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. 


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 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 Haley 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 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.

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.

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