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My end of semester note to our teachers

Happy semester break, everyone! Thanks for working diligently to ensure every child learns; we saw lots of evidence today of teachers' patience and persistence in pushing kids to the limits of the time available to get work in, get requirements done, and master essential material. The all-out effort requires an 'all hands on deck' mentality and lots of teamwork to coordinate. Thanks for providing fun and inviting learning opportunities like your assemblies and the other end of semester ceremonies and recognition events.  Positive school cultures celebrate and recognize exceptional performance and great effort. Recognition and inclusion of students is the way they internalize that value.Thanks most of all for instilling a spirit of caring and compassion by modeling how we give back.  Whether through food bank donations, fundraising efforts, or individual outreach, you have taught by example and our students will be better citizens and kinder people because of it. Thanks for…

Norris Intermediate Open House dedication speech

Norris Intermediate Open House dedication speech

August 4, 2013

Good afternoon, and thank you for joining us for this wonderful celebration of the opening of Norris Intermediate School. This is 65,000 square feet and another 12 acres of awesomeness joining one of the most beautiful developed campuses in the state to support great k-12 education for our students.

I'm Dr. John Skretta, Superintendent of the Norris School District and it is my pleasure to welcome you here today for our ribbon-cutting and campus-wide open house.

While many of you parents here today were probably hoping we'd actually start classes immediately and you could drop your kids off now and leave them with us, you'll have to wait about 10 days yet. The first actual student day is not until August 14, and you'll notice in walking about the building and around our grounds here that not absolutely everything is done just yet. We still have a few details to tend to – laying some sod down, putting woo…

Titans' Facilities Fund press conference comments from Dr. Skretta

Good morning! Welcome, and thanks for joining us this morning for the Creation of Domination Titans' Facilities Fund kickoff.

My name is John Skretta, I'm Superintendent of the Norris School District & today I have the pleasure of introducing the Norris School Board members who've served on the ad hoc committee for facilities development to steer this project.

We have here today Board members Jim Kruger, Craig Gana and Jim Craig.

I want to thank them and the entire Norris school board for its aggressiveness and opportunism in setting forth the vision for this great project.

Over two years ago as the district was planning for its bond issue that subsequently resulted in the successful passage of a $14 million bond resolution for our new intermediate school and high school renovations the Board at that time undertook a comprehensive analysis of facilities needs.

We conducted comparability studies looking at other, similar sites districts and evaluated the status of the r…

A Chalk Talk on State Aid from Doc Skretta

A couple days ago I posted this YouTube vid explaining the coming cut in State Aid for the Norris School District and how we believe it reflects some fundamental formula problems and imbalances that, if left unchecked, will result in big problems in school finance for the state of Nebraska over time.  Some problems with the current formula:

More money is going to fewer districts, mostly large metrosA two-tiered system is being created that shows an over-reliance on local property tax base in districts that have a strong agricultural elementMore tinkering with allowances and adjustments creates arbitrary and capricious ups and downs for districts that invite 'gaming' instead of fair play and equitable distribution. Norris wants to be part of the solution in emphasizing equitable distribution of state revenue to schools across Nebraska and a better balance between state and local resources. 

Thanks for checking out the video!

LB 447 testimony for Nebraska Healthy Kids Fund

[Testimony delivered to the Revenue Committee of the Nebraska State Legislature on March 15, 2013 in support of LB 447]
Good afternoon, Senators:
I am Dr. John Skretta [spell name, first and last] and I am Superintendent of the Norris school district.

I am here this afternoon to provide proponent testimony for Senator Avery's LB447. I want to thank you in advance for your service on the revenue committee. I can only intuit the challenge you face daily; the unsavory task of sifting through various and sundry proposals for use of our great state’s limited resources for a vast array of initiatives, some good, many meritorious, others questionable. As a school superintendent of a district that strives for high achievement while conserving costs, I empathize with the dilemmas encountered when considering the coinage.

I am here today to share with you some of what we believe becomes possible, probable and attainable for school districts in Nebraska should LB447 be adopted. 447 grabs its gus…

Tips for thriving in the brave new world of Ed Tech

How what we are doing is working for Norris - in Chromebook integration and wireless accessibility.  A proud google school!

Technology integration is a core component of School Improvement and sustained Professional Development. Stay the course and keep your commitments!We believe that accessibility is a core value and teaching appropriate use standards is a higher value than banning and a better use of our time than policing and depriving; we are not a techno police state!  We emphasize teaching developmentally appropriate use.Create a solution that works for you, don’t worry about replicating others or copying buzzwords.  Free yourself from the constraints of conformity (it’s not about one particular device or one piece of equipment that is a magic bullet; there’s no such thing).Begin with the end in mind (consider sustainable solutions or you’ll flounder).It’s not about hardware - the equipment will be different 5 years out - probably very different.It’s not about programmatic init…

In support of Career Academies: LB47 testimony

January 29, 2013
Good afternoon, Senators:

My name is John Skretta and I am the Superintendent of the Norrisschool district. I first want to thank you for your service here on the Education committee and your service to the state of Nebraska.

Today, I would like to encourage your consideration and hear the case for our affirmation of LB 47. We inhabit southern Lancaster County as well as the northern part of Gage County and a sliver of Otoe. I provided you with copy of our Annual Report so that you have a quick contextual overview of our school district – I am here today speaking on behalf of LB47.

Norris has been a charter member of the Southeast Nebraska Career Academy Program. As such, we have had dozens of students over the last several years participate in intensive career academy experiences on our own campus outside of Firth and in Lincoln on the SCC campus as well as out in various local businesses. These experiences are almost uniformly hailed by our students as some of the most …

What I hate about cold weather running & why I keep doing it, anyway

If you're just (insanely?) dedicated to distance running or you're already training for the local favorite Lincoln marathon, then odds are you have encountered the abysmal reality that cold weather running is a necessary precondition for putting the required training time in for those spring marathons and summer road races.  Here's a short list of some of the things I find to be persistently pestering about cold weather training - those December - March Nebraska runs that require you braving bitterly cold conditions:

1. Frozen eyelashes.  Betsy Barent pointed this one out the other day.  So true.  The eyebrows freeze and the moisture from your eyes eventually seals your eyelids shut...making it oh so much harder to, well, see.  Not to sound like a running snob, but, well, seeing is one of those things that really helps to facilitate the running experience.
2. First, when your fingers go numb. And then, when your fingers start to throb.  Eventually, though, if you can run t…