March 1, 2021 Board Meeting

2 Mar
3A State Champion MHS Boys Bowling team head coach DJ Wilder, assistant coach Dustin Peterson and student-athletes Demitri Ferneau, Xander Pickett, Damon Borton, Aaron Ratte, and Dru Wilder are recognized Monday. Not pictured are team members Tyler Wilson and Dylan Cooper.

State Champion MHS Boys Bowling team celebrated
The newly-crowned Class 3A State Champion MHS Boys Bowling team was recognized at the Monday, March 1 Marshalltown School Board meeting. It was a triumphant return after last year’s impressive runner-up finish at the state level. 

“We peaked at the end of the season like we always want to do,” said MHS Bowling head coach DJ Wilder. “All of them contributed in many different ways to the championship. They all bowled really well, I’m very proud of all of them.” 

Several impressive individual performances helped lead the team to victory last week, including those of 2nd-place overall winner Demitri Ferneau and 5th-place overall winner Damon Borton. Wilder said he is excited to welcome back the entire championship team next school year.

Wilder additionally shared his pride for the MHS Girls Bowling team, which he also coaches. He commended the girls team for an impressive conference win and for breaking a school record high score this season. The future is bright for Bobcats Bowling!

MCSD and Center Associates partnering to provide mental health services, support
The short, often overcast days of late winter and early spring can take a toll on mental health even under “normal” circumstances. With the built-up stress caused by the 2018 tornado, the 2020 derecho and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Marshalltown Schools is continuing to partner with Center Associates to support and provide mental health services to the Bobcat community. 

District Director of Special Services Matt Cretsinger shared three exciting ways this partnership is helping Bobcat students, their families, and staff members through this challenging time. 

One such event was last week’s mental health live stream, where Cretsinger and Center Associates mental health experts offered advice and strategies to fight stress and anxiety, as well as address mood disturbances.

Center Associates therapists are also working with MCSD principals to offer support to the hard-working, dedicated employees who deliver education and services to students. Additionally, Cretsinger said the popular “Supporting Children & Families” video series is returning with brand new episodes.

Along with these great supports offered by MCSD and Center Associates, Cretsinger said employees can seek mental health support through the District’s Employee Assistance Program, which covers the cost of a number of appointments with Center Associates and other health organizations. Bobcat students also have many avenues to seek support, from school counselors and building administrators to  outside services.

“Every year during our At-Risk (programming) conversation, the board approves a grant that supports students who struggle to have the money for the co-pay part of going to a  place like Center Associates,” Cretsinger said. “It’s important to us to try and support our families and make sure money is not a barrier.”

Lenihan fifth-grader Jaslene Valdovinos reads her “What the Flag Means to Me” essay

American Flag Essay winners highlighted
Lenihan Intermediate School fifth-graders Maritza Barajas, Jaslene Valdovinos, and Anna Phomvisay won respective first-, second-, and third-place awards in this year’s Fifth Grade American Flag Essay contest, sponsored by the American Legion; their accomplishment was celebrated at Monday’s board meeting. 

Jaslene Valdovinos was on-hand to recite her thoughtful essay about what the American Flag means to her.

“Over the past years, many people have been fighting for justice in this country,” Jaslene said, reciting her essay. “Leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Susan B Anthony fought for justice and rights for everyone in our nation.” 

Congrats to Maritza, Jaslene, and Anna on your well-written essays!

Student Klaudia Hernandez shares State Board of Education Equity Committee update
MHS senior and Student School Board Representative Klaudia Hernandez is one of a handful of students statewide to serve on the State Board of Education Equity Committee this year, and she presented an update on the committee’s work Monday evening. 

Hernandez said one major focus of the committee has been following state legislation, including Senate File 2102, which relates to the Teach Iowa scholarship program.

“We’ve been trying to get teachers of color as priority applicants,” she said of the Teach Iowa program. 

Hernandez is also taking a closer look at the various cultures represented among Bobcat students. She said her goal is to do research on that topic, compile data, and then present her findings to her peers and school staff members.

“I think it’s awesome that you’re sitting on that committee and that Marshalltown has representation there as one of the more diverse districts in the state,” said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte, adding that Hernandez is welcome to present her research on cultural diversity to the board.

MHS senior and Student School Board Representative Klaudia Hernandez discusses the work she is doing on the State Board of Education Equity Committee.

Project to upgrade Lenihan A/V and intercom systems moves forward
The intercom and audio/visual systems at Lenihan Intermediate School are another step closer to a major upgrade after board action Monday.

The proposed work would see the current building intercom system replaced with a new, high-quality system.

“This new system we’re looking to propose and install in the building will get us coverage in all of the classrooms,” said District Buildings and Grounds Director Todd Goulding, adding that classroom video capabilities would be included in the project to support virtual learning.

Dr. Schutte said the goal is to use federal ESSER II dollars to fund the project after the Iowa Department of Education shares guidance for use of that funding. The board tentatively adopted a resolution for the plans, specifications, form of contract, and the estimated total cost of the proposed project. A public hearing on the proposal was also set for 5 p.m. Monday, March 15.

Generous donation by local Walmart recognized
From pencil boxes and folders to notebooks and sanitizer wipes, the local Walmart Supercenter shared thousands of important classroom supplies with Marshalltown Schools last week.

The donation effort was led by store manager Scott Ferguson, who said he knew the donation would support learning and student health. 

Get the full story on this generous donation here!

CIML realignment discussion continues
Important conversations about the future of the Central Iowa Metropolitan League have continued since late last year, and six CIML districts are proposing the formation of a separate conference starting in the 2022-23 school year. 

Under the proposal discussed Monday, Marshalltown Schools would join Ames Community Schools, Fort Dodge Community Schools, Mason City Community Schools, Ottumwa Community Schools, and the five Des Moines Public Schools in leaving the CIML and forming a new, 10-team sports conference. 

Dr. Schutte has helped lead realignment discussions among fellow CIML districts in recent months; he said he fully supports the proposed new conference.

“Many of the districts are looking for an opportunity to have a much more equitable and competitive playing field,” Dr. Schutte said. “We truly believe that every team, no matter who it is within this conference, should be able to week-in and week-out feel like they have a legitimate chance to compete well and to potentially win.”

He added that Marshalltown, along with the other five districts supporting the move, would still be free to schedule out-of-conference competitions with the remaining CIML districts in suburban Des Moines, but would no longer be required to play against several of those larger districts throughout the year. Dr. Schutte also said he has received a lot of positive feedback from Marshalltown community members related to the proposal.

The board did not take action on this item Monday. The proposal is set to be brought before the board for a vote at the March 15 regular meeting. If all six districts’ boards approve of the move, a letter to withdraw from the CIML would be expected to be submitted by April 1.

Two new school buses joining Transportation fleet
The board approved the purchase of two new school buses for transporting student-athletes to and from sporting events Monday evening. Both the 56-passenger bus from School Bus Sales and the 44-passenger bus from Hoglund Bus Co. Inc. are air-conditioned and feature seatbelts.

Student School Board representatives (from left) Klaudia Hernandez, Haley Reed, and Itzary Avalos update the board on upcoming events and activities at Marshalltown High School.

Student School Board Representative update
Student School Board representatives Klaudia Hernandez, Itzary Avalos, and Haley Reed shared updates from Marshalltown High School at Monday’s meeting. Here are a few highlights from their presentation: 

  • Upcoming fine arts events include an MHS Solo/Ensemble performance on April 12, the MHS Band Spring Concert on April 25, and a Jazz Band Coffee Concert (grades 6-12) on May 10; the MHS Vocal Concert will take place on May 11, and the All-District Orchestra Concert is set for May 18.
  • Spring is in the air with warmer weather, and excitement is building for the upcoming girls soccer and girls golf seasons. Boys and girls track and field competition has already begun.
  • A winter sports roundup shared the season results for boys and girls basketball, as well as a celebration of the 3A State Champion Bobcat Boys Bowling team.

Networking upgrades approved
Exciting tech upgrades are coming to MCSD with approvals by the board Monday. 

A three-year wide area network agreement with Windstream will provide transport of up to 10 GB of bandwidth, meaning even faster, higher-powered internet access delivered to all MCSD buildings. In addition, the board approved an agreement with Heartland Business Systems to upgrade the District’s wireless equipment, a move which will also ensure continued high-quality and secure internet access at Marshalltown Schools.

Board adopts Budget Guarantee resolution
The board adopted a Budget Guarantee resolution for the 2021-22 fiscal year Monday. District Director of Business Operations Paulette Newbold said declining enrollment this school year caused the need to participate in the state Budget Guarantee program. 

The 2.4% increase in state supplemental aid to schools this year was not enough to offset the enrollment decline, Newbold said. The Budget Guarantee program ensures the District receives 101% of this year’s school funding in the upcoming 2021-22 school year.

Important message shared by author Jamie Vollmer
Early each calendar year, Marshalltown Schools and districts across the state plan out their upcoming fiscal year budgets. With that in mind, Monday’s meeting featured a short, timely video from “Schools Cannot Do It Alone” author and public education advocate Jamie Vollmer. 

In the segment, Vollmer outlines the importance of community support for public schools; while most taxpayers do not have children who attend school, he said it is important for all members of the public to support their local school district. 

Vollmer shared several statistics showing the benefits a strong, well-supported school system brings to its community, from lower crime rates to a healthier local economy, and more. Earlier this school year, the board and District administration held a book study on “Schools Cannot Do It Alone,” which included regular discussions about growing community support for public education.

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 – 

  • 301.2 (new 302.2) – Superintendent of Schools – Contract and Contract Non-Renewal (amended, second reading waived)
  • 507.2-E2 – Parental Authorization and Release Form for the Administration of Prescription Medication to Students (adopted, second reading waived)

Initial Review – 

  • Old 301.3 Superintendent of Schools – Functions (deleted)
  • Old 301.4 Evaluation of the Superintendent (deleted)
  • 301.4-R (new 302.5-E1) Evaluation of the Superintendent (marked as reviewed)
  • 301.4-E (new 302.5-E1) Formal Superintendent Evaluation Report (marked as reviewed)
  • New 302.4 Superintendent Duties (will come back for a first reading)
  • New 302.5 Superintendent Evaluation (will come back for a first reading)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“A year ago, the CDC declared the Coronavirus pandemic. By now, we are all getting a little weary of all of the things surrounding Covid. The district is well aware of the stresses placed on the staff because of the pandemic. Vaccinations have been offered to all staff and the district EAP program has been widely used. It is important for us to support the ongoing mental health needs of our staff, students, families and community.

Please reach out to others if you need additional support. Our nurses and administrators can help you make the connections needed to help you. And remember, wear your mask properly, social distance and practice good hygiene. We can beat this – together!” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, March 15, 2021 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave. The meeting will be available to watch via live stream through the Bobcat News Network (BNN) YouTube channel.

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