July 19, 2021 Board Meeting

20 Jul
MCSD Food Service Director Lynn Large shares the annual Food Service Department update at the July 19 board meeting

Food Service director commends staff in annual report
Over the past 16 months, the MCSD Food Service Department has continued to provide excellent service to Bobcat students, both at school and in the neighborhoods of Marshalltown. 

In her annual departmental report at the Monday, July 19 Marshalltown School Board meeting, Food Service Director Lynn Large highlighted staff members’ incredible teamwork and dedication during the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m really proud of the Food Service team and how we handled all those challenges,” Large said.

Despite the challenges, she added there were plenty of positive accomplishments from the end of the 2019-20 school year and into the 2020-21 school year, including:

  • Meals were provided at no cost for all students ages 18 and younger
  • Grab-and-Go meals were served to hybrid and virtual students
  • The Meals Close to Home program ensured students had access to nutritious meals during school closure
  • Staff members grew their skills with cross-training opportunities
  • The department grew stronger as a team

Large said the USDA Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Program also continued last school year, and Food Service staff were celebrated during Lunch Hero Day 2021. She said she is excited for the upcoming school year.

2021 Bobcat Golf Fundraiser a massive success
The Bobcat Golf Fundraiser returned stronger than ever in 2021 after being cancelled last summer.

MHS Activities/Athletics Director Ryan Isgrig said the June outing brought together community members and Bobcat alumni at the American Legion Golf Course, all for the benefit of Bobcat students. In total, more than $25,000 was raised for Bobcat activities/athletics.

To see the full story on this year’s record-breaking Bobcat Golf Fundraiser, plus more photos and results, click here.

MHS Activities/Athletics Director Ryan Isgrig shares details from the this year’s record-breaking Bobcat Golf Fundraiser.

Legislative priorities set for 2021
The board approved the District’s legislative priorities for 2021 at Monday’s meeting. The areas of equity for all children, mental health, school funding policy, supplemental state aid, and COVID-19 remediation were emphasized on this year’s list.

Key construction projects discussed, change orders approved
Several exciting facilities projects are underway across the District this summer, with contractors, architects, and District staff working hard to ensure their timely completion.

Some obstacles have come up as the projects progress, including delays in the delivery of certain pieces of equipment and parts, as well as work reflected in recent change orders.

Superintendent Dr. Schutte said the District built contingency funds into the project budgets to address such change orders, and that a small portion of the projects’ contingency funding has been used thus far.

In addition to hearing the projects update, the board approved change orders for projects at MHS and Anson Elementary at Monday’s board meeting.

Update, follow-up steps shared regarding recent personnel matters
Dr. Schutte expressed the District’s extreme disappointment following two separate allegations regarding improper employee-student relations announced recently, as well as the significant follow-up steps the District is taking to ensure the safest, most enriching learning environment is provided for students.

“These allegations fly in the face of the law, our employee code of conduct, and the foundation of what our District stands for,” he said.

While the District’s selection and hiring processes and procedures were found to be thorough and robust upon review, Dr. Schutte said extensive efforts will be made to strengthen those processes wherever possible.

“We will still leave no stone left unturned as we evaluate all of our policies, practices, and procedures to make sure that our employees fully know and understand District expectations and conduct themselves in an appropriate and professional fashion at all times,” he said.

The District is looking into providing trainings on employee ethics and responsibilities, as well as proper use of social media, both of which have been presented to staff in recent years. The District is also investigating ways to strengthen policies and practices related to employee-student communications, and to ensure students are informed about reporting and getting help if a concerning situation were to arise.

“We have a wealth of community agencies that provide support in a variety of ways,” Dr. Schutte said. “We’ll be reaching out to CAPS – Child Abuse and Prevention Services – to access and take advantage of any other student and/or employee supports.”

He said the many action steps outlined Monday will be part of an ongoing process in alignment with the District’s number one priority – student safety.

District staffing needs discussed, employee handbooks approved
Human Resources Director Dr. Nora Ryan shared an overview of the District’s current staffing needs Monday evening.

She said MCSD is experiencing the same challenges in filling open positions as many other schools. Despite the challenges, Dr. Ryan said strong efforts are being made to proactively reach out to potential candidates. 

The District’s available positions can be viewed at https://iowa.schoolspring.com/ (search the Marshalltown zip code – 50158 – to see our career opportunities), as well as at https://marshalltown.tedk12.com/hire/index.aspx

Additionally, the 2021-22 employee handbook presented by Dr. Ryan in June received the board’s approval on Monday evening.

Small vehicle purchases strengthen District fleet
The board approved the purchases of two vans at the July 19 meeting, both part of the Transportation Department’s annual replacement cycle. Transportation Director Rex Kozak said PPEL funding will be used to fund the purchases.

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

  • 403.1 Employee Physical Examinations (amended, second reading waived)
  • 404.1-R1 Employee Dress Code (amended, second reading waived)
  • 605.6 Internet-Appropriate and Safe Use (amended, second reading waived)
  • 703.1 Budget Planning (amended, second reading waived)
  • 704.1 Local-State-Federal-Miscellaneous Revenue (amended, second reading waived)
  • 704.6 Online Fundraising Campaigns – Crowdfunding (amended, second reading waived)
  • 707.2 Treasurer’s Annual Report (amended, second reading waived)

Initial Review – 

  • 702 Cash in School Buildings (will come back for a first reading)
  • 706.3 Pay Deductions (will come back for a first reading)
  • 706.3-R1 Pay Deduction Regulation (will come back for a first reading)
  • 203 Board of Directors Conflict of Interest (will come back for a first reading)
  • 707.4 Audits (will come back for a first reading)
  • 707.5-R1 Internal Controls Procedures (will come back for a first reading)
  • 801.4 Site Acquisition (will come back for a first reading)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“During the summer meetings, the board hears reports from the various departments throughout the district. Last night’s meeting heard the Nutrition Services report.

It seems that the pandemic has reached near and far and impacted everyone. Because no students attended school for several months, food service employees took meals ‘on the road’ to be sure that all students still had the opportunity to receive meals as they would have in school.

And when we returned to school in the fall, many students chose to continue to learn online or only came to school every other day in a hybrid model. This necessitated decreasing the food service work staff as revenue decreased by nearly $46,000. We have high hopes that the fall will see nutrition services return to near normal.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 2, 2021 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave. The meeting will be available to watch via live stream through the Bobcat News Network (BNN) YouTube channel.

June 21, 2021 Board Meeting

22 Jun
New MCSD Director of Learning Shauna Smith was introduced at Monday’s school board meeting. Smith has previous experience at MCSD, as well as South Tama Schools and Bondurant-Farrar Schools.

New Director of Learning introduced
Marshalltown Schools is excited to welcome new MCSD Director of Learning Shauna Smith to the District leadership team.

During her formal introduction at the Monday, June 21 Marshalltown School Board meeting, Smith said she is excited to again serve Bobcat students.

“I’m really honored to get to serve the community,” Smith said. “We live in the community, my children go to school here. We’re very much committed and invested in the Marshalltown Community School District.”

Smith returns to MCSD from South Tama County Community School District, where she has served as director of curriculum and student services. Prior to her time at South Tama, Smith served as an assistant principal and dean of students at Bondurant-Farrar Schools. During her previous tenure at Marshalltown Schools, Smith served as PK-6 Curriculum and Professional Development Leader and as a teacher. 

“I’m really excited to develop a relationship with all of you and to continue serving our students to the best of our ability,” Smith said. “I feel like I’m finally home.” 

Monday’s meeting was current Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson’s last in Marshalltown before her departure at the end of June, and she was thanked for her incredible service to Bobcat students since 2016.

“I hope your years here have been enjoyable years,” said Board President Bea Niblock to Dr. Stevenson.

Student school board representatives, board meeting schedule decided for 2021-22
Four Bobcat students were chosen as next school year’s student school board representatives at Monday’s meeting, including Phoebe Hermanson, Taylor Jones, and Aaron Seberger. Returning as a student representative will be Haley Reed.

Also approved was the 2021-22 regular school board meeting schedule. Marshalltown School Board meetings take place at 5 p.m. on the third floor of the MCSD Central Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave., on the first and third Monday of the month, except for Labor Day in September (meeting moved to the first Tuesday) and the single meetings in the months of January and July.

District Lead Nurse Stacey Tool-Crawford presents the annual Health Services Report for 2020-21

District Nurse shares 2020-21 Health Services report
The MCSD Health Services team stepped up in a major way during the 2020-21 school year, which was marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. District Lead Nurse Stacey Tool-Crawford had high praise for her team during her annual Health Services report on Monday. 

“They’ve all taken on more leadership in their buildings, helping to navigate through this pandemic,” she said of the District’s school nurses and health aides. 

Tool-Crawford described how the Health Services team performed contact-tracing, educated staff and families about the coronavirus, tracked positivity rates within buildings, and ensured that the District’s safety measures were followed during the school year. 

COVID-19 vaccinations have been another area of success for Marshalltown Schools. Tool-Crawford reported that more than 80 percent of staff members were vaccinated through a partnership between MCSD and Hy-Vee earlier this year. About one-fifth of Bobcat students have also been vaccinated since May, thanks to the support of Hy-Vee and Meskwaki Health Services.

Tool-Crawford said it is very likely that the vaccination rate among both staff and students is higher than District data shows, due to the availability of other vaccine clinics locally. She said work will be done next school year to gain insight into vaccination rates at MCSD.

“This past school year has been one of constant change,” Tool-Crawford said, adding that strong leadership and dedication from MCSD staff and students helped minimize the impact of the pandemic. “We were leaders in the area in maintaining those mitigation strategies,” 

Culture survey overview presented
Marshalltown Schools staff members were asked to give their feedback in a District-wide culture survey recently, and the results came back strong despite the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

HUMANeX Ventures CEO Brad Black gave an overview of this year’s culture survey, including the District’s top-rated dimensions: Engage-Inspire, Pride, Continuous Improvement, Innovation, and Quality. He said the survey showed a slight decline in overall score, but added MCSD continues to have impressive results.

“You have a very resilient, strong staff,” Black said. “You’ve got a solid, strong culture,”

Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte said this year’s culture survey was an excellent opportunity to learn about the experiences of District employees in 2020-21. 

“I’m really glad that we did this to see what kind of impact this past year had, knowing that it was going to be extraordinarily challenging for everybody,” he said. “What I’m really going to be interested in seeing is how our scores next year look, compared to even a year ago.”

James Christensen describes the successful USTA Iowa Adult League District Championships hosted at the Marshalltown Court Complex this month.

Successful tennis tournament at Marshalltown Court Complex celebrated
Hundreds of spectators and tennis players gathered at the beautiful new Marshalltown Court Complex facility this month for the USTA Iowa Adult League District Championships.

MHS Tennis coach and Bobcat Tennis Academy Director James Christensen did an excellent job managing the tournament, and he was pleased to share the praise given to the new Court Complex and the city of Marshalltown at the event. 

“They really loved the facility,” he said. “We really got to test out the capabilities … having that many people there at that high level of tennis was a big test.” 

The tournament also had a positive impact on the local economy, and Christensen said visitors from around the state stayed in hotels and complimented the variety of high-quality restaurants offered in Marshalltown.

“It was really nice to be considered a great place to host,” he said, adding tennis action will return to the Marshalltown Court Complex June 29-30 and on July 21.

Board approves MasteryConnect platform to support student learning
A powerful new tool to support student learning was approved by the school board Monday evening. 

MHS Principal Jacque Wyant said the MasteryConnect platform will dovetail with the District’s existing programming to help identify learning gaps resulting from pandemic-related challenges. The platform cost will be covered by federal ESSER funding.

2021-22 MHS Course Manual, Student Handbook approved
The MHS Course Manual and Student Handbook for the upcoming school year also gained board approval Monday, and Wyant said there were a few notable updates in each document. 

In the Course Manual, changes were made to reflect a new state law regarding dual-credit college coursework for high school students; specifically, there are now alternative measures students can take to participate in dual-credit courses.

In the Student Handbook, updates were made to the MHS school day schedule to reflect block scheduling. A third 45-minute “C” lunch period and a 5-minute passing time between classes were included as well.

Also emphasized was the school’s open campus policy, which allows only students in grades 11-12 who are in good standing to participate in the open campus lunch period.

Change orders approved for facilities projects
Several facilities projects are underway across the District this summer, and a group of change orders were approved for three of those projects Monday.

One of the change orders had to do with the MHS Pool Ceiling and Lighting project, specifically related to duct work. Another change order was for upgraded cameras to be installed as part of the Lenihan AV/Intercom upgrade project; the cameras are intended to be used to support virtual learning in 48 Lenihan classrooms.

The remaining change orders approved on Monday ensured that Davis-Bacon wages would be paid for the Lenihan AV/Intercom project, the MHS Pool Ceiling and Lighting project, and the MHS Air-Conditioning project. Those change orders follow similar actions taken at the June 7 board meeting; by paying Davis-Bacon wages, MCSD qualifies for pre-approved federal ESSER funds to use toward the projects.

Wall panel repairs to take place at Marshalltown Performing Arts Center
Buildings and Grounds Director Todd Goulding updated the board on wall panel repair work at Marshalltown Performing Arts Center. The panels were damaged by the powerful 2020 derecho winds.

MCSD moves forward with EAB District Leadership Forum partnership
The board approved a District Leadership Forum partnership with renowned educational research firm EAB, a move which will provide MCSD leaders with access to valuable research materials, toolkits, webinars, and unlimited consultative support.

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

  • 312.5 (new 303.7) Administrative Personnel-Professional Development (amended, second reading waived)
  • 303.4-E1 Fringe Benefits-Administrators (amended, second reading waived)

Initial Review – 

  • 314.2 Administrative Personnel Contract Termination-Resignation (deleted)
  • 314.3 Administrative Personnel Contract Terminations-Dismissal (deleted)
  • 403.1 Employee Physical Examinations (will come back for a first reading)
  • 404.1-R1 Employee Dress Code (will come back for a first reading)
  • 605.6 Internet-Appropriate and Safe Use (will come back for a first reading)
  • 703.1 Budget Planning (will come back for a first reading)
  • 704.1 Local-State-Federal-Miscellaneous Revenue (will come back for a first reading)
  • 704.6 Online Fundraising Campaigns – Crowdfunding (will come back for a first reading)
  • 707.2 Treasurer’s Annual Report (will come back for a first reading)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“The June board meetings are a time when the board hears many end-of-the-year reports. One of those reports at last night’s meeting was the Student Health Services report given by Stacey Tool-Crawford, district lead nurse.

The impact of the Covid pandemic was obvious in the statistics of the report. One result, disconcerting even though expected, was the dramatic increase in the number of students diagnosed with anxiety issues. The year’s stress took its toll on our staff and students. And, yet our nurses provided input to mitigation efforts and contact tracing which kept our Covid numbers quite low. Vaccine clinics were arranged and staffed by our nurses to provide vaccinations to all staff and, later, to students 12 years of age and older.

All of this, in addition to their regular duties, show us how important our entire nursing staff is to the health and safety of staff and students.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, July 19, 2021 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave. It will be the only regular board meeting in the month of July. The meeting will be available to watch via live stream through the Bobcat News Network (BNN) YouTube channel.

June 7, 2021 Board Meeting

9 Jun
MHS graduates Ruth Tha, left, and Diana Espinoza, right, discuss their experiences earning both a high school diploma and a college degree this spring. Other Bobcat dual grads this year are Madison Hunter and Klaudia Hernandez.

Class of 2021 dual graduates recognized
Four outstanding Bobcat dual graduates were highlighted at the Monday, June 7 Marshalltown School Board meeting; Diana Espinoza, Klaudia Hernandez, Madison Hunter, and Ruth Tha each earned an associate’s degree from Marshalltown Community College this spring, in addition to their high school diplomas.

Espinoza and Tha shared their experiences in the dual-credit program. Diana Espinoza’s mother, Melissa Espinoza, also spoke highly of MCSD’s dual-credit opportunities; she said the program – which allows students to take college courses at no cost to them – saved money and gave her daughter an edge as she looks to continue her college education.

To learn more about these excellent students and the valuable dual-credit program with MCC, click here!

Lenihan staff show benefits of Computer Science is Elementary programming
Lenihan Intermediate School welcomed Computer Science Is Elementary programming in 2019-20, and staff members gave an overview of the great computer science learning fifth- and sixth-grade students receive at Lenihan.

Computer science curriculum, integration of computer science into other core subject areas, and the District-wide efforts to expand computer science learning were key areas touched upon. Examples of students’ computer science projects were also shared, including a fifth grade student’s digital rendition of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Thirty-five Bobcat graduates earn Seal of Biliteracy
Also recognized Monday were 35 Bobcat graduates who earned a State of Iowa Seal of Biliteracy this year. The Seal signifies that a student displays proficiency in two or more languages by the time they graduate high school.

We are incredibly proud of this year’s Seal of Biliteracy honorees – learning and becoming proficient in a different language takes much study and practice.

The biliterate skill set these students bring with them after high school will help them not only in career paths, but also in connecting with others. Congratulations!

New board member Bonnie Lowry participates in first meeting
Former MHS principal and longtime educator Bonnie Lowry officially took her seat on the Marshalltown School Board at Monday’s meeting. Lowry was appointed to replace former member Niko Aguirre in May, and she said she is excited to continue serving MCSD students.

Modern Woodmen donation to assist MHS Pool Ceiling/Lighting project
One of the many exciting facilities upgrades taking place this year is the MHS Pool Ceiling and Lighting project, and MHS Swimming Coach Mike Loupee graciously accepted a $500 Modern Woodmen of America donation toward LED lighting for the project at Monday’s meeting.

MHS senior and swimmer Stephen Blom presented the donation to his coach during the recognition. We are grateful to the Modern Woodmen for this generous donation!

MHS Swimming Coach Mike Loupee, left, accepts a $500 check from the Modern Woodmen of America on behalf of the District. MHS student and swimmer Stephen Blom, right, presented the check to his coach. The funds will go toward the MHS Pool Ceiling/Lighting Project.

Student’s impressive showing at National French Contest spotlighted
MHS sophomore Denise Montealegre had a successful performance at this year’s Le Grand Concourse (the National French Contest). She placed second statewide in level 2A of the contest. 

MHS French teacher Naomi Musal said she is incredibly proud of Denise and all of the French students who took part in Le Grand Concourse this year. 

MHS French teacher Naomi Musal, right, hands student Denise Montealegre, left, a check she won at this year’s National French Contest. Denise placed second statewide in the contest’s 2A level.

Discussion held on MasteryConnect platform
MHS Principal Jacque Wyant shared information on the MasteryConnect platform with the board on Monday. The program compiles student data to identify gaps in student learning as a result of quarantine due to COVID-19; professional development is also included with the program.

No action was taken regarding MasteryConnect Monday evening, and the board is set to vote on the recommendation at the June 21 board meeting.

Master contract with MEA approved
A master contract between the Marshalltown CSD and the Marshalltown Education Association (MEA) gained board approval. The agreement spans the 2021-22, 2022-23, and 2023-24 school years.

Wage changes for facilities projects allow federal funding access
In order to access federal funding for eligible HVAC improvements at MHS and Anson Elementary, the board voted to approve payment of Davis Bacon Act wages for the projects. That action will allow the use of American Rescue Plan (or ESSER III) funding to support those important projects.

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 (new 303.4) Administrative Personnel – Compensation/Benefits (amended, second reading waived)
  • 405.4 Licensed Employee Continuing Contracts (amended, second reading waived)
  • 701.2 Transfer of Funds (amended, second reading waived)
  • 701.3 Financial Records (amended, second reading waived)
  • 706.2 Payroll Deductions (amended, second reading waived)
  • 803.1 Disposition of Obsolete Equipment (amended, second reading waived)

Initial Review – 

  • 312.4 Administrator Evaluation (will come back for a first reading)
  • 312.5 Administrative Personnel-Professional Development (will come back for a first reading)
  • 303.3 (new 303.12) Building Principals an Associates (will come back for a first reading)
  • 303.4-E1 Fringe Benefits-Administrators (will come back for a first reading)
  • 907-R1 District Operations During a Public Health Emergency Regulation (adopted, second reading waived)
  • 908 United States Flag Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag (adopted, second reading waived)
  • 908-R1 United States Flag Procedure for Displaying the Flag and Respect for the Flag (adopted, second reading waived)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“If June, July and August are summer months, then we had our first board meeting of the summer last night. My meeting quote came from author, Harper Lee:

‘Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the treehouse; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape.’

It’s been a challenging year for everyone. The board thanks each and every one of you for your hard work and the extra effort that you put forth to make this year a success.

Wishing you a delightful summer away from lesson plans and school challenges. May your summer be filled with happy memories of summers past and the opportunities to make happy memories.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, June 21, 2021 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave. The meeting will be available to watch via live stream through the Bobcat News Network (BNN) YouTube channel.

May 17, 2021 Board Meeting

18 May

MCSD keeps COVID-19 mitigation strategies in place for remainder of school year
The Monday, May 17 Marshalltown School Board meeting featured an update from Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte on COVID-19 mitigation strategies after major announcements by both the Iowa Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control last week.

“I’m recommending that we stay the course,” Dr. Schutte said of current safety measures, including required face masks, desk shields, frequent sanitation, and social distancing wherever possible, among others. “Our kids and our staff have done an unbelievable job of complying and doing what they need to do to keep themselves, their families and each other safe.” 

The announcement came with just 15 days left in the school year; students’ final day of classes is set for Tuesday, June 8.

Dr. Schutte added there are tentative plans to ease some measures after this school year ends, depending on the situation with the pandemic. One potential change may be to make face masks optional for students in grades 7-12 and their families; no longer using desk shields has also been seriously considered. Changes for younger students are harder to predict, as COVID-19 vaccines have not yet been approved for children under 12 years of age.

A reminder of the two student vaccine clinics the District is hosting this week was also shared. The Friday, May 21 clinic will offer vaccines to Bobcat students ages 12 and older. The Saturday, May 22 clinic will take place at the MHS Roundhouse from 8 a.m. to noon; students from Marshalltown, East Marshall, West Marshall,  and Green Mountain-Garwin public schools, as well as St. Francis Catholic School, are welcomed to register!

Follow-up vaccinations for this week’s clinics are being planned, and students who got a vaccine at the Friday, May 14 clinic will get their second dose on Friday, June 4.

Director of Instruction’s service spotlighted in farewell recognition
Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson has made several positive impacts since arriving at Marshalltown Schools in 2016; she was recognized Monday evening as she prepares to take up an administrative position at Davenport Community Schools this summer.

“Lisa is one of the most knowledgeable people I know in education,” said Dr. Schutte, who has worked with Dr. Stevenson for more than a decade at MCSD and Bettendorf CSD.

“I want to thank her for the stellar work that she’s done for the District. As much as I hate to see her go from the District, I wish her the best in the new position that she’s undertaking.” 

Dr. Stevenson said she is proud her five years in Marshalltown, especially amid challenges like the 2018 tornado, the 2020 derecho, and the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t think there’s a place in Iowa that’s in a better position to move forward than we are in Marshalltown right now,” she said, adding she has grown close with the Marshalltown community during her time at the District.

Dr. Stevenson’s resignation was approved Monday and will be effective on June 30.

Miller Middle School teacher Lucas Johnson named Pre-AP National Faculty member
Also recognized at the May 17 board meeting was Miller Middle School language arts teacher Lucas Johnson, who was recently named a Pre-AP National Faculty member. 

Pre-AP National Faculty members are College Board-endorsed educators who facilitate professional learning experiences across the United States and around the world. They’re stewards of the College Board’s mission to clear a path for all students to own their future by promoting excellence and equity in education.

MHS students (from left) Haley Reed, Klaudia Hernandez, and Itzary Avalos give their final student school board representatives update as a group Monday, with Hernandez and Avalos set to graduate later this month. All three have done an excellent job as student board representatives this year!

Student School Board Representatives update
Student School Board representative Klaudia Hernandez, Itzary Avalos, and Haley Reed shared an update on the happenings at Marshalltown High School Monday evening. The update carried extra significance – it was the group’s last before seniors Hernandez and Avalos graduate later this month; as a junior, Reed is set to continue with updates through the end of the school year.

“We hope it’s been a good learning experience” Dr. Schutte said. “We want to wish those of you that are graduating well as you go on to the next step of your journey, and we want to encourage Haley to pursue continuing with us for another year.”

Here are the key highlights from Monday’s student school board presentation: 

  • Bobcat Sports:
    • Girls Track & Field: Student-athletes Lily Duff (discus) and the 4×800-meter relay team of Phoebe Hermanson, Micha Blevins, Grace Rasmussen, and Rachel Smith qualified for state this year
    • Boys Track & Field: Student-athletes Deonte Dean (100- and 200-meter dash), Dwight Joar (high-jump and 100-meter hurdles), and the 4×100-meter relay team of Malachi Holmes, Mannie Kparyea, Jaiden Buchanan, and Dean qualified for state this year.
  • NHS recently designed new Bobcat Pride t-shirts which feature descriptions of the wearers’ important roles or activities (i.e. soccer player, musician, teacher)
  • Important senior student dates:
    • Senior Awards Night is Thursday, May 27
    • Finals week for seniors runs from May 25-27
    • The Class of 2021 Commencement Ceremony is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 30 at Leonard Cole Field

District moves forward with relocation, sign-on bonus incentives
Two great employee incentives were approved Monday.

One new incentive offers a reimbursement of up to $2,500 toward qualified moving expenses for new certified teaching staff who relocate to the Marshalltown CSD. Such a move must be made within three years for the relocation incentive to be given. 

New teachers hired in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years who have not yet moved into the Marshalltown CSD are also eligible for this relocation incentive through August 1, 2024!

A sign-on bonus of up to $5,000 for new hires or internal transfers to specific, key certified teaching positions was also approved Monday. The sign-on bonus incentive requires a three-year commitment.

Board stamps approval of official Class of 2021 graduates list
The Class of 2021 Commencement Ceremony is right around the corner for hundreds of Bobcat students, and the board approved the official list of students set to graduate on May 30 Monday evening.

The list includes a total of 346 soon-to-be Bobcat graduates. For more information on this year’s commencement ceremony, click here!

Personnel agreements gain board approval
Four District employee salary/benefits agreements were approved Monday, including: 

  • Buildings & Grounds tentative agreement: One-year agreement includes step advancement, longevity, and a $0.05 per hour wage increase for each employee. Also added were new grades for skilled trades positions.
  • Secretarial staff benefits: Approved to use five personal illness days for family members under the same conditions as “family illness days,” as cited in Appendix E of the Employee Handbook.
  • Marshalltown Education Association tentative agreement: Three-year agreement includes step and lane advancement, longevity, and an addition of $140 to the base salary schedule.
  • Administrators, Directors, Building Principals, & Other Professionals salaries & benefits: Changes include a 2.03 percent salary increase, as well as the availability of five more family illness days (deducted from personal sick leave), which can be accessed for extenuating circumstances with superintendent or designee’s approval.

2021-22 MLA student handbook given nod
Next school year’s Marshalltown Learning Academy student handbook gained board approval Monday. The updated handbook had previously been presented to the board, as were the 2021-22 preschool, elementary, Lenihan Intermediate School, Miller Middle School, Marshalltown High School, and Transportation student handbooks.

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

  • 312.1 (new 303.3) Administrative Personnel Employment-Individual Contracts (amended, second reading waived)
  • 403.3-R1 Exposure Control Plan (adopted, second reading waived)
  • 501.3-E2 Attendance Regulations (amended, second reading waived)
  • 707.5 Internal Controls (amended, second reading waived)

Initial Review – 

  • 312.3 (new 303.4) Administrative Personnel – Compensation/Benefits (will com back for a first reading)
  • 312.3-E1 (new 303.4-E1) Fringe Benefits-Administrators/Supervisors (marked as reviewed) 
  • 312.3-E2 (new 303.4-E2) Fringe Benefits-Administrators/Supervisors-Request Form (marked as reviewed)
  • 404.1-R1 (new 404.1-R2) Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics Regulation (marked as reviewed)
  • 405.4 Licensed Employee Continuing Contracts (will come back for a first reading)
  • 701.2 Transfer of Funds (will come back for a first reading)
  • 701.3 Financial Records (will come back for a first reading)
  • 706.2 Payroll Deductions (will come back for a first reading)
  • 803.1 Disposition of Obsolete Equipment (will come back for a first reading)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“At Monday’s board meeting, the negotiated contracts and salaries for all sub-groups of employees were approved.

This has been a difficult year for negotiations as the district was faced with budget guarantee due to declining enrollment. Because of that fact, our district received a very restrictive amount of new money. That makes it extremely difficult to give significant raises to all of our employees and show them that they are valued and appreciated.

But, negotiations have been completed. We are ready to issue contracts and move forward to a productive new year serving the youth of our community. Thanks to each of you for the time and effort each of you give toward that purpose.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, June 7, 2021 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave. The meeting will be available to watch via live stream through the Bobcat News Network (BNN) YouTube channel.

May 3, 2021 Board Meeting

4 May

Special recognitions given to teachers, school board members
The arrival of May brings with it several celebrations of school leaders and staff who are essential to the success of students.

May is School Board Recognition Month, and the seven members of the Marshalltown School Board were commended by Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte on behalf of the District at the Monday, May 3 regular board meeting.

“Being on the board is a lot more than just attending two board meetings a month,” he said. “There’s a lot of subcommittee work, a lot of meetings and workshops that the board is engaged in.”

Dr. Schutte added the board members have also invested considerable time and energy into developing as leaders.

Also celebrated were the District’s hundreds of dedicated, knowledgeable, and caring teachers. This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week, and Board President Bea Niblock read a statement from President Joe Biden honoring the teachers of America, all of whom have had to adapt to meet the needs of students during the pandemic this school year.

“May I extend the board’s thanks to our teachers for all they have done this year to keep us afloat during the pandemic and all of the stresses,” said Niblock, herself a retired educator and school administrator. “We do appreciate your work.”

Board announces vacancy, encourages letters of interest to fill seat
The Marshalltown School Board is seeking letters of interest from District community members who would like to take up an important leadership role; board member Niko Aguirre announced his resignation from the board effective this week.

To be considered for appointment to the board, an interested individual must send a letter of interest to Board Secretary Paulette Newbold, 1002 S. 3rd Ave., Marshalltown, IA 50158. Letters of interest will be accepted through 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 14.More information about the process to fill this board vacancy can be found here. For questions, please contact Newbold at (641) 754-1000 or email pnewbold@marshalltown.k12.ia.us

Bobcat success at state Poetry Out Loud contest celebrated
Two Marshalltown High School students gave exceptional performances at this year’s state Poetry Out Loud contest, and their achievements were recognized at Monday’s meeting.

MHS seniors Elijah Thiessen and Olivia Adams-Zmolek won first place and third place, respectively, at the state competition. Thiessen also performed at the national level, where he placed 24th overall and eighth regionally.

“I ended up really enjoying it,” Thiessen said of participating in Poetry Out Loud. “In literature, you have this opportunity to learn things about other people and their experiences … especially when you have to memorize it the way I did for Poetry Out Loud.”

Ben Barker shares a check for $9,806 toward the MHS Pool Ceiling and Lighting project from generous community members Monday

Generous donation goes toward MHS Pool Ceiling & Lighting project
More than four dozen local businesses, families, and individuals banded together to provide the District with a check for $9,806 toward the MHS Pool Ceiling and Lighting project. Community member Ben Barker presented the check on behalf of the generous donors Monday.

“Thank you for letting this project come to life,” Barker, an MHS alum, said. “With the overwhelming support, it wasn’t really all that difficult to raise the funds.”

MHS Agriculture students (from left) Drew Carson, Kaylee Tyda, and Kyran Stanfield join Agriculture program instructor Tara Leytham (right) for a presentation at the May 3 board meeting.

MHS Agriculture program highlighted
Several Marshalltown High School students have enjoyed an exciting addition to the school’s course offerings this year – the MHS Agriculture program has given students several enriching experiences, from hatching chickens to creating and marketing their own brands of beef jerky. 

MHS Agriculture instructor Tara Leytham brought three students from the program to showcase what they had learned in the past several months.

“My favorite part was the beef jerky project. We got five pounds of beef and we had to cut it and marinate it and come up with the recipe in our group,” said MHS senior Kaylee Tyda. “We had to create the packaging for it, the logo for it, who our buyers were going to be, and then we had to actually go out and sell it.”

Fellow Ag students Drew Carson, a senior, and Kyran Stanfield, a freshman, agreed that they enjoyed the beef jerky project. The students also discussed hatching chicks, dissections, DNA extraction, and other key activities from the program.

Leytham said one goal for the MHS Ag program is to start an official Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter for MCSD. She said she hopes to see the program’s enrollment grow in the coming years.

Student School Board Representative Haley Reed, right, and MHS English teacher Jo Frohwein, left, share information on the recent Triangle of Excellence project undertaken by the MHS Mentors in Violence Prevention program.

Student School Board Representatives update
Student School Board Representative Haley Reed shared an update on the happenings at Marshalltown High School Monday evening. Here are the key highlights from the presentation: 

  • Bobcats Sports: 
    – Bobcat Track & Field student-athletes Malachi Holmes, Jaiden Buchanan, Jayzek Lee, and Deonte Dean featured in this year’s Drake Relays. All four ran in the 4×100 relay, and Dean placed 6th in the individual 100-meter sprint.
    – The upcoming schedules for the MHS Girls Track & Field, Girls & Boys Tennis, and Girls & Boys Soccer programs were also shared.
  • Prom: This spring saw the return of Prom after the event was cancelled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The students had fun while following important safety measures.
  • Bobcat Bands: A busy, exciting schedule lays ahead for band students, with several events coming up in May. The Band program will host two fundraisers, the Jazz Band Coffee Concert, the Band Awards Banquet, and will perform at the MHS Commencement Ceremony on May 30.
  • Mentors in Violence Prevention: The MVP program, which seeks to mentor freshmen students as they transition into high school, introduced a big project last week. The Triangle of Excellence, a project to build empathy, was presented to freshmen students. The students were given hypothetical scenarios and were asked to identify which portion of the Triangle fits them best, based on how they would react to the scenario.
  • National Honor Society induction: A ceremony was recently held for both the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 National Honor Society inductees

Summer facilities projects, operations sharing agreement discussed
District Buildings and Grounds Director Todd Goulding presented this year’s list of summer facilities projects Monday evening. He said he has been conducting building walk-throughs and receiving input from building administrators regarding future needs.Additionally, the board approved an operations sharing agreement with East Marshall Schools. The agreement will see Goulding assist with EMCSD’s operations for a portion of each week for one year; the arrangement will be revisited at the end of the one-year period to determine next steps.

2021-22 Student Handbooks approved, MLA handbook presented
The board voted to approve several 2021-22 school year student handbooks Monday. The handbooks for the preschool and elementary levels, Lenihan Intermediate School, Miller Middle School, Marshalltown High School, and District Transportation were all presented at the April 19 meeting. Additionally, the board heard an update on the 2021-22 Marshalltown Learning Academy student handbook from Principal Eric Goslinga. The MLA handbook will be up for board approval at the next regular meeting.

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

  • 905.9 (new 905.2) Smoking and Tobacco Use on School District Facilities (adopted, second reading waived)

Initial Review

  • 310.4 MCSD Organizational Chart (marked as reviewed)
  • 312.1 Administrative Personnel Employment-Individual Contracts (will come back for a first reading)
  • 403.3-R1 Exposure Control Plan (will come back for a first reading)
  • 501.3-E2 Attendance Regulations (will come back for a first reading)
  • 701.1 Depository of Funds (marked as reviewed)
  • 704.5 School Activity Fund (marked as reviewed)
  • 707.5 Internal Controls (will come back for a first reading)
  • 708-R1 Care, Maintenance and Disposal of School District Records (marked as reviewed)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“Monday’s meeting found us celebrating a number of recognitions. Two among those were Teacher Appreciation Week and School Board Recognition Week – 2 groups so appropriate to share a week!

All school board members are elected from their communities and volunteer their time. My fellow board members give of their time to oversee the happenings within the district. Many more hours are given than the time needed for two meetings a month. With pride, I thank my colleagues for the service given to make MCSD a great place for staff and students.

A proclamation by President Biden was shared to kick off Teacher Appreciation Week. This week, and every week, we honor and celebrate the teachers in our district for their dedication and passion for helping students succeed. It is with admiration, appreciation and gratitude that we thank you for your hard work in helping MCSD become the ‘district of choice.’” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, May 17, 2021 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave. The meeting will be available to watch via live stream through the Bobcat News Network (BNN) YouTube channel.

April 19, 2021 Board Meeting

20 Apr
JBS Marshalltown General Manager Todd Carl presents on the Better Futures program.

JBS Marshalltown presents exciting new Better Futures program
JBS Marshalltown General Manager Todd Carl presented on the exciting new Better Futures program from JBS USA and Pilgrim’s at the Monday, April 19 Marshalltown School Board meeting. 

The Better Futures program will provide the companies’ employees – as well as their dependents – with opportunities to pursue tuition-free higher education, including associate’s degrees and trade certificates.

“JBS has been in Marshalltown for 132 years … we view the world from this location,” Carl said. “We’re looking forward to a large number of our employees participating in this program.”

As the largest employer in Marshalltown, JBS employs many MCSD parents and guardians. Because the program’s benefits extend to one dependent per JBS employee, many Bobcat students will have great new opportunities to access a high quality post-secondary education at a significantly lower cost.

“It’s really an unbelievable gift. Thank you,” said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte, adding Marshalltown Schools will continue to work with JBS to ensure as many eligible Bobcat families as possible take advantage of the program.

Dr. Schutte said the Better Futures Program will combine well with other programs which provide post-secondary opportunities to students, such as those offered through Science Bound and the Marshalltown Business-Education Alliance (MBEA).

The Better Futures program is an extension of the JBS USA and Pilgrim’s Hometown Strong initiative, which was announced last year. Strengthening the communities where JBS USA and Pilgrim’s team members live and work is an ongoing priority. Funding for Better Futures is in addition to the initial $50 million for Hometown Strong investments.

Miller Middle School seventh-graders Anessa Morrison, left, and Harper Wilson, right, explain the brand comparison experiment which earned them grand championship honors at this year’s State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa competition.

Two Miller students named State Science and Technology Fair grand champions
Miller Middle School students Anessa Morrison and Harper Wilson gave an exceptional performance at this year’s State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa, where they were named grand champions. 

Miller Extended Learning Program (XLP) teacher Ann Jackson said Anessa and Harper’s accomplishment is a major milestone; they are the first Miller students to win the competition’s grand champion title. The seventh-graders also won first place in the Fair’s engineering, physics and math category.

“We took two brands of markers, an on- and off-brand, and tested to see which one worked best,” Harper said of the duo’s award-winning project. “We used a robot which had 3D printed parts attached to it; we learned how to make the 3D printed parts through a class we took in the XLP program.”

The students explained how they found the on-brand marker to be more than twice as effective as the off-brand marker. They also activated the robot they designed as part of their presentation Monday evening.

As grand champions, Anessa and Harper were nominated to apply for the Broadcom Masters Science Competition, with judging set to take place this summer. On Sept. 1, the top 300 projects will be announced; a total of 30 finalists will then be selected to take part in the national competition in Washington, D.C.

“It’s another example of the great students we have and the great education students can receive at the Marshalltown Community School District,” Dr. Schutte said.

MHS art teacher Kirk Niehouse discusses the proposed new art curriculum being considered for next school year.

New K-12 Art Curriculum presented
A proposed new K-12 art curriculum was presented at Monday’s board meeting. 

Art teachers Maggie Parks and Kirk Niehouse, as well as Curriculum and Professional Development Leader Julie Thede, shared information on the FLEX Curriculum Suite, which offers instructional flexibility, responsiveness to cultural diversity, a focus on college and career readiness, an emphasis on using technology to create and present art, and much more.

The curriculum also comes with professional development materials for teachers, as well as a school success manager to help onboard the new curriculum. The FLEX Curriculum Suite aligns to the Iowa Fine Arts Standards. 

The recommendation shared Monday included supplemental resources and equipment, including digital cameras, poster sets, tablet devices, and more. The recommendation was an information/discussion item, and the board will take a final vote on the new curriculum at a future meeting.

FY2020 audit report marked by positive growth
An overview of the Fiscal Year 2020 financial audit of the Marshalltown CSD was shared at the April 19 board meeting.

“We had no issues – everything was properly stated,” said Hoglan-Hansen audit manager Shawna Bornholdt, CPA, who presented the audit overview. “That’s the best opinion you could possibly get.”

Among the areas of growth noted in the audit report was an improved District solvency ratio, which increased significantly since the previous audit. The FY20 audit report covers the period from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020.

Student School Board representatives Klaudia Hernandez (left), Haley Reed (center) and Itzary Avalos (right) share exciting news from MHS at the April 19 board meeting.

Student School Board Representatives update
Student School Board representatives Klaudia Hernandez, Haley Reed and Itzary Avalos presented on the latest happenings at Marshalltown High School Monday evening. Highlights include:

  • The Bobcats Track and Field season is off to a great start with several impressive performances. MHS senior Deonté Dean recently posted a state-leading 200m dash time of 21.82 seconds! Additionally, Dean qualified for the Drake Relays in the 100m dash and as part of the 4×100 relay team, along with Malachi Holmes, Jaiden Buchanan, Jayzek Lee and Mannie Kparyea.
  • The Bobcat Boys Soccer team is ranked no. 7 in the state and have started the season strong
  • Kind letters with tips for maintaining mental health were shared through the National Honor Society’s Piece of Mind project at the high school
  • The Bobcats are well-represented at the ongoing National History Day state contest; preliminary round results are expected Thursday, April 22 and final results are expected Friday, April 30.
  • Prom is scheduled for this Saturday, April 24 – the event will include multiple safety measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19; see more information here
  • MHS seniors’ final day of school is May 27, with an outdoor graduation ceremony scheduled for May 30
  • The Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program is returning to in-person activities in the freshman homerooms

Contracts issued for MHS Pool Ceiling & Lighting, Franklin bleacher deconstruction projects; Lenihan A/V and intercom upgrade contract approved
More progress was made toward major facilities upgrades and projects at three school buildings Monday. 

The board approved the issuance of a contract with Garling Construction for MHS Pool Ceiling and Lighting upgrades. Also approved as the issuance of a contract with LinnCo, Inc. for bleacher deconstruction and paving work at Franklin Elementary.

Additionally, a contract with Tierney Brothers, Inc., for intercom and A/V upgrades at Lenihan Intermediate School was approved Monday.

2021-22 student handbooks presented
Updated student handbooks for the 2021-22 school year were presented Monday evening.

The handbook presentations covered the preschool and elementary levels, as well as Lenihan Intermediate School, Miller Middle School, Marshalltown High School, and District Transportation. Marshalltown Learning Academy’s student handbook will be presented in the near future as well.

The board did not take action on the student handbooks presented Monday evening, with a final vote set to take place at an upcoming meeting.

Salary settlements approved for paraeducators, nutrition professionals
The board approved two 1-year employee salary settlement agreements at the April 19 board meeting.

The Paraeducators Master Contract includes agreements on step advancement, longevity, and adding $0.05 per hour to the wage of each employee. The Nutrition Professionals Master Contract also includes step advancement and longevity, as well as an increase of $0.22 per hour to the wage of each employee.

Woodbury Elementary Principal Anel Garza, left, and Anson Elementary Principal Ronnie Manis, right, present the updates made to the Elementary Student Handbook at Monday’s board meeting.

Changes to bus drivers, monitors employee handbook approved
Updated language for the District’s Bus Drivers and Monitors handbook gained board approval Monday. 

The language added to the handbook was derived from applicable sections of the group’s current collective bargaining agreement, as there will not be such an agreement in the upcoming fiscal year.

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

  • 305.1 (new 303.11) Administrative Cabinet (amended, second reading waived)
  • 410.1 Substitute Teachers (amended, second reading waived)
  • 706.1 Payroll Periods (amended, second reading waived)

Initial Review

  • 310.1 (new 301.1) Administrative/Management Team (marked as reviewed)
  • 310.2 (new 301.2) Administrative Structure (marked as reviewed)
  • 905.9 (new 905.2) Smoking and Tobacco Use on School District Facilities (will come back for a first reading)

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, May, 3 2021 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave. The meeting will be available to watch via live stream through the Bobcat News Network (BNN) YouTube channel.

April 5, 2021 Board Meeting

6 Apr
MCSD Technology Director Amy Harmsen share information on the planned boardroom upgrades

New boardroom tech to pave way for improved accessibility
The Marshalltown CSD Boardroom is set for major upgrades after board action Monday evening.

CEC, Inc. was approved to perform the work, which will include the installation of multiple cameras and enhanced audio capabilities for remote participants, among other improvements; the goal of the project is to further enhance public access to Marshalltown School Board meetings, whether remote or in-person.

“It’s a really easy system to use,” said District Technology Director Amy Harmsen. “I think it will be really slick, and it will be more accessible to who we are trying to reach.” 

Even after the current pandemic situation passes, Harmsen said the improved camera and audio setup will continue to benefit those unable to attend board meetings for any reason.

Key projects at Lenihan, Franklin, and MHS formally approved
The summer of 2021 will be a busy one for facilities improvements throughout the Marshalltown CSD, and three projects received formal approval Monday. 

One of the projects will bring audio/video and intercom upgrades to Lenihan Intermediate School; a bid for that work from Tierney Brothers, Inc. was accepted Monday. The audio/video upgrades will enhance the classroom learning environment and may provide exciting opportunities for remote learners; the new intercom system will ensure announcements are heard loud and clear building-wide.

Another project formally approved Monday involves ceiling and lighting improvements at the MHS pool facility. The work had initially been included as part of the MHS air-conditioning project, but was ultimately not included; cost-savings were found after architects revisited the project.

The third important facilities project to gain board approval Monday will see the demolition and removal of the Franklin Elementary bleachers, as well as subsequent paving work.

District Buildings and Grounds Director Todd Goulding discusses exciting summer projects during the April 5 board meeting.

FY22 school budget approved, includes property tax decrease
The Marshalltown CSD school budget for the upcoming fiscal year was adopted Monday, and it comes with a property tax decrease. 

The decrease in the District’s property tax rate for FY22 is due to the inclusion of a 2-percent income surtax to help fund the District’s Instructional Support Program. Shifting some of the program revenue from local property taxes to the income surtax will benefit many District taxpayers.Also adopted Monday was an amendment to the current fiscal year budget, a move made in order to adjust to previously unexpected costs and revenues. Public hearings on both the FY22 budget and the FY21 budget amendment were held Monday, and no comments were received.

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

  • New Policy 303.1 Administrative Positions (adopted, second reading waived)

Initial Review

  • 303.2 Administrator Qualifications, Recruitment, Appointment (marked as reviewed)
  • 305.1 (new 303.11)  Administrative Cabinet (marked as reviewed)
  • 303.2 (new 303.10) Associates to the Superintendent, Directors and Supervisors-Qualifications-Appointment (will come back for a first reading)
  • 706.1 Payroll Periods (will come back for a first reading)
  • 410.1 Substitute Teachers (will come back for a first reading)
  • 302.4 Associates to the Superintendent-Functions (deleted)
  • 409.2-E1 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Request Form Under the FFCRA (deleted)
  • 409.2-E2 Expanded Family and Medical Leave Request form Under the FFCRA (deleted)

From Board President Bea Niblock

“It’s the time of year that we are thinking about building maintenance, summer projects and upgrades to our systems. Soon school will be dismissed for summer break and we will have a chance to do those projects without disturbing student learning.

At last night’s board meeting, we certified next year’s budget and then began approving the use of that money. On that list of approvals, we included the Franklin bleacher demolition and paving project, the high school pool and ceiling lighting project, the boardroom technology upgrade, and the LIS audio/visual intercom project.

The district makes use of all the dollars at its disposal to maintain an optimal learning environment for our staff and students. More summer projects will certainly come to the board table for approval yet this spring.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, April 19, 2021 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave. The meeting will be available to watch via live stream through the Bobcat News Network (BNN) YouTube channel.

March 15, 2021 Board Meeting

16 Mar
The Bobcats are one step closer to competing in a new sports conference starting in the 2022-23 school year.

Board adopts CIML reorganization resolution
The Marshalltown School Board formally adopted a resolution requesting a reorganization of the Central Iowa Metropolitan League (CIML) conference at the Monday, March 15 board meeting.

“The intent would be for us along with five other districts, representing 10 high schools, to form a new conference – name yet to be determined – for the 2022-23 school year,” said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte. “Our intent would be that all six districts, by the end of this month, will have had this resolution approved by their boards of education. We will be presenting that (document) to the League Commissioner of the CIML.” 

The other CIML districts joining MCSD in the effort are Des Moines Public Schools (five high schools), Ottumwa Community School District, Fort Dodge Community School District, Ames Community School District, and Mason City Community School District. All six districts are seeking a more equitable and competitive playing field at the conference level.

The departure would mean the six districts would no longer have to regularly face the suburban Des Moines metro schools which make up the remainder of the current CIML. However, members of the new conference could still collaborate with the suburban schools to schedule games, if desired.

School Board Vice President Sean Heitmann thanked Dr. Schutte for helping lead the effort to form a new sports conference.

“This is a good deal for our kids. It will help level the playing field a little bit,” he said.

Career Tree sponsors recognized
There is no shortage of excellent, fulfilling career opportunities in Marshalltown. To help visualize those many career paths, the Marshalltown CSD is partnering with the Iowa Valley Community College District/Marshalltown Community College and 13 local employers to bring Career Tree graphics to three schools.

The 13 Career Trees will give students at Marshalltown High School, Marshalltown Learning Academy, and Miller Middle School a great visual tool to help explore the careers available close to home. Listed below are the employers who have each contributed $350 to sponsor the graphics:

  • Alliant Energy: Natural Resources
  • Buena Vista University: Education
  • Con-Struct: Construction
  • Emerson: Engineering
  • Great Western Bank: Finance
  • Iowa National Guard: Military
  • KDAO: Audio/Visual Production
  • Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce: Hospitality & Tourism
  • Marshall County Farm Bureau: Agriculture
  • Mechdyne: Information Technology
  • Moore, McKibben, Goodman & Lorenz: Government, Public Administration & Law
  • Racom: Safety, Corrections & Security
  • Unity Point: Healthcare

Thank you to all 13 Career Tree sponsors for supporting the Career Tree graphics, and to Iowa Valley and MCC for partnering with Marshalltown Schools on this great project!

Lenihan AV/Intercom upgrade project moving forward after board approval
Another important resolution adopted Monday will bring audio, video and intercom upgrades to Lenihan Intermediate School. 

The board approved the plans, specifications, form of contract and estimated total cost of the project after no comments were received during a public hearing on the matter.

“The audio part of it would be similar to the implementations that we’ve done at all six elementary schools thus far,” said Dr. Schutte. “The video part would be a new piece which has really been prompted by what we’ve experienced this past year with COVID.” 

With the new video capabilities, there will be an opportunity to live stream lessons from the classroom straight to remote learners.

The current Lenihan intercom system will also be overhauled during the project and replaced with a new, more reliable, and more consistent intercom system. The Lenihan project is one of several scheduled to take place this summer.

Anson Elementary Principal Ronnie Manis discusses the L2L program at Monday’s meeting.

Ladders to Learning Program highlighted
The District’s six elementary schools and Lenihan are bringing back a successful program to ensure students get the individualized support they need this semester. 

Franklin Elementary Principal Tim Holmgren, Anson Elementary Principal Ronnie Manis, and Rogers Elementary Principal Dr. Mick Jurgensen shared the details behind the return of the Ladders to Learning (L2L) Program Monday evening.

“We feel like this is a great way to provide small-group, targeted instruction for students using the talented teachers that we have,” Holmgren said.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused significant changes in schools nationwide, and Ladders to Learning is designed to help students reach academic proficiency during a unique, often challenging school year.

Manis said one key feature of the L2L Program is the small group sizes. To provide personalized support, each teacher’s group will include no more than three students. He said FAST assessment results and social-emotional learning factors are being used to determine which students best fit the program.

Ladders to Learning programming will take place after school in six 45-minute sessions over eight weeks. Dr. Jurgensen said the program has shown benefits not only for students, but also for teachers.

“It’s a win-win for our kids and for our staff. It’s very highly motivating for teachers to be a tutor,” he said, referencing data collected from previous L2L programming at the District. “It was very motivating for teachers to tutor because they can see the diff they’re making, they can monitor kids closely, they can pay attention to the errors kids may be making … and have kids practice perfectly.” 

Dr. Schutte said data from the first eight weeks of the program will be reviewed, adding insights from L2L could be used in summer school programming and beyond.

FY22 school budget proposal calls for lower property tax rate
The school board approved a proposed school budget for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2022 at the March 15 meeting; a public hearing on that proposed budget was also set for 5 p.m. Monday, April 5. 

District Director of Business Operations Paulette Newbold shared an overview of the school budgeting process and offered three budget proposal options for FY22, which begins on July 1.

The proposal chosen by the board Monday would include a 2-percent income surtax to help fund the District’s Instructional Support Program. If the income surtax is included in the final budget, it would mean a decrease in the District’s overall property tax rate. 

The Instructional Support Program can only be funded entirely with property tax dollars or by a combination of property tax and income surtax dollars. Newbold said shifting some of the program revenue from local property taxes to an income surtax would be beneficial for many District taxpayers.

“Property taxes are regressive in that they take a larger percentage of income from low-income groups than from high-income groups,” she said. “Income taxes are progressive – they take a larger percentage from high-income groups than low-income groups.”

No action was taken by the board on Monday to approve a final budget for the next fiscal year. The proposed budget will be published and the April 5 public hearing will be held prior to a final vote on the budget. Please contact Newbold for questions about sharing comments during the April 5 public hearing: pnewbold@marshalltown.k12.ia.us

Student School Board members (from left) Klaudia Hernandez, Haley Reed, and Itzary Avalos share several key updates from MHS.

Student School Board Representative update
Student School Board representatives Itzary Avalos, Haley Reed, and Klaudia Hernandez shared updates from Marshalltown High School with the board Monday. Here are a few highlights from their presentation: 

  • The Extended Learning Program (XLP) Blood Drive is set for March 18-19, and students 16 and older can participate with parental consent. Send an email to  sfritzell@marshalltown.k12.ia.us for more information.
  • Prom is officially set for April 24, and there are several measures being taken to ensure a fun, safe event. Face masks will be required (except for pictures and walking at promenade), and only MHS and Marshalltown Learning Academy juniors and seniors will be able to participate. Entry will be $10 per person.
  • Spring sports programs are gearing up for their first competitions of the season. Boys and Girls Track, Boys and Girls Soccer, and Girls Golf all have events scheduled for the end of March and early April.

Steps taken on MHS ceiling/lighting project, Franklin Elementary bleachers demolition/paving project
Two more summer projects gained tentative approval at Monday’s meeting, and each will have a public hearing on April 5 prior to a final approval vote. 

One project would see ceiling and lighting upgrades at the MHS pool. Similar work had initially been included as an alternate in the MHS A/C project, but was ultimately dropped. The project proposed on Monday was brought forward after revisions had been made by architects.

The other project tentatively moving forward is for bleacher demolition and paving work at Franklin Elementary. 

Steps taken on MHS ceiling/lighting project, Franklin Elementary bleachers demolition/paving project
Two projects gained tentative approval at Monday’s meeting, and each will have a public hearing on April 5 prior to a final approval vote. 

One project would see ceiling and lighting upgrades at the MHS pool. Similar work had initially been included as an alternate in the MHS A/C project, but was ultimately dropped. The project proposed on Monday was brought forward after revisions had been made by architects.

The other project tentatively moving forward is for bleacher demolition and paving work at Franklin Elementary. Both projects are planned to take place this summer if approved by the board.

2021-22 employee health and dental plan approved
There were no changes in rates or premium cost sharing in the 2021-22 MCSD employee health and dental plan approved by the school board Monday evening. 

In addition, the board approved adding several beneficial items to the District’s plan, including a longer dental treatment period, marriage counseling, longer skills nursing facility coverage, new pharmacy tiers, coverage for preventative 3D mammography at no cost to members, and a reduction of the HMO Doctors on Demand visit copay from $20 to $10, among others.

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

  • New 302.4 Superintendent Duties (adopted, second reading waived)
  • New 302.5 Superintendent Evaluation (adopted, second reading waived)

Initial Review:

  • 301.3 (new 303.3) Building Principals and Associates (marked as reviewed)
  • 302.2 (new 303.2) Associates to the Superintendent-Qualifications (marked as reviewed)
  • 302.3 Associates to the Superintendent, Directors and Supervisors-Appointment (deleted)
  • New Policy 303.1 Administrative Positions (will come back for a first reading)

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, April 5, 2021 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave. The meeting will be available to watch via live stream through the Bobcat News Network (BNN) YouTube channel.

March 1, 2021 Board Meeting

2 Mar
3A State Champion MHS Boys Bowling team head coach DJ Wilder, assistant coach Dustin Peterson and student-athletes Demitri Ferneau, Xander Pickett, Damon Borton, Aaron Ratte, and Dru Wilder are recognized Monday. Not pictured are team members Tyler Wilson and Dylan Cooper.

State Champion MHS Boys Bowling team celebrated
The newly-crowned Class 3A State Champion MHS Boys Bowling team was recognized at the Monday, March 1 Marshalltown School Board meeting. It was a triumphant return after last year’s impressive runner-up finish at the state level. 

“We peaked at the end of the season like we always want to do,” said MHS Bowling head coach DJ Wilder. “All of them contributed in many different ways to the championship. They all bowled really well, I’m very proud of all of them.” 

Several impressive individual performances helped lead the team to victory last week, including those of 2nd-place overall winner Demitri Ferneau and 5th-place overall winner Damon Borton. Wilder said he is excited to welcome back the entire championship team next school year.

Wilder additionally shared his pride for the MHS Girls Bowling team, which he also coaches. He commended the girls team for an impressive conference win and for breaking a school record high score this season. The future is bright for Bobcats Bowling!

MCSD and Center Associates partnering to provide mental health services, support
The short, often overcast days of late winter and early spring can take a toll on mental health even under “normal” circumstances. With the built-up stress caused by the 2018 tornado, the 2020 derecho and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Marshalltown Schools is continuing to partner with Center Associates to support and provide mental health services to the Bobcat community. 

District Director of Special Services Matt Cretsinger shared three exciting ways this partnership is helping Bobcat students, their families, and staff members through this challenging time. 

One such event was last week’s mental health live stream, where Cretsinger and Center Associates mental health experts offered advice and strategies to fight stress and anxiety, as well as address mood disturbances.

Center Associates therapists are also working with MCSD principals to offer support to the hard-working, dedicated employees who deliver education and services to students. Additionally, Cretsinger said the popular “Supporting Children & Families” video series is returning with brand new episodes.

Along with these great supports offered by MCSD and Center Associates, Cretsinger said employees can seek mental health support through the District’s Employee Assistance Program, which covers the cost of a number of appointments with Center Associates and other health organizations. Bobcat students also have many avenues to seek support, from school counselors and building administrators to  outside services.

“Every year during our At-Risk (programming) conversation, the board approves a grant that supports students who struggle to have the money for the co-pay part of going to a  place like Center Associates,” Cretsinger said. “It’s important to us to try and support our families and make sure money is not a barrier.”

Lenihan fifth-grader Jaslene Valdovinos reads her “What the Flag Means to Me” essay

American Flag Essay winners highlighted
Lenihan Intermediate School fifth-graders Maritza Barajas, Jaslene Valdovinos, and Anna Phomvisay won respective first-, second-, and third-place awards in this year’s Fifth Grade American Flag Essay contest, sponsored by the American Legion; their accomplishment was celebrated at Monday’s board meeting. 

Jaslene Valdovinos was on-hand to recite her thoughtful essay about what the American Flag means to her.

“Over the past years, many people have been fighting for justice in this country,” Jaslene said, reciting her essay. “Leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Susan B Anthony fought for justice and rights for everyone in our nation.” 

Congrats to Maritza, Jaslene, and Anna on your well-written essays!

Student Klaudia Hernandez shares State Board of Education Equity Committee update
MHS senior and Student School Board Representative Klaudia Hernandez is one of a handful of students statewide to serve on the State Board of Education Equity Committee this year, and she presented an update on the committee’s work Monday evening. 

Hernandez said one major focus of the committee has been following state legislation, including Senate File 2102, which relates to the Teach Iowa scholarship program.

“We’ve been trying to get teachers of color as priority applicants,” she said of the Teach Iowa program. 

Hernandez is also taking a closer look at the various cultures represented among Bobcat students. She said her goal is to do research on that topic, compile data, and then present her findings to her peers and school staff members.

“I think it’s awesome that you’re sitting on that committee and that Marshalltown has representation there as one of the more diverse districts in the state,” said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte, adding that Hernandez is welcome to present her research on cultural diversity to the board.

MHS senior and Student School Board Representative Klaudia Hernandez discusses the work she is doing on the State Board of Education Equity Committee.

Project to upgrade Lenihan A/V and intercom systems moves forward
The intercom and audio/visual systems at Lenihan Intermediate School are another step closer to a major upgrade after board action Monday.

The proposed work would see the current building intercom system replaced with a new, high-quality system.

“This new system we’re looking to propose and install in the building will get us coverage in all of the classrooms,” said District Buildings and Grounds Director Todd Goulding, adding that classroom video capabilities would be included in the project to support virtual learning.

Dr. Schutte said the goal is to use federal ESSER II dollars to fund the project after the Iowa Department of Education shares guidance for use of that funding. The board tentatively adopted a resolution for the plans, specifications, form of contract, and the estimated total cost of the proposed project. A public hearing on the proposal was also set for 5 p.m. Monday, March 15.

Generous donation by local Walmart recognized
From pencil boxes and folders to notebooks and sanitizer wipes, the local Walmart Supercenter shared thousands of important classroom supplies with Marshalltown Schools last week.

The donation effort was led by store manager Scott Ferguson, who said he knew the donation would support learning and student health. 

Get the full story on this generous donation here!

CIML realignment discussion continues
Important conversations about the future of the Central Iowa Metropolitan League have continued since late last year, and six CIML districts are proposing the formation of a separate conference starting in the 2022-23 school year. 

Under the proposal discussed Monday, Marshalltown Schools would join Ames Community Schools, Fort Dodge Community Schools, Mason City Community Schools, Ottumwa Community Schools, and the five Des Moines Public Schools in leaving the CIML and forming a new, 10-team sports conference. 

Dr. Schutte has helped lead realignment discussions among fellow CIML districts in recent months; he said he fully supports the proposed new conference.

“Many of the districts are looking for an opportunity to have a much more equitable and competitive playing field,” Dr. Schutte said. “We truly believe that every team, no matter who it is within this conference, should be able to week-in and week-out feel like they have a legitimate chance to compete well and to potentially win.”

He added that Marshalltown, along with the other five districts supporting the move, would still be free to schedule out-of-conference competitions with the remaining CIML districts in suburban Des Moines, but would no longer be required to play against several of those larger districts throughout the year. Dr. Schutte also said he has received a lot of positive feedback from Marshalltown community members related to the proposal.

The board did not take action on this item Monday. The proposal is set to be brought before the board for a vote at the March 15 regular meeting. If all six districts’ boards approve of the move, a letter to withdraw from the CIML would be expected to be submitted by April 1.

Two new school buses joining Transportation fleet
The board approved the purchase of two new school buses for transporting student-athletes to and from sporting events Monday evening. Both the 56-passenger bus from School Bus Sales and the 44-passenger bus from Hoglund Bus Co. Inc. are air-conditioned and feature seatbelts.

Student School Board representatives (from left) Klaudia Hernandez, Haley Reed, and Itzary Avalos update the board on upcoming events and activities at Marshalltown High School.

Student School Board Representative update
Student School Board representatives Klaudia Hernandez, Itzary Avalos, and Haley Reed shared updates from Marshalltown High School at Monday’s meeting. Here are a few highlights from their presentation: 

  • Upcoming fine arts events include an MHS Solo/Ensemble performance on April 12, the MHS Band Spring Concert on April 25, and a Jazz Band Coffee Concert (grades 6-12) on May 10; the MHS Vocal Concert will take place on May 11, and the All-District Orchestra Concert is set for May 18.
  • Spring is in the air with warmer weather, and excitement is building for the upcoming girls soccer and girls golf seasons. Boys and girls track and field competition has already begun.
  • A winter sports roundup shared the season results for boys and girls basketball, as well as a celebration of the 3A State Champion Bobcat Boys Bowling team.

Networking upgrades approved
Exciting tech upgrades are coming to MCSD with approvals by the board Monday. 

A three-year wide area network agreement with Windstream will provide transport of up to 10 GB of bandwidth, meaning even faster, higher-powered internet access delivered to all MCSD buildings. In addition, the board approved an agreement with Heartland Business Systems to upgrade the District’s wireless equipment, a move which will also ensure continued high-quality and secure internet access at Marshalltown Schools.

Board adopts Budget Guarantee resolution
The board adopted a Budget Guarantee resolution for the 2021-22 fiscal year Monday. District Director of Business Operations Paulette Newbold said declining enrollment this school year caused the need to participate in the state Budget Guarantee program. 

The 2.4% increase in state supplemental aid to schools this year was not enough to offset the enrollment decline, Newbold said. The Budget Guarantee program ensures the District receives 101% of this year’s school funding in the upcoming 2021-22 school year.

Important message shared by author Jamie Vollmer
Early each calendar year, Marshalltown Schools and districts across the state plan out their upcoming fiscal year budgets. With that in mind, Monday’s meeting featured a short, timely video from “Schools Cannot Do It Alone” author and public education advocate Jamie Vollmer. 

In the segment, Vollmer outlines the importance of community support for public schools; while most taxpayers do not have children who attend school, he said it is important for all members of the public to support their local school district. 

Vollmer shared several statistics showing the benefits a strong, well-supported school system brings to its community, from lower crime rates to a healthier local economy, and more. Earlier this school year, the board and District administration held a book study on “Schools Cannot Do It Alone,” which included regular discussions about growing community support for public education.

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 – 

  • 301.2 (new 302.2) – Superintendent of Schools – Contract and Contract Non-Renewal (amended, second reading waived)
  • 507.2-E2 – Parental Authorization and Release Form for the Administration of Prescription Medication to Students (adopted, second reading waived)

Initial Review – 

  • Old 301.3 Superintendent of Schools – Functions (deleted)
  • Old 301.4 Evaluation of the Superintendent (deleted)
  • 301.4-R (new 302.5-E1) Evaluation of the Superintendent (marked as reviewed)
  • 301.4-E (new 302.5-E1) Formal Superintendent Evaluation Report (marked as reviewed)
  • New 302.4 Superintendent Duties (will come back for a first reading)
  • New 302.5 Superintendent Evaluation (will come back for a first reading)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“A year ago, the CDC declared the Coronavirus pandemic. By now, we are all getting a little weary of all of the things surrounding Covid. The district is well aware of the stresses placed on the staff because of the pandemic. Vaccinations have been offered to all staff and the district EAP program has been widely used. It is important for us to support the ongoing mental health needs of our staff, students, families and community.

Please reach out to others if you need additional support. Our nurses and administrators can help you make the connections needed to help you. And remember, wear your mask properly, social distance and practice good hygiene. We can beat this – together!” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, March 15, 2021 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave. The meeting will be available to watch via live stream through the Bobcat News Network (BNN) YouTube channel.

Feb. 15, 2021 Board Meeting

16 Feb

Marshalltown Virtual Academy approved for next school year
The Marshalltown CSD is delighted to introduce the Marshalltown Virtual Academy (MVA) for the 2021-22 school year and beyond!

The Marshalltown Virtual Academy recently received Iowa Department of Education approval, and the Marshalltown School Board granted its approval of the exciting new, permanent virtual learning program at the Monday, Feb. 15 regular meeting.

Dr. Stevenson discusses the exciting new Marshalltown Virtual Academy.

“We’re excited … to be able to continue to offer this learn from home option, not only to kids who live in Marshalltown, but kids who may live in other parts of Iowa,” said District Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson. 

Students in grades PK-12 from anywhere in Iowa are able to enroll in the Marshalltown Virtual Academy. MVA students will not only receive a flexible, personalized, and enriching educational experience, but they will also be able to fully participate in school sports, fine arts, clubs, and other activities along with their fellow Bobcat students. 

With Monday’s approval, the MVA is now accepting student enrollment applications. Parents and guardians interested in the Marshalltown Virtual Academy are asked to take this brief MVA interest survey. (PLEASE NOTE: students in grades 1-12 who will be new to the Marshalltown CSD in the 2021-22 school year must enroll by March 1)

To learn more about how the Marshalltown Virtual Academy will provide an excellent environment for students to grow and thrive, visit https://www.marshalltown.k12.ia.us/marshalltown-virtual-academy/

Board earns prestigious IASB Team Achievement Award
The Marshalltown School Board is one of just five board teams statewide to earn a 2019-20 Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB) Team Achievement Award; that outstanding accomplishment was celebrated at Monday’s meeting.

The 2019-20 Marshalltown School Board members honored include: Board President Bea Niblock, Vice President Sean Heitmann, Mike Miller, Karina Hernandez, Sara Faltys, Jan McGinnis, and former member Bob Untiedt.  

In addition to the Team Achievement Award, Niblock, Heitmann, Hernandez, Faltys, McGinnis, and Untiedt earned Individual Achievement Awards from IASB. Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte was also recognized for being one of seven education leaders statewide to earn an Award of Honor from IASB for 2019-20. 

Learn more about these incredible achievements by District leaders here!

Amy Harmsen shares information on a new partnership with the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program

Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program to bring mobile hotspots, learning environment support to MCSD
The Marshalltown CSD is partnering with the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program to support and create innovative learning environments after board action Monday.

Marshalltown Schools is one of only 30 districts nationwide, and one of only two in Iowa, to be selected for the exciting Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative.

The program provides free internet access in the form of hotspots to students who qualify for free/reduced lunches and identify as not having high-quality internet access. In addition to free access, the program provides training and classroom technology integration support for school staff. 

District Director of Technology Amy Harmsen said the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program will allow MCSD to continue providing internet access to students for the foreseeable future.

Bid approved for major MHS, Anson air-conditioning projects
Projects for new and upgraded air conditioning at Marshalltown High School and Anson Elementary School took another big step forward Monday. The board approved a bid from Garling Construction, Inc. for the work, and project costs are set to be much lower than originally expected. 

The bid to complete the upgrades at MHS and Anson, along with four additional alternates, was approved at $5,253,000. That figure is more than $2.5 million less than the initial estimated cost for the project. 

The alternates approved as part of the bid include LED lighting upgrades, pool HVAC/dehumidification work, and classroom flooring replacement work at MHS, as well as south window replacement work at Anson. All project costs will be paid for with bond proceeds from the issuance of School Infrastructure Sales, Services, & Use Tax (SAVE) Revenue bonds.

MHS student’s Know Your Constitution program achievement recognized
MHS sophomore Yessenia Alvarez Zamora was recently named as a Finalist in the Iowa State Bar Association’s Know Your Constitution program. Yessenia’s accomplishment was recognized at Monday’s meeting, and she described her experience in the program. 

“It pushes you to do your own research and be educated on issues … to have your own opinion based on facts,” Yessenia said of the competition, which included a 50-question quiz and an essay focusing on felon voting rights.

Yessenia said she does not plan to pursue a career in law, but found the competition both fun and informative. She said she became interested in the competition by participating in MHS Youth for Awareness activities; she added she would recommend the Know Your Constitution competition to her peers.

Discussion held on potential CIML scheduling realignment
MHS Activities Director Ryan Isgrig shared an update with the board on the schedule realignment discussions happening within the Central Iowa Metropolitan League (CIML), of which MCSD is a member district. 

The realignment has been called for by some districts in the CIML with the intent to ensure fair, healthy competition between and among school sports programs. The current proposal would see the 19 CIML schools move into two conferences, one with 10 schools and the other with nine schools, to provide better competition and equity.

“It would still be the CIML conference, but the 10-team pod would consist of Ames, the five Des Moines public schools, Fort Dodge, Marshalltown, and Mason City, as well as Ottumwa,” Isgrig said, adding there would still be opportunities to play against the large suburban schools within the CIML, including Waukee, Ankeny, West Des Moines, and others.

He said such a change “would be a step in the right direction” for Marshalltown Schools. 

Discussions among CIML school districts and leaders are ongoing, and other proposals could still be made before a final plan is approved within the League. If changes are approved, they would be set to take effect in the 2022-23 school year.

The Marshalltown School Board did not take action on this topic at Monday’s meeting; the item was for information and discussion only.

Revised COVID-19 Pandemic Response policy adopted
Updates to the District’s COVID-19 Pandemic Response supplemental policy were adopted by the board Monday. The revised language reflects the extension of emergency paid sick leave for staff through March 31, 2021, despite the end of federal support for such leave at the end of 2020. 

The document also includes the District’s multiple safety measure requirements to help fight the spread of the coronavirus.

Board adopts resolution on state SF 159 legislation
A resolution opposing a state legislative bill was adopted at Monday’s meeting. The bill referenced in the resolution is Senate File 159 – Scholarship Funds, Vouchers, Education Savings Accounts and Expanded Tax Credits.

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 – 

  • 403.3-E1 Hepatitis B Vaccine Information and Record (adopted, second reading waived)
  • 501.4 Entrance Requirements-Evidence of Age (amended, second reading waived)
  • 502.8 Search and Seizure (amended, second reading waived)
  • 502.8E1 (new 502.8-E1) Search and Seizure Checklist (amended, second reading waived)
  • 507.2-E1 Authorization Asthma or Airway-Constricting Disease Medication or Epinephrine Auto Injector Self-Administration Consent Form (adopted, second reading waived)
  • 603.1 Basic Instruction Program (amended, second reading waived)
  • 604.6 Instruction at a Post-Secondary Education Institution (amended, second reading waived)
  • 605.4-R (new 505.5) Graduation Requirements (amended, second reading waived)

Initial Review – 

  • 301.2 (new 302.2) Superintendent of Schools-Contract and Contract Non-Renewal (will come back for a first reading)
  • 302.2 (new 301.1) Associates to the Superintendent-Qualifications (marked as reviewed)
  • 507.2-E2 Parental Authorization and Release Form for the Administration of Prescription Medication to Students (will come back for a first reading)

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, March 1, 2021 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave. The meeting will be available to watch via live stream through the Bobcat News Network (BNN) YouTube channel.