Being the superintendent of Hays USD 489 since September 2013 has given me so many wonderful memories to take with me as I retire from Kansas. It was a difficult decision to make because I have enjoyed the community of Hays and working with exceptionally talented colleagues.
I am proud of the accomplishments the district and students have made over the past three years. There is something truly special about the students of USD 489. The students continue to perform over the state standards for academic testing. We have seen the HHS journalism team repeat in state titles, DECA competing at the national level, outstanding performances from all of the students who participate in music and visual arts programs, incredible performances from all of the USD 489 athletes, too many National Honorís Society students to mention individually, FFA placing at the national level, the HHS News Team taking home state accolades, two Hays Middle School students qualifying for the National Social Studies Bee, and a Hays Middle School student winning an international award for the Lionís Club Peace Poster Contest. This list could go on and on, but these few accomplishments attest to the talent that lives and breathes in Hays.
At the heart of the accomplishments of all of our exceptional students lies the heart and soul of USD 489, the staff. Whether it is the amazing teachers and para-educators who take the extra time to give individual attention to our students, nurses, counselors, OT/PT staff and psychologists for keeping students mentally and physically healthy, administration for providing positive leadership, clerical staff for helping the buildings run efficiently, nutrition services staff for feeding students and staff, or the transportation department for ensuring the students make it to school safely, or the hard-working custodial and maintenance staff for keeping the aging facilities in order, it is no wonder our students are so successful. Every staff member in the district can take pride in knowing that they individually make a difference for all of our students.
It has been my pleasure to participate in the Hays Rotary Club and the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce. Our local organizations are a great part of what makes Hays such a great place to live. The next superintendent will be lucky to be a part of this wonderful community.
As I reflect on all of the positive things that have happened during the past three years, I am thankful for the opportunity to see the bond issue election through on June 7. The Facility Needs Committee, bond issue campaign volunteers, board of education and countless staff members have toiled to provide the plan for continued success in all of our USD 489 schools. With facilities that have survived for 90-plus years, the youngest being Hays High School, now 37 years old, it is hard to not notice the bond issue would allow the district to thrive for the next 30 to 40 years.
?We currently only have one school in the district with an engineered storm shelter at Hays Middle School. Safe and secure entrances do not exist at any of our buildings. Due to budget constraints, the district has not been able to keep up with deferred maintenance.
As I ready to move into my next chapter in life, I can think of no greater legacy than to have these improvements addressed in all of our Hays USD 489 schools. Early voting for the bond issue election begins May 19 and will run through June 6 at noon. You can contact the Ellis County Clerkís Office at (785) 628-9410 or visit 718 Main in Hays to request the option to vote early. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 7. Voters who reside in the Hays city limits will vote at the American Legion, 1305 Canterbury. District voters who reside outside of city limits will vote at St. Nicholas of Myra Parish, 2901 E. 13th. Hays City voters will vote on the following questions:
1.) $85,135,000 for deferred maintenance, construction of storm shelters at all schools (excluding Hays Middle School), installation of safe and secure entrances, and renovations/additions to district facilities.
2.) $8,900,000 for the construction of gymnasiums at Hays Middle School and Hays High School.
3.) A half cent city sales tax that would be in place for 10 years that would start at the sunset of the current county half-cent sales tax set to expire in 2018. This sales tax would help pay for the bond issue and reduce the impact on the mill levy.
District voters residing outside of city limits will vote for questions 1 and 2.
Please be sure to vote early or on June 7. The future of Hays rests in your decision. Please consider the safety and security of all of the Hays students when you vote.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your superintendent of schools for the past three years. There is no other job I have enjoyed more than Hays. I wish all of the staff and board well and am confident Hays will continue to achieve well and set a positive example for all school districts in Kansas.
Superintendent Dean Katt is retiring from Hays USD 489.