Archive | October, 2016

October 21, 2016 special board meeting

21 Oct

The Marshalltown Community School District Board of Education met in a brief special meeting on October 21.

Referral Bonus Proposal for Transportation Department Employees
This proposal would offer monetary bonuses to current transportation employees who refer successful candidates for bus driving positions, as the lack of bus drivers is a concern in the district. The board decided to table action on this proposal until the November 7 board meeting to have more time to research it. For more on this proposal, click here.

The board approved personnel items at the meeting. Click here for the list approved.

The board also approved two students who are open enrolling into the Marshalltown Community School District. The next regular meeting of the school board will be at 5 p.m. on November 7 in the board room in district offices at 1002 S. 3rd. Ave.

October 17, 2016 board meeting

18 Oct

District art teachers presented a program update to the board at the October 17 meeting. Pictured seated is Kirk Niehouse. Standing, from left, are Wade Judge, Baily Miller, Lauren Williams, Maggie Parks, Laurie Mullen and Rebecca Erickson.

Marshalltown Schools elementary art teacher Maggie Parks recognized Marshalltown High School art teacher Kirk Niehouse, who was recently awarded the Outstanding Secondary Art Educator Award from the Art Educators of Iowa. Parks nominated Niehouse for the award.
Parks said Niehouse not only goes above and beyond for his students, but also for his friends and colleagues. She mentioned when her home was damaged due to a fire, Niehouse helped her extensively with cleaning it up.
“He’s so focused on all of the students’ needs and helping his colleagues in distress,” Parks said.
Niehouse said he enjoys what he does at MHS.
“It was an honor to be recognized by other art teachers,” Niehouse said.

For personnel items approved by the board, click here.

AEA 267 services overview


Kim Swartz

Kim Swartz, regional administrator from AEA 267, and AEA 267 board member (local representative) David Giese talked to the board about the services offered by AEA 267 and how it works together with the school district.
Giese emphasized that AEA 267 works as a partner with all the school districts in its area.
Swartz credited the staff in the Marshalltown Community School District for their collegial relationship.
“I think we are really working together to help support and improve student achievement for all students,” Swartz said.
Swartz handed out a brochure to the board of services that have been offered to the district. To view the brochure, click here.

K-12 Art Presentation
Art teachers in the district, including Lauren Williams, Laurie Mullen, Baily Miller, Kirk Niehouse, Rebecca Erickson, Maggie Parks and Wade Judge, gave an update on the art program district wide to the board. Their presentation document can be viewed here .
Niehouse said art is moving more into the digital area. Students are using Google slides to preserve artwork.
Williams said they meet regularly with the K-12 art group to have a cohesive program throughout the district.
“Art is considered a core subject,” Parks said.

Elementary Literacy Supports
Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson and K-6 Curriculum/Professional Development Leader Shauna Smith shared with the board about Reading Corps and Lexia Core 5

Reading Corps
AmeriCorps employees are trained to become elementary literacy tutors as part of Reading Corps. These employees are 11-month employees of AmeriCorps so they can be utilized during the summer.
Anson Elementary was selected to pilot the program and a new tutor has started, Dr. Stevenson said. The hope is to expand it to other sites in the school district.

Lexia Core 5
This is an online personalized learning experience in six areas of reading instruction. More information on this can be accessed via an online video at
“The key components of the program are the ability to scaffold the content for the student and track each click of the mouse,” Smith said.
Lexia costs approximately $24 per student per year. The district has secured a three- year license for all seven PK-6 sites funded through state grant funds (early literacy intervention).
Use of the program this year will be determined at the building level based on the need. Usage will be during the school day.
The November 14 professional development day will provide staff training for this.
Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte said he saw this program working in an inner city school in Washington, DC last year and was impressed.
“This is where things are headed in terms of how we leverage technology,” Schutte said.

School Improvement Advisory Committee Members for 2016-17
Dr. Stevenson presented the list of the School Improvement Advisory Committee, which is a state required committee. The list was approved by the board and can be accessed here.

Teacher Quality Committee for 2016-17
Dr. Stevenson presented this committee list, which is a state required committee which had its first meeting last week. The Teacher Quality budget is expected to be presented at a future meeting. The committee was approved by the board. The committee list can be accessed by clicking here.

Laundry fee issue at MHS
MHS Activities/Athletics Director Rollie Ackerman presented a proposal for a change to the MHS student handbook, which includes a change in fees. The laundry fee has been in existence for a long time and it’s a good service that is provided for students, Ackerman said. He said after discussion there was a need to reconfigure the fees for a tiered approach due to the different needs for laundry in each particular sport. The fee was raised from $10 previously to $20 this school year.
Moving forward in certain sports the fee will be $20, certain sports would be at the $10 level and other sports would have no charge for laundry (students have own jersey/warm up that they are responsible for).
The board approved the handbook changes which are activated immediately. The changes are outlined below.

Laundry Fee
A laundry fee will be charged to all participants in athletics based on the schedule below, with a maximum $60 per family. This fee must be paid before an individual may take part in practices or contests. This fee will be paid directly to the Main Office. Any individual who qualifies for the free or reduced lunch program will be exempt from paying this fee. Also students whose families are experiencing a temporary financial difficulty may be eligible for a temporary waiver of student fees. Persons who qualify for this exemption must notify the Athletic Office.

There will be no charge for which the student purchases their own jersey/warm-up and is responsible for its upkeep in the following; Boys Golf, Girls Golf, Boys Tennis, Girls Tennis, Boys Bowling, Girls Bowling.

There will be $10 charge for the following due to uniform/warm-up laundering, upkeep, inventory, and towels; Boys Cross Country, Girls Cross Country, Volleyball, Boys Soccer, Girls Soccer, Girls Swimming, Boys Swimming, Wrestling, Softball

There will be a $20 charge for the following due to uniform, warm-ups, practice equipment laundering, upkeep, inventory, and towels; Football, Boys Basketball, Girls Basketball, Baseball.

Board Policies
705.9 – Death of a Student, Staff Member or Board Director – Marked as reviewed.
301.3   – Superintendent of Schools – Functions – Approved as amended.
312.1   – Administrative Personnel Employment — Individual Contracts – Approved as amended (removal of last line)

The following list of policies are minor updates – that are in need of being updated due to the upcoming equity visit by the Iowa Department of Education. The following policies were accepted as amended and waived second reading as a group.

102   – Equal Educational Opportunity –
301.1  –   Superintendent of Schools — Qualifications & Recruitment –
401.1  –   Equal Employment Opportunity
401.1E –  Equal Employment Opportunity Grievance Form; Affirmative Action Grievance Form; Title VI Compliance Form; Title IX Compliance, Grievance Form; Section 504 Compliance, Grievance Form
401.1R –  Grievance Procedure
405.2  – Licensed Employee Qualifications, Recruitment, Selection
411.2   –  Classified Employee — Qualifications, Recruitment, Selection
500.1   – Objectives for Equal Educational Opportunities for Students
504.14  – Harassment — Students
504.14-R1 – Harassment Students (Investigation Procedures)
504.14-R2 – Harassment Students (Student Handbook Provision)
504.14.E1 – Harassment Complaint Form
504.14-E2 – Harassment — Witness Disclosure Form
504.14-E3 –  Harassment — Disposition of ‘Complaint Form
600.1    – Nondiscrimination
905.9    – Nicotine/Tobacco Free Environment –
102.E1   – Annual Notice of Nondiscrimination
102.E2   –  Continuous Notice of Nondiscrimination
102.E3    – Notice of Section 504 Student and Parental Rights
303.2    –  Administrator Qualifications, Recruitment, Appointment
501.12    – Pregnant Students
403.5, 403.5.R, 403.5.E1, 403.5.E2  _ Harassment and Bullying Policies, Regulation, Exhibits
402.3     – Abuse of Students for School District Employees –

Back to regular policy reviews…

602.12-R — Acceleration—Regulation – Minor changes made, will come back for first reading.
602.12-E1 — Acceleration Request Form – Marked as reviewed
602.12-E2 — Acceleration — Personalized Education Plan – Marked as reviewed.
602.12-E3 — Acceleration Report–Whole Grade – Marked as reviewed
602.12-E4 — Acceleration Report — Single Subject – Marked as reviewed
907 – United States Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag – This policy was presented by Dr. Schutte and would allow the opportunity for the pledge to be said at all school levels. The pledge is being done at lower grade levels currently. Leaders at Miller and MHS said they could make time in the day for the pledge. As part of the policy, the pledge will not be required for students to participate in, but the opportunity can be provided.
Board members differed on their views on this policy. While all seemed to indicate the opportunity to have the pledge for all students was fine, some did not agree with requiring staff to administer the pledge. No decision was made and this policy will come back as a first reading.
802.4 – Capital Assets Policy – Director of Business Operations Brian Bartz presented this policy. This is an accounting policy as a means of recording capital assets. The policy will come back for a first reading.

The next regular meeting of the school board will be at 5 p.m. on November 8 in district offices.

From Board President Bea Niblock
“What a busy board meeting we had.  The board continues to be a learning board.  Multiple presentations on a variety of topics moved the board forward in its learning.

Dr. Stevenson made presentations on two elementary literacy supports.  Through grant funding, the district is able to pilot 2 programs to assist students in becoming “readers by third”.  The Read by Third initiative has gotten a push from these pilot programs.

All PK-4 buildings will have the opportunity to provide individualized and personalized instruction in literacy to all students using the Lexia Core 5 computer learning program.  Daily lessons are geared to the personal needs of each child and are implemented through the one-to-one Chromebooks.  And Reading Corps, an extension of the AmeriCorps program, will be piloted in one elementary building.  It also targets early, individualized reading instruction.

We’re looking forward to increased achievement and proficiency of our early learners.” – Bea Niblock

October 3, 2016 board meeting

4 Oct

Thank you Principals!


Principals were recognized at the board meeting as part of National Principals Month.

The board appointed Ben Fletcher as the new board member to fill a vacancy for the next


Ben Fletcher

year and he was sworn in. Fletcher works as an engineering manager at Emerson/Fisher and has a degree in mechanical engineering from Iowa State University.

“I’m excited to get started and honored they selected me,” Fletcher said.

Seven community members were interviewed by the board for the vacancy last week.

“Thank you to everyone who interviewed and stepped up to volunteer for the position,” said Board Vice President Janelle Carter. “We had really good candidates.”

Fletcher will serve until the next school board election in fall of 2017.

Miller Middle School cross country runners Diana Castro and Ellie Draisey were honored for showing character and great sportsmanship when they helped a runner from an opposing team finish a race at a meet in Indianola recently.

“What you did was truly a great representation of what we want this school district to be like,” said board member Ross Harris.

ABC 5 of Des Moines sent a news reporter to the meeting and the story can be viewed by clicking here.

Principals honored
MCSD principals were honored for their hard work and dedication to the district as part of National Principals Month. Thank you principals!

New staff member introduction
Rod Whitmore introduced himself to the board. He is the new school resource officer at Marshalltown High School. He has more than 20 years of experience with the Marshalltown Police Department.

The following items were approved under personnel.


  • Dominique Cook, Bus Monitor for Transportation

Start:  September 21, 2016

Salary:  $9.50/hour

  • Kurt Reinert, Custodian/Grounds for Buildings & Grounds

Replaces:  Antonio Jaramillo

Start:  August 17, 2016

Salary:  $13.05/hour

  • Brittney Spear, General Education Paraeducator

Replaces: Lisa Crouch and Amy Wunschel

Start: October 3, 2016

Salary: $8.77 per hour

  • Monte Eaton, Industrial Technology Teacher

Replaces: Robert Weatherly

Start: October 3, 2016

Salary: BA Step 5

  • Heather Lee, High School Drama Coach

Start: October 3, 2016

Salary: $5,147


Special education deficit
Director of Special Services Matt Cretsinger said the special education deficit is at $1.2 million.
He said the deficit is an outcome of the services that are required to be provided for students with disabilities. Many school districts throughout the state have a special education deficit.
For more information on this deficit, click here.
Director of Business Operations Brian Bartz requested the board approve the spending authority on the $1.2 million dollars to make up for the deficit. The board approved the measure.

Board Polices
705.9 – Death of a Student, Staff Member or Board Director- To come back for first reading
312.1 – Administrative Personnel Employment- Individual Contracts – To come back for first reading
301.3- Superintendent of Schools- Functions- Asked for adding building principals to supervisory duties and to remove those that are taken care of by Director of Business Operations- Policy to come back for first reading.
401.2 – Employee Conflict of Interest – Marked as reviewed
401.7 – Travel – Marked as reviewed

Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte presented polices that are specifically part of the upcoming equity review. Many policies change the equity coordinator to Anthony Spurgetis. Many of these will be an adoption of Iowa Association of School board policies. Eric Goslinga has been the point person as far as the equity visit.
“He’s done a fantastic job,” Dr. Schutte said.

This list will be in final form for a first reading next meeting.

The next regular board meeting will be at 5 p.m. October 17 in district offices.

From Board President Bea Niblock
“Each October, the board is faced with the task of looking at the special education deficit and voting to apply for allowable growth and supplemental aid through the state School Budget Review Committee (SBRC).

Director of Special Services, Matt Cretsinger, gave the board pertinent information as to the number of students being served in the district’s continuum of services as well as students who have been open enrolled to other locations to be served and the degree of services provided. The special education deficit was put in perspective when compared to other similar districts and those providing services to similar numbers of students. Marshalltown’s deficit is $1,218,764 for the 2015-16 school year.

The board voted to ask for additional spending authority from the SBRC. The district can then choose to levy additional cash reserves to recover the deficit expenditures.” – Bea Niblock