Geary County Schools USD 475 plans to highlight its strategic plan at a rescheduled 2022 State of Education address.

Superintendent Dr. Reginald Eggleston joined KMAN’s In Focus Friday, discussing numerous topics including the address. That event is now planned for March 22nd at 7 p.m. at the Junction City High School auditorium after being postponed due to the prevalence of COVID-19 in the local community.

“It does give us an opportunity to talk about everything that has transpired over the past 12 months,” Eggleston says, including the approval of the five-year strategic plan by the USD 475 Board of Education in 2021.

“That’s been the driving factor for our behavior,” says Eggleston. “It sets all of the goals and action steps that we will use to accomplish those goals.”

Further, Eggleston says they’ll take the opportunity to highlight teachers’ and students’ ‘remarkable’ successes throughout the year.

Prior to that address, though, USD 475 will see the official groundbreaking for the new Fort Riley Elementary School take place on March 4 at 1 p.m. State, local and military leaders will speak about the first steps on the 81,000 square foot school, planned to be built where Jefferson Elementary School once was at 4720 Leonard Avenue.

“We’re very excited about that,” Eggleston says. “It gives us a chance to upgrade facilities on post and continue serving our men and women in uniform and their children, their families.”

Eggleston says the school was built thanks to a grant via the federal government and will have the capacity to accommodate 390 students from Pre-K through Fifth grade. He calls the location of a public school district on a military post ‘unique,’ but a great partnership.

“The leadership of Fort Riley works very closely with us,” says Eggleston. “On my Board of Education, I actually have two service members who serve as advisors — the garrison commander and the command sergeant major are on our Board of Education.

“They’re not voting members, but they provide insight to activities, events that are occurring with military families.”

Eggleston says with 50 percent of USD 475 students being from military-related families, their voice at the table provides much needed help.

Eggleston also provided KMAN with an update on the district’s community partnership meetings. He says the district has already conducted a couple similar meetings, with the next one planned to center on parental engagement activities — one of the categories of allowable uses for recent federal COVID relief grants awarded to schools.

“We have put a lot of time and investment in trying to create ways to engage parents and make them part of the conversation,” says Eggleston. “Part of the solution when it comes to challenges that we are all facing.”

Additionally, he says USD 475 has created a parent engagement committee to help in the fostering of a ’21st century parent engagement program.’

“Parents need to have good relationships, trusted relationships with their teachers and administrators,” he says. “So we’ve been really encouraging that from a district level.”

That upcoming meeting is planned for March 28 at 5:30 p.m. in Junction City Middle School, with the final meeting of the series planned to focus on recruiting and retention — a goal for improvement in the district’s new strategic plan.

“We’re all recruiters, we’re all ambassadors for the district and we need to promote our school district and we need to recruit individuals who want to be part of our team,” Eggleston says. “I think if it’s a unified, joint effort, I believe we’ll be able to recruit good people and maintain those individuals in our school district.”

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