believe the answers are a resounding “yes.” Yes, they are ready. Yes, they were challenged. Yes, our graduating students are prepared to succeed. This resounding “yes” is thanks in a big way to the hard work our teachers do in the classrooms every day, and National Teacher Appreciation Week, May 4-8, is the perfect time to tell your child’s teacher how much she or he means to you and your student, particularly if your student is a graduating senior. Take this time to say “Yes, you are important, and we thank you.”
Of all of the events I participate in throughout the school year, commencement makes me perhaps the proudest.
May is also the month when the Knox County Mayor and Knox County Commission take up the budget. On April 13, the Knox County Board of Education approved the 2015-2016 general fund budget ($441.5 million), capital improvement plan budget ($20.7 million) and school nutrition budget ($28 million), which completes the third step in the budgeting process. The diagram in this letter helps to illustrate the process the school system’s budget goes through before an appropriation is approved by County Commission. For details about the budget process, visit knoxschools.org. We look forward to working with our county partners in support of a 2015-2016 budget that will best meet the needs and continue the success of the students, teachers, and staff of the Knox County Schools.
This month, we continue to explore the concept of a balanced calendar. Since early February, we have solicited the community’s input about this potential restructuring of the school calendar. Parents, students, staff, and community members have had opportunities to attend dozens of school-based community information/feedback sessions, participate in a community-wide survey, peruse thorough information on our website, and share thoughts via our firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail address.
Our goal in this process was simple: Listen to the community. I thank you for engaging in this productive dialogue. We will spend the next few weeks developing a recommendation to the Board of Education based on this input. If a balanced calendar is desired by the community and approved by the Board of Education, the soonest it could be implemented would be in the 2016-2017 school year. I anticipate making a recommendation to the Board of Education by early summer.
One other important event takes place in May: The end of school! May 21 is the last day for students, and it is a half day. As we look toward to that day, we also might look back on the 2014-2015 school year and celebrate the many successes we have enjoyed. I hope you see this school year as a successful one for your student, and I want to thank you for your support of our collective goal of Excellence for Every Child.