Archive | September, 2013

Vol. 14 | Issue 5

23 Sep

New school board seated, officers elected

Kendall Derby and Bea Niblock are the newest members of the Marshalltown School Board and began their tenure Monday evening.

Derby and Niblock were elected Sept. 10 to fill four-year terms. Jennifer Wilson was reelected to serve four years as well. All three were sworn in Monday.

Sherm Welker was reelected as Board president for another year. Wilson was reelected as vice president.

The board also approved appointments for 2013-2014:

  • Secretary/Treasurer: Kevin Posekany
  • School Attorney: Rex Ryden, Cartright, Druker & Ryden
  • Additional Legal Counsel: Ahlers & Cooney, PC
  • Architect of Record: TSP, Inc.

Board members will chose their committee assignments at the next meeting.

Facilities Plan approved

The Board approved the updated District Facilities Plan Monday night.

The plan, which outlines construction projects in the district over the next four years, was updated by the Design Advisory Committee to account for projects added after the original plan was written (e.g. Project Lead the Way), add new projects that have since been identified, and amend cost estimates and budgets.

The updated plan totals $26,815,443 in projects, an increase of $9.4 million from the original document. Half of increase comes from new projects, while the other half comes from increased scope of work on current projects.

Board looks to sell bonds to fund facilities plan

The Board approved a bid package to sell $10 million in bonds to fund the District facilities plan.

Matt Gillaspie, Senior VP of Piper Jaffray, explained the process to the Board Monday. Because of the current bond market, Gillaspie recommends the District look at a private bank loan. School districts in Iowa can have a long-term debt no larger than 5 percent of the total property valuation. The January 2012 valuation for Marshalltown Community School District was $1.6 billion, making the total allowable debt $82 million. Marshalltown Schools currently have approximately $28 million in long-term debt, leaving a $54 million capacity.

Bids are due by Oct. 7. Since the bank loan option is something new for the district, if they bids that come back are undesirable the early October deadline allows the district time to re-bid through the traditional process before the close of the calendar year.

Evirothon team discusses trip to North American contest

MHS Envirothon Team (L to R): Sean Finn, Wyn Tan, Joe Metzger, Adam Willman, Abby Snyder.

MHS Envirothon Team (L to R): Sean Finn, Wynn Tan, Joe Metzger, Adam Willman, Abby Snyder.

The Marshalltown High School Envirothon team has a long history of state and national accolades. During Monday’s School Board meeting four members of the 2013 state champion team told of their latest experience on an international stage, competing in the North American Envirothon in Bozeman, Montana.

“If they become future leaders of the world we’ll have no wars – everyone will be happy.” said Susan Fritzell, MHS Extended Learning Program teacher. “They’re a real testament to the students in Marshalltown Schools.”

The team, comprised of Joe Metzger, Abby Snyder, Wynn Tan, Sean Finn and Adam Willman, placed 11th in the North American competition held Aug. 4-9 at Montana State University. All team members were present at Monday’s meeting except Metzger, who graduated from MHS last May and is now studying at the University of Iowa.

“You know once you hit the top 15 you’re part of an elite group,” Snyder said. The MHS team was among 57 teams from 47 states and 10 Canadian provinces.

To get to the competition, the team drove from Marshalltown in a school van, camping in national parks along the way. They stopped in the Badlands of South Dakota, Big Horn Mountains and Yellowstone in Wyoming before making their way to Bozeman, Montana. The team had spent the year training, studying, and preparing for the competition, which focused on aquatics, forestry, soil, wildlife and the “current events” topic: rangeland management.

“I don’t know how many of you are familiar with rangeland management, but it’s very different from Iowa,” Snyder told the Board.

During their travels the team took time to meet with experts on the topic, as well as hone their skills in the national parks.

“While other people were rushing through the park…we always managed to find the small, secluded area to find what more we could learn from the area,” Willman said.

The actual contest was divided into two sections: a written exam and an oral presentation. The written exam consisted of 50-minute tests with 10-minute breaks in between. The team had to work collaboratively to answer all the questions as thoroughly as possible.

“It’s a very intense 50 minutes,” Snyder said.

The last part of competition is a 20-minute oral presentation. The team works for 8 hours developing a plan to address sustainable rangeland management. They had to design the best plan and make it unique, including an outline, research, implementation, action necessary and timeline.

“We had been training for the past year – if not three for our high school careers,” Snyder said.

In the end their hard work paid off, as the team took first place in the current events exam, fifth place in the oral presentation and fourth place in forestry.

Each team member won a Canon Powershot Camera for placing in the top 15.

Support Services remodel bids tabled

The Board voted to table action on the Support Services remodeling after bids for the project came in higher than architect estimates.

The low bid on the project came from Garling Construction and totaled $2,834,000. The architect estimate was $2,592,755, leaving the actual costs 9.3 percent higher than anticipated. Board members noted a trend on recent projects to have these discrepancies. Board President Sherm Welker said technology is the area where the costs most often exceed estimates. He told architect Dave Schulze to talk to district information technology director Jeff Weinberg to figure out how this could be remedied.

Since the District has 30 days to accept or reject a bid, the Board tabled action until the meeting.

Change orders approved for Miller project

Change orders totally $4,992 were approved for the Miller Middle School 1957 wing remodeling.

The total sum was actually a total of numerous smaller change orders throughout the project, some adding costs and some deducting costs.


By Sherm Welker, President

Tonight our MHS Envirothon team gave a presentation to the Board of their trip this summer to Montana where they competed with 57 teams from across the US and Canada. We are please that our team had a great experience while they camped, hiked, and toured to the event and then presented range management plans and presentations at the event. We are pleased to congratulate our team on an 11th place finish. This is another example of how well prepared our students are here at MHS for life and work in our world. Thank you to the team and staff for your effort to be excellent!


By Marvin Wade, Superintendent of Schools

During Monday’s meeting the Board of Education completed an Initial Review of the Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Program for Licensed Teaching Staff, Twelve-Month Secretaries, and Administrators (Policies 314.1, 407.7 and 413.7, respectively).  Board discussion focused solely on reactivation of the Program for the 2014-2015 school year; voluntary early retirement continues to not be an option for the current 2013-2014 school year.

All three Early Retirement policies are scheduled for First Reading during the October 7 board meeting. First Reading means the policies could be approved that evening if the Board chooses to waive a Second Reading, so individuals wanting to comment on Voluntary Early Retirement are strongly encouraged to attend the October 7 board meeting at Fisher Elementary School.

Proposed changes may be viewed on the MCSD website by clicking on the “Staff Resources” tab. Questions about the policies should be directed to Director of Human Resources Lisa Koester, Director of Business Operations Kevin Posekany or Superintendent of Schools Marvin Wade.


Second Reading

412.3 – Insurance, added paraeducator contract, approved.

First Reading

414.2 – Personal illness, added paraeducator contract, waive second reading.
414.4 – Funerals, added paraeducator contract, waive second reading.
414.8 – Absence Without Pay – Classified, added paraeducator contract, waive second reading.
414.10 – Immediate Family Illness, added paraeducator contract, waive second reading.
414.11 – Personal Leave, added paraeducator contract, waive second reading.

Initial Review

414.12 – Temporary Disability, mark reviewed.
415.1 – Drug and Alcohol Testing Program, mark reviewed.
415.3 – Relations to Pupils and Public, mark reviewed.
415.4 – Classified Staff-Professional Development, mark reviewed.
415.5 – Classified Substitutes, mark reviewed.
407.6, 314.1, 413.7 – Early Retirement policies, proposed changes follow requirements in Iowa Code and would mean the policy is approved in September of a given school year for retirement at the end of the same school year. Changes would take effect for the 2014-2015 school year. Policy will come back for first reading.

PERSONNEL – Click here.

Vol. 14 | Issue 4

9 Sep

Roundhouse project enters bidding process

The Roundhouse renovation project is entering the bid phase as plans move forward for a $9.9 million renovation of the iconic structure.

Representatives from RDG, the architectural firm heading up the project, presented drawings and bid documents to the Board Monday night. Joe Benesh from RDG said drawings are complete and are being printed for contractors.

Plans include remodeling current locker rooms, as well as adding new locker rooms, a team room, conference rooms, offices, a Hall of Pride and additional storage. There will also be a training area, 5,000 square foot fitness area, additional bathrooms, and seating for 3,000 Bobcat fans. New floors, roof, HVAC and electrical infrastructure will also be part of the overall project.

The timeline put forth by CPMI, the firm acting as project manager, aims for exterior work to begin in November of this year. Substantial completion of exterior additions will be completed in May 2014, with the Roundhouse being closed for interior work in June (after graduation). Substantial completion of interior renovations is slated for Nov. 1, 2014, with project completion Dec. 1, 2014.

Bids are expected Oct. 10, 2013, with the Board considering them at its Oct. 21 meeting.

Revised AYP figures show progress in schools

The Iowa Department of Education has amended its Adequate Yearly Progress decisions for Marshalltown Schools, resulting in several schools meeting AYP.

Fisher, Hoglan and Rogers elementary schools all met AYP for 2012-2013 according to the updated DOE data released Sept. 5. This change means all elementary schools met AYP mathematics.

“This demonstrates that the work we’re doing is paying off,” said Dr. Susan Pecinovsky, associate superintendent for student achievement. Pecinovsky presented the updated AYP to the Board, as well as a timeline from when the first data was received (Aug. 4) to when the district was informed there could be changes (Aug. 28).

Special Education Service Delivery Plan approved

The Board approved the Special Education Service Delivery Plan, which governs services provided Sept. 15, 2013 to Sept. 15, 2018.

Matt Cretsinger, director of special services, presented the updated plan, which is being reviewed as part of a 5-year cycle required by the Iowa Department of Education. The plan, drafted by a representative committee of parents, administrators, teachers and Area Education Agency staff, was posted on the district website before being approved by Mary Stevens, AEA 267 director of special education.

Changes to the delivery plan include a realignment of the continuum of services to have a single continuum for students ages 3 to 21. There is also an added category for “Early Childhood Services” and addition of special education teachers working with general education teachers through consultation to provide services in the general education classroom. There is also a rubric to evaluate a teacher’s time and efforts in supporting a student with special needs in all settings, a procedure to resolve caseload concerns and details of the evaluation process regarding how often data is shared with teachers and building administrators.

Board reviews revised facilities plan

The Board reviewed an update District Facilities Plan Monday night, with plans to bring it back for approval on Sept. 23.

The plan, which outlines construction projects in the district over the next four years, was updated by the Design Advisory Committee to account for projects added after the original plan was written (e.g. Project Lead the Way), add new projects that have since been identified, and amend cost estimates and budgets.

The updated plan totals $26,815,443 in projects, an increase of $9.4 million from the original document. Half of increase comes from new projects, while the other half comes from increased scope of work on current projects.

Spread the Words campaign focusing on attendance

In honor of Attendance Awareness Month, Lindsey Upah and Arlene McAtee from Mid-Iowa Community Action came before the Board to discuss the “Every Day Counts” campaign, an initiative of Spread the Words – Read by 3rd focusing on chronic absenteeism in the schools.

Chronic absence is defined as missing 10 percent or 18 days of the school year. Upah and McAtee said their work over the next school year will be focused on reducing the number of students missing 18 days or more through parent education and recognition programs for students. This year the group will continue with its quarterly attendance recognition activities at the elementary schools, which proved popular last year. There are also plans to train preschool classrooms for a Perfectly Punctual Campaign and a presence and school events like conferences, parent nights and registration.

There are also plans to work with parents on understanding the importance of coming to school every day – especially among preschool and kindergarten parents. McAtee says there is often a perception among parents that kindergarten and preschool are just “play time” and not really learning. She says they will work to combat that image.


By Dr. Marvin Wade, Superintendent of Schools

The September 9 board meeting included a report about Attendance Awareness Month from Spread the Words – Read by Third Project Coordinator Lindsey Upah and Mid-Iowa Community Action Executive Director Arlene McAtee. Ms. Upah and Ms. McAtee provided statistics about the impact of chronic absenteeism on achievement and explained the Perfectly Punctual Campaign developed to improve attendance. Marshalltown Schools appreciate Spread the Words – Read by Third for not only addressing issues of school attendance, but also summer learning loss and readiness for kindergarten.


By Sherm Welker, Board President

Tonight the Board reviewed the updated facilities plan for 2013-2018. With cost increases of materials and labor, along with more scope in many of these projects our funding will be stretched over the next five years and fewer new projects were added to the list of authorized upgrades. As always, we thank the fundraisers for helping expand the funding steam for our projects.

We have many more needs and wants than we have ability to fund them so priorities are given each project by staff, administration, the board, and by the public. We encourage all of you to review the plans for our district and provide feedback on your needs and wants.


First Reading

411.2 – Classified Employee – Qualifications, Recruitment, Selection, changed to reflect our current procedures, waive second reading.
412.3 – Insurance, paraeducator contract Section 8 needs added.
413.2 – Retirement, mark reviewed.
413.3/E/R – Termination or Suspension of Classified Employees, mark reviewed.

Initial Review

413.6 – Classified Employee Retirement, mark reviewed.
414.1 – Vacation – Classified, mark reviewed.
414.2 – Personal Illness, add paraeducator contract reference.
414.3/E1/E2/R1/R2 – Classified Employee Family and Medical Leave, mark reviewed.
414.4 – Funerals, add paraeducator contract references.
414.6 – Jury Duty, mark reviewed.
414.7 – Military Service, mark reviewed.
414.8 – Absence Without Pay – Classified, add paraeducator contract references.
414.10 – Immediate Family Illness, add paraeducator contract references.
414.11 – Personal Leave, add paraeducator contract references.

PERSONNELClick here.