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This Week with Larry Linthacum

Students and staff at Jefferson City Public Schools are wrapping up their second full week of class for the 2016-17 school year.

Superintendent Larry Linthacum is entering his second year as superintendent.

As our guest for “This Week,” I start our conversation by asking him how he thinks the new school year is kicking off for JCPS.

Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Larry Linthacum: “We’re excited about the school year to start! With our kids coming back last week, and starting this week we’re just excited. As we start the new school year we had a great kickoff with our staff. Uh, we went to the gymnasium at the high school instead of the Miller Performing Center. It was kicked-off with one of our third grade students singing the national anthem and it’s about kids. That’s why we do what we do and so we had a great kick-off to the new school year.

Joey Parker: You had a couple, uh, rehearsals for issues you may have. You have a new app called LOKDOWN. L-O-K-D-O-W-N. And you did A.L.I.C.E. Which is Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter or Evacuate, Right?

Larry Linthacum: Right.

Joey Parker: These are some of the things…a sign of the times for school systems these days, right?

Well, it is. And it’s unfortunate that we have to have these conversations. You know, we need to ensure it’s a safe learning environment. You can have the best lessons in the world but if kids don’t feel safe, uh, learning’s not gonna take place. So that’s a priority to ensure that safe learning environment. The communication is really important because as you said it’s a different day and age that we live in and how we communicate through mobile apps, to just trying to have simplified, how we handle adverse situation. It’s not if bad situations are going to come along, but when you have adversity and how you respond to it. So, we’re trying to be proactive; the old saying prepare for the worse and hope for the best, but to be proactive with that. We’re excited about our safety plans just in the case of, so we’re prepared to provide that positive learning environment for the kids.

Joey Parker: Speaking of handling problems as they come along, you’ve had a few in the amount of time you’ve been superintendent. In fact, your former system, my high school, Murphy High School had three thousand students which is more than your last system had. Now you have three times that many. So it’s a bit different. What are the big challenges as you move ahead?

Larry Linthacum: Well, we’ve got a simplified plan that we wanted clarity and a clear expectations. Right now, our three priorities for the year: number one is just the learning process. That’s why kids go to school, to ensure that they learn. Uh, number two is a workplace culture. The old saying that culture eats strategy for lunch, so we just want to make sure that culture and climate is important. And number three is student discipline. We are trying to have clear behavioral expectations we actually have tonight our first one visiting the 18 schools we’ve invited the parents were going to as they say if you feed them they will come so were inviting the parents and families to just roll out our behavioral management plan which is really no different than what we’ve had it’s just a priority and trying to clarify that as we try and ensure that we have positive learning environment for our kids.

Joey Parker: Last week I asked Dr. Peter Stiepleman of CPS your counterpart there how do you hold a young person a student’s life together when their personal life their family life sometimes is falling apart?

Larry Linthacum: That is challenging that really is you know our mission statement through our strategic plan you know is to give kids hope for a better tomorrow while helping them reach their potential and then we have some kids that do not have hope honestly. So working with we kind of are hashtag stronger together that we are stronger together though our parents our community our staff our kids our media all of us that are working together for kids so how do we do that? You have honest conversations you try to work together you partner with your outside agencies if you have kids that need help outside of school but making sure that within school that we have those processes in line and as we truly do work together stronger together for kids and when we do that to work we have our challenges but it is a very rewarding being able to help kids find that dream helping them reach their potential and giving them hope as we work together for kids.

Joey Parker: How about buses? How is your busing system how is that situation working out for you?

Larry Linthacum: Well it’s good we had a curve ball on opening day our first one but those have been ironed out when you have the number of kids and the busing situations you have challenges our transportation we contract with the First Student they do a great job and so were coordinating with that so it’s trying to improve that each year and we have already a group of our folks that are in charge of our transportation have already met after that first day about how we can get better next year just improve those processes as we communicate with parents especially with your younger kids kindergarteners who may have not ridden the bus before so it’s going well now but we did have a few curveballs like I said there at the very beginning but we are excited were off to a good start and excited about the year.

Joey Parker: Superintendent Linthacum, thank you very much for joining us.

Larry Linthacum: Thank you good to be here.

Joey Parker: Hope to see you again soon.

Larry Linthacum: Sounds great.

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