Archive | April, 2021

April 19, 2021 Board Meeting

20 Apr
JBS Marshalltown General Manager Todd Carl presents on the Better Futures program.

JBS Marshalltown presents exciting new Better Futures program
JBS Marshalltown General Manager Todd Carl presented on the exciting new Better Futures program from JBS USA and Pilgrim’s at the Monday, April 19 Marshalltown School Board meeting. 

The Better Futures program will provide the companies’ employees – as well as their dependents – with opportunities to pursue tuition-free higher education, including associate’s degrees and trade certificates.

“JBS has been in Marshalltown for 132 years … we view the world from this location,” Carl said. “We’re looking forward to a large number of our employees participating in this program.”

As the largest employer in Marshalltown, JBS employs many MCSD parents and guardians. Because the program’s benefits extend to one dependent per JBS employee, many Bobcat students will have great new opportunities to access a high quality post-secondary education at a significantly lower cost.

“It’s really an unbelievable gift. Thank you,” said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte, adding Marshalltown Schools will continue to work with JBS to ensure as many eligible Bobcat families as possible take advantage of the program.

Dr. Schutte said the Better Futures Program will combine well with other programs which provide post-secondary opportunities to students, such as those offered through Science Bound and the Marshalltown Business-Education Alliance (MBEA).

The Better Futures program is an extension of the JBS USA and Pilgrim’s Hometown Strong initiative, which was announced last year. Strengthening the communities where JBS USA and Pilgrim’s team members live and work is an ongoing priority. Funding for Better Futures is in addition to the initial $50 million for Hometown Strong investments.

Miller Middle School seventh-graders Anessa Morrison, left, and Harper Wilson, right, explain the brand comparison experiment which earned them grand championship honors at this year’s State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa competition.

Two Miller students named State Science and Technology Fair grand champions
Miller Middle School students Anessa Morrison and Harper Wilson gave an exceptional performance at this year’s State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa, where they were named grand champions. 

Miller Extended Learning Program (XLP) teacher Ann Jackson said Anessa and Harper’s accomplishment is a major milestone; they are the first Miller students to win the competition’s grand champion title. The seventh-graders also won first place in the Fair’s engineering, physics and math category.

“We took two brands of markers, an on- and off-brand, and tested to see which one worked best,” Harper said of the duo’s award-winning project. “We used a robot which had 3D printed parts attached to it; we learned how to make the 3D printed parts through a class we took in the XLP program.”

The students explained how they found the on-brand marker to be more than twice as effective as the off-brand marker. They also activated the robot they designed as part of their presentation Monday evening.

As grand champions, Anessa and Harper were nominated to apply for the Broadcom Masters Science Competition, with judging set to take place this summer. On Sept. 1, the top 300 projects will be announced; a total of 30 finalists will then be selected to take part in the national competition in Washington, D.C.

“It’s another example of the great students we have and the great education students can receive at the Marshalltown Community School District,” Dr. Schutte said.

MHS art teacher Kirk Niehouse discusses the proposed new art curriculum being considered for next school year.

New K-12 Art Curriculum presented
A proposed new K-12 art curriculum was presented at Monday’s board meeting. 

Art teachers Maggie Parks and Kirk Niehouse, as well as Curriculum and Professional Development Leader Julie Thede, shared information on the FLEX Curriculum Suite, which offers instructional flexibility, responsiveness to cultural diversity, a focus on college and career readiness, an emphasis on using technology to create and present art, and much more.

The curriculum also comes with professional development materials for teachers, as well as a school success manager to help onboard the new curriculum. The FLEX Curriculum Suite aligns to the Iowa Fine Arts Standards. 

The recommendation shared Monday included supplemental resources and equipment, including digital cameras, poster sets, tablet devices, and more. The recommendation was an information/discussion item, and the board will take a final vote on the new curriculum at a future meeting.

FY2020 audit report marked by positive growth
An overview of the Fiscal Year 2020 financial audit of the Marshalltown CSD was shared at the April 19 board meeting.

“We had no issues – everything was properly stated,” said Hoglan-Hansen audit manager Shawna Bornholdt, CPA, who presented the audit overview. “That’s the best opinion you could possibly get.”

Among the areas of growth noted in the audit report was an improved District solvency ratio, which increased significantly since the previous audit. The FY20 audit report covers the period from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020.

Student School Board representatives Klaudia Hernandez (left), Haley Reed (center) and Itzary Avalos (right) share exciting news from MHS at the April 19 board meeting.

Student School Board Representatives update
Student School Board representatives Klaudia Hernandez, Haley Reed and Itzary Avalos presented on the latest happenings at Marshalltown High School Monday evening. Highlights include:

  • The Bobcats Track and Field season is off to a great start with several impressive performances. MHS senior Deonté Dean recently posted a state-leading 200m dash time of 21.82 seconds! Additionally, Dean qualified for the Drake Relays in the 100m dash and as part of the 4×100 relay team, along with Malachi Holmes, Jaiden Buchanan, Jayzek Lee and Mannie Kparyea.
  • The Bobcat Boys Soccer team is ranked no. 7 in the state and have started the season strong
  • Kind letters with tips for maintaining mental health were shared through the National Honor Society’s Piece of Mind project at the high school
  • The Bobcats are well-represented at the ongoing National History Day state contest; preliminary round results are expected Thursday, April 22 and final results are expected Friday, April 30.
  • Prom is scheduled for this Saturday, April 24 – the event will include multiple safety measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19; see more information here
  • MHS seniors’ final day of school is May 27, with an outdoor graduation ceremony scheduled for May 30
  • The Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program is returning to in-person activities in the freshman homerooms

Contracts issued for MHS Pool Ceiling & Lighting, Franklin bleacher deconstruction projects; Lenihan A/V and intercom upgrade contract approved
More progress was made toward major facilities upgrades and projects at three school buildings Monday. 

The board approved the issuance of a contract with Garling Construction for MHS Pool Ceiling and Lighting upgrades. Also approved as the issuance of a contract with LinnCo, Inc. for bleacher deconstruction and paving work at Franklin Elementary.

Additionally, a contract with Tierney Brothers, Inc., for intercom and A/V upgrades at Lenihan Intermediate School was approved Monday.

2021-22 student handbooks presented
Updated student handbooks for the 2021-22 school year were presented Monday evening.

The handbook presentations covered the preschool and elementary levels, as well as Lenihan Intermediate School, Miller Middle School, Marshalltown High School, and District Transportation. Marshalltown Learning Academy’s student handbook will be presented in the near future as well.

The board did not take action on the student handbooks presented Monday evening, with a final vote set to take place at an upcoming meeting.

Salary settlements approved for paraeducators, nutrition professionals
The board approved two 1-year employee salary settlement agreements at the April 19 board meeting.

The Paraeducators Master Contract includes agreements on step advancement, longevity, and adding $0.05 per hour to the wage of each employee. The Nutrition Professionals Master Contract also includes step advancement and longevity, as well as an increase of $0.22 per hour to the wage of each employee.

Woodbury Elementary Principal Anel Garza, left, and Anson Elementary Principal Ronnie Manis, right, present the updates made to the Elementary Student Handbook at Monday’s board meeting.

Changes to bus drivers, monitors employee handbook approved
Updated language for the District’s Bus Drivers and Monitors handbook gained board approval Monday. 

The language added to the handbook was derived from applicable sections of the group’s current collective bargaining agreement, as there will not be such an agreement in the upcoming fiscal year.

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

  • 305.1 (new 303.11) Administrative Cabinet (amended, second reading waived)
  • 410.1 Substitute Teachers (amended, second reading waived)
  • 706.1 Payroll Periods (amended, second reading waived)

Initial Review

  • 310.1 (new 301.1) Administrative/Management Team (marked as reviewed)
  • 310.2 (new 301.2) Administrative Structure (marked as reviewed)
  • 905.9 (new 905.2) Smoking and Tobacco Use on School District Facilities (will come back for a first reading)

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, May, 3 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.

April 5, 2021 Board Meeting

6 Apr
MCSD Technology Director Amy Harmsen share information on the planned boardroom upgrades

New boardroom tech to pave way for improved accessibility
The Marshalltown CSD Boardroom is set for major upgrades after board action Monday evening.

CEC, Inc. was approved to perform the work, which will include the installation of multiple cameras and enhanced audio capabilities for remote participants, among other improvements; the goal of the project is to further enhance public access to Marshalltown School Board meetings, whether remote or in-person.

“It’s a really easy system to use,” said District Technology Director Amy Harmsen. “I think it will be really slick, and it will be more accessible to who we are trying to reach.” 

Even after the current pandemic situation passes, Harmsen said the improved camera and audio setup will continue to benefit those unable to attend board meetings for any reason.

Key projects at Lenihan, Franklin, and MHS formally approved
The summer of 2021 will be a busy one for facilities improvements throughout the Marshalltown CSD, and three projects received formal approval Monday. 

One of the projects will bring audio/video and intercom upgrades to Lenihan Intermediate School; a bid for that work from Tierney Brothers, Inc. was accepted Monday. The audio/video upgrades will enhance the classroom learning environment and may provide exciting opportunities for remote learners; the new intercom system will ensure announcements are heard loud and clear building-wide.

Another project formally approved Monday involves ceiling and lighting improvements at the MHS pool facility. The work had initially been included as part of the MHS air-conditioning project, but was ultimately not included; cost-savings were found after architects revisited the project.

The third important facilities project to gain board approval Monday will see the demolition and removal of the Franklin Elementary bleachers, as well as subsequent paving work.

District Buildings and Grounds Director Todd Goulding discusses exciting summer projects during the April 5 board meeting.

FY22 school budget approved, includes property tax decrease
The Marshalltown CSD school budget for the upcoming fiscal year was adopted Monday, and it comes with a property tax decrease. 

The decrease in the District’s property tax rate for FY22 is due to the inclusion of a 2-percent income surtax to help fund the District’s Instructional Support Program. Shifting some of the program revenue from local property taxes to the income surtax will benefit many District taxpayers.Also adopted Monday was an amendment to the current fiscal year budget, a move made in order to adjust to previously unexpected costs and revenues. Public hearings on both the FY22 budget and the FY21 budget amendment were held Monday, and no comments were received.

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

  • New Policy 303.1 Administrative Positions (adopted, second reading waived)

Initial Review

  • 303.2 Administrator Qualifications, Recruitment, Appointment (marked as reviewed)
  • 305.1 (new 303.11)  Administrative Cabinet (marked as reviewed)
  • 303.2 (new 303.10) Associates to the Superintendent, Directors and Supervisors-Qualifications-Appointment (will come back for a first reading)
  • 706.1 Payroll Periods (will come back for a first reading)
  • 410.1 Substitute Teachers (will come back for a first reading)
  • 302.4 Associates to the Superintendent-Functions (deleted)
  • 409.2-E1 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Request Form Under the FFCRA (deleted)
  • 409.2-E2 Expanded Family and Medical Leave Request form Under the FFCRA (deleted)

From Board President Bea Niblock

“It’s the time of year that we are thinking about building maintenance, summer projects and upgrades to our systems. Soon school will be dismissed for summer break and we will have a chance to do those projects without disturbing student learning.

At last night’s board meeting, we certified next year’s budget and then began approving the use of that money. On that list of approvals, we included the Franklin bleacher demolition and paving project, the high school pool and ceiling lighting project, the boardroom technology upgrade, and the LIS audio/visual intercom project.

The district makes use of all the dollars at its disposal to maintain an optimal learning environment for our staff and students. More summer projects will certainly come to the board table for approval yet this spring.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, April 19, 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.