Archive | February, 2016

February 15, 2016 board meeting

16 Feb

Marshalltown Learning Academy teacher David Ackerman, center, talks about the recent academic decathlon. Taking part in the decathlon were MLA students, also pictured, Noel Diggins, left, and Brandon Howell, right.

Marshalltown Learning Academy teacher David Ackerman and students Noel Diggins and Brandon Howell talked about the academic decathlon held in Grundy Center on Jan. 27. Both Diggins and Howell received multiple awards at the event, which featured 10 rounds of academic competition with a focus this year on India.

For personnel items, click here. 

MHS art trip to Minnesota
MHS art teachers Kirk Niehouse, Wade Judge and Rebecca Erickson asked for permission to have 45 art students take a trip to Minneapolis. The one-day trip will be on March 5 as the group will visit the Minnesota Institute of Art, the Walker Art Museum and the Weisman Art Gallery. The request was approved by the board. All out-of-state school trips need board approval.

Youth art show
The art teachers also reminded the board of the youth art show reception 1-3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27 at the Fisher Community Center. The student art will be on display throughout March at the center.

Peaceful protest
Immigrant Allies representative Joa LaVille along with Maria Gonzalez and Tonia Fonseca presented. They talked about the peaceful protest held outside the MHS Roundhouse during the campaign visit by Donald Trump. They said they were proud of the students and other community members who represented themselves with dignity and character during the protest.

Annual Measurable Achievement Objectives and Lau Plan
English Learners Program Coordinator Rachel Inks and Associate Superintendent Dr. Susan Pecinovsky presented this plan, which outlined support provided to English Learners in the district. Approximately 37 percent of the student population in the district are English Learners as there are 1,797 students in this group.

Marshalltown has the third highest EL count in the state and third highest percentage of EL students in the state.

The common trend is to refer to students as English Learners, but they also have been known as English Language Learners or Limited English Proficient in the past.

The Lau Plan must be submitted to the Iowa Department of Education every Sept. 15. This spring all of the English Learners will do state language assessment online for the first time. 

Super News
Superintendent Dr. Marvin Wade said they have a five-year window to review all board policies in the school district. That cycle was recently completed and the oldest policy in place right now was last reviewed in 2012. The review of the policies started back at the 100 level at this meeting.

Strategic Action Plan
The board put an update of this plan on hold as they would like to have the next superintendent involved in this plan. 

Audit Report for 2014-15
Director of Business Operations Brian Bartz introduced Jason Doonan from the auditors Nolte, Cornman and Johnson, who presented the district Audit Report for fiscal year 2015. General fund revenues for the fiscal year 2015 increased by $2,329,576 to $60,148,845. Expenditures increased from $57,178,329 to $59,530,791.

The board accepted the audit. For the audit report, click here.

MHS West Administration Annex
Director of Buildings and Grounds Rick Simpson and Architect Dave Schulze of TSP presented on this item. The agenda item was an amendment to the previous contract with TSP, for the MHW West Administrator Annex project, which is on hold. Approval of this amendment would allow the project to close and pay the architect for the contract.

The board expressed concern about this payment due to the project being stalled in part due to a low estimate by the architect. The board approved the amended contract, 6-1.

MHS Roundhouse Phase II
Simpson, Schulze and Phil Hodgin, with the architectural firm RDG, presented on this item. This amendment would update the current design contract with RDG and create a design team contract with TSP for Phase 2 of the Roundhouse.

TSP would provide project manager services for Phase 2, which includes an auxiliary gym and a wrestling room. The board decided to table this item until the board can receive more information on Phase 1 and the issues involved in the project that can be expressed to them at a later time. 

Board Policies  

504.33 – Life Threatening Allergies – New policy approved and waived second reading.

100, 100-E-1, 100-E2, 100- E3, 100.1. These were marked as reviewed. Since these policies have to do with the Strategic Action Plan, they will be readdressed when the new superintendent is hired and the next plan is in the works.

February 1, 2016 board meeting

2 Feb

Lindsey Upah, center, updates the board on the work of the Spread the Words-Read by Third community group at the Feb. 1, 2016 meeting. Also pictured at the table, from left, is Bettie Bolar, Karina Hernandez, Randy Wetmore and Emily Banks.

Spread the Words – Read by Third

Lindsey Upah, Emily Banks, Bettie Bolar, Karina Hernandez, Craig Van Pay and Randy Wetmore presented an update on the work of the Spread the Words – Read by Third group focused on improving literacy skills in youth.

Bolar talked about Munch and More, a summer reading program during the summer meals program. It started at Anson and has been added at Franklin and this year will go to Rogers.

“We get to share our love of reading and our love of books with these kids over the summer,” Bolar said.

Karina Hernandez from Mid-Iowa Community Action and coordinator for Rogers University, updated the board on this successful summer program. She reported third grade reading proficiency jumped to 82 percent in 2014-2015 from 58 percent 2013-14 in the Rogers program.

“That was our big success this year at Rogers University,” Hernandez said.

The group is still seeking funding for the 2016 summer for Rogers University as the grant funds that started the program have ended.

City Administrator Randy Wetmore talked about the work of the attendance task force, which works on cutting down chronic absence of students.

“We really work on trying to get the kids there every day,” Wetmore said.

Wetmore talked about attendance recognition meetings held at schools and the smiles he sees as students are awarded stickers for good attendance. It was noted that kindergarten tends to have the highest levels of chronic absence of the class levels.

Craig Van Pay of Mid-Iowa Community Action talked about school readiness goals and the importance of early childhood development. They have a community education campaign and neighborhood preschool camps as part of this effort.

District Preschool Coordinator Emily Banks talked about kindergarten teachers who partner with the programs to answer questions from preschool programs.

Budget Development Parameters

Director of Business Operations Brian Bartz and Superintendent Dr. Marvin Wade presented a budget update. The budget will depend on state funding and where employee groups settle with negotiations.

The budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year is due to the county by April 15.  Possible reductions will be discussed in the district in the coming weeks.

Roundhouse Update

MHS teacher and swim coach Mike Loupee and community member Tim Hoffman asked the board to consider naming the Marshalltown High School Roundhouse court after a Bobcat athletics legend to be announced at the Feb. 12 Roundhouse celebration.

Board policy indicates the person must be deceased to have a facility in his or her name, and the person Loupee and Hoffman want to honor is still living.

The policy indicates certain requirements of the policy can be waived at the board’s discretion if there is a gift. Loupee and Hoffman said they will raise $1,000 in donations as a gift. Their request to name the floor in honor of the Bobcat legend was approved by the board.

There will be a special Roundhouse celebration ceremony at the Feb. 12 basketball games against Ames, 51 years to the day after the first basketball game was played at the Roundhouse, which was also against Ames.

Meeting agenda

The meeting agenda was abbreviated to allow those in attendance the ability to caucus that night. The next regular meeting of the school board is scheduled for 5 p.m. Feb. 15 in district offices.


For personnel items, click here.

From Board President Bea Niblock

“The board had the opportunity to hear about the work of the Spread the Words—Read by Third! (RB3!) Committee. Lindsey Upah and the steering committee shared the work of this community partnership in its work to improve literacy skills of young children in Marshalltown.

RB3! has been in operation since Marshalltown was given the status of All American City in 2012. The RB3!’s plan to boost those literacy skills includes improving school attendance, building a solid foundation for school readiness and creating summer learning opportunities.

The work of this group is just one of the partnerships that the school district has with the community. It will take this “whole village” of Marshalltown to increase the literacy opportunities and growth of our young people.” – Bea Niblock