Archive | May, 2020

May 18, 2020 Board Meeting

19 May
Roundhouse WEB

As in previous years, the MHS Roundhouse will serve as the venue for the Class of 2020 graduation ceremony, even though this year’s ceremony format will be unique due to the global pandemic.

Tentative plans for Class of 2020 graduation ceremony shared
Marshalltown High School Principal Jacque Wyant shared tentative plans for the Class of 2020 graduation ceremony with the board Monday evening. The ceremony is currently set to take place Sunday, June 28 starting at 2 p.m. Due to the ongoing public health situation, the ceremony will take place in a unique way compared to previous years. 

“We have looked at a way to celebrate each graduate with their family present in the Roundhouse,” Wyant said. 

The plan calls for each family – in a group numbering 10 people or fewer – to arrive at the MHS Roundhouse parking lot within a designated time frame. School staff will then guide graduates and families from a pick-up station to the Roundhouse. Each graduate will walk across the stage in the Roundhouse while their family watches. 

Prior to the start of the ceremony, pre-recorded graduation speeches will be broadcast on multiple formats.

“It’s just a way to celebrate the accomplishment of the student,” Wyant said. “We’re confident we can move this along, as long as everybody arrives at their designated timeframe in the parking lot and follows directions.” 

Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte said that while this year’s ceremony will be unique, it will also allow graduates and their families to more closely share the experience. 

NOTE: Due to the ongoing public health situation, changes may be made to the current graduation ceremony plan.

Student School Board WEB

MHS students Carmen Araiza, Mia Barajas, and Diana Sanchez have served as excellent student representatives to the board during the 2019-20 school year.

Student School Board members’ service celebrated
Each school year, three exceptional high school upperclassmen are selected as Student School Board members. This year’s student representatives – Diana Sanchez, Mia Barajas, and Carmen Araiza – have done an excellent job of keeping the board updated on the happenings at the high school and sharing their input as students. 

“You were great role models serving in those roles,” Dr. Schutte said. 

The students said they appreciated the experience. 

“I learned a lot about how the school works,” Araiza said. 

Sanchez said it was interesting to become familiar with how the school board makes key decisions. 

“I’ve learned a lot from this experience. I’m grateful for the opportunity,” Barajas said. 

All three will be given plaques to thank them for their service. 

Kind gesture from Raymon-Donco recognized
Also highlighted at Monday’s meeting was a kind act by Raymon-Donco owner Larry Donco, who is donating 750 face-masks to the district. The masks will be used to help ensure employee safety as students’ personal belongings are packed up and given back to students.

“That was a significant contribution from Larry and his company that we really appreciate,” Dr. Schutte said.  

Other recognitions at Monday’s board meeting included: 

  • School nurses, celebrated earlier this month during National School Nurse Day
  • MHS students Averi Bolar and Jason Strand, who qualified for the nationwide National History Day contest with their project on the suffragist Alice Paul. Fellow student Klaudia Hernandez earned a strong third-place finish at the state NHD competition. 

Discussion held on MCSD summer learning
Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson shared an update with the board regarding this year’s summer learning programs. One change will be that MCSD will not contract with Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) for summer school services, as has been done in previous years. 

“We have to offer summer school in a virtual format this summer due to the pandemic,” Stevenson said. “So much of the work that MICA supported in terms of the enrichment activities – the field trips, the extended learning – just are not able to happen in the community this summer.” 

She said MICA will still provide a separate “Transition to Kindergarten” program at Woodbury, Anson and Rogers elementary schools later in the summer. 

Virtual summer learning will look much like the virtual learning currently taking place in the district. The Learn From Home website will continue to run June 15 to July 31. Paper packets with educational materials will also continue to be distributed regularly.

“The Bobcat University that you are familiar with at K-3 happens at each of our six sites, and what we’re doing this summer is offering one hour of synchronous instruction through the Google Meet format by grade level at each site,” Stevenson said. 

She said a summer learning program at Miller Middle School is being worked on, and that Marshalltown High School and Marshalltown Learning Academy student credit recovery programs will still take place. In addition, a virtual 9th-grade transition program is planned for students moving from middle school to high school. 

Board adopts renewed Instructional Support Levy resolution
The school board adopted a resolution renewing MCSD’s ability to use the state Instructional Support Levy for a further five years.

The levy allows school districts to increase their general fund budget by up to 10 percent of the regular program district cost. Adoption of the resolution came after a public hearing on the matter yielded no comments from the public. 

Bus exterior WEB

The MCSD Transportation Department will be able to better track buses and improve efficiency with the software upgrade approved by the school board Monday.

Transportation software upgrade approved
A software upgrade to improve the Transportation Department’s communications and operational efficiency was approved by the board. 

Transportation Director Rex Kozak said the software – Transfinder Plus – will allow buses to be tracked closely; the program also runs diagnostics on the buses and can notify mechanics if something needs to be addressed on the vehicle. Kozak said the upgrade will provide opportunities to lessen bus idling time and to make bus routes more efficient. 

Updated COVID-19 resolution adopted
The board adopted an updated version of the district’s COVID-19 Pandemic Resolution. The resolution includes updated guidelines in response to the changing situation with COVID-19. Click here to view the resolution. 

MCSD to continue improving classroom audio systems
Hoglan Elementary will be getting a classroom audio system upgrade after board action Monday. Dr. Schutte said the improved audio system at Hoglan will follow similar efforts at Woodbury, Rogers, and Anson elementary schools. The purchase for the 15 Lightspeed TOPCAT units was approved at $24,990 and will be paid with sales tax funding.

Along with helping students who have hearing difficulties, Dr. Schutte said the improved audio systems also help preserve and protect teachers’ voices. 

Administrator, secretarial salary and benefits changes for FY2021 approved
Changes to MCSD administrator and secretarial salary and benefits were approved at Monday’s meeting. One change for both groups is the inclusion of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a paid holiday, among other changes. 

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

  • 506.2-R1 Use of Directory Information (adopted, second reading waived)
  • 201.7 (new 200.1) Organization of the Board of Directors (amended, second reading waived)
  • 506.2-E1 Authorization for Releasing Student Directory Information (amended, second reading waived)

Initial review

  • 312-3-E1 Fringe Benefits-Administrators/Supervisors (will come back for a first reading)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“Last night’s meeting opened with the public hearing on the proposed resolution to consider continued participation in the Instructional Support Program. There were no comments from the public. I think that everyone understands just how important that funding is for the budgeting of this district.

Later in the meeting, the board unanimously voted to support the continued participation in the Instructional Support Program. The program was originally begun to allow districts to increase their general funds by up to 10% of the regular program budget. That is especially important to a property poor district as ours. We generated about $2.1 million dollars in this manner during the last budget year.  

The resolution will guarantee continued participation for 5 years beginning with the fiscal year July 1, 2021. ” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, June 1, 2020. The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom and a live stream of the meeting will be available via YouTube.

May 4, 2020 Board Meeting

5 May


National School Board Recognition Month/”Public School Proud!”
The Marshalltown School Board recognized several outstanding students, employees, and community efforts at Monday’s board meeting, including National School Board Recognition Month

This year, the recognition of school board members is being given a new twist under the unique circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to recognizing locally-elected school board members for their hard work on behalf of Bobcat students, the theme “Public School Proud!” is also being celebrated. 

“Thank you for your commitment to living up to our district’s mission and vision, and the countless hours you put in,” said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte to the board members. “Thank you to all of you on behalf of Bobcat students, parents, employees and the community as a whole.”

Board President Bea Niblock said public schools are a key piece in the lives of thousands of Iowa students. She thanked MCSD employees for their work to continue to provide for students during the current crisis.

“This includes 592 educators – teachers, paraeducators and secretaries – for innovating to provide online learning and support for students; 58 food service staff for providing meals for students and families; 62 Transportation staff for delivering meals to students and families; 1 superintendent and 15 principals for providing excellent leadership; 38 Central Office staff for managing day-to-day operations; and 41 operations and maintenance staff for ensuring buildings and facilities are safe, clean and sanitized,” Niblock said. 

Teacher Appreciation Week celebrated
Teacher Appreciation 1May 4-8 is Teacher Appreciation Week, an annual celebration of teachers for the crucial role educators play in the lives of their students. MCSD teachers do an outstanding job under typical circumstances and have been doing excellent work during the current COVID-19 situation.

To celebrate, MCSD administrators recited the poem “A Child’s in Need of Us” by retired Pella Community Schools Superintendent Mark Wittmer. A video of the poem reading premiered at Monday’s board meeting and is available on the MCSD YouTube channel

Math Team WEB

These MHS Math Team students qualified for the Math Leauge Midwest Regionals. Top left – senior Jay Drummer; Top right – Ketcham brothers Trevor (left) and Derek (right); Bottom left – junior Marek Jablonski; Bottom right – senior Zach Swartz.

MHS Math Team qualifies for Midwest Regionals contest
Marshalltown High School Math Team members Jay Drummer, Trevor Ketcham, Zach Swartz, Marek Jablonski and Derek Ketcham shared their experience at the recent state Math League competition. The group’s impressive performance led to a qualification for the Midwest Regionals contest. 

Read more about the MHS Math Team’s accomplishment here

A caring community
Though the current circumstances are challenging to communities all over Iowa, the U.S. and the world, Marshalltown community members continue to show how much they care for MCSD and Bobcat students. 

  • Marshalltown Mayor Joel Greer recently proclaimed May 2020 as Marshalltown Senior Class Month, helping recognize the perseverance of senior students through the COVID-19 situation.
  • Shomo-Madsen Insurance and IMT Insurance donated $500 to the MCSD Nutrition Department in a gesture of gratitude for the district’s feeding programs at school sites and mobile routes. 
  • April 19-25 was National Volunteer Week. Service through volunteerism is a staple of Marshalltown Schools and the broader community, from 2018 tornado recovery to providing services through the current global pandemic. 

Board adopts updated Pandemic Response resolution
An updated MCSD Pandemic Response resolution was adopted by the board. The resolution reaffirms the district’s commitment to continuing to pay employees during the COVID-19-related closure, to provide voluntary educational enrichment opportunities to students, and to continue to hold school board meetings virtually. 

Additionally, the resolution reaffirms the district’s commitment to following the Iowa Department of Education’s guidance by submitting a “Return to Learn” plan by July 1. To read the full resolution, click here.

Important steps taken on district technology
The school board was presented with several important items related to technology Monday. The board approved the replacement of Chromebooks, as well as related  device cases and carts, in accordance with the district’s annual technology replacement cycle. Additionally, the board approved $31,250 for the Marshalltown High School Project Lead the Way (PLTW) lab.

The board also approved technology expenses due to COVID-19, which include Chromebooks to replace lost or broken items as well as cases. The board also approved the purchase of internet hotspots for summer school students.

For more details about the annual replacement cycle purchase, click here. For more on the technology-related actions taken in response to COVID-19, click here

Public hearing set on Instructional Support Program renewal
The state Instructional Support Program allows school districts to increase their general fund budgets by up to 10 percent of the regular program district cost. With the current five-year Instructional Support Program board resolution set to expire in June of 2021, Director of Finance Paulette Newbold recommended adoption of a new five-year resolution so the district can continue to utilize the program. 

The board set a public hearing on the matter for 5 p.m. Monday, May 18. More information on the program can be found here.

Multiple 2020-21 school year handbooks approved
After being presented to the board in previous meetings, several MCSD handbooks for the 2020-21 school year got final approval on Monday. They include the handbooks for the Transportation Department, preschool and elementary students, Lenihan Intermediate School, Miller Middle School and Marshalltown High School.

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

  • 211 Open Meetings (adopted and second reading waived)
  • 711.10 School Bus Passenger Restraints (adopted and second reading waived)
  • 201.7 (new 200.1) Organization of the Board (will come back for a first reading)
  • 201.8 (new 202.4) Vacancies (amended and second reading waived) 
  • 204.4 (new 210.1) Annual Meeting (amended and second reading waived) 
  • 204.5-R (new 200.1-R1) Organizational Meeting Procedures (amended and second reading waived) 
  • 204.6 (new 210.5) Notice of Board Meetings (amended and second reading waived) 
  • 204.9 (new 210.10) Agenda and Order of Regular Business Meetings (amended and second reading waived) 
  • 204.7 (new 210.6) Quorum for Meetings (amended and second reading waived) 
  • 204.12 (new 215) Minutes of Meetings-Publication of Proceedings (amended and second reading waived) 
  • 206.1 (new 216.2) New Board of Directors’ Member Development Training (amended and second reading waived) 
  • 404.1-R2 (new 404.1-R1) Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics Regulation (amended and second reading waived)  

Initial review

  • 506.2-R1 Use of Directory Information (will come back for a first reading)
  • 506.2-E1 Authorization for Releasing Student Directory Information (will come back for a first reading)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“May finds National School Board Recognition and Teacher Appreciation Week at its core. Since 2007, IASB has led the charge in celebrating school board members, but this year, in the midst of a global crisis, our school board wishes to thank all educators, administrators and district staff for their profound efforts to continue the education, feeding and meeting the needs of Marshalltown’s youth and families.

This year’s motto for School Board Recognition Month is ‘Public School Proud!’ We are, indeed, proud of the work of all members of the MCSD family. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed and have been essential to providing our students and families the support they need. Thanks to each of you for the things you do in this complex and challenging time.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, May 18, 2020. The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom and a live stream of the meeting will be available via YouTube.