Archive | January, 2020

January 13, 2020 Board Meeting

14 Jan

New Technology Director hired

Harmsen WEB

Amy Harmsen, pictured, is set to take over at the district Director of Technology in February. She spoke at Monday’s board meeting.

The school board approved the hire of Amy Harmsen as the district’s new Director of Technology Monday. Harmsen comes to the district with exceptional education and experience, She will take up the position after previous Director Josh Wesley assumed a similar position at Waukee Community School District. 

“I was raised around here, so I’m glad to be back,” Harmsen said.

She said she is excited to get started as a member of the district administrative team. 

“Amy and the other candidates went through a very rigorous selection process,” said district Dr. Schutte said. “She has been the Director of Technology for Grinnell-Newburg Community Schools for the past 3½ years. She had previously served in Marshalltown as the Technology Services Coordinator with the Central Rivers Area Education Agency, working with our’s and other technology directors, providing support in both technical and education technology services.” 

Harmsen’s anticipated start date is Thursday, Feb. 13. 

Marshalltown Schools Tennis Court Project plans adopted
There were several major announcements and decisions at January’s sole Marshalltown School Board meeting Monday, including the formal adoption of plans, specifications, form of contract and the estimated total cost of the Marshalltown Community School District Tennis Court Project.

The base bid for the project will include six new tennis courts to the south of the existing eight courts at Marshalltown High School. In addition, the Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation generously gave $150,000 to cover the estimated cost of installing three pickleball courts in the tennis court area. 

Other aspects of the project, such as replacing the 45-year-old existing courts with six new courts, adding lighting, a restroom facility and a parking lot along South 2nd Avenue, will be bid as project alternates. 

“We’re bidding out the entire package in the event that the bids come in to where there’s a choice to take on one of the alternates,” said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte. “What we need, at a bare minimum, are the six courts so we can use those courts in conjunction with the courts that are still competitively playable and safe with the existing facility.” 

Bids on the project are due by 3 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 6. The awarding of the contract is scheduled to take place at the Monday, Feb. 17 school board meeting. Project cost information can be found here and a project design can be found here

A report from the Lenihan Lego League Wizard Engineers

Wizard Engineers WEB

Volunteer Lego League coach and Lenihan teacher Laura Fricke introduces the Wizard Engineers team during their presentation on splash pads Monday. The team will compete at the state level this weekend.

The Wizard Engineers, a Lego League team from Lenihan Intermediate School, shared a project presentation with the board. The team includes sixth grade students Max Reed, Sam Hatcher, Lucas Hagen, Anessa Morrison, Millie Heitmann, Leah Kurian, Josiah Kurian, Porter Niedermann, Harper Wilson and Ariana Campos. 

Each student spoke about the team’s project: providing splash pads as a safe, affordable way to have fun in the water. The students said the splash pads would offer an alternative to the dangerous Iowa River during hot summer says, particularly for families unable to afford a membership at local swimming pools. They discussed adding a solar-powered splash pad in downtown Marshalltown, financed by donations and grants. 

The Wizard Engineers will give their Global Innovative State Finalist presentation at Sukup Hall on the Iowa State University campus in Ames 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18. The competition schedule is available here 

Student School Board Representative update
Student School Board Representative Diana Sanchez shared these updates from around the district at Monday’s meeting. Highlights include: 

  • More Marshalltown High School students are attending college classes at Marshalltown Community College this semester
  • An update on first semester finals taking place at the high school from Jan. 14-16
  • Information about upcoming band and sports events, including the Bobcat Marching Band Pasta Dinner fundraiser set for 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 28 in the Marshalltown High School cafeteria. The funds will go toward the marching band’s trip to Orlando, Florida later this year. 


2020-21 at risk budget proposal approved
After a presentation at the December 16, 2019 board meeting, the board approved the 2020-21 at risk budget. The budget will be geared toward curbing chronic absenteeism, increasing graduation rates, lowering the number of students who drop out, and much more.

Data from previous years’ at risk programming shows the following results:

  • 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 specifics about the approved budget, click here.

Marshalltown High School showcase

Industrial Arts WEB

Marshalltown High School students and teachers present share information on the school’s industrial arts programs with the board Monday evening. Front row, from left: students Emily Diggins, Roxy Orellana, Ana Nolasco and George Melendez. Back row, from left: student Keaghan Gorsuch and teachers Lester Kadner and Raul Arevalo.

Marshalltown High School’s many high-quality industrial arts courses were on display at Monday’s meeting, with students sharing their experiences from classes in construction technology, metals, electrical and plumbing, and more. 

“We got to learn how to install windows and doors, how to safely remove walls and cabinets and apply drywall,” said Construction Technology II student George Melendez. “We can use that in the future.” 

Fellow student Ana Nolasco said safety was the first priority when it came to her Intro to Construction class. 

“After learning about safety, we went around and learned how to use every single saw or piece of machinery that was there,” she said. 

The students showed off some of the products of their hard work, including a small hardwood bench. They also discussed building a bathroom vanity, learning how to electrically wire a house, and other skills they learned in class. 

Teacher Lester Kadner said the things students learn in industrial arts classes will stay with them for the rest of their lives when they need to make repairs and solve everyday problems.

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 of:

  • 903.1 School Community Groups (approved as amended)
  • 903.5-R Distribution of Materials regulation (approved as amended)
  • 904.2 Sales Promotion Prohibited (approved as amended

Initial review of:

  • 314.1 Administrator early retirement incentive program (approved as amended, second reading waived)
  • 407.3 Retirement (coming back for a first reading)
  • 407.6 Licensed Teaching Staff voluntary early retirement incentive program (approved as amended, second reading waived)
  • 413.7 Twelve-month secretary voluntary early retirement incentive program (approved as amended, second reading waived)
  • 413.8 Twelve-month operations, maintenance and transportation voluntary early retirement incentive program (approved as amended, second reading waived)
  • 504.5 Student Fundraising (last line from previous policy 904.4 added, will come back at the next meeting)
  • 904.4 Money Raising Activities in the Schools (deleted due to redundancy)
  • Old 905.1 Community use of School Facilities (will come back at the next meeting for deletion)
  • New 905.1 Community use of School Facilities and Equipment  (will come back at the next meeting)
  • 905.1-R3 (new 905.1-R1) Community Use of the School District Facilities & Equipment Regulation (will come back at the next meeting)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“Last night’s meeting was a busy one with many items on the agenda. But, the highlight of any meeting is getting to interact with students in the district. 

We, first, got to hear from Industrial Arts teachers, Raul Arevalo and Lester Kadner, and some of their students. In addition to a PowerPoint presentation, the students shared the focus of their coursework and individual projects they had completed. Amazing opportunities for our students and remarkable products capped their presentation!

Then, we heard from the Wizard Engineers Lego League Team from Lenihan. They shared the process that they took in problem solving in competition. Their excitement and enthusiasm was contagious. We wish them well in their state competition bid this weekend!” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m.Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S.Third Ave. The meeting was moved from its normal Monday time due to the Iowa caucuses Feb. 3.