The 2019-20 school year is off to a great start at Mexico School District No. 59. We are entering the year with excitement and optimism. There are a few big changes that bring reason for enthusiasm for the students of our community. The biggest change, of course, is the reconfiguration of McMillan Elementary School, from one of the district’s K-5 elementary schools, to the newly expanded McMillan Early Learning Center, which houses the preschool and all the district kindergarten students. The transition has provided the district capacity to serve an additional sixty preschool students up from 120 students last school year to right at 180 students this year. McMillan is under the leadership of principal, Dr. Anne Billington, who brings a wealth of experience to our district as a teacher and administrator. The change also affects Eugene Field Elementary and Hawthorne Elementary Schools. They now service the district’s first through fifth grade students in two similarly-sized elementary schools with the railroad tracks as the dividing line between the two. Students north of the rails attend Hawthorne and those on the south side attend Eugene Field. The district will continually monitor the impact the change has made on enrollment and district operations to ensure that we are providing the most efficient and effective education for the patrons of this community.
The other big change from previous years is the new 1:1 program at Mexico High School. During the first week of school, over 700 Chromebook computers were distributed to students. Each student was assigned their own laptop-style computer to use during their time at MHS. Students have use of this device both during the school day as well as at home for educational purposes. This is a program that the district has developed and considered for a number of years. Students will be provided the same device throughout their time at MHS as an incentive to treat their device with care. During the past seven plus years, the district has steadily strengthened the backbone of our technology infrastructure to provide the capacity to support the district’s 1:1 aspirations. Through the diligent work and resource allocation of previous district administration, and the outstanding effort by our current technology staff lead by Dana Hunt, the district is able to launch this initiative with the confidence that it will be supported with sufficient wifi coverage and bandwidth.
As we look forward to this current school year, we also look back at the class of 2019, who achieved the highest graduation rate of any MHS class in recent memory. The class of 2019 achieved a four-year graduation rate greater than 90%, which is a tribute to the efforts of the students, families, teachers, counselors, principals, and others who partnered to find a successful completion of high school. As the superintendent, and previously the Assistant Superintendent of Mexico Public Schools, this measure was always a source of concern. I have always felt that we should expect no less than 90% of students to successfully complete high school; in fact, I hope for a day when every student achieves that end. This is a monumental moment in our journey towards every student receiving a diploma. There is a great deal of work to do, and we have to acknowledge that one piece of data does not suggest a trend, but I am excited and optimistic for the future. The faculty, staff, administration, and Board of Education will continually strive for improvement of this school system in partnership with the community who supports us so well. Have a great school year!
Dr. Zach Templeton is superintendent of Mexico School District No. 59.