Message from the Board

Message from the Board
Posted on 05/05/2020

Dear University Academy Community,


On behalf of the Board, I hope you and yours are safe and well as Week 7 of the COVID-19 crisis continues to shape our lives and challenge our times. I am writing to provide an update from the School Board to express our unwavering confidence in the school community as everyone has risen to the challenge. This time of year is usually filled with final activities as students engage in testing, sports, performances, prom, graduation and more. It goes without saying that this year is unlike any in history. Instead we find ourselves at home, up against extraordinary circumstances, trying to keep connections to our community, school and workplace, to relatives and friends, while practicing social distancing. My heart goes out especially to the seniors- the class of 2020. You will forever be connected to the impact of COVID-19 along with millions of other seniors around the country. I have a feeling you and your peers will have the greatest impact on the future of the world.


Resilience

On March 12, when so much was unknown, University Academy remained resilient. Swift and nimble action harnessed the UA community to pivot in an incredibly difficult situation. Hats off to all of the staff, faculty and families who have had to navigate uncharted waters. You know that the steps we take individually have a great impact collectively. The health and safety of staff and UA students has been our foremost priority, while at the same time ensuring UA “classes” continue. 


I have been in regular communication with Superintendent Tony Kline and have engaged Board members when necessary throughout this time. Tony and his leadership team continue to shine in the face of uncertainty as you witnessed the unprecedented maneuver from in person to all virtual classes. In a matter of two weeks in March, 269 chrome books were purchased and distributed, a community collaborative meal distribution plan was put into motion and teachers were up and running to continue classes. I spoke with Robbyn Wahby, Executive Director of the Missouri Charter Public School Commission last week, and she gave UA high praise for pivoting so successfully, and pointed out that UA was one of the only Charter Schools with a Pandemic Guidebook in place to which much was drawn for the swift action taken. 


Perseverance

Last week, for the first time in UA history, the School Board met virtually to conduct it’s April Board meeting as scheduled. It was reassuring to hear from all of the principals first hand, how they and their teams have been managing and what they are feeling. I reminded them that their updates and written reports were “historic” on so many levels. Online engagement of students is strong, with more than 75% of students regularly logging on and turning in work. During Teacher Appreciation Week this week, let us take a moment to think about the teachers upholding the mission of UA who inspire students every day, and thank them for their compassionate fortitude. Continued encouragement and kudos for our teachers throughout the summer and beyond will be paramount.



Planning

Behind the scenes, Tony and the Board, MPCSA, as well as the Commission have been in regular communication to navigate financial, technical, operational and regulatory decisions and advice. The school leadership has been on top of every opportunity presented and Tony has been communicating with the entire staff accordingly. Some adjustments in budgets have been necessary, but we are pleased to report UA has been financially able to cover unexpected costs because of the swift action of the Finance Committee and generous donors. In total, UA and Friends of UA have secured more than $2 million since mid-March, allowing us to survive possible public funding cuts, purchase more technology for 2020-21, provide staff training, and maintain our commitments to alumni scholarships and services.


Graduation has been announced and will be held Thursday, July 16 at 9:30am on the football field. The Upper School administration will be sending out details around logistics and tickets.  Summer School plans are being finalized and those decisions are being communicated as known. However, day by day, school leadership will be keeping in close contact with health mandates from the state and city for everyone’s safety, which could impact decisions about these and other in person situations.


Thank You

What I know to be true, is that the mission of UA, "Through high expectations, UA prepares students to succeed in institutions of higher education and to serve as positive role models and valuable members of the community.”, continues to be alive and well despite the uncertainties of the world. The Board is here to support UA however possible. I want to thank you for your patience, support and grace. Although apart for the time being, we’ll get through this together.


Katie Kwo Gerson

UA School Board Chair


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