Vol. 12 | Issue 16

2 Apr

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Project Lead the Way coming to Marshalltown

Middle school students next year will have new opportunities for learning about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through Project Lead the Way.

Project Lead the Way (PLTW) is a non-profit organization and the nation’s leading provider of “rigorous and innovative” STEM curriculum.

“We want to be part of what’s happening out in the educational community that’s cutting edge,” said Dr. Susan Pecinovsky, associate superintendent for student achievement. “This is a chance for our students to be a part of the work that’s being spoken about nationally.”

Pecinovsky and other administrators attended a PTLW conference last fall and visited Franklin Middle School and Jefferson High School, both in Cedar Rapids, where PTLW programs are being implemented.

This fall Miller Middle School will replace its current Mod Tech curriculum with Gateway To Technology, which includes “independent, nine-week units that explore aerospace, energy, the environment, green architecture, modeling, robotics, technology and other STEM-related topics.” This will include foundation courses Automation & Robotics and Design & Modeling.

“Miller welcomes the opportunity to launch PLTW, giving students a solid foundation in engineering, technology, communication, and problem solving before broadening the experiences at MHS,” said Sharon McKimpson, Miller principal. “We also appreciate the opportunity to work with local business enterprises to strengthen the success of the PLTW endeavors.”

Marshalltown High School will use 2012-2013 as a planning year before launching the Pathway To Engineering curriculum, which “explores the design process and links STEM principles to relevant problem-solving activities.” Foundation courses will be Introduction to Design and Principles of Engineering.

“The rigorous and hands-on academic programming in pre-engineering will afford our students a competitive edge that they need in the future,” said MHS Principal Aiddy Phomvisay. “We are hoping to partner with MCC to offer these courses to be dual college enrolled courses so our students may take them for college credit.”

PLTW offers grants through its STEM Education Fund. Miller was not funded, though MHS is still waiting to hear about funding status.

“We’re going to go ahead and move forward because this is the right work to be doing,” Pecinovsky said.

All students at Miller next year will take part in the foundation courses. After that, Pecinovsky says they will look at student interests to determine additional coursework.

Preschool continues to grow

Since receiving the state voluntary preschool grant in fall 2007, Marshalltown Schools have continued to add classrooms across Marshalltown. Now, the District is preparing to open preschool at Fisher Elementary in the fall, bringing classes to every elementary in Marshalltown.

Lisa Glenn, director of special services, told the Board the district has served 238 preschool students this year and will have a projected 280 spaces available in 2012-2013.

Glenn said future projects for preschool include adding preschool appropriate playgrounds, increasing the capacity for preschool on the north side of Marshalltown, and continuing to study transportation issues.

Preschool Early Registration for 2012-2013 is Saturday, April 14, 10am-12:30pm in the Lenihan Intermediate School commons.

2012-2013 budget approved, includes tax rate decrease

The Board approved the $83.2 million budget for 2012-2013 Monday night.

The budget includes a tax rate of 17.47178 per thousand taxable valuation, which is an 18 cent decrease from 2011-2012.

Company picked for 1927 Anson demo

D.W. Zinser Co., Inc., from Walford, Iowa, will proceed with demolishing the 1927 portion of the former Anson Middle School.

D.W. Zinser had the low bid of $368,000. There is also an alternate that leaves the boiler room floor and footings, a reduction of $10,000. This puts the total cost at $358,000.

Most of the demolition work will be done during the summer, which interior work beginning this spring.

West bus barn demo proceeds to bid

The Board approved seeking bids for the demolition of the west bus barn and site paving.

The estimated cost of the project is $172,250. There is a $140,000 base bid, with alternates for security lighting and chain link fence. The proposal given to the Board by buildings and grounds sought bids to place a chain link fence along one side of the property. The Board approved seeking bids based on the cost of chain link fence per foot, in case they decided to put in more fencing.

Board looks at bond refinancing

The Board is looking at refinancing bonds to reduce interest costs.

Matthew Gillaspie from Piper Jaffray & Co. in Des Moines told the Board the options for refinancing two bonds – from 2004 and 2006.

Refinancing the 2006 bond (approximately $870,000) could save the district $185,000 for the life of the bond. The interest rate would be reduced from 4.65 percent to approximately 1.8 percent.

The 2004 bond (approximately $16,990,000) is not eligible to be paid off for two years. Refinancing would mean selling a new bond, putting the money in escrow, and paying the bond off in two years. The estimated cost savings is $2,200,000 for the life of the bond. The interest is currently at 5 percent and could be reduced to approximately 2 percent.

The board gave its informal approval to go forward with the process

District receives innovative calendar waiver

The 2012-2013 school year will be spent planning a pilot program using the innovative calendar waiver Marshalltown Community School District received from the Department of Education.

Dr. Susan Pecinovsky, associate superintendent for student achievement, said the goal is to implement a pilot program at Rogers Elementary in the 2013-2014 school year, looking at the successes of the current Rogers University.

The waiver allows school districts to no longer stick to the 180 day requirement in Iowa Code 279.10. Schools can’t have less than 180 days, but they can add more days and be flexible with how days are structured.

“It doesn’t mean we have to add time, it means we can reconfigure time,” Pecinovsky said.

Three buses purchased

The district purchased three buses from Hogland Bus Company in Marshalltown.

One 77-passenger bus, one 65-passenger bus, and one 53-passenger bus was purchased for a cost of $236,524.


By Dr. Marvin Wade, Superintendent of Schools

During tonight’s meeting, Board of Education members agreed to identify four evenings in April and May for work sessions with representatives of every school in Marshalltown Community School District. Each school will present the multi-year Attendance Center Plan it developed after studying data, reviewing school improvement research, setting goals, and identifying timelines, action steps and areas of responsibility for goal attainment.  A considerable amount of effort has been devoted to creating Attendance Center Plans that focus our energy and resources on a few areas that will have the greatest influence on the success of our students. I look forward to the presentation of these plans to the Board – knowing they will better enable us to achieve the results we desire and expect for all of our students.


By Kay Beach, Board President

It’s very exciting for me to learn that MCSD will begin next fall to implement a program known as “Project Lead the Way.”  At School Board conventions for the last two years I have personally watched students demonstrate the technical knowledge that they have gained through this program—and I’ve been very impressed with the total engagement that they have in their learning.  It’s particularly pleasing for me to see the investigation that has gone into the decision to initiate this rather broad program in our schools—this is NOT just a whim that has caught some administrator’s fancy and is now being “tried” in our system. PLTW has been used in schools nation-wide and there is ample evidence that it can result in higher student achievement in the critical STEM areas.  This is a win for the district (higher achievement), for our students (greater knowledge in these critical areas), and for the business community (students better prepared for the work force.)  And isn’t that what we all want?



Sarah Dier, Hoglan Special Education teacher, effective at the end of the school year.
Glenda Baker, Rogers food service, effective March 20, 2012.
Roger Taylor, Jr., MHS head bowling coach, effective March 27, 2012.


Lucas Johnson, Miller language arts teacher. Start date: 2012-2013 school year; Salary: MA Step 9 (TBD).
Tanya Gaffney, Lenihan 6th Grade Language Arts/Reading/Social Studies teacher. Start date: 2012-2013 school year; Salary: BA Step 6 (TBD).
Michelle Beals, Hoglan paraeducator. Start date: March 20, 2012. Salary: $9.48/hour.
Erin Hoskins, Woodbury paraeducator. Start date: April 9, 2012. Salary: $8.47/hour.
Michelle Warbier, Woodbury paraeducator. Start date: April 9, 2012. Salary: $9.48/hour.
Jessica Cakrasenjaya, MHS head cheerleading coach. Start date: 2012-2013 school year. Salary: TBD.

Change of Contract

Sally Jansen, Miller 7th Grade math teacher. Start date: 2012-2013 school year. Change to 5th/6th grade language arts/reading/social studies teacher at Lenihan.
Michael Awes, Hoglan paraeducator. Start date: Feb. 1, 2012. Change to 6.5 hours/day (5.5 hours on Wednesday).
Melissa Marks, Hoglan paraeducator. Start date: Feb. 1, 2012. Change to 7.5 hours/day (6.5 hours on Wednesday).
Diane Heinzer, Lenihan paraeducator. Start date: March 6, 2012. Change to 7.25 hours/day (6.25 hours on Wednesday).
Cindy Bills, bus driver. Start date: March 22, 2012. Change from sub to regular bus driver. Salary: $478.35/month.


Second Reading: 101.1, 101.1-R1, 101.1-R2 Long-Range Needs Assessment, approve as presented.
First Reading: 201.7 Organization of the Board, return for second reading.
Initial Reading: 201.8 Board Vacancies; 202.1 Code of Ethics.

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