Archive | June, 2020

June 15, 2020 Board Meeting

16 Jun

MCSD school nurses led an effort to create and distribute cloth face-masks as COVID-19 concerns grew earlier this year. In addition, MCSD Health Services staff continue to perform safety screenings and provide services to students and families remotely.

School board hears 2019-20 MCSD Health Report
MCSD Lead Nurse Stacey Tool-Crawford presented the annual district health report to the Marshalltown School Board Monday. She said there was nothing unusual about the first several months of the school year – that changed in February as concerns about COVID-19 grew. 

“As school nurses, we started to do some further screening of students and staff who would come into our offices with fevers,” Tool-Crawford said. “Then, of course, we went on spring break, and then ended up not returning.” 

She said the district’s team of nurses and health aides had to quickly adapt to a constantly-changing situation due to the coronavirus outbreak. Even as the district buildings closed and students were sent home, Tool-Crawford said Health Services employees were screening essential personnel throughout the district to maintain safety. 

She said she continues to work closely with Marshall County Public Health Nurse Pat Thompson on monitoring the situation with the virus. Tool-Crawford has also worked with MHS Activities/Athletics Director Ryan Isgrig on maintaining health and safety of student-athletes, parents and fans with the recent return of summer sports. 

Along with providing health care to students, MCSD’s team of nurses are involved in several education and training activities. Those include implementing a K-4 health curriculum, education on proper hand-washing and avoiding germs, providing information on cold/flu illnesses, facilitating the MHS Health Fair, and more. 

Femineers STEM program coming to Miller Middle School spotlightedmiller-middle-school-1
Last week, Miller Middle School was announced as one of just six schools in Iowa to be chosen for the University of Iowa College of Engineering Femineers Adopt-a-School program. Miller Extended Learning Program (XLP) teacher Ann Jackson was instrumental in bringing the three-year STEM learning opportunity to the school. 

“We’ve noticed in our trends with XLP programming that girls are not choosing our STEM-based activities,” she said. “We’re hoping that the Femineer program, since it is just for girls, will pique some interest.” 

Jackson said she will attend professional development training this fall at U of I to prepare to implement the Femineers program. In each of the next three years, participating students will focus on areas like Creative Robotics, Wearable Technology, and Raspberry Pi Robotics. 

“Another great thing about the program is they provide a U of I mentor student for us, and it’s just another way for girls to see successful women in STEM careers and STEM learning fields,” 

Jackson said she would like to see the program extended beyond XLP as an opportunity for all girls attending Miller Middle School. 

Action taken on 2020-21 school meal prices
The board approved a slight increase to some school meal prices for the upcoming school year Monday, and Food Service Director Lynn Large said the USDA’s paid lunch equity tool was used to determine the need for the move.

The 10-cent increase will be applied to the paid student lunch and breakfast prices at Miller Middle School and Marshalltown High School, as well as adult meals. Meals will continue to come at no cost to students at all other district buildings because of the USDA Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) program. Federal reduced-price breakfast and lunch prices will remain $0.30 and $0.40, respectively. 

Public hearing set on MHS Parking Lot project
The board approved a public hearing on the proposed Marshalltown High School parking lot improvement project for 5 p.m. Monday, July 13. The goal of the proposed project is to upgrade the high school’s existing parking lot areas. 

Those wishing to participate in the July 13 public hearing should contact Board Secretary Paulette Newbold ( by 4 p.m. on the day of the hearing. 

End-of-year reports focus on teacher leadership, mentoring
Teachers are at the center of ensuring student success, and two programs focused on

Mentoring 2019-20

Miller Middle School composition teacher and Marshalltown High School counselor Rebecca Whalen work on a teacher mentoring activity.

teacher training and support were discussed at Monday’s board meeting.

MCSD mentor-coach Sue Cahill shared information on the district’s  mentoring program for new teachers from the 2019-20 school year.

“The mentoring program is for our new teachers, whether they are brand new to teaching or they are experienced teachers coming to our district,” she said.

The district’s mentoring program includes the following goals:

Establish a welcoming climate and clear expectations for successful teaching.

Establish a habit of professional collaboration

Practice and become proficient in the skills of self-analysis and reflection

Cahill said she focuses on gathering feedback from individual new teachers to ensure they are able to learn and grow. By supporting new teachers, the mentoring program also benefits students; teachers can use strategies they practice in mentoring to improve student achievement.

Also discussed at Monday’s meeting was the district’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation system (TLC). Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson said the leadership opportunities provided to teachers benefit students and staff.

She said the first-year and five-year teacher retention rates are both continuing to improve, and that teachers in the district continued to collaborate exceptionally during the 2019-20 school year.

The Department of Education requires at least 25 percent of a district’s teachers to hold an additional leadership role within the TLC system, and Stevenson said Marshalltown’s numbers are well over that baseline, at 38 percent.

“I’m happy that so many teachers within Marshalltown want to help support each other and our new hires,” she said. “We’re doing really good things, I think we’re making some really nice growth.”

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.

No action was taken during the policies section of the June 15 meeting.

From Board President Bea Niblock
“It’s that time of the year when the board meeting is filled with end-of-the-year reports. Tonight’s meeting brought a variety of people from around the district to share information.

The board received the health report for the past year. Included in that report were statistics and highlights of the impact of COVID–19 on the district. I remember a time when we didn’t have nurses in every building. What would we do without them now?

The mentor program report was also shared. The training of new teachers as they come into the district is essential. Without that mentorship, they would struggle with the rigors of the job. Teaching is hard work! Mentor connections help new teachers survive that first year and enjoy the work.

Time for goal setting coming up! Stay tuned for more information about the work of your board.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, July 13, 2020, and it will be the only meeting in July. The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom and a live stream of the meeting will be available via YouTube. 

June 1, 2020 Board Meeting

2 Jun

Bobcat baseball and softball are set to return to action this summer. To ensure safety amid ongoing public health concerns, the MHS Activities/Athletic Department has several rules and guidelines for student-athletes, parents, coaches, and fans to consider.

Update shared on summer sports return and safety measures
School sports were among the many areas impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; in May, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced the return of baseball and softball summer seasons. While it is exciting to know Bobcat student-athletes will return to action, MHS Activities/Athletics Director Ryan Isgrig said safety is still the top priority as summer sports begin and many details are still being determined. 

“There are several guidelines and regulations out there,” Isgrig said, adding a summer sports parent meeting was held last week. “It’s a collaborative effort.” 

A wide variety of actions are being taken to ensure the safety of student-athletes, parents, fans, coaches and everyone involved in summer sports, including (but not limited to):

  • Posting signs around sports facilities communicating safety expectations
  • Equipment cleaning before and after practice
  • Coaches screening student-athletes’ temperatures before practice 
  • Limited fan seating
  • Encouragement of social distancing among all parties
  • Closure of concession stands

District Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte said because Marshall County is still among Iowa’s top-ranking counties in terms of the number of COVID-19 cases, MCSD is surpassing the safety expectations set at the state level. 

“We’ve taken those minimum expectations and I think, in a reasonable way, expanded them,” he said. 

For more information on MCSD summer sports guidelines, rules and information, click here

Dual-graduate and Biliterate Bobcats’ accomplishments recognized
Bobcat Pride is running high even amid a difficult public health situation. The board recognized two sets of great student accomplishments at Monday’s meeting. 

Nine Marshalltown High School students will graduate with both their high school diploma and an associate’s degree, including: Carmen Araiza, Mia Barajas, Olivia BiliteracySeal2020-webimage-250x250Brintnall, Grace Fisher, Saylor Hempy, Amanda Hoffman, Trevor Ketcham, Kaci Uhde, and Liz Vargas.

“I really appreciate everything that MHS and MCC have done for us,” Ketcham said. “It gave all nine of us a way to push ourselves and get ready for college.” 

Fellow dual-graduate Carmen Araiza said the college coursework was challenging and rewarding. 

“It’s been a really fantastic opportunity,” she said. “Time management was a huge thing for me since I had a lot of classes first semester.”  

All nine students can take these academic accomplishments and look to their future education and careers with confidence.  

Also spotlighted were the 54 students who earned a Seal of Biliteracy this year. Students earn the honor by demonstrating proficiency in both English and at least one other world language. Nearly four times as many Bobcat students earned the Seal of Biliteracy compared to last year, when the seal was introduced. 

Board takes action to provide internet to hundreds of district families
After several weeks of dedicated research and surveying district families by the MCSD Technology Department, the school board approved a contract with Mediacom to provide low-cost internet to 437 families for six months.

Director of Technology Amy Harmsen said those families were deemed by Mediacom to qualify for the company’s low-cost internet program, and her department will continue to survey families, seek internet solutions and provide any other support necessary to get students connected to high-quality digital learning. 

The contract with Mediacom to provide low-cost internet to families for six months can be viewed here

Strong MCSD employee culture survey shows across-the-board growth
Board members heard a summary of the 2020 MCSD employee culture survey from Brad Black, CEO of Humanex ventures – the results showed positive growth in the district’s work culture since the 2018 survey. 

In the survey, Humanex used 15 dimensions to measure the work culture at MCSD. All of the dimension scores increased in 2020, continuing a trend of positive feedback from previous surveys. More than 80 percent of all district employees shared their perspectives in the survey. 

Resolution calling for a safe, healthy, district-specific reopening process adopted
As various parts of Iowa society begins to open up for the first time in months, MCSD joined the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) in adopting the “Resolution in Support of a Safe, Healthy, and District-Specific Reopening Process Informed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines.” 

The full policy is available here

List of Class of 2020 graduates approved
A total of 375 Marshalltown High School and Marshalltown Learning Academy students are set to graduate in June. The board approved the student list Monday, and MHS Principal Jacque Wyant said more students may soon be joining the graduating ranks in coming days and weeks. 

For information on the tentative Class of 2020 graduation ceremony plan, click here. 

Per diem pay for certified substitute teachers increased
Certified substitute teachers provide important and valuable support and services throughout the school year. The board approved an increase in certified substitute teacher pay from $115 to $120 Monday, ensuring a regionally competitive pay rate.   

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:

  • 312-3-E1 Fringe Benefits-Administrators/Supervisors (amended and second reading waived)

Initial review

  • No policies were up for initial review at the June 1 board meeting.

From Board President Bea Niblock
“Recognitions filled the first part of our meeting.  Students were recognized for graduating from high school with a diploma from MCSD and an AA degree from MCC. What an accomplishment!  And 54 students were recognized for receiving the Seal of Biliteracy at graduation. What a tremendous accomplishment – being literate in 2 languages! All of the students are well positioned for a successful college career.

Each year, more and more opportunities are afforded to the students in the Marshalltown district. Project Lead the Way continues to grow. Internships have been added to our curriculum.  And, our students continue to receive accolades at the state and national levels.  

And, our teachers spend countless hours challenging students at every grade level. Special education, gifted education and supports for all students help each child succeed at his/her own level. Where else would you want parents to send their children? Nowhere but the Marshalltown School District!” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, June 15, 2020. The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom and a live stream of the meeting will be available via YouTube.