Contract extension in hand, superintendent looks to future
Randal Bagby has been superintendent of Lansing public schools for 19 months, and Lansing School Board members are pleased enough with his work they want him around for at least a few more years.
Last month, the board voted to extend Bagby's contract as superintendent through the 2007-08 school year.
Bagby, who has been a superintendent since 1996 in Randolph and Marysville, started his work in Lansing on July 1, 2004. He said he was attracted to the district by the quality of the schools - three of his five children would be attending them - and the proximity to Kansas City. He also was impressed by the school board, he said.
"As a superintendent, it's absolutely critical to have a good school board," he said. "What I found out is we have a board that consciously avoids micromanaging, cares for the children and has a true interest in building trust and teaming practices among faculty and staff."
Shelly Gowdy, board vice president, said she was impressed with Bagby in the beginning, and he continues to impress her.
"I think he's proven that he has very strong leadership abilities," she said. "He listens to people, he always thinks about what's best for the kids, for the district."
With the contract renewal and vote of confidence, Bagby said he would aim to continue his work of pursuing the board's goals and a few of his own.
Some board goals developed at a work session in October include enhancing relationships with teachers and with community; budgeting to include more transportation for students; creating a Web site with updates on the $23.6 million school bond projects, a new elementary school and high school auditorium; increasing technology integration at the schools; adding emphasis to teaching of reading and teaching special-needs students; and attracting and retaining qualified teachers.
A few of these goals are more finite - the bond update Web site should be up and running soon, as groundbreaking is expected for this spring, and Bagby said he hoped to provide bus service to students within the 2.5-mile radius that the Kansas Legislature excludes from its school transportation funding.
"It might be six months, it might be a year" before the extended bus service comes through, Bagby said, but his plan is to keep students from walking across Kansas Highway 7 when the new elementary school is built on West Mary Street.
Other goals are ongoing, such as improving the district's public relations and student success. Of the latter goal, Bagby said the faculty and administration must keep up with mandates such as No Child Left Behind, but also "be careful not to overlook character, ethics, technology etiquette" and other untested traits that students are expected to learn.
To improve relationships with patrons and staff, the key is to work together, Bagby said. His focus on teaming is philosophical.
"Working together, there's no limit to what we can do, what we can create," he said. "There isn't anything I can achieve at without these people."
Practically, that goal plays out by sharing more information with employees and encouraging cooperation.
"We lose a lot when the system is fractured," he said.
Bagby's own goals focus on technology. That inclination that comes from his background and his educational focus on information literacy, which he said came from learning how to collect, analyze and use data effectively. This is important for students to learn, he said, but it's also important for him to put into use.
To do so, Bagby said there were several technology-based ideas he hoped to implement.
Already he has started distributing e-packets to board members, a .PDF file of information to be presented at the next meeting, rather than paper packets. This gets information to board members more quickly, he said, in addition to saving paper. Bagby said he also hoped to put requisitions and maintenance requests online to make the processes streamlined and faster.
In addition, he intends to start a forms server, which will allow him to create surveys for employees or the community and receive feedback quickly - which is another way to involve staff and patrons in decisions.
He also plans to introduce online enrollment this spring or summer for the 2006-07 school year, he said. Enrollment days create a lot of congestion, he said, which could be solved by enrolling online. With online enrollment, Bagby said he also hopes to give patrons the opportunity to pay fees online, such as meal, activity and lab fees.
Gowdy said Bagby's technology background was a great asset to the district.
"Technology, if used correctly, is very empowering," she said. "We don't want to have it just to have it - we want to utilize it to help our kids do better."