March 15, 2021 Board Meeting

16 Mar
The Bobcats are one step closer to competing in a new sports conference starting in the 2022-23 school year.

Board adopts CIML reorganization resolution
The Marshalltown School Board formally adopted a resolution requesting a reorganization of the Central Iowa Metropolitan League (CIML) conference at the Monday, March 15 board meeting.

“The intent would be for us along with five other districts, representing 10 high schools, to form a new conference – name yet to be determined – for the 2022-23 school year,” said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte. “Our intent would be that all six districts, by the end of this month, will have had this resolution approved by their boards of education. We will be presenting that (document) to the League Commissioner of the CIML.” 

The other CIML districts joining MCSD in the effort are Des Moines Public Schools (five high schools), Ottumwa Community School District, Fort Dodge Community School District, Ames Community School District, and Mason City Community School District. All six districts are seeking a more equitable and competitive playing field at the conference level.

The departure would mean the six districts would no longer have to regularly face the suburban Des Moines metro schools which make up the remainder of the current CIML. However, members of the new conference could still collaborate with the suburban schools to schedule games, if desired.

School Board Vice President Sean Heitmann thanked Dr. Schutte for helping lead the effort to form a new sports conference.

“This is a good deal for our kids. It will help level the playing field a little bit,” he said.

Career Tree sponsors recognized
There is no shortage of excellent, fulfilling career opportunities in Marshalltown. To help visualize those many career paths, the Marshalltown CSD is partnering with the Iowa Valley Community College District/Marshalltown Community College and 13 local employers to bring Career Tree graphics to three schools.

The 13 Career Trees will give students at Marshalltown High School, Marshalltown Learning Academy, and Miller Middle School a great visual tool to help explore the careers available close to home. Listed below are the employers who have each contributed $350 to sponsor the graphics:

  • Alliant Energy: Natural Resources
  • Buena Vista University: Education
  • Con-Struct: Construction
  • Emerson: Engineering
  • Great Western Bank: Finance
  • Iowa National Guard: Military
  • KDAO: Audio/Visual Production
  • Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce: Hospitality & Tourism
  • Marshall County Farm Bureau: Agriculture
  • Mechdyne: Information Technology
  • Moore, McKibben, Goodman & Lorenz: Government, Public Administration & Law
  • Racom: Safety, Corrections & Security
  • Unity Point: Healthcare

Thank you to all 13 Career Tree sponsors for supporting the Career Tree graphics, and to Iowa Valley and MCC for partnering with Marshalltown Schools on this great project!

Lenihan AV/Intercom upgrade project moving forward after board approval
Another important resolution adopted Monday will bring audio, video and intercom upgrades to Lenihan Intermediate School. 

The board approved the plans, specifications, form of contract and estimated total cost of the project after no comments were received during a public hearing on the matter.

“The audio part of it would be similar to the implementations that we’ve done at all six elementary schools thus far,” said Dr. Schutte. “The video part would be a new piece which has really been prompted by what we’ve experienced this past year with COVID.” 

With the new video capabilities, there will be an opportunity to live stream lessons from the classroom straight to remote learners.

The current Lenihan intercom system will also be overhauled during the project and replaced with a new, more reliable, and more consistent intercom system. The Lenihan project is one of several scheduled to take place this summer.

Anson Elementary Principal Ronnie Manis discusses the L2L program at Monday’s meeting.

Ladders to Learning Program highlighted
The District’s six elementary schools and Lenihan are bringing back a successful program to ensure students get the individualized support they need this semester. 

Franklin Elementary Principal Tim Holmgren, Anson Elementary Principal Ronnie Manis, and Rogers Elementary Principal Dr. Mick Jurgensen shared the details behind the return of the Ladders to Learning (L2L) Program Monday evening.

“We feel like this is a great way to provide small-group, targeted instruction for students using the talented teachers that we have,” Holmgren said.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused significant changes in schools nationwide, and Ladders to Learning is designed to help students reach academic proficiency during a unique, often challenging school year.

Manis said one key feature of the L2L Program is the small group sizes. To provide personalized support, each teacher’s group will include no more than three students. He said FAST assessment results and social-emotional learning factors are being used to determine which students best fit the program.

Ladders to Learning programming will take place after school in six 45-minute sessions over eight weeks. Dr. Jurgensen said the program has shown benefits not only for students, but also for teachers.

“It’s a win-win for our kids and for our staff. It’s very highly motivating for teachers to be a tutor,” he said, referencing data collected from previous L2L programming at the District. “It was very motivating for teachers to tutor because they can see the diff they’re making, they can monitor kids closely, they can pay attention to the errors kids may be making … and have kids practice perfectly.” 

Dr. Schutte said data from the first eight weeks of the program will be reviewed, adding insights from L2L could be used in summer school programming and beyond.

FY22 school budget proposal calls for lower property tax rate
The school board approved a proposed school budget for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2022 at the March 15 meeting; a public hearing on that proposed budget was also set for 5 p.m. Monday, April 5. 

District Director of Business Operations Paulette Newbold shared an overview of the school budgeting process and offered three budget proposal options for FY22, which begins on July 1.

The proposal chosen by the board Monday would include a 2-percent income surtax to help fund the District’s Instructional Support Program. If the income surtax is included in the final budget, it would mean a decrease in the District’s overall property tax rate. 

The Instructional Support Program can only be funded entirely with property tax dollars or by a combination of property tax and income surtax dollars. Newbold said shifting some of the program revenue from local property taxes to an income surtax would be beneficial for many District taxpayers.

“Property taxes are regressive in that they take a larger percentage of income from low-income groups than from high-income groups,” she said. “Income taxes are progressive – they take a larger percentage from high-income groups than low-income groups.”

No action was taken by the board on Monday to approve a final budget for the next fiscal year. The proposed budget will be published and the April 5 public hearing will be held prior to a final vote on the budget. Please contact Newbold for questions about sharing comments during the April 5 public hearing: pnewbold@marshalltown.k12.ia.us

Student School Board members (from left) Klaudia Hernandez, Haley Reed, and Itzary Avalos share several key updates from MHS.

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

  • The Extended Learning Program (XLP) Blood Drive is set for March 18-19, and students 16 and older can participate with parental consent. Send an email to  sfritzell@marshalltown.k12.ia.us for more information.
  • Prom is officially set for April 24, and there are several measures being taken to ensure a fun, safe event. Face masks will be required (except for pictures and walking at promenade), and only MHS and Marshalltown Learning Academy juniors and seniors will be able to participate. Entry will be $10 per person.
  • Spring sports programs are gearing up for their first competitions of the season. Boys and Girls Track, Boys and Girls Soccer, and Girls Golf all have events scheduled for the end of March and early April.

Steps taken on MHS ceiling/lighting project, Franklin Elementary bleachers demolition/paving project
Two more summer projects gained tentative approval at Monday’s meeting, and each will have a public hearing on April 5 prior to a final approval vote. 

One project would see ceiling and lighting upgrades at the MHS pool. Similar work had initially been included as an alternate in the MHS A/C project, but was ultimately dropped. The project proposed on Monday was brought forward after revisions had been made by architects.

The other project tentatively moving forward is for bleacher demolition and paving work at Franklin Elementary. 

Steps taken on MHS ceiling/lighting project, Franklin Elementary bleachers demolition/paving project
Two projects gained tentative approval at Monday’s meeting, and each will have a public hearing on April 5 prior to a final approval vote. 

One project would see ceiling and lighting upgrades at the MHS pool. Similar work had initially been included as an alternate in the MHS A/C project, but was ultimately dropped. The project proposed on Monday was brought forward after revisions had been made by architects.

The other project tentatively moving forward is for bleacher demolition and paving work at Franklin Elementary. Both projects are planned to take place this summer if approved by the board.

2021-22 employee health and dental plan approved
There were no changes in rates or premium cost sharing in the 2021-22 MCSD employee health and dental plan approved by the school board Monday evening. 

In addition, the board approved adding several beneficial items to the District’s plan, including a longer dental treatment period, marriage counseling, longer skills nursing facility coverage, new pharmacy tiers, coverage for preventative 3D mammography at no cost to members, and a reduction of the HMO Doctors on Demand visit copay from $20 to $10, among others.

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 Monday, click here.

Policies
First Reading

  • New 302.4 Superintendent Duties (adopted, second reading waived)
  • New 302.5 Superintendent Evaluation (adopted, second reading waived)

Initial Review:

  • 301.3 (new 303.3) Building Principals and Associates (marked as reviewed)
  • 302.2 (new 303.2) Associates to the Superintendent-Qualifications (marked as reviewed)
  • 302.3 Associates to the Superintendent, Directors and Supervisors-Appointment (deleted)
  • New Policy 303.1 Administrative Positions (will come back for a first reading)

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, April 5, 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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