Believe in Buffalo
We are nearing the end of the 2017-2018 school year for the Dallas County R-I School District. We have had many great accomplishments and have several upcoming challenges in the district and in our community. At this point the district and community have an enormous amount of potential for further successes.
The Growth in Rural Ozarks (GRO) committee in Dallas County (Buffalo) has been working with business leaders along with Dallas County, the City of Buffalo, and the School District. One of our recent decisions has been to create a slogan to help pull the entire community together. The slogan for the GRO committee is “Believe in Buffalo”. With our recent growth in businesses and improvements in the School District we certainly have something to “Believe” in. The Dallas County R-I School District is certainly part of this movement. We, as a community, in Dallas County and the school system have made great strides in the past three years to give this community more to “Believe” in. It is impossible to deny our improvements with regards to the strengthening of the city, county, and district relationships, new businesses coming to Buffalo, and the improvements in the schools.
I have been concerned when I have seen or heard of those in our community who do not believe in the potential of the community and the school district. Believing in ourselves and the potential we hold is key in our ability to be successful in the future. I firmly hold the belief that we are a great community and school district, but we all need to work together and believe in ourselves. The failure to believe in ourselves can only hold us back from greatness.
The Dallas County R-I School District recently conducted a survey regarding possible building improvements. In that survey, it was evident that many of our patrons are unaware of improvements we have made in the past three years. In the survey, there were concerns listed regarding our academic achievement and our district technology. For the last two years we have worked with staff to develop an aligned curriculum and local assessments that prepare our students for state and national tests. This work has caused us to greatly improve our state assessments and our ACT scores this past year. This improvement will only continue over the next several years. We have spent over $1.2 million on technology improvements in the last three years. This process began with updating our servers and our wiring district wide in 2016. Last year we fully updated our wireless system in the district to have the capacity of students having devices. Just this past month we approved the lease of 1750 devices district wide so each student grades 2-12 will have their own device to use and students in kindergarten and first grade will have a set of devices for every other classroom that will be shared. This technology upgrade will allow our students to access our online learning management system (Canvas) where the redesigned curriculum is housed. Improvements such as these have been shown to even further improve student achievement.
Finally, we have worked diligently to improve our facilities over the last three years. We refaced the exterior of Buffalo High School and we relocated our maintenance department, transportation department, special services department, and central office to a new district office on Ash Street. This movement of these departments has allowed us to add an alternative school to the district in the old Central Office building, and the movement of the transportation department will allow us to build a regulation track next year on the current site. One project that the district cannot undertake without the financial support of our patrons is the building of a new Dallas County Technical Center/Agriculture facility on the High School campus. This project is desperately needed to move our aging Technical Center from Louisburg to Buffalo. Our current Technical Center facility is in bad condition due to its age. The main building cannot be repaired or improved due to its construction. All of the interior walls of the building are covered in plaster made with asbestos and the floors are covered in asbestos tile. While the asbestos is contained and does not present any danger to students or staff at this time, it does prohibit us from being able to make repairs, improvements or modifications due to the cost of asbestos abatement. In addition, the septic and water supply systems need to be replaced and the east wall of the building is slowly separating from the building. The improvement or repair of all of these issues would be very expensive and are not possible due to the asbestos in the building. The most cost effective way to fix the current main building is to demolish it and then rebuild. When we are faced with that reality it makes more instructional and financial sense to rebuild the facility in Buffalo where more of our students will be able to take Career and Technical coursework to prepare them for trades and careers in their futures. I find it very unlikely that the current building in Louisburg will last more than 5 more years without one of these major facility issues forcing the closure of the facility. Our Career and Technical programs are far too important to us and our community to allow this to happen. We will have to ask our taxpayers to approve a bond or levy issue to fund this project. Either a levy or bond would be specifically for the project(s) defined in the ballot issue and would have an end date when the debt is paid off.
As I look at our district finances, we continue to be in a stable financial position when it comes to our operating budget. This puts the district in a good financial position where we can add a limited number of necessary positions and programs that will increase student achievement, and we can pay our staff a more competitive wage or salary as compared to other districts in our area.
In closing, I have a very positive outlook for the students, staff, and patrons as we continue to work with all stakeholders to build a bright future for the Dallas County R-I School District. We face many challenges in our future, and we have many reasons to celebrate our successes. I invite each of you to join us as we recognize student and district accomplishments and to work with us to build a positive future for our students and our community. Believe in Buffalo! Go Bison!
Tim Ryan, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Dallas County R-I School District