Oct. 19, 2020 Board Meeting

20 Oct

Hybrid learning model will stay in place for the rest of the semester
Students in grades 7-12 will continue to learn in a hybrid model for the remainder of the first semester after Marshalltown School Board action Monday evening. The hybrid model was introduced this school year to increase social distancing and allow for a safer learning environment amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The hybrid model – as well as the fully virtual learning model introduced this year as an option for all students and families – were the focus of much discussion Monday. Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson led a presentation about the first six weeks of the school year; she was joined by building administrators from Lenihan Intermediate School, Miller Middle School, and Marshalltown High School during the discussion.

Stevenson said she, the building administrators, teachers and staff are all working diligently to increase student and family engagement in both the hybrid and fully virtual learning models. She said those two models are new this school year and many students are adapting to learning in a new environment. 

The hybrid learning model data showed a significant decrease in behavior incidences and an increase in student attendance at in-person classes this semester. The school leaders also praised the block scheduling strategy put in place as part of the hybrid model at Miller Middle School and Marshalltown High School. 

“I am confident that our staff – our teachers, our counselors, resource specialists, principals – are going to the nth degree to engage these kids,” said Superintendent Dr. Schutte, adding the District may have an opportunity to revisit the learning models later in the school year. 

Aguirre

Recommendation made to fill board vacancy 
Nicolas “Niko” Aguirre was recommended to fill a school board vacancy Monday, with board member Bob Untiedt stepping down. The board did not vote on the appointment during the meeting; that action item is set to appear on a future meeting agenda.

Aguirre has prior experience on the school board, having served in 2019 after being appointed to fill the vacancy of former board member Ross Harris. He is the Human Resources Director at JBS Marshalltown. 

MHS senior Marek Jablonski recognized for National Merit Scholarship success
Marshalltown High School senior Marek Jablonski was recognized by the board for two recent achievements – he was named a scholarship competition semifinalist and a Commendable Student from a Rural School by the National Merit Scholarship Program. 

Jablonski

Jablonski earned his scholarship semifinalist status with an excellent performance on his PSAT exam last school year. He is now looking to become a competition finalist. 

“For the next step, which is ‘finalist,’ you have to go through and submit an essay, a bunch of stuff about my schoolwork, my plans for the future, [and] activities,” he said. “I’ll get to know the results by February.”

Jablonski is also involved in the MHS Math Team and the MHS Botcats robotics team. He is interested in the field of computer engineering. 

Statewide middle school cross country meet a success
MHS Cross Country coach Chad Pietig described the success of the Dick Washburn Middle School Statewide Cross Country meet hosted in Marshalltown last weekend.

The meet is ordinarily held in Ankeny; however, to accommodate social distancing measures, the cross country course at Marshalltown Community College was selected for the annual meet hosted by the Iowa Association of Track Coaches. 

“It was quite a success. We had 1,300 runners divided over 12 races,” Pietig said, adding safety measures like social distancing and wearing of face masks were followed. 

MHS Cross Country coach Chad Pietig discusses last weekend’s successful statewide middle school cross country meet in Marshalltown.

The venue offered ample space for families to snap a photo and watch their child compete while maintaining a safe social distance. Pietig thanked the many volunteer student-athletes, parents, and fellow District coaches and staff who helped with the event.

“I don’t think we would have been able to pull it off as smoothly without Mr. [Eric] Goslinga and his Sea Cadets, because they took over parking,” he said.

Dr. Schutte said it was great to see such a popular school sports event hosted in Marshalltown. 

“Marshalltown has always been really well situated to host such events,” he said.

Student School Board representatives update
Student School Board representatives Klaudia Hernandez and Hayley Reed shared an update from Marshalltown High School with board members. Among the topics and events they discussed were:

  • The upcoming Bobcats varsity football playoff game against Urbandale, set for 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23 at Urbandale
  • The home MHS Girls Diving invite held at the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA last weekend
  • The upcoming diving and swimming conference competitions at Fort Dodge set for Tuesday, Oct. 20 and Thursday, Oct. 22, respectively
  • The recent MHS Cross Country boys and girls conference meets last week and the state qualifier meet set for Thursday, Oct. 22 at the MCC cross country course 
  • The recent MHS Band Extravaganza event at Leonard Cole Field
  • The 2020 National Honor Society Blood Drive this Wednesday, Oct. 21 and Thursday, Oct. 22

National School Bus Safety Week kicks off
October 19-23 is National School Bus Safety Week, which serves as an important reminder to practice caution and keep safety in mind near school buses. This year’s theme is “Red Lights Mean STOP!” You can read more about National School Bus Safety Week, including helpful tips for students, parents, educators and community members, here.

Steps taken toward addressing special education deficit
With approval from the school board on Monday, the District will seek authority from the School Budget Review Committee (SBRC) for allowable growth and supplemental aid to address a negative balance in special education funding.

Communications
Communications Director Adam Sodders reviewed the good news from the district by sharing newspaper articles as well as school communications articles. That list can be seen here.

Personnel items
For a list of personnel items approved Wednesday, click here.

Policies
Second Reading – 

  • 209.1 – Development of Policy (adopted)
  • 209.2 – Adoption of Policy (adopted)
  • 209.3 – Dissemination of Policy (adopted)
  • 209.4 – Suspension of Policy (adopted)

First Reading

  • 203.2 – Adoption of Administration Rules and Regulations (amended, second reading waived)
  • 203.4 – Ad Hoc Committees (amended, second reading waived)
  • 208-E1 – Ad Hoc Committees Exhibit (adopted, second reading waived)

Initial Review – 

  • 203.5 (new 103.1) – School Improvement Advisory Committee (will come back for a first reading)
  • 203.7 – Administration in Absence of Policy (will come back for a first reading)       
  • 314.1 – Administrator Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Program (amended, second reading waived)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“The board spent 90 minutes discussing the Return to Learn plan for the district. Administrators from Central Office, Lenihan, Miller and the High School shared information about virtual and hybrid learning models.

The board learned about the successes and shortfalls of each model. They heard data about behavior and discipline, attendance and achievement. Questions were asked about the safety of staff and students, the impact of being away from school for six months, professional development, parent and student surveys, and student engagement.  

Members of the board needed to evaluate and weigh all of the information presented and place it in relationship to the health and safety of staff, students and their families. The board decided to ‘stay the course’ with our current plan through the end of first semester. Reevaluation will occur at that time.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. The meeting will be held in-person with social distancing and other safety measures in place. The meeting will be available to watch via YouTube live stream.

October 5, 2020 Board Meeting

6 Oct
CFMC Executive Director Julie Hitchins (right) presents a $9,000 check to MCSD Transportation Director Rex Kozak (left) at Monday’s school board meeting. The grant funds will go toward the partnership between MCSD and Marshalltown Municipal Transit (MTT) for student transportation services. Also pictured is MTT Director Kevin Pigors (center).

MCSD awarded Community Foundation of Marshall County grant for student transportation services
The Community Foundation of Marshall County presented a $9,000 grant for student transportation services at Monday’s school board meeting. 

The grant was funded through generous donations to the Marshall County Disaster Recovery Fund, and it will support the partnership between the MCSD Transportation Department and Marshalltown Municipal Transit to ensure Bobcat students get to and from school safely and effectively. 

Marshalltown Schools thanks the Community Foundation of Marshall County for helping meet Bobcat students’ transportation needs! We are grateful to have excellent partners in the CFMC and Marshalltown Municipal Transit. For full details on this generous grant from the CFMC, click here

Proposed Marshalltown High School, Anson Elementary improvement projects discussed, public hearing set on proposed bond issue
Next steps are being taken on two major project proposals at District school buildings after board actions at Monday’s meeting. 

Air conditioning (HVAC) at Marshalltown High School was one of the project proposals discussed; that proposal currently includes alternate bids for fire sprinkler and LED lighting work. 

“This has been a priority for the district for a long, long, long time,” said District Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte. 

The second proposed project focuses on improvements at Anson Elementary School. That project would include significant HVAC improvement work, as well as enclosing open-air classroom spaces and potential lighting upgrades. 

The board gave its approval for the District to move forward with initial work on the proposals. Dr. Schutte said project contract language is being worked on, and the finalized contracts will come before the board for approval at a future meeting.

A public hearing on a proposed $10 million bond issue to fund the two project proposals was set for 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2. 

District to pursue grant for tornado safe room
A presidential disaster declaration brought millions of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) dollars to the state after the August derecho, and some of those funds must be used to help  increase preparedness for potential future incidents.

On Monday, the school board approved the pursuit of a FEMA grant for the construction of a tornado safe room at the MHS Sports Complex. The grant would cover 85 percent of the construction costs for a tornado safe room facility. 

When not being used for an emergency, such a facility could potentially provide space for a team room, concessions, restrooms, an officials room, and/or a first aid station. Dr. Schutte said the grant is set to be awarded in the late winter or early spring of 2021; if MCSD were to receive the grant, he said the proposed projects at MHS and Anson Elementary would be prioritized before starting work on a tornado safe room.

Marshalltown School Board member Sara Faltys reads the board’s declaration of National Principals Month at Monday’s meeting.

Important work of school principals, custodial staff recognized
October is National Principals Month, and the Marshalltown School Board recognized the District’s exceptional team of school principals Monday evening. 

Board member Sara Faltys read aloud a board resolution recognizing National Principals Month, and the District’s principals were commended for their incredible service to Bobcat students and families, especially during the challenging time of the coronavirus. 

Last Friday, Oct. 2, was National Custodial Workers Recognition Day, and the board recognized the incredible work of the District’s custodial staff. MCSD custodial employees have stepped up deep cleaning and sanitation efforts since the pandemic began, and they play a vital role in ensuring student safety and security every day. 

Board accepts $70,000 USTA grant for Marshalltown Tennis Complex project
The Marshalltown Tennis Complex is getting closer to completion every day, and the school board approved a $70,000 United States Tennis Association (USTA) grant which will go toward project construction costs. 

The District is also pursuing a USTA Missouri Valley Section grant for $10,000 to go toward increased tennis curriculum and supplies in physical education classes. The District recently received a similar grant, which brought new, high-quality tennis equipment to each school building. 

MHS senior and Student School Board representative Klaudia Hernandez discusses her selection to the state Board of Education Equity Committee.

MHS senior Klaudia Hernandez’s selection to state Board of Education Equity Committee highlighted
MHS senior and Student School Board Representative Klaudia Hernandez was recently selected as one of seven students statewide to sit on the state Board of Education Equity Committee.

Klaudia will provide an important student voice as the committee discusses how best to provide equity throughout Iowa’s public school system.

Return to Learn update shared with board
Since classes started on Sept. 8, Marshalltown Schools has seen a very few COVID-19 cases reported among staff and students. In his Return to Learn update to the board Monday, Dr. Schutte credited MCSD students, families and staff for their observance of the multiple safety rules put in place this school year, including social distancing and face covering requirements, among others.

“I am extraordinarily proud of our community for doing everything they’ve done to bring the positivity rate to a point that I would have never thought possible back in early August,” he said. 

The District began the school year by giving students and families a choice of learning models, including fully in-person learning for PK-6 students and a hybrid learning model for 7-12 students; both groups had the option to learn in a fully-virtual model. 

The hybrid model is set to be revisited at the end of the first quarter, and Dr. Schutte said he will closely monitor the District’s and Marshall County’s positivity rates as the colder months arrive. He said the District’s learning model recommendation for the second quarter of the school year will depend on public health data and information, with the need to balance student achievement and the health and safety of students, staff, and the larger Marshalltown Community.

Student School Board representatives update
Student School Board representatives Itzary Avalos and Klaudia Hernandez shared an update from Marshalltown High School with board members. The students discussed recent “senior nights” for extracurricular activities, Homecoming festivities, and several upcoming events, including the 2020 Blood Drive on Wednesday, Oct. 21 and Thursday, Oct. 22.

MHS Parking Lot improvement project statement of completion approved
The board approved an official statement of completion from Manatts Inc. regarding the Marshalltown High School parking lot project. The project saw improvements made to Bobcat Boulevard, the auditorium and band parking lots, and the school drive area. 

Part II of Jamie Vollmer’s book “Schools Cannot Do It Alone” discussed
Board members and administrators discussed Part II of Jamie Vollmer’s book “Schools Cannot Do It Alone” at Monday’s meeting. 

Part II describes the history of public schooling in the United States, including how changing economic circumstances and the dawn of the Knowledge Age have impacted students’ academic needs. The discussion was accompanied by a video from Vollmer on the same subject matter.

The Monday, Oct. 19 board meeting will include a discussion on Part III of “Schools Cannot Do It Alone.”

District Director of Special Services Matt Cretsinger shares recent legislative decisions and findings regarding dyslexia Monday.

Dyslexia legislation and supports the topic of presentation
District Director of Special Services Matt Cretsinger shared a presentation on legislation and research related to dyslexia. He cited the work of an Iowa Department of Education task force which focused on studying the condition and how to best support students with characteristics of dyslexia.

Superintendent and school board goals approved
The 2020-21 school board and superintendent goals got the board’s nod at Monday’s meeting. You can see this school year’s goals here

Communications
Communications Director Adam Sodders reviewed the good news from the district by sharing newspaper articles as well as school communications articles. That list can be seen here

Personnel items
For a list of personnel items approved Wednesday, click here.

Policies
First Reading

  • 200.2 – Powers of the Board of Directors (approved as amended)
  • 204.9-R1 Board Calendar (approved as amended)
  • 209.1 Development of Policy (will come back for a second reading)
  • 209.2 Adoption of Policy (will come back for a second reading)
  • 209.3 Dissemination of Policy (will come back for a second reading)
  • 209.4 Suspension of Policy (will come back for a second reading)

Initial Review – 

  • 203.2 – Adoption of Administration Rules and Regulations (will come back for a first reading)
  • 203.4 – Ad Hoc Committees (will come back for a first reading)
  • (New) 208-E1 – Ad Hoc Committees Exhibit (will come back for a first reading)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“Last night’s meeting saw the board approving the process of providing air conditioning at the high school. As Dr. Schutte said, it’s been a very long, long time since discussions were begun about finding the most cost effective way to do this.

The board approved the beginning work on architectural plans for AC at the high school and Anson Elementary, enclosure of open space classrooms at Anson and the construction of a tornado safe room at the sports complex. In addition, the board approved setting forth the process of bonding for the entire project.

The health and safety of staff and students will be enhanced by completion of these proposed projects.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. The meeting will be held in-person with social distancing and other safety measures in place. The meeting will be available to watch via YouTube live stream.  

Sept. 21, 2020 Board Meeting

22 Sep
The District Technology team was recognized for IT Professionals Day at Monday’s board meeting. Pictured, from left: Mike Britt, Jenn Harrington, Janet Garcia, Alex Bartels, Sebastian Ramirez, Ricardo Garcia, and Andrew Claseman.

District Technology staff recognized for IT Professionals Day
Tuesday, Sept. 22 is National IT Professionals Day, and the District’s exceptional Technology Department staff was recognized at Monday’s Marshalltown School Board meeting. 

“I inherited a wonderful team, and right away I knew they were great and highly-qualified,” said District Director of Technology Amy Harmsen, who has been leading the department since February. “I could not be more proud of this team.” 

Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte said the District Technology team provides great service under usual circumstances, and have stepped up to the challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic since the spring. 

The District Technology Department consists of Harmsen, Network and Security Specialist Mike Britt, Student Technology Device Coordinator Jennifer Harrington, Server Specialist Andrew Claseman, Chromebook Repair Technician Ricardo Garcia, and Technology Support Specialists Alex Bartels, Janet Garcia, and Sebastian Ramirez. For more on the incredible District Tech team, read our IT Professionals Day feature on the department.


Lenihan Instructional Coach and Bobcat U fourth- and fifth grade coordinator Tonya Gaffney presents an overview of this year’s summer learning programming.

Bobcat University overview from summer 2020 presented
Like so many regular school programs and activities this year, the Bobcat University summer learning program had to adapt to special circumstances in 2020. An overview of this summer’s unique Bobcat U programming was presented at Monday’s board meeting. 

“The purpose of Bobcat U has always stayed the same – it’s to provide academic opportunities during the summer months to at-risk students,” said Hoglan Elementary fourth grade teacher Clare Wing, who acted as a lead elementary teacher during Bobcat U this summer. “While it was a very unique summer, we did have a lot of fun and we did see success.”

Lenihan Intermediate School Instructional Coach Tonya Gaffney coordinated fourth- and fifth grade Bobcat U programming. She said care was taken to ensure as smooth a transition as possible from the closure of schools in the spring to the beginning of Bobcat U in the summer. 

“A total of 18 teachers created lessons that were uploaded to the same Learn from Home website that we used during school closure at the end of last school year,” Gaffney said. “These lessons were available for all students in the District, and students were encouraged to access these lessons each Sunday via Infinite Campus messenger.” 

The program was tailored to students’ grade level, and students accessed high-quality math, literacy, and science learning in a virtual setting. The program’s 18 dedicated teachers were resourceful, using a wide range of new programs to deliver curriculum and monitor progress. 

“[Teachers] were willing to take on the added challenges of supporting students in a virtual environment during a pandemic with little training,” Gaffney said. “Bobcat U was truly a team effort.” 


FY20 financial report shows growth
Despite a challenging second half to Fiscal Year 2020 (which ended on June 30), District Finance Director Paulette Newbold said there was plenty of good news to discuss in the FY20 financial report

“Financially, fiscally, we ended the year in a good position,” she said. 

Specifically, the District’s general fund showed a year-end fund balance of about $6.5 million, an amount which Newbold said is a year ahead of what had been projected. The higher year-end balance was likely due to several factors related to the school closure in the spring, including the lack of need to hire substitute staff members, a drop in professional development and employee travel costs, decreased Title programming, and a decrease in other, normal expenditures.

Newbold said the District’s solvency ratio is up to about 7.7 percent, nearing the goal of 8 percent or higher. How the current fiscal year plays out will have a large impact on the overall financial picture, she said. 

In addition to hearing the year-end financial report, the board also approved the District’s annual depository resolution, which remains unchanged from last year’s resolution. 


Lane changes approved for dozens of MCSD staff pursuing higher education
The board approved lane changes for a list of 65 MCSD employees who are engaging in higher education and becoming even more knowledgeable educators. The lane changes signify an increase in pay for these employees in recognition of their dedication to earning advanced degrees in their field. Their ever-growing expertise ensures continued high-quality learning for Bobcat students.

District Director of Finance Paulette Newbold said Marshalltown Schools are full of highly-trained, highly-educated professionals, with 55 percent of employees holding an advanced degree (e.g. a master’s degree, educational specialist degree, and/or doctoral degree).


Student School Board representatives Hayley Reed, left, and Itzary Avalos, right, introduce themselves to the school board Monday.

Student School Board representatives share first update of the 2020-21 school year
Monday’s board meeting brought the in-person introduction to Student School Board representatives for this year. MHS senior Itzary Avalos and junior Hayley Reed introduced themselves to the board, discussing classes, school activities, and more. 

“I am doing virtual learning this year as a senior, so it’s a little bit different than I expected my senior year to go,” Avalos said, adding virtual classes – including her dual-credit college course – are similar to in-person classes, except that they require more time management skills. 

Avalos is a member of National Honor Society and the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) freshman mentoring program. She participates in track and field and works part-time. 

Reed said she is a hybrid student at MHS, and is also taking a mix of high school and dual-credit college classes this semester. She said one major change she has noticed in school this year is the smaller in-person class sizes. 

Reed works two part-time jobs and is involved in band, basketball, and track and field activities, and is entering her first year as an MVP freshman mentor. 

Fellow Student School Board representative Klaudia Hernandez will introduce herself to the board at a future meeting.


First book study discussion held on Vollmer’s “Schools Cannot Do It Alone”
Board members and administrators discussed Part I of Jamie Vollmer’s book “Schools Cannot Do It Alone” at Monday’s meeting. 

Part I describes Vollmer’s criticism of public schools earlier in his life, as well as the beginning of his journey toward being a supporter and advocate for public schools. The discussion was accompanied by a video from Vollmer on the same subject matter. The Monday, Oct. 5 board meeting will include a discussion on Part II of “Schools Cannot Do It Alone.”


School Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC) approved for 2020-21
The 2020-21 School Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC) received board approval Monday. 

The committee is made up of 19 District teachers and teacher leaders, administrators, board members and parents. Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson said additional representation from Bobcat students is also expected to be included on the committee this year. 

SIAC members will hold three meetings this school year, each from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., including: Monday, Nov. 23, 2020; Monday, Jan. 11, 2021; and Monday, March 29, 2021.


Communications
Communications Director Adam Sodders reviewed the good news from the district by sharing newspaper articles as well as school communications articles. That list can be seen here.

Personnel items
For a list of personnel items approved Wednesday, click here.

Policies
There were no board policies up for a first reading Monday.
Initial Review
– 200.2 Powers of the Board of Directors (will come back for a first reading)
– 204.9-R1 Board Calendar (will come back for a first reading)
– 209.1 Development of Policy (will come back for a first reading)
– 209.2 Adoption of Policy (will come back for a first reading)
– 209.3 Dissemination of Policy (will come back for a first reading)
– 209.4 Suspension of Policy (will come back for a first reading)
– 202.7 Individual Board Members (deleted)
– 203.1 (new 209.6) Formulation, Review and Revision of Policy (marked as reviewed)


From Board President Bea Niblock
“Last night’s meeting was the first meeting for our new student board representatives. Itzary Avalos, Klaudia Hernandez and Hayley Reed will join us during this school year.

We had the opportunity to get to know Itzary and Hayley at the meeting and will get to meet Klaudia soon. Both Itzary and Hayley introduced themselves, shared background information and gave us first-hand knowledge about both online and in person learning. We have come to count on our student reps to share things happening at the high school and give us their opinions from a student perspective. It will be a pleasure to, once again, get to know and hear from our student board representatives.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 5, 2020. The meeting will be held in-person with social distancing and other safety measures in place. The meeting will be available to watch via YouTube live stream.

Sept. 8, 2020 Board Meeting

9 Sep
Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates (iJAG) leadership members presented an Outstanding Partner award to MCSD Tuesday. Pictured, from left: iJAG President and CEO Laurie Phelan, Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte, iJAG Director of Strategic Advancement Carly Voltz, MHS iJAG specialists Mary McCann Fuchsen and Chad Weir, and iJAG Director of Program Advancement Bob Reid.

MCSD named Outstanding Partner by Iowa Jobs For America’s Graduates (iJAG)
Representatives from Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates (iJAG) presented Marshalltown Schools with an Outstanding Partner award at Tuesday’s meeting. 

The partnership between MCSD and iJAG began three years ago at the 11th- and 12th grade levels. Now, the program has been implemented at all grade levels, with the exception of the elementary level. 

“We wanted to recognize Dr. Schutte and you all for what we call True North Leadership – that is, you’re laser-focused on young people, and that all young people, not just some, can be successful,” said Laurie Phelan of iJAG.

Since iJAG came to Marshalltown Schools, Phelan reported that 100 percent of students who participated in the program graduated. 

“I think the most critical piece of the puzzle is having the right people running these programs in the classroom,” Dr. Schutte said. “I’m excited to hear that we have 100 percent graduation. I’m really looking forward to hearing what happens with those young people post-high school.” 

Board approves agreement with Mechdyne Corp. for Bobcat Helpline
The start of a new school year is an exciting – as well as potentially stressful – time for many students and families. Combined with the coronavirus pandemic and the recent derecho that interrupted life in the Marshalltown Community, MCSD families have many questions about the 2020-21 school year.

Bobcat Helpline postcardTo ensure families have quick, easy access to answers during this time, the Marshalltown School Board approved a three-month agreement with the local technology company Mechdyne Corporation to facilitate the Bobcat Helpline – (641) 754-1001.

“As we put together a full picture, we saw that we really had a need for a centralized help desk,” said District Director of Technology Amy Harmsen. “We’ve already realized so much of the benefit of [Mechdyne] being a community company. They know our school district, they know who to route to, they know some of the resources that we’re already working on.”

Harmsen said the helpline proved useful on day one, with 257 out of 300 calls directly resolved. The remaining calls were routed to the District for confidentiality and security purposes.


MCSD Employees (front row, from left) Dr. Lisa Stevenson, Jennifer Harrington, Stacey Tool-Crawford, and Jennifer Gray earned a special recognition for going above and beyond in their work duties since the coronavirus pandemic began in the spring. Also pictured in the back row, from left, are Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte, Director of Technology Amy Harmsen, MHS Principal Jacque Wyant, and Buildings and Grounds Director Todd Goulding.

District staff recognized for going above and beyond
Tuesday’s Marshalltown School Board meeting featured four outstanding Marshalltown Schools employees who were recognized for the incredible efforts they have put forth since the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic last spring.

Buildings and Grounds administrative assistant Jennifer Gray, Student Technology Device Coordinator Jennifer Harrington, District Lead Nurse Stacey Tool-Crawford, and District Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson earned the special recognition through hard work and dedication during the challenging time since March.

“We try to every quarter recognize employees who go up and beyond the call of duty in their respective roles,” said District Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte. “I wanted to turn that recognition into a special recognition for people who have really gone, in my opinion, way up and above the call of duty as it relates both to our COVID-related closure from the spring to the summer planning to the new school year.”
Read more about the great efforts of each of Tuesday’s award winners here.


Marshalltown Legends American Grill restaurant Manager Brady Ridout presents a $1,000 check to MHS Activities/Athletics Director Ryan Isgrig. Each Legends Bobcat Burger sold added $1 to the donation.

Legends American Grill “Bobcat Burger” donation goes to MHS Activities
Bobcat Pride was on full display Tuesday as local Legends American Grill restaurant manager Brady Ridout presented a check for $1,000 toward the Marshalltown High School Activity Fund to MHS Director of Activities/Athletics Ryan Isgrig. 

“We wanted to give back to the community somehow,” Ridout said before presenting the generous donation at Tuesday’s meeting. The funds came from the sale of the Legends “Bobcat Burger,” with $1 of each purchase going toward the activity fund; Ridout said Legends sold 1,000 Bobcat Burgers in less than a year. 


Newly-appointed building administrators introduced themselves to the Marshalltown School Board Tuesday. Pictured, from left: Miller Middle School co-principals Kristyn Kell and Dave Glenn, and MHS associate principals Michael Bale and William Terry.

Newly-appointed Miller Middle School and MHS administrators introduced
The 2020-21 school year brings a group of new faces to building administration positions at Miller Middle School and Marshalltown High School, and the board heard from each Tuesday.

“We welcomed kids with music and open arms, and we thought it was a smooth day,” said Miller Co-Principal Kristyn Kell of the first day of classes. “I’m excited to be back. I was in the District for 9 years … it’s great to be back home.”

Fellow Miller Co-Principal Dave Glenn is also familiar with Marshalltown Schools, with several years of experience as associate principal at Miller.
“Empty buildings aren’t right when you think about school, so it was great to see kids back in school,” Glenn said. “They knew that we were ready for them to be there … their teachers were excited to see them.”

Marshalltown High School welcomed associate principals Michael Bale and William Terry this summer.

“It was great to get out in the classrooms,” Bale said. “Our kids have been awesome, they’ve really been the most flexible out of all of this.”

Terry, who wrote and performed a rap song educating students on health and safety measures this school year, said he was also excited to see students during the start of classes.

“The first two months have been absolutely scary and wonderful at the same time,” he said. “The whole District has been very helpful and supportive.”


Marshalltown Performing Arts Center flooring project agreement approved
With new flooring needed in the Marshalltown Performing Arts Center (formerly known as the MHS/Community Auditorium), the Marshalltown School Board approved an agreement with the Marshalltown Performing Arts Center Foundation to pay for the work. 

MCSD Buildings and Grounds Director Todd Goulding said the Foundation will cover the majority of the project costs, with MCSD covering about $4,500 of the work. The District’s cost will be paid using PPEL funds. Strand’s Flooring and Paint has been contracted for the work. 


New board book study to focus on building support for public schools
The beginning of the new school year Tuesday also saw the Marshalltown School Board and District Administrative Cabinet prepare to embark on a new book study. The book in question – Jamie Vollmer’s “Schools Cannot Do It Alone: Building Public Support for America’s Public Schools” – discusses the multi-faceted role public schools play in their local communities, as well as how to build support for public schools to achieve greater student success. 


Miller Middle School heating and cooling system project gets board’s nod
The Miller Middle School heating and cooling system will be upgraded after the school board approved an agreement to convert the current steam system to a new, water-based system at the building. Buildings and Grounds Director Todd Goulding said a water-based temperature control system would be an improvement over the current, aging system. Woodman Controls Company was approved to perform the work.  


Communications
Communications Director Adam Sodders reviewed the good news from the district by sharing newspaper articles as well as school communications articles. That list can be seen here.


Personnel items
For a list of personnel items approved Wednesday, click here


Policies
First Reading

  • 409.1 Licensed Employee Vacation-Holidays-Personal Leave (amended, second reading waived) 
  • 409.2 Licensed Employee Personal Illness Leave (amended, second reading waived)
  • 415.4 (New 414) Classified Staff Professional Development Leave (amended, second reading waived)
  • 409.2-E1 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Request Form Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (adopted, second reading waived)
  • 409.2-E2 Expanded Family and Medical Leave Request for Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (adopted, second reading waived)

Initial Review

  • 201.3 Responsibilities of the Board of Directors (will come back for a second reading)
  • 201.5 Membership (Deleted)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“The journey has begun!  First day of school; first in-person board meeting since March.  

The school year started with some students sitting in seats and some students learning online in their homes. And because of the high volume of questions regarding online learning and the use of technology, the district has developed a work agreement with Mechdyne Corporation to field those calls. The very first day had 300 calls!  A win-win situation with our families having their questions answered promptly and freeing up our staff to deal with infrastructure issues and confidential questions.

My quote at the meeting was from Jenny Han, an American author of children’s and young adult books. “I’ve always loved the first day of school better than the last day of school. Firsts are best because they are beginnings.” Hoping that your beginning brings many happy and fulfilling days!” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. The meeting will be held in-person with social distancing and other safety measures in place. The meeting will be available to watch via YouTube live stream.  

August 19, 2020 Board Meeting

20 Aug

Adjusted 2020-21 school year calendar approved

2020-21 Adjusted Calendar English

To view the newly-adjusted 2020-21 school year calendar, click on the image above. 

The powerful derecho that blew through Marshalltown and much of Iowa on Aug. 10 caused widespread damage and power outages. With many Bobcat families recovering from the storm, the Marshalltown School Board approved an adjusted 2020-21 school calendar Wednesday, with the first day of school set for Tuesday, Sept. 8. 

“The last day for students would be moved to Friday, June 4, which means that of the nine days that we’ve pushed things forward, we’re having students make up four of those nine days,” said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte, adding total student contact hours will still exceed the minimum hours required by the state.

Other events, such as fall and spring parent-teacher conferences and some end-of-quarter dates, have been rescheduled in accordance with the adjusted calendar. Visit the MCSD school year calendars webpage to view the adjusted 2020-21 calendar at any time.

(Please note: Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, all school events and schedules are subject to change)

Additional internet hotspots to increase digital learning access for students
More support is on the way for Bobcat students who need home internet access for learning this school year. 

The school board approved the purchase of 150 additional hotspots Wednesday, bringing the total number of District hotspots up to 450. The board also approved activation of all hotspots through December of 2020.

District Technology Director Amy Harmsen said the recent storm impacted an agreement with Mediacom to provide low-cost, high-speed home internet access to more than 400 District families. 

Mediacom had installed internet in a small portion of the families’ homes prior to the storm, and it is unknown when the company will be in a position to continue installing new home internet accordance with the agreement. Harmsen said the new hotspots and extended activation will help meet families’ needs until Mediacom can resume installation work.

Both the hotspots and the agreement with Mediacom are helping to bridge internet access gaps for hundreds of young Bobcats, allowing them to use high-quality digital learning programs provided by the District. 

MCSD Return to Learn health and safety video series launched
Marshalltown Schools is excited to welcome students back to class this fall, and a new District video series is focusing on ensuring young Bobcats and their families are informed on how to have a safe and successful school year. 

“Altogether, we will have seven videos in the series for parents and families to view and help prepare students for what’s expected for the fall,” said MHS teacher and series producer Jocelyn Frohwein. “We want our families and the community to feel really comfortable with all of the steps and procedures that the administration put in place.”

The first two videos in the series premiered at Wednesday’s board meeting, including an introduction to District nursing staff and an overview of new school bus safety guidelines. Those videos, as well as several others being produced for the series, will be released and available on the MCSD YouTube channel.

Combo image

Click here to see Episode 1 of the MCSD Return to Learn video series, which focuses on District Health Services staff. Episode 2, which discusses school bus safety, also premiered Wednesday and is available here.


MCSD Digital Learning plan progress highlighted

The board also heard an update on the District’s Digital Learning Plan from Harmsen and Instructional Design Specialist Dave Stanfield. Stanfield said the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic last spring impacted the plan in several ways.

“In some ways our digital learning plan was halted … in other areas, it was accelerated very quickly,” he said. “We were able to quickly get a voluntary learning plan in place, and our Return to Learn plan for this upcoming year was a lot easier to come up with because of the work we’ve done over the last several years,” 

Progress on the Digital Learning Plan’s five major goal areas – leadership, teaching, learning, assessment, and infrastructure – were discussed during the presentation. Highlights included:

Computer Science

A Computer Science is Elementary grant brought computer science education opportunities to Lenihan Intermediate School students last year. That was one of several highlights shared during the MCSD Digital Learning Plan update Wednesday.

  • Lenihan Intermediate School was awarded a Computer Science is Elementary grant last year; as a result, computer science education has now been implemented District-wide. 
  • About 220 MCSD employees earned Google Certified Educator Level 1 credentials last school year. 
  • All Bobcat students in grades PK-12 will have access to a digital learning device this school year, meeting a long-term District goal of achieving a 1-to-1 student-to-Chromebook ratio. 
  • MCSD is helping bridge the digital divide through a low-cost internet agreement with Mediacom and the acquisition of 450 internet hotspots, meaning more Bobcat students will have access high-quality digital learning at home.

Stanfield and Harmsen said work on achieving Digital Learning Plan goals will continue, adding the plan will be monitored and updated in accordance with the needs of MCSD students and employees. 

MHS Parking Lot improvement project change order approved
A change order for the Marshalltown High School Parking Lot improvement project was approved by the board Wednesday. Interim Buildings and Grounds Director Todd Goulding said about 235 square yards of the parking lot pavement will need full-depth patching.

The change order adds about $28,260 to the project cost, bringing the total cost to about $221,300. Despite the cost increase, Goulding said the project is still under the $233,000 originally budgeted for the parking lot improvements. 

Communications
Communications Director Adam Sodders reviewed the good news from the district by sharing newspaper articles as well as school communications articles. That list can be seen here.

Personnel items
For a list of personnel items approved Wednesday, click here.

Policies
First Reading

  • 201.2 (new 200.2) – Legal Status of the Board of Directors (amended, second reading waived)
  • 409.3-E2 – Licensed Employee Family and Medical Leave Request Form (amended, second reading waived)
  • 409.3- R1- Licensed Employee Family and Medical Leave – Regulation (amended, second reading waived)
  • 601.2 – School Day (Primer) (amended, second reading waived)
  • 105 – Discrimination and Harassment Based on Sex Prohibited (adopted, second reading waived)
  • 501.9-E1 – Request for Remote Learning Form (adopted second reading waived)
  • 907 – District Operation During Public Emergencies (Primer) (adopted, second reading waived)
  • 907-R1 – District Operations During a Public Health Emergency Regulation (Primer) (adopted, second reading waived)
  • 604.11 – Appropriate Use of Online Learning Platforms (Primer) (adopted, second reading waived)

Initial Review

  • 409.1 – Licensed Employee Vacation-Holidays-Personal Leave (will come back for a first reading)
  • 409.2 – Licensed Employee Personal Illness Leave (will come back for a first reading)
  • 415.4 (New 414) – Classified Staff Professional Development Leave (will come back for a first reading)
  • 409.2-E1- Emergency Paid Sick Leave Request Form Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (will come back for a first reading)
  • 409.2-E2 – Expanded Family and Medical Leave Request for Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (will come back for a first reading)
  • 409.7 – Licensed Employee Military Service (deleted)
  • 409.8 – Licensed Employee Unpaid Leave (deleted)
  • 414.1- Vacation-Classified (deleted)
  • 414.4 – Classified Employee Bereavement Leave (deleted)
  • 414.6 – Classified Employees Jury Duty (deleted)
  • 414.7 – Military Service (deleted)
  • 414.8 – Absence Without Pay-Classified (deleted)

Due to the Labor Day holiday on Monday, Sept. 7, the next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. The meeting will be held in-person with social distancing and other safety measures in place. The meeting will be available to watch via YouTube live stream. 

 

 

4 Aug

R2L logo

MCSD Return to Learn plan for 2020-21 school year approved
After several months of discussions, data-gathering and planning, the Marshalltown School Board voted to approve the Marshalltown Community School District Return to Learn plan for the 2020-21 school year. 

We are excited to get back to a new normal,” said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte. “In light of the information that was provided Thursday via the governor, the Director of (the Department of) Education, and the Department of Public Health, we’ve been taking a further look at one of the teaching and learning modalities that we had to plan for by July 1.”

The major points of the MCSD Return to Learn plan are as follows: 

  • Students in preschool to sixth grade (PK-6) will go to school on-site at District school buildings, with multiple safety measures in place to minimize risk due to the coronavirus pandemic. These students have the option to learn fully online (virtual learning) for at least the first semester of the 2020-21 school year if they do not want to return to school on-site.

  • Students in grades 7-12 will learn in a hybrid model through the first quarter of the school year (the first nine weeks), after which the model will be re-evaluated. That means the middle- and high school student population will be split roughly in half, with each half alternating between on-site and online learning during the school week. For instance, one half of students will attend classes at their school building for certain days of the week, while their peers in the other half learn online. The groups would then switch to the opposite learning environment later in the week. These grade 7-12 students have the option to learn fully online (virtual learning) for at least the first semester of the 2020-21 school year if they do not want to return to school in the hybrid model. 

The MCSD Return to Learn plan is designed to bring high-quality learning to young Bobcats across all age groups, ability levels, and life situations; the plan also focuses on ensuring the highest possible level of safety for all students and staff. 

On-site learning will include a multi-layered safety and sanitation strategy. Face-masks and face shields will be provided to staff and students, and will be required to be worn during the school day; frequent, enhanced deep cleaning will take place at all school buildings; desk shields will be in place; hand sanitizer will be abundantly available throughout all school buildings; staff and students will have their temperatures screened regularly; social distancing rules – as recommended by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) – will be in place and enforced; and signs will be placed throughout school buildings to ensure clear communication of safety rules and expectations. 

Virtual learning will be provided by MCSD teachers through the Edgenuity (grades PK-5) and Edmentum (grades 6-12) online learning programs. These virtual learning programs are designed to ensure students who learn online this year have access to high-quality, standards-based learning. The deadline for parents and guardians to elect this option for their child(ren) is August 5th.  

For more information on the MCSD Return to Learn Plan, please visit the MCSD Return to Learn webpage.

MCSD Food Service gets boost thanks to generous donation

State Farm WEB

Local State Farm agents Mike Peschong (left), Jeff Linton (center), and Phyllis Mazour (right) present a check for $3,000 toward the MCSD Food Service Department at Monday’s meeting.

Local State Farm insurance agents Phyllis Mazour, Jeff Linton and Mike Peschong received recognition for presenting a $3,000 check toward the MCSD Food Service Department. 

“As State Farm agents, we collectively got together and decided that we wanted to do something for the Marshalltown community, and wanted to be able to touch as many citizens as we could in the community,” Mazour said. “We just want to say thank you for everything you do. Thank you for making this community much better. Together, we make this a community that stands out in the state of Iowa.” 

MCSD Food Service Director Lynn Large said the donation is a generous gesture and will go toward ensuring young Bobcats have food security.

“Your generosity means so much to me and the Nutrition Department, but more importantly, it means so much to the kids in the community who rely on the schools for the meals,” she said. “Thank you for supporting the work that we are all doing here in Marshalltown.” 

The Food Service Department has provided free meals to students 18 years old and younger throughout the coronavirus pandemic situation, which began in March. Additionally, meals have been provided throughout the community this summer and in several previous summers, all in an effort to fight student hunger and food insecurity during when school is not in session. 

District Employee recognized for building several plexiglass barriers

Employee plexiglass web

Buildings and Grounds employee Chris Blanchard has made dozens of plexiglass barriers (like the one shown here) for school buildings.

Marshalltown Schools Buildings and Grounds employee Chris Blanchard was recognized by the board for his effort to build dozens of plexiglass desk shields for schools. He said he knew it would be helpful and cost-effective for him to build the barriers. 

“I looked at how they were built, and I thought ‘Man, this can’t be too tough,’” Blanchard said.

Dr. Schutte said the District appreciates Blanchard’s ingenuity and initiative in adding to the significant safety measures being put in place for the upcoming school year. 

2019-20 End-of-Year report shared
Dr. Stevenson shared the annual MCSD End-of-Year report for the 2019-2020 school year. The presentation touched on key areas of the District’s strategic plan, including metrics on student achievement and learning environments. 

Stevenson said the early end to the 2020-21 school year due to the coronavirus pandemic in March impacted the data collected for the report.

MCSD Security Management System change orders approved
The board approved four change orders for the MCSD Security Management system Monday. Those change orders include adding lockdown buttons, upgrading of cameras, an additional card reader replacement, and deduction of allowances.

The change orders will add an estimated $13,600 to the roughly $530,000 system contract, and funding for the change orders will come from sales tax funding.  

Communications
Communications Director Adam Sodders reviewed the good news from the district by sharing newspaper articles as well as school communications articles. That list can be seen here

Personnel items
For a list of personnel items approved Monday, click here

Policies
First Reading: There were no policies up a first reading at the Aug. 3 board meeting
Initial Review:
Marked as reviewed –

  • 200 – Statement of Guiding Principles
  • 409.3 – Licensed Employee Family and Medical Leave 
  • 409.3-E1 – Licensed Employee Family and Medical Leave Notice to Employees 
  • 409.3-R2 – Licensed Employee Family and Medical Leave- Definitions 
  • 604.12 – Temporarily Disabled Students 
  • 908 – United States Flag Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
  • 908-R1 – United States Flag Procedure for Displaying the Flag and Respect for the Flag

Will come back for a first reading –

  • 105 – Discrimination and Harassment Based on Sex Prohibited 
  • 201.2 (new 200.2) – Legal Status of the Board of Directors 
  • 409.3-E2 – Licensed Employee Family and Medical Leave Request Form
  • 409.3-R1 – Licensed Employee Family and Medical Leave – Regulation 
  • 601.2 – School Day (Primer) (will come back for a first reading)
  • 604.11 – Appropriate Use of Online Learning Platforms (Primer)
  • 907 – District Operation During Public Emergencies (Primer) 
  • 907-R1 – District Operations During a Public Health Emergency Regulation (Primer)

Deleted – 

  • 403.5 – Harassment-Employees 
  • 403.5-R – Harassment- Employees (Investigation Regulation)
  • 403.5- E1 – Harassment Complaint Form
  • 403.5-E2 – Witness Disclosure Form
  • 414.3 – Classified Employee Family and Medical Leave
  • 414.3-R1 – Classified Employee Family and Medical Leave -Regulation
  • 414.3-R2 – Classified Employee Family and Medical Leave -Definitions
  • 414.3-E1 – Classified Employee Family and Medical Leave Notice to Employees
  • 414.3-E2 – Classified Employee Family and Medical Leave – Request Form 

From Board President Bea Niblock
“August has arrived and school, in a variety of forms, will begin soon. The Return to Learn plan was discussed at length at the board meeting last night. Different ideas and varying perspectives were shared and debated. After much deliberation, the board approved the plan presented by administration.

Twelve-month staff returned to work in the buildings on Monday. Staff and students will follow later in the month. And, the board will hold in-person meetings beginning with a work session on August 6th and their regular meeting on August 17th. In an effort to keep everyone safe, a new normal will be seen in all buildings and the board room. 

We proceed with an abundance of caution knowing that procedures could change again as we learn more about the coronavirus.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The meeting will be held in-person at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave., with social distancing and other safety measures in place. The meeting will be available to watch via YouTube live stream. 

July 13, 2020 Board Meeting

14 Jul

MCSD Return to Learn plan update shared R2L logo
The Marshalltown Community School District Return to Learn plan for 2020-21 was a major topic of discussion at Monday night’s school board meeting. 

Several District leaders shared updates on the work done by each of the six Return to Learn teams since early June. While the school board did not approve a final Return to Learn plan Monday, they did hear the current MCSD recommendation for Return to Learn this fall.

“The Marshalltown Community School District currently plans on offering parents and their children two options: on-site learning for those willing and able, or online learning for those unable or unwilling to come on-site,” said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte. “A decision for children to access online learning will require a minimum semester commitment and can be re-evaluated at that time.” 

Modified on-site learning would include an abundance of safety measures, including required face masks or face shields for all staff and students (with limited exceptions), social distancing, frequent hand washing, making hand sanitizer available throughout all school buildings, daily deep-cleaning in each building, and signage posted throughout the district sharing the enforced safety measures. 

The plans and recommendations presented Monday may change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information on Monday evening’s Return to Learn update and for the latest information on Return to Learn, please visit the MCSD Return to Learn webpage

Student Reps 20-21

MHS students Itzary Avalos (left), Klaudia Hernandez (center), and Haley Reed (right) were selected as the 2020-21 Student School Board Representatives Monday evening.

Three new Student School Board members named for 2020-21 school year
Three exemplary Marshalltown High School upperclassmen were chosen as Student School Board Representatives Monday.

Junior Haley Reed and seniors Itzary Avalos and Klaudia Hernandez are all involved in several school and extracurricular activities, and will keep the school board updated on the many happenings at MHS throughout the year. 

MHS Parking Lot improvement project approved
The school board approved the MHS Parking Lot improvement project and awarded the work to Manatt’s Inc. in the amount of $193,000. District Director of Business Operations Paulette Newbold said the bid came in significantly under the estimated project budget of $225,000. 

Board approves legislative priorities
This year’s Marshalltown School Board legislative priorities were adopted in a resolution Monday. The four priorities this year include: 

  • School Funding Policy – supporting a school funding formula that provides sufficient and timely funding, equalizes per-pupil funding, addresses transportation cost inequities, reflects actual cost for special education services, and more.
  • Mental Health – supporting efforts to establish comprehensive community mental health systems to offer preventative and treatment services and comprehensive school mental health programs.
  • English Learners – supporting sufficient, timely funding for English learners until the students reach proficiency.
  • Early Childhood Literacy – Supporting continued development and funding for research on best practices for improving proficiency in early literacy strategies, continued funding for professional development and classroom intervention strategies focused on best practices for early literacy in grades PK-3, additional funding for programs designed to ensure all students meet literacy expectations by the end of third grade, and more. 

For more details on this year’s adopted MCSD legislative priorities, click here

English learner education spotlighted in end-of-year report
District English Learner (EL) and Migrant Coordinator Rachel Inks shared data on the English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21) with the board. 

The EPLA21 is used to determine English language learner (ELL) students’ home language, provide a placement screener, and get a summative measure of students’ English language proficiency. Teachers are also given professional learning modules to support the implementation of Iowa’s English Language Proficiency Standards. 

To check out the ELPA21 report presentation from Monday’s meeting, click here

School board meeting dates set for 2020-21
The Marshalltown School Board meeting dates for the 2020-21 school year were approved Monday. They can be found here or on the MCSD School Board web-page

Communications
Communications Director Adam Sodders reviewed the good news from the district by sharing newspaper articles as well as school communications articles. That list can be seen here

Personnel items
For a list of personnel items approved Monday, click here

Policies
First Reading:
– 710.4-R1 – Meal Donation Allocation Regulation (adopted, second reading waived)

Initial Review: There were no policies up for initial review at the July 13 board meeting. 

From Board President Bea Niblock
“About 90 minutes of time was spent discussing the Return to Learning plans for the district. Seventy-two people – administration, teaching staff and community people – gathered together in six different committees to draw together resources, develop protocols for safety, and determine professional development to prepare staff. 

During the meeting, eight chairs/co-chairs went through the information compiled in the six committees. They will continue their work, get answers to board and community questions, and present a plan for approval at the Aug. 3 board meeting. 

The plan will be one that emphasizes student, staff and family safety, follows the procedures of CDC, WHO and medical experts, and brings our students back to learning! March 6  was a long time ago!”  – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 3, 2020. The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom and a live stream of the meeting will be available via YouTube.

June 15, 2020 Board Meeting

16 Jun

MHS

MCSD school nurses led an effort to create and distribute cloth face-masks as COVID-19 concerns grew earlier this year. In addition, MCSD Health Services staff continue to perform safety screenings and provide services to students and families remotely.

School board hears 2019-20 MCSD Health Report
MCSD Lead Nurse Stacey Tool-Crawford presented the annual district health report to the Marshalltown School Board Monday. She said there was nothing unusual about the first several months of the school year – that changed in February as concerns about COVID-19 grew. 

“As school nurses, we started to do some further screening of students and staff who would come into our offices with fevers,” Tool-Crawford said. “Then, of course, we went on spring break, and then ended up not returning.” 

She said the district’s team of nurses and health aides had to quickly adapt to a constantly-changing situation due to the coronavirus outbreak. Even as the district buildings closed and students were sent home, Tool-Crawford said Health Services employees were screening essential personnel throughout the district to maintain safety. 

She said she continues to work closely with Marshall County Public Health Nurse Pat Thompson on monitoring the situation with the virus. Tool-Crawford has also worked with MHS Activities/Athletics Director Ryan Isgrig on maintaining health and safety of student-athletes, parents and fans with the recent return of summer sports. 

Along with providing health care to students, MCSD’s team of nurses are involved in several education and training activities. Those include implementing a K-4 health curriculum, education on proper hand-washing and avoiding germs, providing information on cold/flu illnesses, facilitating the MHS Health Fair, and more. 

Femineers STEM program coming to Miller Middle School spotlightedmiller-middle-school-1
Last week, Miller Middle School was announced as one of just six schools in Iowa to be chosen for the University of Iowa College of Engineering Femineers Adopt-a-School program. Miller Extended Learning Program (XLP) teacher Ann Jackson was instrumental in bringing the three-year STEM learning opportunity to the school. 

“We’ve noticed in our trends with XLP programming that girls are not choosing our STEM-based activities,” she said. “We’re hoping that the Femineer program, since it is just for girls, will pique some interest.” 

Jackson said she will attend professional development training this fall at U of I to prepare to implement the Femineers program. In each of the next three years, participating students will focus on areas like Creative Robotics, Wearable Technology, and Raspberry Pi Robotics. 

“Another great thing about the program is they provide a U of I mentor student for us, and it’s just another way for girls to see successful women in STEM careers and STEM learning fields,” 

Jackson said she would like to see the program extended beyond XLP as an opportunity for all girls attending Miller Middle School. 

Action taken on 2020-21 school meal prices
The board approved a slight increase to some school meal prices for the upcoming school year Monday, and Food Service Director Lynn Large said the USDA’s paid lunch equity tool was used to determine the need for the move.

The 10-cent increase will be applied to the paid student lunch and breakfast prices at Miller Middle School and Marshalltown High School, as well as adult meals. Meals will continue to come at no cost to students at all other district buildings because of the USDA Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) program. Federal reduced-price breakfast and lunch prices will remain $0.30 and $0.40, respectively. 

Public hearing set on MHS Parking Lot project
The board approved a public hearing on the proposed Marshalltown High School parking lot improvement project for 5 p.m. Monday, July 13. The goal of the proposed project is to upgrade the high school’s existing parking lot areas. 

Those wishing to participate in the July 13 public hearing should contact Board Secretary Paulette Newbold (pnewbold@marshalltown.k12.ia.us) by 4 p.m. on the day of the hearing. 

End-of-year reports focus on teacher leadership, mentoring
Teachers are at the center of ensuring student success, and two programs focused on

Mentoring 2019-20

Miller Middle School composition teacher and Marshalltown High School counselor Rebecca Whalen work on a teacher mentoring activity.

teacher training and support were discussed at Monday’s board meeting.

MCSD mentor-coach Sue Cahill shared information on the district’s  mentoring program for new teachers from the 2019-20 school year.

“The mentoring program is for our new teachers, whether they are brand new to teaching or they are experienced teachers coming to our district,” she said.

The district’s mentoring program includes the following goals:

Establish a welcoming climate and clear expectations for successful teaching.

Establish a habit of professional collaboration

Practice and become proficient in the skills of self-analysis and reflection

Cahill said she focuses on gathering feedback from individual new teachers to ensure they are able to learn and grow. By supporting new teachers, the mentoring program also benefits students; teachers can use strategies they practice in mentoring to improve student achievement.

Also discussed at Monday’s meeting was the district’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation system (TLC). Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson said the leadership opportunities provided to teachers benefit students and staff.

She said the first-year and five-year teacher retention rates are both continuing to improve, and that teachers in the district continued to collaborate exceptionally during the 2019-20 school year.

The Department of Education requires at least 25 percent of a district’s teachers to hold an additional leadership role within the TLC system, and Stevenson said Marshalltown’s numbers are well over that baseline, at 38 percent.

“I’m happy that so many teachers within Marshalltown want to help support each other and our new hires,” she said. “We’re doing really good things, I think we’re making some really nice growth.”

Communications
Communications Director Adam Sodders reviewed the good news from the district by sharing newspaper articles as well as school communications articles. That list can be seen here.

Personnel items
For a list of personnel items approved Monday, click here.

Policies
No action was taken during the policies section of the June 15 meeting.

From Board President Bea Niblock
“It’s that time of the year when the board meeting is filled with end-of-the-year reports. Tonight’s meeting brought a variety of people from around the district to share information.

The board received the health report for the past year. Included in that report were statistics and highlights of the impact of COVID–19 on the district. I remember a time when we didn’t have nurses in every building. What would we do without them now?

The mentor program report was also shared. The training of new teachers as they come into the district is essential. Without that mentorship, they would struggle with the rigors of the job. Teaching is hard work! Mentor connections help new teachers survive that first year and enjoy the work.

Time for goal setting coming up! Stay tuned for more information about the work of your board.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, July 13, 2020, and it will be the only meeting in July. The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom and a live stream of the meeting will be available via YouTube. 

June 1, 2020 Board Meeting

2 Jun

Baseball

Bobcat baseball and softball are set to return to action this summer. To ensure safety amid ongoing public health concerns, the MHS Activities/Athletic Department has several rules and guidelines for student-athletes, parents, coaches, and fans to consider.

Update shared on summer sports return and safety measures
School sports were among the many areas impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; in May, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced the return of baseball and softball summer seasons. While it is exciting to know Bobcat student-athletes will return to action, MHS Activities/Athletics Director Ryan Isgrig said safety is still the top priority as summer sports begin and many details are still being determined. 

“There are several guidelines and regulations out there,” Isgrig said, adding a summer sports parent meeting was held last week. “It’s a collaborative effort.” 

A wide variety of actions are being taken to ensure the safety of student-athletes, parents, fans, coaches and everyone involved in summer sports, including (but not limited to):

  • Posting signs around sports facilities communicating safety expectations
  • Equipment cleaning before and after practice
  • Coaches screening student-athletes’ temperatures before practice 
  • Limited fan seating
  • Encouragement of social distancing among all parties
  • Closure of concession stands

District Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte said because Marshall County is still among Iowa’s top-ranking counties in terms of the number of COVID-19 cases, MCSD is surpassing the safety expectations set at the state level. 

“We’ve taken those minimum expectations and I think, in a reasonable way, expanded them,” he said. 

For more information on MCSD summer sports guidelines, rules and information, click here

Dual-graduate and Biliterate Bobcats’ accomplishments recognized
Bobcat Pride is running high even amid a difficult public health situation. The board recognized two sets of great student accomplishments at Monday’s meeting. 

Nine Marshalltown High School students will graduate with both their high school diploma and an associate’s degree, including: Carmen Araiza, Mia Barajas, Olivia BiliteracySeal2020-webimage-250x250Brintnall, Grace Fisher, Saylor Hempy, Amanda Hoffman, Trevor Ketcham, Kaci Uhde, and Liz Vargas.

“I really appreciate everything that MHS and MCC have done for us,” Ketcham said. “It gave all nine of us a way to push ourselves and get ready for college.” 

Fellow dual-graduate Carmen Araiza said the college coursework was challenging and rewarding. 

“It’s been a really fantastic opportunity,” she said. “Time management was a huge thing for me since I had a lot of classes first semester.”  

All nine students can take these academic accomplishments and look to their future education and careers with confidence.  

Also spotlighted were the 54 students who earned a Seal of Biliteracy this year. Students earn the honor by demonstrating proficiency in both English and at least one other world language. Nearly four times as many Bobcat students earned the Seal of Biliteracy compared to last year, when the seal was introduced. 

Board takes action to provide internet to hundreds of district families
After several weeks of dedicated research and surveying district families by the MCSD Technology Department, the school board approved a contract with Mediacom to provide low-cost internet to 437 families for six months.

Director of Technology Amy Harmsen said those families were deemed by Mediacom to qualify for the company’s low-cost internet program, and her department will continue to survey families, seek internet solutions and provide any other support necessary to get students connected to high-quality digital learning. 

The contract with Mediacom to provide low-cost internet to families for six months can be viewed here

Strong MCSD employee culture survey shows across-the-board growth
Board members heard a summary of the 2020 MCSD employee culture survey from Brad Black, CEO of Humanex ventures – the results showed positive growth in the district’s work culture since the 2018 survey. 

In the survey, Humanex used 15 dimensions to measure the work culture at MCSD. All of the dimension scores increased in 2020, continuing a trend of positive feedback from previous surveys. More than 80 percent of all district employees shared their perspectives in the survey. 

Resolution calling for a safe, healthy, district-specific reopening process adopted
As various parts of Iowa society begins to open up for the first time in months, MCSD joined the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) in adopting the “Resolution in Support of a Safe, Healthy, and District-Specific Reopening Process Informed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines.” 

The full policy is available here

List of Class of 2020 graduates approved
A total of 375 Marshalltown High School and Marshalltown Learning Academy students are set to graduate in June. The board approved the student list Monday, and MHS Principal Jacque Wyant said more students may soon be joining the graduating ranks in coming days and weeks. 

For information on the tentative Class of 2020 graduation ceremony plan, click here. 

Per diem pay for certified substitute teachers increased
Certified substitute teachers provide important and valuable support and services throughout the school year. The board approved an increase in certified substitute teacher pay from $115 to $120 Monday, ensuring a regionally competitive pay rate.   

Communications
Communications Director Adam Sodders reviewed the good news from the district by sharing newspaper articles as well as school communications articles. That list can be seen here

Personnel items
For a list of personnel items approved Monday, click here

Policies
First reading:

  • 312-3-E1 Fringe Benefits-Administrators/Supervisors (amended and second reading waived)

Initial review

  • No policies were up for initial review at the June 1 board meeting.

From Board President Bea Niblock
“Recognitions filled the first part of our meeting.  Students were recognized for graduating from high school with a diploma from MCSD and an AA degree from MCC. What an accomplishment!  And 54 students were recognized for receiving the Seal of Biliteracy at graduation. What a tremendous accomplishment – being literate in 2 languages! All of the students are well positioned for a successful college career.

Each year, more and more opportunities are afforded to the students in the Marshalltown district. Project Lead the Way continues to grow. Internships have been added to our curriculum.  And, our students continue to receive accolades at the state and national levels.  

And, our teachers spend countless hours challenging students at every grade level. Special education, gifted education and supports for all students help each child succeed at his/her own level. Where else would you want parents to send their children? Nowhere but the Marshalltown School District!” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, June 15, 2020. The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom and a live stream of the meeting will be available via YouTube. 

May 18, 2020 Board Meeting

19 May

Roundhouse WEB

As in previous years, the MHS Roundhouse will serve as the venue for the Class of 2020 graduation ceremony, even though this year’s ceremony format will be unique due to the global pandemic.

Tentative plans for Class of 2020 graduation ceremony shared
Marshalltown High School Principal Jacque Wyant shared tentative plans for the Class of 2020 graduation ceremony with the board Monday evening. The ceremony is currently set to take place Sunday, June 28 starting at 2 p.m. Due to the ongoing public health situation, the ceremony will take place in a unique way compared to previous years. 

“We have looked at a way to celebrate each graduate with their family present in the Roundhouse,” Wyant said. 

The plan calls for each family – in a group numbering 10 people or fewer – to arrive at the MHS Roundhouse parking lot within a designated time frame. School staff will then guide graduates and families from a pick-up station to the Roundhouse. Each graduate will walk across the stage in the Roundhouse while their family watches. 

Prior to the start of the ceremony, pre-recorded graduation speeches will be broadcast on multiple formats.

“It’s just a way to celebrate the accomplishment of the student,” Wyant said. “We’re confident we can move this along, as long as everybody arrives at their designated timeframe in the parking lot and follows directions.” 

Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte said that while this year’s ceremony will be unique, it will also allow graduates and their families to more closely share the experience. 

NOTE: Due to the ongoing public health situation, changes may be made to the current graduation ceremony plan.

Student School Board WEB

MHS students Carmen Araiza, Mia Barajas, and Diana Sanchez have served as excellent student representatives to the board during the 2019-20 school year.

Student School Board members’ service celebrated
Each school year, three exceptional high school upperclassmen are selected as Student School Board members. This year’s student representatives – Diana Sanchez, Mia Barajas, and Carmen Araiza – have done an excellent job of keeping the board updated on the happenings at the high school and sharing their input as students. 

“You were great role models serving in those roles,” Dr. Schutte said. 

The students said they appreciated the experience. 

“I learned a lot about how the school works,” Araiza said. 

Sanchez said it was interesting to become familiar with how the school board makes key decisions. 

“I’ve learned a lot from this experience. I’m grateful for the opportunity,” Barajas said. 

All three will be given plaques to thank them for their service. 

Kind gesture from Raymon-Donco recognized
Also highlighted at Monday’s meeting was a kind act by Raymon-Donco owner Larry Donco, who is donating 750 face-masks to the district. The masks will be used to help ensure employee safety as students’ personal belongings are packed up and given back to students.

“That was a significant contribution from Larry and his company that we really appreciate,” Dr. Schutte said.  

Other recognitions at Monday’s board meeting included: 

  • School nurses, celebrated earlier this month during National School Nurse Day
  • MHS students Averi Bolar and Jason Strand, who qualified for the nationwide National History Day contest with their project on the suffragist Alice Paul. Fellow student Klaudia Hernandez earned a strong third-place finish at the state NHD competition. 

Discussion held on MCSD summer learning
Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson shared an update with the board regarding this year’s summer learning programs. One change will be that MCSD will not contract with Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) for summer school services, as has been done in previous years. 

“We have to offer summer school in a virtual format this summer due to the pandemic,” Stevenson said. “So much of the work that MICA supported in terms of the enrichment activities – the field trips, the extended learning – just are not able to happen in the community this summer.” 

She said MICA will still provide a separate “Transition to Kindergarten” program at Woodbury, Anson and Rogers elementary schools later in the summer. 

Virtual summer learning will look much like the virtual learning currently taking place in the district. The Learn From Home website will continue to run June 15 to July 31. Paper packets with educational materials will also continue to be distributed regularly.

“The Bobcat University that you are familiar with at K-3 happens at each of our six sites, and what we’re doing this summer is offering one hour of synchronous instruction through the Google Meet format by grade level at each site,” Stevenson said. 

She said a summer learning program at Miller Middle School is being worked on, and that Marshalltown High School and Marshalltown Learning Academy student credit recovery programs will still take place. In addition, a virtual 9th-grade transition program is planned for students moving from middle school to high school. 

Board adopts renewed Instructional Support Levy resolution
The school board adopted a resolution renewing MCSD’s ability to use the state Instructional Support Levy for a further five years.

The levy allows school districts to increase their general fund budget by up to 10 percent of the regular program district cost. Adoption of the resolution came after a public hearing on the matter yielded no comments from the public. 

Bus exterior WEB

The MCSD Transportation Department will be able to better track buses and improve efficiency with the software upgrade approved by the school board Monday.

Transportation software upgrade approved
A software upgrade to improve the Transportation Department’s communications and operational efficiency was approved by the board. 

Transportation Director Rex Kozak said the software – Transfinder Plus – will allow buses to be tracked closely; the program also runs diagnostics on the buses and can notify mechanics if something needs to be addressed on the vehicle. Kozak said the upgrade will provide opportunities to lessen bus idling time and to make bus routes more efficient. 

Updated COVID-19 resolution adopted
The board adopted an updated version of the district’s COVID-19 Pandemic Resolution. The resolution includes updated guidelines in response to the changing situation with COVID-19. Click here to view the resolution. 

MCSD to continue improving classroom audio systems
Hoglan Elementary will be getting a classroom audio system upgrade after board action Monday. Dr. Schutte said the improved audio system at Hoglan will follow similar efforts at Woodbury, Rogers, and Anson elementary schools. The purchase for the 15 Lightspeed TOPCAT units was approved at $24,990 and will be paid with sales tax funding.

Along with helping students who have hearing difficulties, Dr. Schutte said the improved audio systems also help preserve and protect teachers’ voices. 

Administrator, secretarial salary and benefits changes for FY2021 approved
Changes to MCSD administrator and secretarial salary and benefits were approved at Monday’s meeting. One change for both groups is the inclusion of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a paid holiday, among other changes. 

Communications
Communications Director Adam Sodders reviewed the good news from the district by sharing newspaper articles as well as school communications articles. That list can be seen here

Personnel items
For a list of personnel items approved Monday, click here

Policies
First reading

  • 506.2-R1 Use of Directory Information (adopted, second reading waived)
  • 201.7 (new 200.1) Organization of the Board of Directors (amended, second reading waived)
  • 506.2-E1 Authorization for Releasing Student Directory Information (amended, second reading waived)

Initial review

  • 312-3-E1 Fringe Benefits-Administrators/Supervisors (will come back for a first reading)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“Last night’s meeting opened with the public hearing on the proposed resolution to consider continued participation in the Instructional Support Program. There were no comments from the public. I think that everyone understands just how important that funding is for the budgeting of this district.

Later in the meeting, the board unanimously voted to support the continued participation in the Instructional Support Program. The program was originally begun to allow districts to increase their general funds by up to 10% of the regular program budget. That is especially important to a property poor district as ours. We generated about $2.1 million dollars in this manner during the last budget year.  

The resolution will guarantee continued participation for 5 years beginning with the fiscal year July 1, 2021. ” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, June 1, 2020. The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom and a live stream of the meeting will be available via YouTube.