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March 24, 2020 Special Board Meeting – Marshalltown School Board approves tennis and pickleball facilities bid

24 Mar
Tennis Courts 1 WEB

The tennis courts at Marshalltown High School are in need of renovation and replacement.

After several months of planning and discussion, the Marshalltown School Board approved a bid for work on the tennis complex at Marshalltown High School during Tuesday’s special board meeting. 

Garling Construction Inc. was chosen to complete the work. Additionally, the City of Marshalltown will join the district and the Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation in financially supporting the project after a city council decision on March 23. 

“I’m very thankful the City Council was willing to revisit and unanimously approve this collaborative project with the Marshalltown CSD and the Martha Ellen Tye Foundation in reconstructing the tennis courts that are located at Marshalltown High School (MHS) so that we can once again have a high quality facility, with the appropriate amenities for participants and spectators! Once constructed, I’m confident this facility will encourage youth interest in tennis and pickleball as fun, life-long physical activities and that Marshalltown will become a very popular centralized site to host future Iowa and Missouri Valley sanctioned tournaments for youth and adult competitors.”

The project is set to be divided into two main phases, including: 

  • Phase I

MCSD will be responsible for the planning, design, and construction costs for six new tennis courts to the south of the existing eight courts on the Marshalltown High School campus. Three new lighted pickleball courts will also be installed to the east of the existing tennis courts, thanks to the help of the Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation, which donated $150,000 toward the pickleball courts. 

  • Phase II

MCSD will be responsible for the planning and design of and will share the construction cost with the City of Marshalltown on renovating the eight existing tennis courts into six new tennis courts, adding a restroom facility, a storage facility, installation of lighting for the six new tennis courts of Phase I, and an adjacent parking lot off of South 2nd Avenue. 

The full details of the 28E agreement between MCSD and the City of Marshalltown can be found here. The total project bid tally can be found here

March 16, 2020 Board Meeting

17 Mar
School board 1 WEB

MCSD Lead Nurse Stacey Tool-Crawford, left, and Marshall County Public Health Nurse Pat Thompson, right, discuss the district’s Pandemic or Infectious Disease Plan at Monday’s meeting.

School board approves MCSD Pandemic or Infectious Disease Plan
Marshalltown Schools is closed until April 10 in response to concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 virus after Marshalltown School Board action Monday. The board also approved the district’s Pandemic or Infectious Disease Plan as another key step in response to the pandemic. 

“I think taking the most prudent, proactive actions will help Marshalltown mitigate what otherwise could occur,” said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte. 

The full plan includes strategies to prevent and reduce the spread of infectious diseases in school facilities, procedures for canceling school due to an infectious disease outbreak, and considerations for reopening schools. 

Stopping germ spread, frequent hand washing and staying home when sick are among the strategies outlined in the plan. 

Marshall County Public Health Nurse Pat Thompson and MCSD Lead Nurse Stacey Tool-Crawford spoke about the importance of having a plan in place and why it is so crucial to take steps toward preventing and slowing the spread of pandemics. 

“This is a very fluid situation. It’s not just changing daily, we’re looking at things hourly,” Tool-Crawford said. “We will make it through this. This is uncharted territory for all of us.” 

For more information on the district’s response to COVID-19, click here

School board 2 WEB

The successful Lenihan intramural program was spotlighted at this week’s Marshalltown School Board meeting, and several staff members talked about the program’s growth. Pictured, from left: Sue Cahill, Matt Butler, Casey Moberly and Kyle Young.

Lenihan showcase includes info on Computer Science is Elementary grant, intramurals
Lenihan Intermediate School students have excellent opportunities in multiple areas of education thanks to new programming led by dedicated staff. 

One of those opportunities, intramural activities, was launched in 2018 and student participation has continued to grow. Sports include golf, basketball, soccer, volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee, tennis and much more. In addition, Lenihan students can also take part in coding and Makerspace intramural activities, bolstering their computer science and creativity skills. 

The students’ computer science education is further enhanced by the $50,000 Computer Science is Elementary state grant, which was awarded to Lenihan and five other schools statewide last spring. 

For more information on the Computer Science is Elementary grant program, click here.  

Public hearings set on 2020-21 certified MCSD budget, current year budget amendment
District Director of Business Operations Paulette Newbold and the entire Finance Department have been hard at work preparing a certified budget proposal for the coming 2020-21 school year. The board approved a public hearing on the budget proposal for 5 p.m. Monday, April 6 in the board meeting room in the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave. 

Here are some highlights from the presentation

  • Next year’s state supplemental aid increase of 2.3 percent equates to about $158 more in state funding per student than the current year. That brings the district cost per pupil up to $7,069. 
  • The estimated budget proposes a school district property tax rate of $18.34 per $1,000 in assessed valuation. That is the same rate as this year.

The board also approved setting a public hearing for an amendment to this fiscal year’s budget. That public hearing will also take place during the board meeting April 6. 

D.A.R.E. program discussed

School board 3 WEB

Deputy Tim Hungerford, left, has been teaching D.A.R.E. in at MCSD since 2005

Marshall County Sheriff’s Deputy Tim Hungerford shared background and information on the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program at MCSD. Hungerford said D.A.R.E., which has been taught in Marshalltown since 1998, has had a positive impact on many students. 

He said D.A.R.E. teaches students about making good decisions when it comes to avoiding drug and alcohol use, resisting peer pressure, and preventing bullying. 

Check out Hungerford’s presentation on the program 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 Monday, click here.

Policies
First reading: 

  • 104 Anti-Bullying/Anti-Harassment Policy (approved, second reading waived)
  • 104-R1 Anti-Bullying/Anti-Harassment Investigation Procedures (approved, second reading waived)
  • 402.2 Child Abuse Reporting (approved, second reading waived)
  • 403.3 Communicable Diseases-Employees (approved, second reading waived)
  • New Policy 604.3 Program for Talented and Gifted Students (approved, second reading waived)

Initial review:

  • 401.1-R Grievance Procedure (deleted)
  • 402.6 (new 401.13) Staff Technology Use/Social Networking (will come back for first reading)
  • 402.6-R (new 401.13-R1) Staff Technology Use/Social Networking Regulation (marked as reviewed) 
  • 403.6 (new 403.5) Substance-Free Workplace (marked as reviewed)
  • 403.6-R1 (new 403.5-R1) Substance-Free Workplace Regulation (marked as reviewed)
  • 403.6-E1 (new 403.5-E1) Substance-Free Workplace Notice to Employees (marked as reviewed)
  • 710.2 Free or Reduced Priced Meals Eligibility (marked as reviewed)
  • 906 Unmanned Aircrafts-Drones (Bea Niblock) (marked as reviewed)
  • 906-R1 Unmanned Aircrafts-Drones Regulation(Bea Niblock) (marked as reviewed)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“We live in challenging times. Every day brings something new to the table as we face the COVID-19 pandemic. Our country has not been faced with anything of this nature for over a hundred years.

We ask your patience and calm as our administration and board grapple with the changing factors day by day and hour by hour. Decisions were made regarding the school calendar during the board meeting and by the end of the board meeting, the ‘landscape’ had already changed.  

Be kind to yourself and reach out to help those who need it. Don’t allow the restrictions of the pandemic to harden and close you, but to bring out your compassion and caring. 

‘Helping others in need is not only a responsibility of life, it is what gives meaning to life. – Mollie Marti’” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, April 6, 2020 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S.Third Ave.

March 2, 2020 Board Meeting

3 Mar
Bowling WEB

The state 3A runner-up MHS Boys Bowling team was recognized at Monday’s board meeting for their accomplishments this season. Head coach DJ Wilder, center, spoke about the team’s appreciation for the community’s support.

MHS Boys Bowling Team recognized for impressive state performance
Members of the Marshalltown High School Boys Bowling Team and head coach DJ Wilder came before the Marshalltown School Board Monday for recognition. The team had an impressive showing at the 3A state-level competition late last month, placing second overall as a team. 

Individually, MHS senior Lucas Kramer took home first place in the state meet. Team member Logan Proffitt earned a sixth-place individual finish. 

“The support we have from the entire town … honestly, it’s kind of insane,” Kramer said. 

That support was evident at Wayward Social during home meets, when the venue filled with Bobcats fans eager to cheer on the bowlers. 

Wilder said he is incredibly proud of both the boys and girls bowling programs, both of which had strong seasons.

“It’s been a great experience over the past few years, and I’m looking forward to doing it some more,” he said. “I expect us to be right back in this same position this time next year.” 

Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte said he was proud to see the Bobcats well-represented at the state bowling meet. He said the boys and girls bowling teams display extraordinary camaraderie and praised the coaching and development of young bowlers.   

“Congratulations on a phenomenal season,” Dr. Schutte said. 

Board approves generous donation from the Brown family
Craig and Michelle Brown made a generous donation to the MHS boys and girls track programs for warm up attire. The family gave $4,029 and the donation got the board’s approval Monday. Craig and Michelle are the parents of late MCSD student Corey Brown. 

Nora WEB

Director of Human Resources Dr. Nora Ryan presents details on the new employee handbook at Monday’s school board meeting.

MCSD Employee Handbook approved
After months of intensive work, Human Resources Director Dr. Nora Ryan brought a comprehensive MCSD Employee Handbook before the board Monday evening for approval, which the board granted. 

“It’s applicable to all staff members,” Dr. Ryan said. “It covers a lot of basic practices and policies that we have here.” 

She said the Human Resources Department worked hard to gain feedback from several employee groups before finalizing the handbook that was brought to the board. 

Licensing purchase to save money on technology
Director of Technology Amy Harmsen recommended the board’s approval of 1,380 Google licenses for Chromebooks due to a licensing price increase. Harmsen explained the licenses enable management for the Chromebooks that are purchased annually according to the the district’s Chromebook replacement cycle. As a result of the board’s approval of the licensing on Monday, Harmsen said savings of around $18,000 are likely as the board considers the purchase of the Chromebooks.

Board takes action on the MCSD self insurance plan
The school board approved changes to the district’s self insurance plan for the current school year. The approval includes a 10 percent increase for the health plan. 

Director of Business Operations Paulette Newbold explained how the insurance plan will include a new HMO Employee+1 option and adds coverage for routine vision exams to both the HMO and PPO plans. 

Additionally, the approval means the district’s fully-insured Avesis vision plan will change to a materials-only vision plan with voluntary employee participation. The changes approved Monday will not impact dental insurance costs or plan design. 

Newbold said one long-term goal related to district insurance is to improve the financial health of the plan. For more details on the district’s self insurance plan, as well as background on changes made to the district’s insurance last year, click here

Student school board WEB

Student School Board members Mia Barajas, left, and Diana Sanchez, right, share updates from around the district with Marshalltown School Board members.

Student School Board Representative update
Student School Board Representatives Diana Sanchez and Mia Barajas shared these updates from around the district at Monday’s meeting. Highlights include: 

  • Students Teaching and Empowering Philanthropy (STEP) students have made their final grant decisions, and six area non-profits will receive checks on March 24. 
  • The MHS Prom is set for Saturday, April 25 and will feature a “Roaring ‘20’s” theme. Final decoration choices will be decided this week, and students have been talking to a DJ and photographers in preparation for the big night. 
  • Students in the Science Bound program took a trip to Iowa State University for Science Bound Saturday last weekend. They participated in a writing workshop and several other learning activities with students from across the state. 

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 of:

  • New Policy 401.9 Employee Political Activity (adopted, second reading waived)

Initial review of: 

  • 104 Anti-Bullying/Anti-Harassment Policy (will come back for a first reading)
  • 104-R1 Anti-Bullying/Anti-Harassment Investigation Procedures (will come back for a first reading)
  • 401.1 Equal Employment Opportunity (marked as reviewed)
  • 401.2 Employee Conflict of Interest (marked as reviewed)
  • 402.2 Child Abuse Reporting (will come back for a first reading)
  • 403.3 Communicable Diseases-Employees (will come back for a first reading)
  • New Policy 604.3 Program for Talented and Gifted Students (will come back for a first reading)
  • 905.7 Motorized Vehicle Use of School Property (deleted)
  • 905.9 Smoking and Tobacco Use on School District Facilities (marked as reviewed)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“It is the time of the year when board members are involved in making difficult budget decisions – including curricular purchases, insurance rates, negotiations, and tax rates, just to name a few.  

Fiscal oversight is one of the major responsibilities of the board. It is a hard job to make finite dollars stretch into an infinite number of needs for the district. The very small state supplemental aid received annually makes the board’s job even more difficult. And the low state aid received over the last 6-8 years only compounds the problem.

Fiscal oversight is taken seriously by this board. The board listens and hears what individuals say. It is, indeed, a tenuous balancing act.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, March 16, 2020 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S.Third Ave.

February 17, 2020 Board Meeting

18 Feb
Rogers WEB

Rogers Elementary staff members (from left) Sabrina Russell, Angela Pelham, Kara Elsberry and Mark Church discuss the school’s focus on student social-emotional health and education.

Rogers Elementary staff showcase student engagement efforts
Rogers Elementary School Principal Dr. Mick Jurgensen and several school staff members showcased highlights from the school’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan at Monday’s Marshalltown School Board meeting. 

Social-emotional learning is playing a large role in the Rogers ESSA plan. One way students are being supported in that area this year is with an additional full-time social worker, Kara Elsberry.

“Building trust and individual relationships with the kids, I can’t even express to you how important that is for the kids,” Elsberry said.

She said school officials have been working in small groups with students to help grow leadership, social, and life skills. Additionally, Elsberry said she has focused on building positive relationships with parents. 

School counselor Mark Church said Elsberry and other staff members’ work means more students get the support they need.

“What has happened is we identified students that are in need, and I can run small groups, the social workers can run small groups as well, and we can get more students served,” he said. 

The staff members said they are seeing positive results after a semester of the ESSA plan implementation. In the fall, 125 Rogers students were considered “at-risk” after taking the Social, Academic, and Emotional Behavior Risk Screener (SAEBRS). A winter screener showed the number of at-risk students drop to 102, indicating a trend in the right direction. 

Additionally, the school has seen a 54 percent drop in the number of minor behavioral referrals and a 59 percent drop in the number of major behavior referrals since bringing extra focus to students’ social-emotional skills and health. 

“We are a school that not only looks for tomorrow but we also look down the road a number of years for kids’ success,” Jurgensen said. “I think we’re making some good progress at trying to ensure kids have a good, positive outlook on learning, and supporting their families in that regard as well.” 

Tennis court project bid decision tabled until March
The board voted to delay making a decision on which of three bids to approve for the community tennis court renovation project at Marshalltown High School. Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte recommended tabling the decision to allow the Marshalltown City Council to reconsider supporting the project. 

“We would anticipate that the city would take action on whether to approve this as one of their projects for the near future at their March 23 regular city council meeting,” he said. 

The project bids are set to come up for a vote at a tentative March 24 special school board meeting.

“The base bid for the six new tennis courts, as well as for the three pickleball courts – with or without lights – came in a bit above what the projected cost was going to be,” Dr. Schutte said.  “But, with the alternate bids – particularly as it relates to the parking lot and the reconstruction of the eight existing courts and six new courts with restrooms, with storage facilities – came in significantly under (the projected cost).”

Strategic Plan WEB

District Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson, left, and Director of Special Services Matt Cretsinger, right, share updates on the 2017-2023 district strategic plan with the board Monday.

School leaders share strategic plan updates
MCSD Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson, Director of Special Services Matt Cretsinger, Director of Business Operations Paulette Newbold, Director of Human Resources Dr. Nora Ryan and Director of Communications Adam Sodders presented updates on the district’s 2017-2023 strategic plan at Monday’s meeting. 

The strategic plan was unveiled in October of 2017. Past survey research, open forums and a Thought Exchange survey helped shape the direction of the plan. The plan has five primary goals: student achievement, staff development, communication & engagement, learning environments and resources.

Transportation employees recognized for their work
The week of Feb. 10-14 was Love the Bus Week, when bus drivers and other transportation personnel are recognized for their crucial role in the public education system. Special recognition was given to MCSD bus drivers, bus monitors, supervisors and shop personnel Monday evening for their hard work ensuring students are safely transported to and from school every school day. 

Student School Board WEB

Student School Board representatives Carmen Araiza, Mia Barajas and Diana Sanchez share updates on the happenings around Marshalltown high School and the district.

Student School Board Representative update
Student School Board Representatives Carmen Araiza, Diana Sanchez and Mia Barajas shared these updates from around the district at Monday’s meeting. Highlights include: 

  • Students in the upcoming Marshalltown High School spring play, William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” are seeking donations of wood materials and fake flowers for the production of the play. The play is scheduled to take place April 3 and April 4. 
  • MHS students taking part in the Martha-Ellen Tye Foundations Students Teaching and Empowering Philanthropy (STEP) program are reviewing 10 grant applications to determine how to give $10,000 in grants to community efforts. 
  • An update on Society of Women Engineers (SWE) projects. 

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 Policy 303.5 Administrator Duties (adopted, second reading waived)
  • New Policy 303.8 Administrator Civic Activities (adopted, second reading waived)
  • New Policy 401.9 Employee Political Activity (will come back as a first reading)
  • New Policy 405.9 Licensed Employee Probationary Status (adopted, second reading waived)
  • New Exhibit 407.3-E1 Application for Retirement (adopted, second reading waived)
  • 905.1-R1 Application for Use and Approval (amended and second reading waived)
  • 905.1-R2 Fees for Use of School Facilities (amended and second reading waived)
  • 905.1-R3 Community Use of School District Facilities & Equipment Regulation (amended and second reading waived)
  • 905.1-E2(new E1) Use of School Facilities-Application Form (amended and second reading waived)
  • 905.1-E3(new E2) Use of School Facilities and Equipment-Indemnity and Liability Insurance Agreement (amended and second reading waived)
  • 905.1-E1(new E3) Use of School Facilities-Rental Contract (amended and second reading waived)

Initial review: 

  • 905.5 Supervision by School Personnel (deleted)
  • 905.6 Loan of School Equipment (deleted)

From Board President Bea Niblock
PSW WEB“Recognition was given to Public Schools Week, February 24-28, at last night’s board meeting. The week is supported by NSBA, NEA, PTA and all of the professional educational organizations. Dr. Nora Ryan read a proclamation for the week.

Public Schools Week honors the 50.8 million students, plus 3.2 million teachers and hundreds of thousands of specialists, administrators and support staff working in public schools today. Public schools educate 9 out of every 10 students. Public schools are the great equalizer for children. They have lifted generations of students out of poverty and from middle income to higher income, helping to set young adults on a path to a fulfilling life. 

This national celebration highlights the great things happening in our public schools and shows the strength and potential of them in a democratic society. You can sign the Pledge for Public Schools at www.publicschoolproud.org.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, March 2, 2020 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S.Third Ave.

 

February 4, 2020 Board Meeting

5 Feb
Check presentation WEB

Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte, left, accepts a check from Marshalltown Performing Arts Center Board members Larry Pfantz, center, and Bill Fitzgerald, right.

Marshalltown Performing Arts Center Board representatives recognized for Fine Arts Honor Wall display
A new Fine Arts Honor Wall is on display at the Marshalltown Performing Arts Center (previously called the MHS/Community Auditorium), and the addition was installed thanks to the generosity of the Marshalltown Performing Arts Center Board and donors. 

Board representatives Bill Fitzgerald and Larry Pfantz discussed the decision to install the Honor Wall, as well as a public art project being planned by the Performing Arts Center Board. Pfantz said Phase II of the Marshalltown High School Roundhouse project next door to the auditorium was positive, but it meant the Performing Arts Center lost a few windows, leaving a blank space on the south side of the lobby. 

Thanks to several donors, the board raised $4,841 to pay for the Honor Wall that now occupies the space and recognizes Bobcats past and present to earn all-state plaudits in chorus, band, orchestra and theatre. 

Pfantz also said the board is planning a public art project at the Performing Arts Center to celebrate the arts, similar to the Drills sculpture celebrating athletics on the south side of the Roundhouse. 

MCSD receives clean audit for Fiscal Year 2019
The Fiscal Year 2019 audit report for the school district came back clean, according to Dennis Muyskens of Hogan-Hansen, CPA’s and Consultants. 

“There was nothing that we found on the school district’s financial statements that had anything misstated or anything that looked inappropriate,” he said. 

After an issue with payroll reporting discovered in a previous school year audit, Muyskens said he took particular care to ensure the payroll processes at the district were sound. 

“I personally looked at every single payroll deposit for the year and didn’t see anything out of line after the misstatements that had happened the previous year,” he said. 

Muyskens also complimented the district’s success in receiving more than $640,000 in refunds from the Internal Revenue Service regarding the previously-discovered payroll issue. 

District Finance Director Paulette Newbold said she has full confidence in Muysken and Hogan-Hansen’s audit. She has led the business office in a comprehensive review of oversight and reporting processes for all aspects of district finance. 

The full FY2019 audit can be found here

Audit WEB

Dennis Muyskens of Hogan-Hansen, CPA’s and Consultants gives an overview of the FY2019 school year financial audit.

School counselors’ important work acknowledged
It is National School Counseling Week and district Human Resources Director Dr. Nora Ryan read out a proclamation recognizing the incredible work done by MCSD school counselors and counselors all over the country. Counselors Ashley Chyma and Valerie Corson were also present during the recognition. 

Health Care Careers Club field trip approved
Representatives from the Marshalltown Area Health Care Careers Club gained board approval for an out-of-state trip to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. in March. The trip will allow students to hear personal testimonies from Mayo Clinic staff, visit historic clinic buildings, and learn more about certification and degree programs in areas like nursing, diagnostic imaging, oncology, surgery and more. 

Funds from TRIO and Gear Up, as well as money raised by the club, will cover the cost of food, lodging and transportation for the trip. 

The club has participated in many learning and volunteer activities with local organizations, including the Iowa Veterans Home, McFarland Clinic, UnityPoint Health-Marshalltown, Pilgrim Heights, Grandview Nursing Home, Iowa Valley Community College District, the Marshalltown Fire and Police departments, and others. 

Field Trip WEB

Marshalltown High School Dean of Students Dan Terrones, left, and Marshalltown Area Health Care Careers Club students Arlette Yepez (second from left) Taylor Duff (second from right) and Aida Almanza (right) speak about their upcoming trip to the Mayo Clinic.

Exciting new offerings added to Marshalltown High School course manual
The school board approved the 2020-21 MHS Course Guide Tuesday, and principal Jacque Wyant introduced several new areas of coursework that will be available to high school students next school year. Additionally, existing areas of coursework will offer additional options for students to explore career pathways. New and enhanced course areas include:

  • Speech
  • Industrial Arts Technology (welding, machining, small engines/basic automotive maintenance)
  • Computer Science through Project Lead the Way, including the new cybersecurity capstone class
  • Agriculture
  • Fire Science in collaboration with Kirkwood Community College
  • Technical math for areas like the medical field, industrial arts and more

Wyant said the new course guide also includes information about the Bobcat Ready initiative and some more minor changes. 

Board approves Bobcat High School Ready indicators
The district’s Bobcat Ready initiative seeks to ensure all students are college and career-ready by the time they graduate high school. Now, that same focus on ensuring readiness will be directed toward Miller Middle School eighth graders entering high school. 

Like the original Bobcat Ready initiative, the tentative Bobcat High School Ready indicators approved by the board Monday will help determine a student’s readiness for high school. Those indicators include, among others:

  • No failing grades in core classes (English, Math, Science and Social Studies)
  • Grade-level proficiency in English-language arts, Math and Science
  • An attendance rate of 90 percent or better
  • Participation in two or more organized co-curricular activities
  • 10 or more hours of community service

Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte said the indicators were decided based on established knowledge about the importance of student readiness and on national research. In addition to meeting some or all of the life- and academics-based indicators, Dr. Schutte said eighth graders would also be expected to identify potential post-secondary or career interests.

For more information on the Bobcat High School Ready indicators, click here

Anson WEB

Anson staff members share positive highlights from their building. Pictured, from left: counselor Ashley Chyma, third grade teacher Jocelyn Schmidt, principal Ronnie Manis and first grade teacher Jennifer Estabrook.

Anson Elementary School showcase
There are a lot of good things going on at Anson Elementary School, and principal Ronnie Manis was joined by Anson staff members to outline some of those positive efforts Tuesday. 

One major area of growth for the school has come in students’ math performance. First grade teacher Jennifer Estabrook said that more than a year ago, a fall semester screener test showed only 33 percent of students were proficient in math; Estabrook and fellow first grade staff knew improvement was needed, and decided to do a book study over Jessica Shumway’s “Number Sense Routines.” 

After adding a 5-10 minute period of time for students to rearrange, organize, combine, separate and otherwise interact with numbers on a daily basis, the next screener test showed the number of first graders who were proficient in math shot up to 71 percent; the next test showed 77 percent proficiency. The students kept up that proficiency into second grade, where another screener showed 76 percent of students were proficient in math. Number Sense strategies are now being used across the building due to their success. 

Additionally, counselor Ashley Chyma discussed the school’s Positive Action initiative.

“The main focus of Positive Action is to start with a positive thought that leads to a positive action that then leads to a positive feeling and then goes back to a positive thought, so it’s a circle,” she said. 

A third grade Kindness Club was formed to promote Positive Action. Among other generous efforts, the students put together treat bags for Marshalltown firefighters and police officers to thank them for their service.

Student School Board Representative update
Student School Board Representatives Carmen Araiza and Mia Barajas shared these updates from around the district at Tuesday’s meeting. Highlights include: 

  • A review of the Jam in the Gym event Feb. 1, where two MHS seniors won $500 Marshalltown Community College scholarships. 
  • The Words of Encouragement project at MHS, mostly directed at high school seniors, is focusing on helping students stay focused through the end of the school year. 
  • An MHS After Prom Tip Night will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12 at Pizza Ranch,  2305 S. Center St. All tips given at that time will go toward the upcoming MHS After Prom events. 

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 Tuesday, click here

Policies
First reading of:

  • 407.3 Licensed Employee Retirement (approved as amended)
  • 504.5 Student Fundraising (approved as amended)
  • Old 905.1 Community Use of School Facilities (deleted)
  • New 905.1 Community Use of School Facilities and Equipment (approved)
  • 905.1-R3 Community Use of School Facilities and Equipment Regulation (will come back for a first reading)

Initial review of: 

  • New Policy 303.5 Administrator Duties (will come back)
  • New Policy 303.8 Administrator Civic Activities (will come back)
  • New Policy 401.9 Employee Political Activity (will come back)
  • New Policy 405.9 Licensed Employee Probationary Status (will come back)
  • New Exhibit 407.3-E1 Application for Retirement (will come back)
  • 905.1-R1 Application for Use and Approval (will come back)
  • 905.1-R2 Fees for Use of School Facilities (will come back)
  • 905.1-E2 (new E1) Use of School Facilities-Application Form (will come back)
  • 905.1-E3 (new E2) Use of School Facilities and Equipment-Indemnity and Liability Insurance Agreement (will come back)
  • 905.1-E1 (new E3) Use of School Facilities-Rental Contract (marked as reviewed)
  • 905.2 Parent Teacher Organization Building Use (deleted)
  • 905.4 Gratuities to Personnel (deleted)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“Excellence is never an accident; it is the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, skillful execution and the vision to see obstacles as opportunities.” – Anonymous

 “The board saw repeated presentations at Tuesday’s meeting showing the excellence that abounds in the district.

  • Board members from the Marshalltown Performing Arts Center presented the district with a check to cover the expense of the new recognition wall in the Community Auditorium lobby.
  • The auditors shared a clean audit report for the district. That was certainly a spot of excellence after the problems encountered over a year ago.
  • The high school course offerings manual was shared showing the many pathways that students may choose, from college prep to apprenticeships to technology and many more. 
  • Anson staff shared a book study being undertaken by staff to increase number sense with increased scores to substantiate the work. 
  • Bobcat High School Readiness Indicators were approved for implementation at Miller Middle School.
  • The board began its annual book study. The board continues to grow and learn together through workshops, seminars and the book study.

Excellence is widespread throughout the district.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 17, 2020 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S.Third Ave.

January 13, 2020 Board Meeting

14 Jan

New Technology Director hired

Harmsen WEB

Amy Harmsen, pictured, is set to take over at the district Director of Technology in February. She spoke at Monday’s board meeting.

The school board approved the hire of Amy Harmsen as the district’s new Director of Technology Monday. Harmsen comes to the district with exceptional education and experience, She will take up the position after previous Director Josh Wesley assumed a similar position at Waukee Community School District. 

“I was raised around here, so I’m glad to be back,” Harmsen said.

She said she is excited to get started as a member of the district administrative team. 

“Amy and the other candidates went through a very rigorous selection process,” said district Dr. Schutte said. “She has been the Director of Technology for Grinnell-Newburg Community Schools for the past 3½ years. She had previously served in Marshalltown as the Technology Services Coordinator with the Central Rivers Area Education Agency, working with our’s and other technology directors, providing support in both technical and education technology services.” 

Harmsen’s anticipated start date is Thursday, Feb. 13. 

Marshalltown Schools Tennis Court Project plans adopted
There were several major announcements and decisions at January’s sole Marshalltown School Board meeting Monday, including the formal adoption of plans, specifications, form of contract and the estimated total cost of the Marshalltown Community School District Tennis Court Project.

The base bid for the project will include six new tennis courts to the south of the existing eight courts at Marshalltown High School. In addition, the Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation generously gave $150,000 to cover the estimated cost of installing three pickleball courts in the tennis court area. 

Other aspects of the project, such as replacing the 45-year-old existing courts with six new courts, adding lighting, a restroom facility and a parking lot along South 2nd Avenue, will be bid as project alternates. 

“We’re bidding out the entire package in the event that the bids come in to where there’s a choice to take on one of the alternates,” said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte. “What we need, at a bare minimum, are the six courts so we can use those courts in conjunction with the courts that are still competitively playable and safe with the existing facility.” 

Bids on the project are due by 3 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 6. The awarding of the contract is scheduled to take place at the Monday, Feb. 17 school board meeting. Project cost information can be found here and a project design can be found here

A report from the Lenihan Lego League Wizard Engineers

Wizard Engineers WEB

Volunteer Lego League coach and Lenihan teacher Laura Fricke introduces the Wizard Engineers team during their presentation on splash pads Monday. The team will compete at the state level this weekend.

The Wizard Engineers, a Lego League team from Lenihan Intermediate School, shared a project presentation with the board. The team includes sixth grade students Max Reed, Sam Hatcher, Lucas Hagen, Anessa Morrison, Millie Heitmann, Leah Kurian, Josiah Kurian, Porter Niedermann, Harper Wilson and Ariana Campos. 

Each student spoke about the team’s project: providing splash pads as a safe, affordable way to have fun in the water. The students said the splash pads would offer an alternative to the dangerous Iowa River during hot summer says, particularly for families unable to afford a membership at local swimming pools. They discussed adding a solar-powered splash pad in downtown Marshalltown, financed by donations and grants. 

The Wizard Engineers will give their Global Innovative State Finalist presentation at Sukup Hall on the Iowa State University campus in Ames 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18. The competition schedule is available here 

Student School Board Representative update
Student School Board Representative Diana Sanchez shared these updates from around the district at Monday’s meeting. Highlights include: 

  • More Marshalltown High School students are attending college classes at Marshalltown Community College this semester
  • An update on first semester finals taking place at the high school from Jan. 14-16
  • Information about upcoming band and sports events, including the Bobcat Marching Band Pasta Dinner fundraiser set for 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 28 in the Marshalltown High School cafeteria. The funds will go toward the marching band’s trip to Orlando, Florida later this year. 

 

2020-21 at risk budget proposal approved
After a presentation at the December 16, 2019 board meeting, the board approved the 2020-21 at risk budget. The budget will be geared toward curbing chronic absenteeism, increasing graduation rates, lowering the number of students who drop out, and much more.

Data from previous years’ at risk programming shows the following results:

  • An increase in graduation rate
  • A decrease in the number of students who drop out
  • A decrease in major behavior referrals/suspensions
  • A decrease in reports of bullying/harassment

For specifics about the approved budget, click here.

Marshalltown High School showcase

Industrial Arts WEB

Marshalltown High School students and teachers present share information on the school’s industrial arts programs with the board Monday evening. Front row, from left: students Emily Diggins, Roxy Orellana, Ana Nolasco and George Melendez. Back row, from left: student Keaghan Gorsuch and teachers Lester Kadner and Raul Arevalo.

Marshalltown High School’s many high-quality industrial arts courses were on display at Monday’s meeting, with students sharing their experiences from classes in construction technology, metals, electrical and plumbing, and more. 

“We got to learn how to install windows and doors, how to safely remove walls and cabinets and apply drywall,” said Construction Technology II student George Melendez. “We can use that in the future.” 

Fellow student Ana Nolasco said safety was the first priority when it came to her Intro to Construction class. 

“After learning about safety, we went around and learned how to use every single saw or piece of machinery that was there,” she said. 

The students showed off some of the products of their hard work, including a small hardwood bench. They also discussed building a bathroom vanity, learning how to electrically wire a house, and other skills they learned in class. 

Teacher Lester Kadner said the things students learn in industrial arts classes will stay with them for the rest of their lives when they need to make repairs and solve everyday problems.

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 of:

  • 903.1 School Community Groups (approved as amended)
  • 903.5-R Distribution of Materials regulation (approved as amended)
  • 904.2 Sales Promotion Prohibited (approved as amended

Initial review of:

  • 314.1 Administrator early retirement incentive program (approved as amended, second reading waived)
  • 407.3 Retirement (coming back for a first reading)
  • 407.6 Licensed Teaching Staff voluntary early retirement incentive program (approved as amended, second reading waived)
  • 413.7 Twelve-month secretary voluntary early retirement incentive program (approved as amended, second reading waived)
  • 413.8 Twelve-month operations, maintenance and transportation voluntary early retirement incentive program (approved as amended, second reading waived)
  • 504.5 Student Fundraising (last line from previous policy 904.4 added, will come back at the next meeting)
  • 904.4 Money Raising Activities in the Schools (deleted due to redundancy)
  • Old 905.1 Community use of School Facilities (will come back at the next meeting for deletion)
  • New 905.1 Community use of School Facilities and Equipment  (will come back at the next meeting)
  • 905.1-R3 (new 905.1-R1) Community Use of the School District Facilities & Equipment Regulation (will come back at the next meeting)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“Last night’s meeting was a busy one with many items on the agenda. But, the highlight of any meeting is getting to interact with students in the district. 

We, first, got to hear from Industrial Arts teachers, Raul Arevalo and Lester Kadner, and some of their students. In addition to a PowerPoint presentation, the students shared the focus of their coursework and individual projects they had completed. Amazing opportunities for our students and remarkable products capped their presentation!

Then, we heard from the Wizard Engineers Lego League Team from Lenihan. They shared the process that they took in problem solving in competition. Their excitement and enthusiasm was contagious. We wish them well in their state competition bid this weekend!” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m.Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S.Third Ave. The meeting was moved from its normal Monday time due to the Iowa caucuses Feb. 3. 

December 16, 2019 Board Meeting

17 Dec
Lunches WEB.jpg

Brothers John Wise, right, and Tom Wise, left, speak about their part in an effort to raise funds to pay off outstanding student lunch account debt.

Community members recognized for addressing school lunch debt
Marshalltown residents Tom and John Wise were recognized for helping raise funds toward outstanding school lunch accounts as of Monday afternoon. The Wises followed the example set by Alfonso Medina, Jr., owner of La Carreta Mexican Grill. Several other community members and businesses have also contributed to the lunch account effort. Read more about their generous endeavor here

Next step taken on tennis court project
Marshalltown Schools took another step toward a project to replace and upgrade the community tennis courts at Marshalltown High School at Monday’s school board meeting. A public hearing for the proposed use of SAVE state sales tax funds for the project was held; the board subsequently voted to allow the use of SAVE revenue to pay for the project. Tentative plans, specifications, form of contract and estimated total cost of the project were also approved and a public hearing regarding those details was set for 5 p.m. Jan. 13, 2020.

For more information about the tennis courts project, click here

Woodbury kids WEB

Woodbury Elementary students showed off their literary skills in both English and Spanish at Monday’s board meeting. Woodbury is home to an excellent dual-language program. Pictured, from left: students Erandy Ibarra Madrigal, Sahily Gonzalez, Tate Williams, Maritza Barajas Hernandez, Aaron Tafolla, Theodore Lewis, Liliana Nunez and Woodbury Principal Anel Garza, standing. 

Woodbury Elementary School showcase
Woodbury Elementary Principal Anel Garza, counselor Heidi Williams and instructional coach Julie Thede brought a talented group of students to showcase their skills at Monday’s board meeting. 

The second- to fourth grade students each gave part of the presentation, some in English and some in Spanish. Woodbury is home to an incredible dual language program where students learn in both English and Spanish each day in class. 

The school’s presentation included an overview of the new Into Reading/Arriba la lectura curriculum and how it works to bridge new learning from one language to the other. The connection of concepts between the two languages contributes to increased biliteracy. 

First round of ISASP data released
Marshalltown Schools joined school districts statewide in the 2018-19 school year in implementing the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP) assessment in grades 3-11. District Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson shared data from that first year of implementation at Marshalltown Schools. 

The ISASP was developed to align with Iowa Core educational standards and to ensure students of all backgrounds and abilities can take the test. For more information, click here

VM WEB.jpg

Vision Marshalltown co-chair Terry Buzbee, right, and Executive Director Kyley Leger, left, share information about post-2018 tornado growth strategies for Marshalltown. 

Vision Marshalltown leaders provide network update
Vision Marshalltown Executive Director Kyley Leger and co-chair Terry Buzbee shared a report from the network on its post-2018 tornado community growth strategies. Buzbee said Marshalltown is in a prime position to grow in the coming years and said MCSD will be a key part of future success. 

“With what you as leaders and what the administration has done, what the staff has done, we’re in a whole new place relative to education,” he said to school board members. “In my opinion, we very much have a great opportunity to grow.” 

Leger said Vision Marshalltown leaders met in July to revise the network’s strategies post-tornado. Along with education, she said other key focuses include growing housing, growing Marshalltown’s downtown area and growing community pride. 

Report shared on first year of Full Service Community Schools program
Allison Wilson and Sarah Kenkel of Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) went over facts and figures from the first year of the Full Service Community Schools grant implementation at MCSD. 

The federal grant of $500,000 for five years (totaling $2.5 million) was awarded to MICA in 2018, and the local non-profit is investing those funds into programs at Anson, Rogers and Woodbury elementary schools. Wilson and Kenkel described how the programming strives toward three key outcomes: 

  • All children enter school ready to learn
  • Students are academically proficient
  • Students are safe, healthy and supported by engaged parents

Some strategies and programs designed to meet the above outcomes include the Bobcat University summer learning program, focusing on the transition from early childhood education to school, developing individual family attendance plans, referring families to community-based support services, among many others. 

For more information about the first year of the Full Service Community Schools grant implementation at MCSD, click here.

Voluntary early retirement program approved
The Marshalltown School Board voted to continue offering voluntary early retirement to qualifying district employees for the current school year. Eligible employees may submit a written application for voluntary early retirement to the superintendent by 5 p.m. Feb. 28, 2020.

Student school board WEB

Student School Board members Mia Barajas, left, and Carmen Araiza, right, share their report on the happenings at Marshalltown High School and around the district. 

2020-21 at risk budget proposal presented
Dr. Lisa Stevenson presented the at-risk budget proposal for the 2020-21 school year. The new budget, if approved at the Jan. 13 board meeting, would be increased to a total of about $2.4 million. 

Stevenson also shared data showing how the at-risk budget has helped Marshalltown students in recent years, including: 

  • An increase in graduation rate
  • A decrease in the number of students who drop out
  • A decrease in major behavior referrals/suspensions
  • A decrease in reports of bullying/harassment

For more information about the at-risk budget’s impacts, click here. For specifics about the proposed at-risk budget, click here.

School board supports research project
The board approved a letter of support regarding a wireless technology research grant being pursued by Brian Cox of the Iowa State University Research Foundation Inc. and a team of researchers. Cox said the research would be in partnership with MCSD as well as the local business community and would work toward developing an advanced wireless network. 

For more details about the research proposal, click 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 Monday, click here

Gifts and bequests accepted
A $10,000 STEM BEST Program Enhancement Fund grant from the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council awarded to Marshalltown Learning Academy was approved, as were donations from the community toward outstanding lunch account balances. 

Policies
Initial review – 

  • 903.5-R1 Distribution of Materials Regulation (changes needed, will come back before board)
  • 903.7 Parent-Teacher Associations (deleted due to redundancy, except for the last line which was added to 903.1)
  • 903.1 School-Community Groups (Last sentence from previous policy 903.7 added, will come back before the board)
  • 904.2 Sales Promotion Prohibited (Will come back for a first reading)

First reading –

  • 903.4 Public Conduct on School Premises-Conduct Counts (approved as amended, second reading waived)
  • 903.5 Distribution of Materials (approved as amended, second reading waived)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“The countdown has begun. Four more days until winter break! A well-deserved break for our district employees.

Time away from books, lesson plans and meetings for relaxation and rejuvenation. Working with young people is rewarding, albeit challenging and demanding. It is our lifework and the joys constantly outweigh the difficulties.

I wish for you the happiest and most restful holiday season, be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, Kwanzaa, or whatever you and yours celebrate. Return to us rested and enthusiastic to continue the remarkable work you do with the young people entrusted to our care.” – Bea Niblock. 

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday Jan. 13, 2020 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. Third Ave. It will be the only regular school board meeting in January.