Archive | December, 2019

December 16, 2019 Board Meeting

17 Dec
Lunches WEB.jpg

Brothers John Wise, right, and Tom Wise, left, speak about their part in an effort to raise funds to pay off outstanding student lunch account debt.

Community members recognized for addressing school lunch debt
Marshalltown residents Tom and John Wise were recognized for helping raise funds toward outstanding school lunch accounts as of Monday afternoon. The Wises followed the example set by Alfonso Medina, Jr., owner of La Carreta Mexican Grill. Several other community members and businesses have also contributed to the lunch account effort. Read more about their generous endeavor here

Next step taken on tennis court project
Marshalltown Schools took another step toward a project to replace and upgrade the community tennis courts at Marshalltown High School at Monday’s school board meeting. A public hearing for the proposed use of SAVE state sales tax funds for the project was held; the board subsequently voted to allow the use of SAVE revenue to pay for the project. Tentative plans, specifications, form of contract and estimated total cost of the project were also approved and a public hearing regarding those details was set for 5 p.m. Jan. 13, 2020.

For more information about the tennis courts project, click here

Woodbury kids WEB

Woodbury Elementary students showed off their literary skills in both English and Spanish at Monday’s board meeting. Woodbury is home to an excellent dual-language program. Pictured, from left: students Erandy Ibarra Madrigal, Sahily Gonzalez, Tate Williams, Maritza Barajas Hernandez, Aaron Tafolla, Theodore Lewis, Liliana Nunez and Woodbury Principal Anel Garza, standing. 

Woodbury Elementary School showcase
Woodbury Elementary Principal Anel Garza, counselor Heidi Williams and instructional coach Julie Thede brought a talented group of students to showcase their skills at Monday’s board meeting. 

The second- to fourth grade students each gave part of the presentation, some in English and some in Spanish. Woodbury is home to an incredible dual language program where students learn in both English and Spanish each day in class. 

The school’s presentation included an overview of the new Into Reading/Arriba la lectura curriculum and how it works to bridge new learning from one language to the other. The connection of concepts between the two languages contributes to increased biliteracy. 

First round of ISASP data released
Marshalltown Schools joined school districts statewide in the 2018-19 school year in implementing the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP) assessment in grades 3-11. District Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson shared data from that first year of implementation at Marshalltown Schools. 

The ISASP was developed to align with Iowa Core educational standards and to ensure students of all backgrounds and abilities can take the test. For more information, click here

VM WEB.jpg

Vision Marshalltown co-chair Terry Buzbee, right, and Executive Director Kyley Leger, left, share information about post-2018 tornado growth strategies for Marshalltown. 

Vision Marshalltown leaders provide network update
Vision Marshalltown Executive Director Kyley Leger and co-chair Terry Buzbee shared a report from the network on its post-2018 tornado community growth strategies. Buzbee said Marshalltown is in a prime position to grow in the coming years and said MCSD will be a key part of future success. 

“With what you as leaders and what the administration has done, what the staff has done, we’re in a whole new place relative to education,” he said to school board members. “In my opinion, we very much have a great opportunity to grow.” 

Leger said Vision Marshalltown leaders met in July to revise the network’s strategies post-tornado. Along with education, she said other key focuses include growing housing, growing Marshalltown’s downtown area and growing community pride. 

Report shared on first year of Full Service Community Schools program
Allison Wilson and Sarah Kenkel of Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) went over facts and figures from the first year of the Full Service Community Schools grant implementation at MCSD. 

The federal grant of $500,000 for five years (totaling $2.5 million) was awarded to MICA in 2018, and the local non-profit is investing those funds into programs at Anson, Rogers and Woodbury elementary schools. Wilson and Kenkel described how the programming strives toward three key outcomes: 

  • All children enter school ready to learn
  • Students are academically proficient
  • Students are safe, healthy and supported by engaged parents

Some strategies and programs designed to meet the above outcomes include the Bobcat University summer learning program, focusing on the transition from early childhood education to school, developing individual family attendance plans, referring families to community-based support services, among many others. 

For more information about the first year of the Full Service Community Schools grant implementation at MCSD, click here.

Voluntary early retirement program approved
The Marshalltown School Board voted to continue offering voluntary early retirement to qualifying district employees for the current school year. Eligible employees may submit a written application for voluntary early retirement to the superintendent by 5 p.m. Feb. 28, 2020.

Student school board WEB

Student School Board members Mia Barajas, left, and Carmen Araiza, right, share their report on the happenings at Marshalltown High School and around the district. 

2020-21 at risk budget proposal presented
Dr. Lisa Stevenson presented the at-risk budget proposal for the 2020-21 school year. The new budget, if approved at the Jan. 13 board meeting, would be increased to a total of about $2.4 million. 

Stevenson also shared data showing how the at-risk budget has helped Marshalltown students in recent years, including: 

  • An increase in graduation rate
  • A decrease in the number of students who drop out
  • A decrease in major behavior referrals/suspensions
  • A decrease in reports of bullying/harassment

For more information about the at-risk budget’s impacts, click here. For specifics about the proposed at-risk budget, click here.

School board supports research project
The board approved a letter of support regarding a wireless technology research grant being pursued by Brian Cox of the Iowa State University Research Foundation Inc. and a team of researchers. Cox said the research would be in partnership with MCSD as well as the local business community and would work toward developing an advanced wireless network. 

For more details about the research proposal, click here

Communications Director Adam Sodders reviewed the good news from the district by sharing newspaper articles as well as school communications articles. That list can be seen here

Personnel items
For a list of personnel items approved Monday, click here

Gifts and bequests accepted
A $10,000 STEM BEST Program Enhancement Fund grant from the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council awarded to Marshalltown Learning Academy was approved, as were donations from the community toward outstanding lunch account balances. 

Initial review – 

  • 903.5-R1 Distribution of Materials Regulation (changes needed, will come back before board)
  • 903.7 Parent-Teacher Associations (deleted due to redundancy, except for the last line which was added to 903.1)
  • 903.1 School-Community Groups (Last sentence from previous policy 903.7 added, will come back before the board)
  • 904.2 Sales Promotion Prohibited (Will come back for a first reading)

First reading –

  • 903.4 Public Conduct on School Premises-Conduct Counts (approved as amended, second reading waived)
  • 903.5 Distribution of Materials (approved as amended, second reading waived)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“The countdown has begun. Four more days until winter break! A well-deserved break for our district employees.

Time away from books, lesson plans and meetings for relaxation and rejuvenation. Working with young people is rewarding, albeit challenging and demanding. It is our lifework and the joys constantly outweigh the difficulties.

I wish for you the happiest and most restful holiday season, be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, Kwanzaa, or whatever you and yours celebrate. Return to us rested and enthusiastic to continue the remarkable work you do with the young people entrusted to our care.” – Bea Niblock. 

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday Jan. 13, 2020 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. Third Ave. It will be the only regular school board meeting in January. 

Dec. 2, 2019 Board Meeting

3 Dec
Robotics WEB

MHS Robotics Team member Jacob Swartz discusses the FIRST Tech Challenge with the board. He is accompanied by Robotics Team coach and MHS teacher Dori Pinkerton, left. The team received a $1,500 grant award from the Alliant Energy Foundation Monday. 

District reimbursed by IRS
Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte and district Business Director Paulette Newbold were happy to announce the entirety of more than $642,000 in fines charged to the district by the Internal Revenue Service in 2018 was reimbursed Monday. Read more here

Certified Enrollment Count and Open Enrollment numbers show good signs
Marshalltown Community School District’s certified enrollment this school year is higher than in 2018-19. The enrollment numbers from Oct. 1 show a rebound since the same time last year, when around 90 students left the district due in large part to the July 19, 2018 tornado that devastated much of Marshalltown. 

“Once a year on Oct. 1,  we count all of our students and gather all this data,” Newbold said. 

She said the “certified enrollment” figure is determined by taking a headcount of all students and then applying certain Iowa Department of Education weightings, depending on some students’ classifications. 

There is also the “served enrollment,” which denotes all resident students, plus those who open enroll into the district but live outside the district, minus students who live within the district but open enroll out to a different district. 

Certified enrollment is important to school districts because the count determines how much funding districts get in the next school year. 

Takeaways from the enrollment count for 2019-20 include:

  • The number of students who open enrolled out of the district has gone down. 
  • The number of district elementary school students is down slightly since last year, but the number of middle school and high school students has increased. 
  • The grade with the largest number of students this year is sixth grade. 
  • The total certified enrollment county for MCSD this school year is 5,420 students

For more information and data, click here

Alliant Energy grant helps power MHS Robotics Team
An Alliant Energy Grant Foundation Award in the amount of $1,500 was accepted by the board Monday, and Marshalltown High School student and Robotics Team member Jacob Swartz shared how the funding fueled his team at the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge League Competition.

“This organization wants to inspire young people to be more interested in technology,” Jacob said of FIRST. 

Community tennis court project discussed
The board was given an estimated timeline on a construction project to upgrade the community tennis courts at Marshalltown High School. The next step is for the board to hold a public hearing on the potential project 5 p.m. Tuesday Dec. 16. After the hearing, the board will consider the approval of tentative plans, specifications, form of contract and an estimated total project cost. 

If those details are approved, there will be a 14-day waiting period in which the public may submit a petition to have the tennis court project – which would use state SAVE sales tax funding – on the March 3, 2020 ballot for voters’ consideration. Such a petition would have to include at least 914 signatures from eligible district electors and be turned in to Newbold, the board secretary. 

For more timeline details, click here

Board approves 2020-2021 school calendar
The MCSD 2020-2021 school year calendar was approved Monday night after board consideration and a survey of district staff. There were two calendar options presented for the board’s consideration. One option included a full spring break in March and a school year end date in early June. 

The other option, which the board approved Monday, does not include a spring break in March but instead has more days off around the Easter Holiday and comes with an end date of May 28, 2021, pending make-up days for weather. 

The staff survey showed a preference toward the no spring break option (55 percent) compared to those who preferred to keep spring break next school year (45 percent). 

More information on the survey and calendar can be found here

Lawmakers WEB

State lawmakers Rep. Mark Smith, left, and Sen. Jeff Edler, right, talked about the upcoming legislative session with the school board Monday.

State lawmakers talk upcoming legislative session
Local legislators shared their thoughts on the upcoming state legislative session in January. State Rep. Mark Smith and state Sen. Jeff Edler both discussed their intention to push for the amount of state supplemental aid to schools – which makes up a large portion of public school funding in Iowa – to be set early on in the session. Doing so makes it easier for school boards to set a budget for the upcoming school year. 

Edler and Smith also discussed mental health care access in the state, as well as the decision in the previous session to extend the SAVE sales tax sunset date to 2049, an increase of 20 years over the previous sunset date. The state law requiring a school start date on or after Aug. 23 was also discussed. 

Student School Board Representative update
Student School Board members Carmen Araiza, Mia Barajas and Diana Sanchez shared an excellent presentation on happenings across the district. Major takeaways include: 

  • Spotlights on Marshalltown High School students Kaci Uhde and Olivia Brintnall, both of whom are taking dual-credit college courses through the district’s partnership with Marshalltown Community College. 
  • An update on the recent poinsettia sales, with funds going toward improvement of the MHS Greenhouse. 
  • A recap of the Nov. 25 Science Bound meeting, which included a visit from an Iowa State University freshman student. The visitor discussed college life, coursework and balancing work and classes in college. 
  • A thank you to the district’s hardworking custodians. 

More information on these items and more can be found here

Cretsinger WEB

Director of Special Services Matt Cretsinger shares the details of the district’s implementation of social-emotional learning.  

Update on Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Implementation, as presented at the Iowa Association of School Boards annual conference
District Director of Special Services Matt Cretsinger shared a presentation over social-emotional learning strategies being implemented at Marshalltown Schools. Cretsinger gave the same presentation at the recent Iowa Association of School Boards annual conference. 

He said a team of MCSD staff researched behavioral science, neuroscience, mental health conditions and treatment, child development and the effects of trauma to enhance the district’s social-emotional system of supports. 

Cretsinger said the work is ongoing and several years of implementation are expected before full results can be seen. However, he shared several promising figures from the first full year of implementation, including: 

  • The number of major office referrals dropped from the 2017-18 school year to the 2018-19 school year. 
  • The dropout rate decreased from 17-18 to 18-19

For more information, click here

IAHSAA & IGHSAU School Classification Equity Resolution
The board voted to join more than 40 districts across Iowa in asking the Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa High School Girls Athletic Union to consider changes to athletic competitions classifications for school districts based on socio-economic factors. 

“What this is asking for is for our respective state associations, similar to other states across the country, taking a serious consideration to providing a weighting factor relative to schools’ (federal) Free and Reduced Lunch percentages,” Schutte said. “The research as been pretty clear that money matters, both when it comes to educating children as well as in terms of their development for youth activities.” 

He said such a move by the IAHSAA and IGHSAU would mean schools with higher socio-economic needs would not face off against schools with fewer needs in state competition. Schutte shared figures showing higher-need school districts tend to be significantly outperformed by lower-need school districts statewide. Read more here


Class of 89 WEB

Marshalltown High School Class of 1989 members (from left) Amy Pollard, Julie Batterson, Alyson Hicks, David Hicks and Geoff Hubbard are recognized by Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte, right, for their effort to get 700 books into the hands of district K-1 students. 

IASB awards WEB

Board President Bea Niblock, left, and former board Vice President Janelle Carter, center, were recognized for their Individual Achievement Awards from the Iowa Association of School Boards. Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte, right, was also honored with an Award of Honor from IASB. 

Hoglan Elementary School teacher Amy Pollard was recognized alongside fellow Marshalltown High School Class of 1989 members for a recent book giveaway effort. Pollard, David Hicks, Alyson Hicks, Geoff Hubbard and Julie Batterson were honored and thanked by Schutte and the board for their effort.

Board President Bea Niblock, former board Vice President Janelle Carter and Schutte were all honored with awards from the Iowa Association of School Boards. Niblock and Carter were recognized with Individual Achievement awards through IASB’s Better Boardmanship Awards Program. Schutte was recognized with an Award of Honor from IASB.

Communications Director Adam Sodders reviewed the good news from the district by sharing newspaper articles as well as school communications articles. That list can be seen here

Personnel items
For a list of personnel items approved Monday, click here

First reading –

  • 402.6-R Staff technology use/social networking regulation (amended, second reading waived)
  • 903.3 Building visitors (amended, second reading waived)
  • New Policy 508.2 Open Night (adopted) 

Initial review – 

  • 903.4 Public Conduct on School Premises (marked as reviewed) 
  • 903.4-E Public Conduct on School Premises-Conduct Counts (Line added, will return for a first reading at the next school board meeting)
  • 903.5 Distribution of Materials (change made, will return for a first reading at the next school board meeting)

From Board President Bea Niblock
Monday’s board meeting was a night filled with good news. One of those highlights was the increase in enrollment.

The district lost 90+ students a year ago after the tornado, but has rebounded well with an increase of 72 students according to our certified enrollment count this year. And, our open enrollment out count has decreased. Our enrollment trend on both fronts is encouraging.
We all know that our future budgets are based on enrollment counts. And, state budget allocations have remained below 2 percent for the past 10 years. So, an increase in enrollment assures us an increased budget!” – Bea Niblock. 

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16  at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. Third Ave.