Superintendent Kenny Rodrequez touts “unity of purpose,” district-wide improvements as GVC-4 aims to be “Future Ready”
By Tyler Schneider
After a five-year hiatus, the Grandview C-4 School District revived its “State of Education” luncheon on March 30 with a central phrase: “Unity of Purpose.”
It is from that foundation, superintendent Dr. Kenny Rodrequez told the audience of several dozen administrators, school board members, and Grandview city officials in the Grandview High School library that day, through which the district plans to approach its primary goal of “preparing all students to be future-ready.”
“Are we all focused on the same thing at the same time? How do we make sure that’s the case? When you break it down more, it really comes down to common goals, positive leadership, effective communication, and manifesting of positive accomplishments through coordinated efforts,” Rodrequez said.
A major objective for the district in the last couple of years, Rodrequez explained, has been in efforts to rebrand itself. Starting with this current school year, GVC-4 has standardized its Bulldog logo across all nine schools and updated its official Vision, Mission, and Commitments to reflect its “Future Ready” campaign.
“I actually went back to yearbooks from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. I looked at some from each one of those decades, and in every single one of them I found at least three different Bulldog logos. So this is not a new problem,” Rodrequez said. “Again, we’re talking about ‘unity of purpose’. We’re talking about everybody being a Bulldog for the very first time since our district incorporated in 1914.”
More tangible changes are coming or already underway thanks to the district’s no-tax increase $45 million bond issue and $0.60 cent property tax levy, both of which were approved by voters in the 2021 municipal elections.
“We already have a lot of pride, but I don’t know if our facilities have always fully reflected that,” Rodrequez said. “We go back to 2019, and upgrading our stadium was one of our biggest ways of saying, ‘hey, this is what is possible for our community’.”
With the passage of that $45 million bond—on which specific details and updates can be found here—those possibilities expanded exponentially.
The list of projects to be funded from this sum includes district-wide parking-lot resurfacing and security system updates, athletic facility improvements, new window installations at Grandview Middle School and Meadowmere Elementary, and other miscellaneous repairs on HVAC, roofing, flooring, and more.
“I don’t like that there could be one opportunity for one kid at one school and not have that same opportunity available for another, so we were very cognizant about going through and needing to upgrade every single playground in our district,” Rodrequez said.
Butcher-Greene Elementary, the first to have its recess spaces upgraded, will serve as the prototype, followed by High Grove Early Childhood Center, and so on through each of the remaining buildings.
“Another one of the biggest ticket items for us was creating a new gymnasium for Martin City [K-8],” Rodrequez said. “That was probably one of the first five things I heard about from the moment I walked into the district. The group has had one gym that they actually have to share between the middle school and elementary students, and it has been a major problem for many years.”
At the high school, a number of more immediate improvements to the athletic facilities include a revamped football locker room space and updated visitor-side bleachers. Rodrequez joked that although he’d heard several say they didn’t care for the comfort of the visiting team, that the latter project would ensure the district could meet the requirements to host events and postseason games and meets that would also greatly benefit the students and community.
In the earlier stages of development is a major cafeteria upgrade, for which early concepts and mock-up images were included in the accompanying slide presentation.
“It is another one of those areas that we’ve been talking about for a long time,” Rodrequez said of the cafeteria plans. “It’s such a large project and that’s why we need to take the time to look at how we can really do what we want to do with this space and then do it the right way.”
As with the athletics facility outside, a modernized cafeteria would meet evolving student needs while also providing much-needed hosting space for meetings, banquets, and the like.
Rodrequez also mentioned that the district is looking into updating their student industrial tech space, located at GVHS and last modified in 2014. The previous sponsorship by Honeywell will continue through this transition.
“A lot has changed since then. It’s actually maybe even more important that we do it now than it was in 2014,” Rodrequez said. “We have an amazing partner in Honeywell, who are working with us to ensure what instrumentation and what items need to be in there to make sure that our students are ready for the future.”
In the more immediate future, the district-wide security upgrades at every facility will be completed “by the end of the month,” according to Rodrequez. The video surveillance system that has already been established at Grandview High School will be the same one implemented across the board. Additionally, the district is planning to establish a keycard access program, whereas staff will have access to doors relevant to their daily schedules.
As for the $0.60 cent property tax levy, the first such increase in 17 years, the district will use these funds to continue to attract and retain high level staff and educators. Rodrequez added that the district maintains its goal of ranking in the top third of KC area schools in teacher compensation. With this already accomplished, the next step would be to consistently fall within the top-five overall schools in the region.
Finally, as equipping students with “market value assets” they can use post-graduation continues to be a talking point amongst the GVC-4 leadership, the administration invited seniors Alexia Jaime and Israel Nelson, and 2022 graduate Rachel Franklin up front to speak about their own experiences with district-guided opportunities such as college prep, internships, and trade program partnerships.
Jaime, who was able to shadow several physicians and is currently enrolled in an EMT program, will attend UMKC and enroll in pre-med with the goal of eventually becoming a trauma surgeon. Nelson, who has spent the past two years as an intern in the Oracle/Cerner “Pathway to Tech” program, will attend the University of Kansas to study computer science. Franklin took part in a number of career exploration events and was offered a job from her company after working as an intern during her senior year.
Earlier in the day, Grandview High School students from the new student news and media program, “Bulldog TV” gave a live reading to the audience. The program looks to continue to expand and offer additional career readiness experiences in video editing, news writing, and a bevy of related fields. As the students introduced themselves and went on into their respective segments, a feeling of palpable excitement could be heard in each of their “on-air” voices.
“You know today is really about the future of our school district, and I think this is just the beginning,” Rodrequez said as the luncheon came to a close. “I’m just excited for the kids.”