Archive | October, 2013

Vol. 14 | Issue 7

21 Oct

Enrollment up 75 students

Certified enrollment for Marshalltown Schools shows an increase of 75 students, according to numbers submitted to the Department of Education Oct. 15.

The District has 5,383 students, up from 5308 at this time last year. Lisa Koester, director of human resources and student issues, said the largest class size increase was in kindergarten. This fall the District has 426 students in kindergarten, an increase of 46 students from last year. To accommodate the larger numbers, an additional kindergarten classroom was added to Fisher Elementary.

“I really want to thank Mrs. Vopava for being flexible right at the start of the school year,” Koester said.

The number of open enrolled out students increased as well, though at a slower rate than last year. Open enrolled in students increased slightly and the number of tuition in/tuition out students also decreased.

Roundhouse bids approved, work to begin next month

Work on the Roundhouse will begin in November now that the Board approved a $7.92 million bid from Dean Snyder Construction of Ankeny.

Five bids came in for the project, with the other for all over $8 million. Snyder’s bid comes in slightly below the architect estimate of $8.2 million.

Snyder has not completed a project for Marshalltown Schools before, but has done a number of projects larger, smaller, and comparable to the Roundhouse for districts such as Ankeny, Des Moines, and Mason City. Rick Simpson, director of buildings and grounds, told the Board Snyder’s references were vetted and those districts reported satisfaction with the work.

The scheduled completion for this phase of the Roundhouse project is Dec. 1, 2014.

Board approves covering Special Education Deficit

The cost to provide quality education for special needs students far exceeds the amount of funding districts receive for it, which is why the Board approved an application for additional spending authority from the School Budget Review Committee (SBRC).

Marshalltown’s Special Education Fund Deficit is $882,056 – the amount spent on Special Education programming beyond the state allocation. Matt Cretsinger, director of special services, said the deficit is a common problem among districts as the spending formula has not changed since the 1980s, but the needs of students have changed. The way Special Education weighting is calculated has also changed, making it harder in his opinion to designate a student as Level III and therefore eligible for more funding.

Cretsinger noted that a recent conversation with other districts in the Urban Education Network showed districts dealing with $1.5 million to $3.5 million in SpEd deficits.

Board Vice President Jennifer Wilson encouraged the Board to consider pushing for reform of the funding formula during the Iowa Association of School Boards conference. That group lobbies the Iowa Legislature on behalf of school boards across Iowa.

All elementary schools to be School-wide Title I programs

The three district elementary schools current functioning as Targeted Title I buildings will become School-wide Title I buildings.

Currently Anson, Rogers and Woodbury elementary schools are identified as school-wide programs. Next year Fisher, Frankin and Hoglan elementary schools will be added to that list.

To qualify as a school-wide program an elementary building has to have a poverty level of at least 40 percent. The schools will have to develop a comprehensive plan for reforming the instructional program. This plan will be reviewed and submitted annually to the state Title I office.

Dr. Susan Pecinovsky, associate superintendent for student achievement, said this process will not be as daunting for these schools as they have the plans from other schools to use as a model. She said the move to school-wide programming allows schools to use Title I funds for all students in a building instead of only those specifically identified for Title I services.

“It’s a big factor in how we can meet the needs and serve the students in Marshalltown,” she said.

School-wide programs also require paraeducators to be deemed “highly qualified”. Pecinovsky said passing the Work KEYS test or taking an AEA 267 certification could achieve this. The District will use Title I funds to support these certification processes.

District approves bond sales

The Board approved the sale of $10 million in revenue bonds Monday night, approving a bid from Suntrust of Townson, Md., they initially accepted at the Oct. 7 meeting.

Suntrust had the lowest interest rate (2.92 percent) among the bids received. Matt Gillaspie from Piper Jaffray told the Board on Oct. 7 that they received very favorable interest rates and compared Marshalltown’s bond sale to several comparable sales in other Iowa districts.

The $10 million will be used to fund work in the District Facilities Plan, which includes the Marshalltown High School Roundhouse renovation and the Support Services Center remodeling.

The bonds will be paid back over time using future one-cent sale sax revenue.

Board reviews timeout process

In the wake of the investigation at the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo, school districts across Iowa are reviewing the seclusionary timeout processes in their districts. During Monday’s Board meeting Matt Cretsinger, director of special services, reviewed the legal requirements and training related seclusionary timeout.

“[Timeout] can really be any setting,” Cretsinger said. “It doesn’t really have to be a room like you heard about at the Juvenile Home. This room could be a timeout room.”

According to Iowa law, seclusionary timeout means “the student is not allowed to access and is removed from the instructional setting to a designated time out room.” This can mean escorting a student to a room implementing room-clearing procedures where all except the identified student is removed from the classroom. It doesn’t mean asking a student to sit in another part of the classroom, in-school suspension or a student choosing to go into a timeout room.

The intent of timeout rooms is to provide a setting that minimizes opportunity for injury withholds all environmental stimuli from the child so they can de-escalate. It is not intended to serve as a disciplinary setting, a deterrent for inappropriate behavior, or for students who have not undergone extensive functional behavior assessment.

The rules and regulations for timeout rooms are detailed in Chapter 281-103 of the Iowa Code. At the start of each school year all school staff must complete Chapter 103 training through Area Education Agency 267’s online service. Each building also has a team of staff members who annually complete the nonviolent crisis intervention program (CPI) training.

Board member Bea Niblock suggested the District examine a different form of Chapter 103 training, citing concern that online training doesn’t provide enough guidance for staff. Cretsinger and Superintendent Marvin Wade said that was something the district could examine for next year.


By Dr. Marvin Wade, Superintendent of Schools

With only one month in office, our new school board members have already received considerable training in governance – with more to occur during the month of November. Following their swearing in on September 23rd, an orientation to the responsibilities of the Board was provided by former and current board members. The Iowa Association of School Boards then provided three hours of training on October 2nd that included topics such as policy development, open meetings law, and the difference between board and administrative roles. Near the conclusion of Monday’s board meeting, there was a review of MCSD’s Strategic Action Plan, Organizational Chart, and Central Office Duties and Responsibilities Chart. New board members have also attended meetings of the Teacher Quality Committee and School Improvement Advisory Committee. Our veteran board members have been involved in all these learning opportunities, as well as meetings of the Business Education Alliance, Advisory Committee on Intergovernmental Relations, Design Advisory Committee, and the Marshalltown Auditorium Foundation Partnership. In November, the Board will participate in training from the Urban Education Network and the Iowa Association of School Boards, and will receive an orientation to school finance provided by MCSD Director of Business Operations Kevin Posekany.

I mention all of these events so people can better understand that successful governance of our district requires many hours of behind-the-scenes work in addition to the 5-10 hours per month of board meetings.  As unpaid elected officials, school board members give generously for the benefit of our children and community.


By Sherm Welker, Board President

Tonight the Board approved the sale of a $10m revenue bond to continue our capital improvement projects. The terms of bond quotes we received were very favorable at 2.92 percent interest and we will exclusively use sales tax revenues for payments.

The capital improvement plan is a long term investment in our district and keeps our facilities competitive with the ever changing technology of advanced education. We appreciate the planning and thought from the Boards of past for their insight. Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of our parents, and the tax payers of our district.


First Reading

Early Retirement Policies – Changes made based on suggestions from Marshalltown Education Association; Change retirement notice deadline to first working day in February, will come back as first reading again.

To review the policy changes, visit the Staff Resources section of the district website.

PersonnelClick here.

Vol. 14 | Issue 6

7 Oct

District moves forward with bond sale process

The Board took the next step toward selling $10 million in revenue bonds Monday night, accepting a bid from Suntrust of Townson, Md., and slating final approval of the sale for the Oct. 21 meeting.

Suntrust had the lowest interest rate (2.92 percent) among the bids received. Matt Gillaspie from Piper Jaffray told the Board they received very favorable interest rates and compared Marshalltown’s bond sale to several comparable sales in other Iowa districts.

The $10 million will be used to fund work in the District Facilities Plan, which includes the Marshalltown High School Roundhouse renovation and the Support Services Center remodeling.

The bonds will be paid back over time using future one-cent sale sax revenue.

Marshalltown Schools receive PE, nutrition grant

Marshalltown Community School District is the recipient of one of 60 grants under the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP).

Marshalltown Schools will receive $494,201 in year one of the three-year grant out of the combined $32 million awarded Monday by the U.S. Department of Education. Funding is intended to assist with initiating, expanding, or enhancing physical education and nutrition education programs, including after-school programs, for students in grades K-12. The PEP program is aligned with and supports First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Active Schools initiative to get kids moving before, during and after school.

“Through the collaborative effort of the Healthier Communities Coalition in Marshalltown, we have laid the groundwork toward educating students and families about the benefits of physical activity and healthy eating habits,” said Matt Tullis, director of equity and learning supports and coordinator of the district Safe Schools/Healthy Students initiative. “We know there is a direct link between physical fitness and student achievement. This project will move us toward our goals and will certainly benefit all of Marshalltown.”

In 2013, PEP applicants were invited to align their proposals with seven “design filters” for creating engaging, high-quality physical activity programs. Applicants could also receive points for focusing their efforts on the persistently lowest-achieving schools in their area. More than half of awardees chose to address one or both of these two new priority areas for the PEP program.

“Healthy, active students do better in school and in life,” said Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education. “These grants will help schools and communities educate students on the value of healthy lifestyles through programs that get kids moving and teach lifelong healthy habits.”

All PEP grant recipients must implement programs that help students make progress toward meeting their state standards for physical education. In addition, these programs must undertake 1) instruction in healthy eating habits and good nutrition, and 2) physical fitness activities that include at least one of the following:

  • Fitness education and assessment to help students understand, improve, or maintain their physical well-being
  • Instruction in a variety of motor skills and physical activities designed to enhance the physical, mental, and social or emotional development of every student
  • Development of and instruction in cognitive concepts about motor skills and physical fitness that support a lifelong healthy lifestyle
  • Opportunities to develop positive social and cooperative skills through physical activity participation and
  • Opportunities for professional development for physical education teachers to stay abreast of the latest research, issues, and trends in the field of physical education.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Healthy Students manages the PEP grants and supports efforts to create safe schools, ensure the health and well-being of students, teach students good citizenship and character, respond to crises, and prevent drug and alcohol abuse.

For additional information on the PEP grant program, visit

Board receives annual secretary/treasurer’s report

Marshalltown Schools has a strong general fund balance according to a report from Kevin Posekany, director of business operations and Board secretary.  There was caution that the fund balance declined in 12-13 and the solvency ratio fell slightly below the acceptable level.

Posekany gave the annual secretary/treasurer’s report to the Board Monday evening, showing fund balances, revenues and expenditures over the last three years. He also reported on Days Net Cash and Solvency Ratio, both of which have fiscal goals set forth in a new board policy developed last year.

Days Net Cash is the total cash and receivables divided by the value of total expenditures divided by 365 days. Board policy sets a goal of 60-75 days. The district met the goal, having 66 days net cash.

Solvency ratio is the assigned and unassigned fund balance divided by the actual general fund revenues minus AEA flow-through dollars. It means what percentage of revenue would be left over of the District closed its doors on June 30 of the fiscal year and ceased to exist. Board Policy sets 8-10 percent as the annual goal, which the District missed by 0.41 percent (2013 solvency ratio was 7.59 percent).

Roundhouse gift made in honor of longtime Bobcat coach

A pair of Marshalltown High School alumni and their family are making a generous donation to the Roundhouse renovation project in honor of longtime coach George Funk.

The donation from Bob and Sally Becker (’47) and their family will be above the “Diamond Level” of $25,000. The family requests a photo and plaque displayed near the new athletic offices or the Hall of Pride recognizing Coach Funk for his contributions as a MHS coach and athletic director.

Asbestos removal quote approved

Controlled Asbestos Inc. of Ankeny will complete asbestos removal in the Support Services Center remodeling areas.

The asbestos in contained in ceiling tile glue in the upper levels. Removal will cost $40,000.

Project Lead the Way change order approved

The Board approved change orders for the Project Lead the Way renovations at Marshalltown High School totaling $9,994.

The change orders include a combination of additional costs and cost reductions. The largest additions included a drainpipe rerouting, mechanical changes, and the rebuilding of an office space.

Work is scheduled for substantial completion at the end of this month.


By Dr. Marvin Wade, Superintendent of Schools

During Monday’s meeting the Board of Education did a First Reading 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).  The Board requested changes be made to clarify deadlines (e.g. “by September 30” instead of “in the first quarter”) and the default status of the program if the Board does not take action by the deadline stated in policy.

All three Early Retirement policies have been rewritten and will return for another First Reading during the Oct. 21 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 Oct. 21 board meeting at 317 Columbus Drive.

The newly revised policies 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 Posekanyor Superintendent of Schools Marvin Wade.

PERSONNELClick here.