The Kansas commissioner of education wants to know what USD 443 teachers are thinking, and she's coming to Dodge City to find out for herself.


   The Kansas commissioner of education wants to know what USD 443 teachers are thinking, and she's coming to Dodge City to find out for herself.
    The entire state board of education will accompany Alexa Posney during her April 14 and 15 visit. During the visit, the state board will conduct its regular meeting, tour USD 443 schools and have dinner with Dodge City administrators, school board members, teachers and staff.
    USD 443 Superintendent Alan Cunningham has passed on an invitation from Posney to all district teachers saying the commissioner plans to host a special closed meeting with all certified staff, during which she hopes to get as much feedback as possible.
    Cunningham announced the state board's visit Monday during the regular meeting of the regular meeting of the Dodge City school board. The state board rarely conducts its meetings in southwestern Kansas, and Dodge City plans to make the most of this opportunity.
    "We'll have an hour to present our district, and we'll give them a comprehensive overview of who we are," Cunningham told the board. "The state board wants to know about us, about our particular needs, and our strengths and achievements as well."
    Cunningham said he has prepared a presentation that he hopes will show Posney and the state board the various ways in which the district has vigorously responded to dramatic changes in its demographics.
    He said he plans to discuss the impact of diverse language and cultures, socio-economic factors, educating the children of migrant workers, overcoming the effects of geographic isolation, 21st-century technology and career preparation, and significant extensions of the regular school day geared to prevent at-risk children from falling through the cracks.
    And that's just a partial list.
    Cunningham plans to use up the entire hour allotted to him by the state board because he wants to make sure when the members leave, they don't forget about Dodge City.
    "Unless there's a turn-around in the economy and our funding situation changes, in just two years we won't be at the edge of a cliff — we'll be falling off a cliff," Cunningham said. "I'm not talking about adding any programs or services — I'm talking about just maintaining the level of service we provide now. We simply won't be able to do it."

    Reach Claire O'Brien at (620) 408-9931 or e-mail her at claire.obrien@dodgeglobe.com.