With the school year having recently concluded, USD 413 administrators are making the implementation of their five-year strategic plan a focal point.  

“Hopefully, we will pivot away from anything related to the pandemic, and get really hyper-focused on our strategic plan,” said USD 413 Superintendent Kellen Adams. “I’m hoping we can get the pandemic out of the way — that it’s no longer a part of our conversations. And the focus will be entirely on how are we going to implement the strategic plan.”

The plan will look to: engage all members of the community in the education process; educate and support the whole child; invest in quality infrastructure; provide engaging and creative educators; have an unconditional belief in unlimited student potential; and instill a culture that exemplifies the district’s core beliefs. 

“There is a strong focus throughout each of those (goals) on what is best for students,” Adams said. 

Adams pointed to infrastructure as being a major boon for students. 

“Quality infrastructure impacts students big-time,” he said, adding that the multi-million dollar Chanute Community Sports Complex has paid dividends. “The ability to have practices right there and being able to host events — that impacts students in the way of extracurricular activities we’re able to offer. Not everybody has those facilities.” 

Other capital projects include the imminent completion of the district’s new home office, and resurfacing of the tennis courts. The district has also approved major expenditures for an upcoming roof-repair project at Chanute Elementary School. 

Adams noted that the $180,000 project will enhance the current learning environment. In at least one CES classroom, there has been water dripping from the ceiling and possible mold exposure. 

“Kids learn best in an environment that is clean, safe and healthy,” Adams said. “Even though it is bricks and mortar, it ultimately improves the educational environment. I’m happy our board is able to make investments like that.” 

Adams said each of the strategic plan’s pillars “ultimately feed back” to the district’s “Students First” philosophy. With Adams’ second full year as superintendent nearly in the books, he’s looking ahead to a post-COVID-19 future for the district. 

“I want our district to embody a constant desire for improvement,” he said. “I want us to get in a mode of thinking where we make improvements from one month to the next. For example, our facilities keep improving. Because we’re so focused on how well we are going to maintain our infrastructure.

“Shift over to culture and climate. I’m hopeful that every month our culture and climate are a little better than they were the previous month.” 

Adams said that 2020-21 was a “trying year.”  

“You had all the normal aspects of the job, with all these extra components,” he said, referring to stringent COVID-19 protocols. “Nothing really went away, we just added to the plate. Now it’s time to make preparations for next year, as far as the budget is concerned. We have a lot of work going on during the summer that was on the previous year’s ledger.”

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