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Building Momentum for the New School Year

Guest commentary from GIPS Interim Superintendent, Matt Fisher, was originally published in The Grand Island Independent on August 16th, 2023.


“Back to School” season has arrived and with it comes familiar excitement.

For our GIPS parents it means shopping for backpacks, supplies, and first-day-of-school outfits. For our students it means enjoying the last moments of summer and diving into Fall school activities. For many businesses it means hosting celebration events for our community. For our staff it means finalizing preparations to make sure our students have everything they need to be successful learners.

Before we hit “Back to School” season we have “Summer Work” season. While our teachers enjoyed a well-deserved break, many of our schools were still active in the summer months. Specifically with construction and security projects.

Six of our schools received notable physical upgrades during the summer months:

  • Gates Elementary — Adding a security vestibule to the main entrance and installing doors to the West side of the building.

  • Howard Elementary — Main entrance security vestibule addition.

  • Knickrehm Elementary – Updated building HVAC system and new lighting for north half of the building.

  • Lincoln, Newell, Wasmer, & West Lawn Elementaries — Modifying main entrances to include security vestibules.

  • Walnut Middle School — Installing a main entrance security vestibule and expanding the front office.

  • Grand Island Senior High — Adding security vestibules at both East and West Entrances, expanding the Band Room, and expanding the North Cafeteria.

All of these projects, except for Gates, are being funded through ESSER III dollars courtesy of the Federal Government pandemic relief aid. Funding building projects with ESSER dollars has allowed us to address needs without having to seek additional property tax monies. While ESSER funds will not last forever, we can look at many of our schools and know we have made them safer and more spacious for learning without putting additional financial burden on you, our community. 

We, also, have launched a new district newsletter, “GIPS Monthly Update”. Each month we will be sharing out the digital newsletter to provide helpful information, notable updates, district stories, upcoming activities, and more. Families will receive the e-newsletter directly to their inbox. Our community is also welcome to explore “GIPS Monthly Update” as we share the links on social media and our district website,

Our first edition, published in July, highlights all the important “Back to School” information including school supplies lists, free and reduced meal applications, new dismissal times, among other items.

These are just a few of the highlights of “Back to School” at Grand Island Public Schools. The real highlight is when our 1,400 plus employees’ hard work comes together with our 10,000 students.  Having our many wonderful people lean into their jobs to make learning happen for our students is what we are all about. 

We hit the ground running because our teachers have put in long hours preparing their classrooms, lesson plans, and learning activities. We open our doors ready to welcome every student because our district and building leaders have prepared and empowered our staff to be their best. Our support staff continues to work diligently to assure that the needs of our students are being met in every area we serve.

We invite you, our community, to join us in supporting our hard working educators and support staff as they inspire and shape the lives of our students. 

Let’s make the 2023-24 school year a great one!

— Mr. Matt Fisher
GIPS Interim Superintendent