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.

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