The Blue Springs School District – 15,000 strong across 23 schools – continues to stress student success, Superintendent Paul Kinder says.

“Our staff does it every day … all the time,” he said at Thursday’s Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon.

The district can point to a wide range of achievements. For instance, the U.S. Department of Education each year names about 300 schools across the country as Blue Ribbon Schools. Last week, James Walker Elementary was the Blue Springs district’s fifth school in four years to earn that title.

Students in the district continue to perform well in Missouri Assessment Program, or MAP, tests, Kinder said. Among the 15 largest districts in the state, Blue Springs students most recently were first in math and tied for first in English language arts.

Among what are called special populations, such as students who qualify for free or reduced-priced lunches – a widely used measure of poverty – more than half of the district’s students rated proficient or advanced in those categories. It’s the only district among the largest 15 to reach as high as 50 percent.

The district is among those with extensive offerings in advanced placement or dual-credit courses. Its students this year are on track to earn more than 12,000 hours of college credit while still in high school, and three students graduated last spring with 60 hours of credit – halfway to a four-year degree.

The district has strengthened ties with Missouri State University.

“We’re trying to get them to come to town more,” Kinder said.

The university has stepped up with this offer: A student who qualifies for free or reduced-price lunches can earn dual credits at MSU for free.

Kinder also pointed to the importance of partnerships across the community.

“It takes everybody to pull off what we do,” he said.