Archive | October, 2020

Oct. 19, 2020 Board Meeting

20 Oct

Hybrid learning model will stay in place for the rest of the semester
Students in grades 7-12 will continue to learn in a hybrid model for the remainder of the first semester after Marshalltown School Board action Monday evening. The hybrid model was introduced this school year to increase social distancing and allow for a safer learning environment amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The hybrid model – as well as the fully virtual learning model introduced this year as an option for all students and families – were the focus of much discussion Monday. Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson led a presentation about the first six weeks of the school year; she was joined by building administrators from Lenihan Intermediate School, Miller Middle School, and Marshalltown High School during the discussion.

Stevenson said she, the building administrators, teachers and staff are all working diligently to increase student and family engagement in both the hybrid and fully virtual learning models. She said those two models are new this school year and many students are adapting to learning in a new environment. 

The hybrid learning model data showed a significant decrease in behavior incidences and an increase in student attendance at in-person classes this semester. The school leaders also praised the block scheduling strategy put in place as part of the hybrid model at Miller Middle School and Marshalltown High School. 

“I am confident that our staff – our teachers, our counselors, resource specialists, principals – are going to the nth degree to engage these kids,” said Superintendent Dr. Schutte, adding the District may have an opportunity to revisit the learning models later in the school year. 

Aguirre

Recommendation made to fill board vacancy 
Nicolas “Niko” Aguirre was recommended to fill a school board vacancy Monday, with board member Bob Untiedt stepping down. The board did not vote on the appointment during the meeting; that action item is set to appear on a future meeting agenda.

Aguirre has prior experience on the school board, having served in 2019 after being appointed to fill the vacancy of former board member Ross Harris. He is the Human Resources Director at JBS Marshalltown. 

MHS senior Marek Jablonski recognized for National Merit Scholarship success
Marshalltown High School senior Marek Jablonski was recognized by the board for two recent achievements – he was named a scholarship competition semifinalist and a Commendable Student from a Rural School by the National Merit Scholarship Program. 

Jablonski

Jablonski earned his scholarship semifinalist status with an excellent performance on his PSAT exam last school year. He is now looking to become a competition finalist. 

“For the next step, which is ‘finalist,’ you have to go through and submit an essay, a bunch of stuff about my schoolwork, my plans for the future, [and] activities,” he said. “I’ll get to know the results by February.”

Jablonski is also involved in the MHS Math Team and the MHS Botcats robotics team. He is interested in the field of computer engineering. 

Statewide middle school cross country meet a success
MHS Cross Country coach Chad Pietig described the success of the Dick Washburn Middle School Statewide Cross Country meet hosted in Marshalltown last weekend.

The meet is ordinarily held in Ankeny; however, to accommodate social distancing measures, the cross country course at Marshalltown Community College was selected for the annual meet hosted by the Iowa Association of Track Coaches. 

“It was quite a success. We had 1,300 runners divided over 12 races,” Pietig said, adding safety measures like social distancing and wearing of face masks were followed. 

MHS Cross Country coach Chad Pietig discusses last weekend’s successful statewide middle school cross country meet in Marshalltown.

The venue offered ample space for families to snap a photo and watch their child compete while maintaining a safe social distance. Pietig thanked the many volunteer student-athletes, parents, and fellow District coaches and staff who helped with the event.

“I don’t think we would have been able to pull it off as smoothly without Mr. [Eric] Goslinga and his Sea Cadets, because they took over parking,” he said.

Dr. Schutte said it was great to see such a popular school sports event hosted in Marshalltown. 

“Marshalltown has always been really well situated to host such events,” he said.

Student School Board representatives update
Student School Board representatives Klaudia Hernandez and Hayley Reed shared an update from Marshalltown High School with board members. Among the topics and events they discussed were:

  • The upcoming Bobcats varsity football playoff game against Urbandale, set for 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23 at Urbandale
  • The home MHS Girls Diving invite held at the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA last weekend
  • The upcoming diving and swimming conference competitions at Fort Dodge set for Tuesday, Oct. 20 and Thursday, Oct. 22, respectively
  • The recent MHS Cross Country boys and girls conference meets last week and the state qualifier meet set for Thursday, Oct. 22 at the MCC cross country course 
  • The recent MHS Band Extravaganza event at Leonard Cole Field
  • The 2020 National Honor Society Blood Drive this Wednesday, Oct. 21 and Thursday, Oct. 22

National School Bus Safety Week kicks off
October 19-23 is National School Bus Safety Week, which serves as an important reminder to practice caution and keep safety in mind near school buses. This year’s theme is “Red Lights Mean STOP!” You can read more about National School Bus Safety Week, including helpful tips for students, parents, educators and community members, here.

Steps taken toward addressing special education deficit
With approval from the school board on Monday, the District will seek authority from the School Budget Review Committee (SBRC) for allowable growth and supplemental aid to address a negative balance in special education funding.

Communications
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 Wednesday, click here.

Policies
Second Reading – 

  • 209.1 – Development of Policy (adopted)
  • 209.2 – Adoption of Policy (adopted)
  • 209.3 – Dissemination of Policy (adopted)
  • 209.4 – Suspension of Policy (adopted)

First Reading

  • 203.2 – Adoption of Administration Rules and Regulations (amended, second reading waived)
  • 203.4 – Ad Hoc Committees (amended, second reading waived)
  • 208-E1 – Ad Hoc Committees Exhibit (adopted, second reading waived)

Initial Review – 

  • 203.5 (new 103.1) – School Improvement Advisory Committee (will come back for a first reading)
  • 203.7 – Administration in Absence of Policy (will come back for a first reading)       
  • 314.1 – Administrator Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Program (amended, second reading waived)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“The board spent 90 minutes discussing the Return to Learn plan for the district. Administrators from Central Office, Lenihan, Miller and the High School shared information about virtual and hybrid learning models.

The board learned about the successes and shortfalls of each model. They heard data about behavior and discipline, attendance and achievement. Questions were asked about the safety of staff and students, the impact of being away from school for six months, professional development, parent and student surveys, and student engagement.  

Members of the board needed to evaluate and weigh all of the information presented and place it in relationship to the health and safety of staff, students and their families. The board decided to ‘stay the course’ with our current plan through the end of first semester. Reevaluation will occur at that time.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. The meeting will be held in-person with social distancing and other safety measures in place. The meeting will be available to watch via YouTube live stream.

October 5, 2020 Board Meeting

6 Oct
CFMC Executive Director Julie Hitchins (right) presents a $9,000 check to MCSD Transportation Director Rex Kozak (left) at Monday’s school board meeting. The grant funds will go toward the partnership between MCSD and Marshalltown Municipal Transit (MTT) for student transportation services. Also pictured is MTT Director Kevin Pigors (center).

MCSD awarded Community Foundation of Marshall County grant for student transportation services
The Community Foundation of Marshall County presented a $9,000 grant for student transportation services at Monday’s school board meeting. 

The grant was funded through generous donations to the Marshall County Disaster Recovery Fund, and it will support the partnership between the MCSD Transportation Department and Marshalltown Municipal Transit to ensure Bobcat students get to and from school safely and effectively. 

Marshalltown Schools thanks the Community Foundation of Marshall County for helping meet Bobcat students’ transportation needs! We are grateful to have excellent partners in the CFMC and Marshalltown Municipal Transit. For full details on this generous grant from the CFMC, click here

Proposed Marshalltown High School, Anson Elementary improvement projects discussed, public hearing set on proposed bond issue
Next steps are being taken on two major project proposals at District school buildings after board actions at Monday’s meeting. 

Air conditioning (HVAC) at Marshalltown High School was one of the project proposals discussed; that proposal currently includes alternate bids for fire sprinkler and LED lighting work. 

“This has been a priority for the district for a long, long, long time,” said District Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte. 

The second proposed project focuses on improvements at Anson Elementary School. That project would include significant HVAC improvement work, as well as enclosing open-air classroom spaces and potential lighting upgrades. 

The board gave its approval for the District to move forward with initial work on the proposals. Dr. Schutte said project contract language is being worked on, and the finalized contracts will come before the board for approval at a future meeting.

A public hearing on a proposed $10 million bond issue to fund the two project proposals was set for 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2. 

District to pursue grant for tornado safe room
A presidential disaster declaration brought millions of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) dollars to the state after the August derecho, and some of those funds must be used to help  increase preparedness for potential future incidents.

On Monday, the school board approved the pursuit of a FEMA grant for the construction of a tornado safe room at the MHS Sports Complex. The grant would cover 85 percent of the construction costs for a tornado safe room facility. 

When not being used for an emergency, such a facility could potentially provide space for a team room, concessions, restrooms, an officials room, and/or a first aid station. Dr. Schutte said the grant is set to be awarded in the late winter or early spring of 2021; if MCSD were to receive the grant, he said the proposed projects at MHS and Anson Elementary would be prioritized before starting work on a tornado safe room.

Marshalltown School Board member Sara Faltys reads the board’s declaration of National Principals Month at Monday’s meeting.

Important work of school principals, custodial staff recognized
October is National Principals Month, and the Marshalltown School Board recognized the District’s exceptional team of school principals Monday evening. 

Board member Sara Faltys read aloud a board resolution recognizing National Principals Month, and the District’s principals were commended for their incredible service to Bobcat students and families, especially during the challenging time of the coronavirus. 

Last Friday, Oct. 2, was National Custodial Workers Recognition Day, and the board recognized the incredible work of the District’s custodial staff. MCSD custodial employees have stepped up deep cleaning and sanitation efforts since the pandemic began, and they play a vital role in ensuring student safety and security every day. 

Board accepts $70,000 USTA grant for Marshalltown Tennis Complex project
The Marshalltown Tennis Complex is getting closer to completion every day, and the school board approved a $70,000 United States Tennis Association (USTA) grant which will go toward project construction costs. 

The District is also pursuing a USTA Missouri Valley Section grant for $10,000 to go toward increased tennis curriculum and supplies in physical education classes. The District recently received a similar grant, which brought new, high-quality tennis equipment to each school building. 

MHS senior and Student School Board representative Klaudia Hernandez discusses her selection to the state Board of Education Equity Committee.

MHS senior Klaudia Hernandez’s selection to state Board of Education Equity Committee highlighted
MHS senior and Student School Board Representative Klaudia Hernandez was recently selected as one of seven students statewide to sit on the state Board of Education Equity Committee.

Klaudia will provide an important student voice as the committee discusses how best to provide equity throughout Iowa’s public school system.

Return to Learn update shared with board
Since classes started on Sept. 8, Marshalltown Schools has seen a very few COVID-19 cases reported among staff and students. In his Return to Learn update to the board Monday, Dr. Schutte credited MCSD students, families and staff for their observance of the multiple safety rules put in place this school year, including social distancing and face covering requirements, among others.

“I am extraordinarily proud of our community for doing everything they’ve done to bring the positivity rate to a point that I would have never thought possible back in early August,” he said. 

The District began the school year by giving students and families a choice of learning models, including fully in-person learning for PK-6 students and a hybrid learning model for 7-12 students; both groups had the option to learn in a fully-virtual model. 

The hybrid model is set to be revisited at the end of the first quarter, and Dr. Schutte said he will closely monitor the District’s and Marshall County’s positivity rates as the colder months arrive. He said the District’s learning model recommendation for the second quarter of the school year will depend on public health data and information, with the need to balance student achievement and the health and safety of students, staff, and the larger Marshalltown Community.

Student School Board representatives update
Student School Board representatives Itzary Avalos and Klaudia Hernandez shared an update from Marshalltown High School with board members. The students discussed recent “senior nights” for extracurricular activities, Homecoming festivities, and several upcoming events, including the 2020 Blood Drive on Wednesday, Oct. 21 and Thursday, Oct. 22.

MHS Parking Lot improvement project statement of completion approved
The board approved an official statement of completion from Manatts Inc. regarding the Marshalltown High School parking lot project. The project saw improvements made to Bobcat Boulevard, the auditorium and band parking lots, and the school drive area. 

Part II of Jamie Vollmer’s book “Schools Cannot Do It Alone” discussed
Board members and administrators discussed Part II of Jamie Vollmer’s book “Schools Cannot Do It Alone” at Monday’s meeting. 

Part II describes the history of public schooling in the United States, including how changing economic circumstances and the dawn of the Knowledge Age have impacted students’ academic needs. The discussion was accompanied by a video from Vollmer on the same subject matter.

The Monday, Oct. 19 board meeting will include a discussion on Part III of “Schools Cannot Do It Alone.”

District Director of Special Services Matt Cretsinger shares recent legislative decisions and findings regarding dyslexia Monday.

Dyslexia legislation and supports the topic of presentation
District Director of Special Services Matt Cretsinger shared a presentation on legislation and research related to dyslexia. He cited the work of an Iowa Department of Education task force which focused on studying the condition and how to best support students with characteristics of dyslexia.

Superintendent and school board goals approved
The 2020-21 school board and superintendent goals got the board’s nod at Monday’s meeting. You can see this school year’s goals here

Communications
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 Wednesday, click here.

Policies
First Reading

  • 200.2 – Powers of the Board of Directors (approved as amended)
  • 204.9-R1 Board Calendar (approved as amended)
  • 209.1 Development of Policy (will come back for a second reading)
  • 209.2 Adoption of Policy (will come back for a second reading)
  • 209.3 Dissemination of Policy (will come back for a second reading)
  • 209.4 Suspension of Policy (will come back for a second reading)

Initial Review – 

  • 203.2 – Adoption of Administration Rules and Regulations (will come back for a first reading)
  • 203.4 – Ad Hoc Committees (will come back for a first reading)
  • (New) 208-E1 – Ad Hoc Committees Exhibit (will come back for a first reading)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“Last night’s meeting saw the board approving the process of providing air conditioning at the high school. As Dr. Schutte said, it’s been a very long, long time since discussions were begun about finding the most cost effective way to do this.

The board approved the beginning work on architectural plans for AC at the high school and Anson Elementary, enclosure of open space classrooms at Anson and the construction of a tornado safe room at the sports complex. In addition, the board approved setting forth the process of bonding for the entire project.

The health and safety of staff and students will be enhanced by completion of these proposed projects.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. The meeting will be held in-person with social distancing and other safety measures in place. The meeting will be available to watch via YouTube live stream.