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Sept. 8, 2020 Board Meeting

9 Sep
Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates (iJAG) leadership members presented an Outstanding Partner award to MCSD Tuesday. Pictured, from left: iJAG President and CEO Laurie Phelan, Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte, iJAG Director of Strategic Advancement Carly Voltz, MHS iJAG specialists Mary McCann Fuchsen and Chad Weir, and iJAG Director of Program Advancement Bob Reid.

MCSD named Outstanding Partner by Iowa Jobs For America’s Graduates (iJAG)
Representatives from Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates (iJAG) presented Marshalltown Schools with an Outstanding Partner award at Tuesday’s meeting. 

The partnership between MCSD and iJAG began three years ago at the 11th- and 12th grade levels. Now, the program has been implemented at all grade levels, with the exception of the elementary level. 

“We wanted to recognize Dr. Schutte and you all for what we call True North Leadership – that is, you’re laser-focused on young people, and that all young people, not just some, can be successful,” said Laurie Phelan of iJAG.

Since iJAG came to Marshalltown Schools, Phelan reported that 100 percent of students who participated in the program graduated. 

“I think the most critical piece of the puzzle is having the right people running these programs in the classroom,” Dr. Schutte said. “I’m excited to hear that we have 100 percent graduation. I’m really looking forward to hearing what happens with those young people post-high school.” 

Board approves agreement with Mechdyne Corp. for Bobcat Helpline
The start of a new school year is an exciting – as well as potentially stressful – time for many students and families. Combined with the coronavirus pandemic and the recent derecho that interrupted life in the Marshalltown Community, MCSD families have many questions about the 2020-21 school year.

Bobcat Helpline postcardTo ensure families have quick, easy access to answers during this time, the Marshalltown School Board approved a three-month agreement with the local technology company Mechdyne Corporation to facilitate the Bobcat Helpline – (641) 754-1001.

“As we put together a full picture, we saw that we really had a need for a centralized help desk,” said District Director of Technology Amy Harmsen. “We’ve already realized so much of the benefit of [Mechdyne] being a community company. They know our school district, they know who to route to, they know some of the resources that we’re already working on.”

Harmsen said the helpline proved useful on day one, with 257 out of 300 calls directly resolved. The remaining calls were routed to the District for confidentiality and security purposes.


MCSD Employees (front row, from left) Dr. Lisa Stevenson, Jennifer Harrington, Stacey Tool-Crawford, and Jennifer Gray earned a special recognition for going above and beyond in their work duties since the coronavirus pandemic began in the spring. Also pictured in the back row, from left, are Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte, Director of Technology Amy Harmsen, MHS Principal Jacque Wyant, and Buildings and Grounds Director Todd Goulding.

District staff recognized for going above and beyond
Tuesday’s Marshalltown School Board meeting featured four outstanding Marshalltown Schools employees who were recognized for the incredible efforts they have put forth since the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic last spring.

Buildings and Grounds administrative assistant Jennifer Gray, Student Technology Device Coordinator Jennifer Harrington, District Lead Nurse Stacey Tool-Crawford, and District Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson earned the special recognition through hard work and dedication during the challenging time since March.

“We try to every quarter recognize employees who go up and beyond the call of duty in their respective roles,” said District Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte. “I wanted to turn that recognition into a special recognition for people who have really gone, in my opinion, way up and above the call of duty as it relates both to our COVID-related closure from the spring to the summer planning to the new school year.”
Read more about the great efforts of each of Tuesday’s award winners here.


Marshalltown Legends American Grill restaurant Manager Brady Ridout presents a $1,000 check to MHS Activities/Athletics Director Ryan Isgrig. Each Legends Bobcat Burger sold added $1 to the donation.

Legends American Grill “Bobcat Burger” donation goes to MHS Activities
Bobcat Pride was on full display Tuesday as local Legends American Grill restaurant manager Brady Ridout presented a check for $1,000 toward the Marshalltown High School Activity Fund to MHS Director of Activities/Athletics Ryan Isgrig. 

“We wanted to give back to the community somehow,” Ridout said before presenting the generous donation at Tuesday’s meeting. The funds came from the sale of the Legends “Bobcat Burger,” with $1 of each purchase going toward the activity fund; Ridout said Legends sold 1,000 Bobcat Burgers in less than a year. 


Newly-appointed building administrators introduced themselves to the Marshalltown School Board Tuesday. Pictured, from left: Miller Middle School co-principals Kristyn Kell and Dave Glenn, and MHS associate principals Michael Bale and William Terry.

Newly-appointed Miller Middle School and MHS administrators introduced
The 2020-21 school year brings a group of new faces to building administration positions at Miller Middle School and Marshalltown High School, and the board heard from each Tuesday.

“We welcomed kids with music and open arms, and we thought it was a smooth day,” said Miller Co-Principal Kristyn Kell of the first day of classes. “I’m excited to be back. I was in the District for 9 years … it’s great to be back home.”

Fellow Miller Co-Principal Dave Glenn is also familiar with Marshalltown Schools, with several years of experience as associate principal at Miller.
“Empty buildings aren’t right when you think about school, so it was great to see kids back in school,” Glenn said. “They knew that we were ready for them to be there … their teachers were excited to see them.”

Marshalltown High School welcomed associate principals Michael Bale and William Terry this summer.

“It was great to get out in the classrooms,” Bale said. “Our kids have been awesome, they’ve really been the most flexible out of all of this.”

Terry, who wrote and performed a rap song educating students on health and safety measures this school year, said he was also excited to see students during the start of classes.

“The first two months have been absolutely scary and wonderful at the same time,” he said. “The whole District has been very helpful and supportive.”


Marshalltown Performing Arts Center flooring project agreement approved
With new flooring needed in the Marshalltown Performing Arts Center (formerly known as the MHS/Community Auditorium), the Marshalltown School Board approved an agreement with the Marshalltown Performing Arts Center Foundation to pay for the work. 

MCSD Buildings and Grounds Director Todd Goulding said the Foundation will cover the majority of the project costs, with MCSD covering about $4,500 of the work. The District’s cost will be paid using PPEL funds. Strand’s Flooring and Paint has been contracted for the work. 


New board book study to focus on building support for public schools
The beginning of the new school year Tuesday also saw the Marshalltown School Board and District Administrative Cabinet prepare to embark on a new book study. The book in question – Jamie Vollmer’s “Schools Cannot Do It Alone: Building Public Support for America’s Public Schools” – discusses the multi-faceted role public schools play in their local communities, as well as how to build support for public schools to achieve greater student success. 


Miller Middle School heating and cooling system project gets board’s nod
The Miller Middle School heating and cooling system will be upgraded after the school board approved an agreement to convert the current steam system to a new, water-based system at the building. Buildings and Grounds Director Todd Goulding said a water-based temperature control system would be an improvement over the current, aging system. Woodman Controls Company was approved to perform the work.  


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 Wednesday, click here


Policies
First Reading

  • 409.1 Licensed Employee Vacation-Holidays-Personal Leave (amended, second reading waived) 
  • 409.2 Licensed Employee Personal Illness Leave (amended, second reading waived)
  • 415.4 (New 414) Classified Staff Professional Development Leave (amended, second reading waived)
  • 409.2-E1 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Request Form Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (adopted, second reading waived)
  • 409.2-E2 Expanded Family and Medical Leave Request for Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (adopted, second reading waived)

Initial Review

  • 201.3 Responsibilities of the Board of Directors (will come back for a second reading)
  • 201.5 Membership (Deleted)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“The journey has begun!  First day of school; first in-person board meeting since March.  

The school year started with some students sitting in seats and some students learning online in their homes. And because of the high volume of questions regarding online learning and the use of technology, the district has developed a work agreement with Mechdyne Corporation to field those calls. The very first day had 300 calls!  A win-win situation with our families having their questions answered promptly and freeing up our staff to deal with infrastructure issues and confidential questions.

My quote at the meeting was from Jenny Han, an American author of children’s and young adult books. “I’ve always loved the first day of school better than the last day of school. Firsts are best because they are beginnings.” Hoping that your beginning brings many happy and fulfilling days!” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. The meeting will be held in-person with social distancing and other safety measures in place. The meeting will be available to watch via YouTube live stream.  

August 19, 2020 Board Meeting

20 Aug

Adjusted 2020-21 school year calendar approved

2020-21 Adjusted Calendar English

To view the newly-adjusted 2020-21 school year calendar, click on the image above. 

The powerful derecho that blew through Marshalltown and much of Iowa on Aug. 10 caused widespread damage and power outages. With many Bobcat families recovering from the storm, the Marshalltown School Board approved an adjusted 2020-21 school calendar Wednesday, with the first day of school set for Tuesday, Sept. 8. 

“The last day for students would be moved to Friday, June 4, which means that of the nine days that we’ve pushed things forward, we’re having students make up four of those nine days,” said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte, adding total student contact hours will still exceed the minimum hours required by the state.

Other events, such as fall and spring parent-teacher conferences and some end-of-quarter dates, have been rescheduled in accordance with the adjusted calendar. Visit the MCSD school year calendars webpage to view the adjusted 2020-21 calendar at any time.

(Please note: Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, all school events and schedules are subject to change)

Additional internet hotspots to increase digital learning access for students
More support is on the way for Bobcat students who need home internet access for learning this school year. 

The school board approved the purchase of 150 additional hotspots Wednesday, bringing the total number of District hotspots up to 450. The board also approved activation of all hotspots through December of 2020.

District Technology Director Amy Harmsen said the recent storm impacted an agreement with Mediacom to provide low-cost, high-speed home internet access to more than 400 District families. 

Mediacom had installed internet in a small portion of the families’ homes prior to the storm, and it is unknown when the company will be in a position to continue installing new home internet accordance with the agreement. Harmsen said the new hotspots and extended activation will help meet families’ needs until Mediacom can resume installation work.

Both the hotspots and the agreement with Mediacom are helping to bridge internet access gaps for hundreds of young Bobcats, allowing them to use high-quality digital learning programs provided by the District. 

MCSD Return to Learn health and safety video series launched
Marshalltown Schools is excited to welcome students back to class this fall, and a new District video series is focusing on ensuring young Bobcats and their families are informed on how to have a safe and successful school year. 

“Altogether, we will have seven videos in the series for parents and families to view and help prepare students for what’s expected for the fall,” said MHS teacher and series producer Jocelyn Frohwein. “We want our families and the community to feel really comfortable with all of the steps and procedures that the administration put in place.”

The first two videos in the series premiered at Wednesday’s board meeting, including an introduction to District nursing staff and an overview of new school bus safety guidelines. Those videos, as well as several others being produced for the series, will be released and available on the MCSD YouTube channel.

Combo image

Click here to see Episode 1 of the MCSD Return to Learn video series, which focuses on District Health Services staff. Episode 2, which discusses school bus safety, also premiered Wednesday and is available here.


MCSD Digital Learning plan progress highlighted

The board also heard an update on the District’s Digital Learning Plan from Harmsen and Instructional Design Specialist Dave Stanfield. Stanfield said the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic last spring impacted the plan in several ways.

“In some ways our digital learning plan was halted … in other areas, it was accelerated very quickly,” he said. “We were able to quickly get a voluntary learning plan in place, and our Return to Learn plan for this upcoming year was a lot easier to come up with because of the work we’ve done over the last several years,” 

Progress on the Digital Learning Plan’s five major goal areas – leadership, teaching, learning, assessment, and infrastructure – were discussed during the presentation. Highlights included:

Computer Science

A Computer Science is Elementary grant brought computer science education opportunities to Lenihan Intermediate School students last year. That was one of several highlights shared during the MCSD Digital Learning Plan update Wednesday.

  • Lenihan Intermediate School was awarded a Computer Science is Elementary grant last year; as a result, computer science education has now been implemented District-wide. 
  • About 220 MCSD employees earned Google Certified Educator Level 1 credentials last school year. 
  • All Bobcat students in grades PK-12 will have access to a digital learning device this school year, meeting a long-term District goal of achieving a 1-to-1 student-to-Chromebook ratio. 
  • MCSD is helping bridge the digital divide through a low-cost internet agreement with Mediacom and the acquisition of 450 internet hotspots, meaning more Bobcat students will have access high-quality digital learning at home.

Stanfield and Harmsen said work on achieving Digital Learning Plan goals will continue, adding the plan will be monitored and updated in accordance with the needs of MCSD students and employees. 

MHS Parking Lot improvement project change order approved
A change order for the Marshalltown High School Parking Lot improvement project was approved by the board Wednesday. Interim Buildings and Grounds Director Todd Goulding said about 235 square yards of the parking lot pavement will need full-depth patching.

The change order adds about $28,260 to the project cost, bringing the total cost to about $221,300. Despite the cost increase, Goulding said the project is still under the $233,000 originally budgeted for the parking lot improvements. 

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 Wednesday, click here.

Policies
First Reading

  • 201.2 (new 200.2) – Legal Status of the Board of Directors (amended, second reading waived)
  • 409.3-E2 – Licensed Employee Family and Medical Leave Request Form (amended, second reading waived)
  • 409.3- R1- Licensed Employee Family and Medical Leave – Regulation (amended, second reading waived)
  • 601.2 – School Day (Primer) (amended, second reading waived)
  • 105 – Discrimination and Harassment Based on Sex Prohibited (adopted, second reading waived)
  • 501.9-E1 – Request for Remote Learning Form (adopted second reading waived)
  • 907 – District Operation During Public Emergencies (Primer) (adopted, second reading waived)
  • 907-R1 – District Operations During a Public Health Emergency Regulation (Primer) (adopted, second reading waived)
  • 604.11 – Appropriate Use of Online Learning Platforms (Primer) (adopted, second reading waived)

Initial Review

  • 409.1 – Licensed Employee Vacation-Holidays-Personal Leave (will come back for a first reading)
  • 409.2 – Licensed Employee Personal Illness Leave (will come back for a first reading)
  • 415.4 (New 414) – Classified Staff Professional Development Leave (will come back for a first reading)
  • 409.2-E1- Emergency Paid Sick Leave Request Form Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (will come back for a first reading)
  • 409.2-E2 – Expanded Family and Medical Leave Request for Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) (will come back for a first reading)
  • 409.7 – Licensed Employee Military Service (deleted)
  • 409.8 – Licensed Employee Unpaid Leave (deleted)
  • 414.1- Vacation-Classified (deleted)
  • 414.4 – Classified Employee Bereavement Leave (deleted)
  • 414.6 – Classified Employees Jury Duty (deleted)
  • 414.7 – Military Service (deleted)
  • 414.8 – Absence Without Pay-Classified (deleted)

Due to the Labor Day holiday on Monday, Sept. 7, the next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020. The meeting will be held in-person with social distancing and other safety measures in place. The meeting will be available to watch via YouTube live stream. 

 

 

4 Aug

R2L logo

MCSD Return to Learn plan for 2020-21 school year approved
After several months of discussions, data-gathering and planning, the Marshalltown School Board voted to approve the Marshalltown Community School District Return to Learn plan for the 2020-21 school year. 

We are excited to get back to a new normal,” said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte. “In light of the information that was provided Thursday via the governor, the Director of (the Department of) Education, and the Department of Public Health, we’ve been taking a further look at one of the teaching and learning modalities that we had to plan for by July 1.”

The major points of the MCSD Return to Learn plan are as follows: 

  • Students in preschool to sixth grade (PK-6) will go to school on-site at District school buildings, with multiple safety measures in place to minimize risk due to the coronavirus pandemic. These students have the option to learn fully online (virtual learning) for at least the first semester of the 2020-21 school year if they do not want to return to school on-site.

  • Students in grades 7-12 will learn in a hybrid model through the first quarter of the school year (the first nine weeks), after which the model will be re-evaluated. That means the middle- and high school student population will be split roughly in half, with each half alternating between on-site and online learning during the school week. For instance, one half of students will attend classes at their school building for certain days of the week, while their peers in the other half learn online. The groups would then switch to the opposite learning environment later in the week. These grade 7-12 students have the option to learn fully online (virtual learning) for at least the first semester of the 2020-21 school year if they do not want to return to school in the hybrid model. 

The MCSD Return to Learn plan is designed to bring high-quality learning to young Bobcats across all age groups, ability levels, and life situations; the plan also focuses on ensuring the highest possible level of safety for all students and staff. 

On-site learning will include a multi-layered safety and sanitation strategy. Face-masks and face shields will be provided to staff and students, and will be required to be worn during the school day; frequent, enhanced deep cleaning will take place at all school buildings; desk shields will be in place; hand sanitizer will be abundantly available throughout all school buildings; staff and students will have their temperatures screened regularly; social distancing rules – as recommended by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) – will be in place and enforced; and signs will be placed throughout school buildings to ensure clear communication of safety rules and expectations. 

Virtual learning will be provided by MCSD teachers through the Edgenuity (grades PK-5) and Edmentum (grades 6-12) online learning programs. These virtual learning programs are designed to ensure students who learn online this year have access to high-quality, standards-based learning. The deadline for parents and guardians to elect this option for their child(ren) is August 5th.  

For more information on the MCSD Return to Learn Plan, please visit the MCSD Return to Learn webpage.

MCSD Food Service gets boost thanks to generous donation

State Farm WEB

Local State Farm agents Mike Peschong (left), Jeff Linton (center), and Phyllis Mazour (right) present a check for $3,000 toward the MCSD Food Service Department at Monday’s meeting.

Local State Farm insurance agents Phyllis Mazour, Jeff Linton and Mike Peschong received recognition for presenting a $3,000 check toward the MCSD Food Service Department. 

“As State Farm agents, we collectively got together and decided that we wanted to do something for the Marshalltown community, and wanted to be able to touch as many citizens as we could in the community,” Mazour said. “We just want to say thank you for everything you do. Thank you for making this community much better. Together, we make this a community that stands out in the state of Iowa.” 

MCSD Food Service Director Lynn Large said the donation is a generous gesture and will go toward ensuring young Bobcats have food security.

“Your generosity means so much to me and the Nutrition Department, but more importantly, it means so much to the kids in the community who rely on the schools for the meals,” she said. “Thank you for supporting the work that we are all doing here in Marshalltown.” 

The Food Service Department has provided free meals to students 18 years old and younger throughout the coronavirus pandemic situation, which began in March. Additionally, meals have been provided throughout the community this summer and in several previous summers, all in an effort to fight student hunger and food insecurity during when school is not in session. 

District Employee recognized for building several plexiglass barriers

Employee plexiglass web

Buildings and Grounds employee Chris Blanchard has made dozens of plexiglass barriers (like the one shown here) for school buildings.

Marshalltown Schools Buildings and Grounds employee Chris Blanchard was recognized by the board for his effort to build dozens of plexiglass desk shields for schools. He said he knew it would be helpful and cost-effective for him to build the barriers. 

“I looked at how they were built, and I thought ‘Man, this can’t be too tough,’” Blanchard said.

Dr. Schutte said the District appreciates Blanchard’s ingenuity and initiative in adding to the significant safety measures being put in place for the upcoming school year. 

2019-20 End-of-Year report shared
Dr. Stevenson shared the annual MCSD End-of-Year report for the 2019-2020 school year. The presentation touched on key areas of the District’s strategic plan, including metrics on student achievement and learning environments. 

Stevenson said the early end to the 2020-21 school year due to the coronavirus pandemic in March impacted the data collected for the report.

MCSD Security Management System change orders approved
The board approved four change orders for the MCSD Security Management system Monday. Those change orders include adding lockdown buttons, upgrading of cameras, an additional card reader replacement, and deduction of allowances.

The change orders will add an estimated $13,600 to the roughly $530,000 system contract, and funding for the change orders will come from sales tax funding.  

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: There were no policies up a first reading at the Aug. 3 board meeting
Initial Review:
Marked as reviewed –

  • 200 – Statement of Guiding Principles
  • 409.3 – Licensed Employee Family and Medical Leave 
  • 409.3-E1 – Licensed Employee Family and Medical Leave Notice to Employees 
  • 409.3-R2 – Licensed Employee Family and Medical Leave- Definitions 
  • 604.12 – Temporarily Disabled Students 
  • 908 – United States Flag Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag
  • 908-R1 – United States Flag Procedure for Displaying the Flag and Respect for the Flag

Will come back for a first reading –

  • 105 – Discrimination and Harassment Based on Sex Prohibited 
  • 201.2 (new 200.2) – Legal Status of the Board of Directors 
  • 409.3-E2 – Licensed Employee Family and Medical Leave Request Form
  • 409.3-R1 – Licensed Employee Family and Medical Leave – Regulation 
  • 601.2 – School Day (Primer) (will come back for a first reading)
  • 604.11 – Appropriate Use of Online Learning Platforms (Primer)
  • 907 – District Operation During Public Emergencies (Primer) 
  • 907-R1 – District Operations During a Public Health Emergency Regulation (Primer)

Deleted – 

  • 403.5 – Harassment-Employees 
  • 403.5-R – Harassment- Employees (Investigation Regulation)
  • 403.5- E1 – Harassment Complaint Form
  • 403.5-E2 – Witness Disclosure Form
  • 414.3 – Classified Employee Family and Medical Leave
  • 414.3-R1 – Classified Employee Family and Medical Leave -Regulation
  • 414.3-R2 – Classified Employee Family and Medical Leave -Definitions
  • 414.3-E1 – Classified Employee Family and Medical Leave Notice to Employees
  • 414.3-E2 – Classified Employee Family and Medical Leave – Request Form 

From Board President Bea Niblock
“August has arrived and school, in a variety of forms, will begin soon. The Return to Learn plan was discussed at length at the board meeting last night. Different ideas and varying perspectives were shared and debated. After much deliberation, the board approved the plan presented by administration.

Twelve-month staff returned to work in the buildings on Monday. Staff and students will follow later in the month. And, the board will hold in-person meetings beginning with a work session on August 6th and their regular meeting on August 17th. In an effort to keep everyone safe, a new normal will be seen in all buildings and the board room. 

We proceed with an abundance of caution knowing that procedures could change again as we learn more about the coronavirus.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The meeting will be held in-person at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave., with social distancing and other safety measures in place. The meeting will be available to watch via YouTube live stream. 

July 13, 2020 Board Meeting

14 Jul

MCSD Return to Learn plan update shared R2L logo
The Marshalltown Community School District Return to Learn plan for 2020-21 was a major topic of discussion at Monday night’s school board meeting. 

Several District leaders shared updates on the work done by each of the six Return to Learn teams since early June. While the school board did not approve a final Return to Learn plan Monday, they did hear the current MCSD recommendation for Return to Learn this fall.

“The Marshalltown Community School District currently plans on offering parents and their children two options: on-site learning for those willing and able, or online learning for those unable or unwilling to come on-site,” said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte. “A decision for children to access online learning will require a minimum semester commitment and can be re-evaluated at that time.” 

Modified on-site learning would include an abundance of safety measures, including required face masks or face shields for all staff and students (with limited exceptions), social distancing, frequent hand washing, making hand sanitizer available throughout all school buildings, daily deep-cleaning in each building, and signage posted throughout the district sharing the enforced safety measures. 

The plans and recommendations presented Monday may change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information on Monday evening’s Return to Learn update and for the latest information on Return to Learn, please visit the MCSD Return to Learn webpage

Student Reps 20-21

MHS students Itzary Avalos (left), Klaudia Hernandez (center), and Haley Reed (right) were selected as the 2020-21 Student School Board Representatives Monday evening.

Three new Student School Board members named for 2020-21 school year
Three exemplary Marshalltown High School upperclassmen were chosen as Student School Board Representatives Monday.

Junior Haley Reed and seniors Itzary Avalos and Klaudia Hernandez are all involved in several school and extracurricular activities, and will keep the school board updated on the many happenings at MHS throughout the year. 

MHS Parking Lot improvement project approved
The school board approved the MHS Parking Lot improvement project and awarded the work to Manatt’s Inc. in the amount of $193,000. District Director of Business Operations Paulette Newbold said the bid came in significantly under the estimated project budget of $225,000. 

Board approves legislative priorities
This year’s Marshalltown School Board legislative priorities were adopted in a resolution Monday. The four priorities this year include: 

  • School Funding Policy – supporting a school funding formula that provides sufficient and timely funding, equalizes per-pupil funding, addresses transportation cost inequities, reflects actual cost for special education services, and more.
  • Mental Health – supporting efforts to establish comprehensive community mental health systems to offer preventative and treatment services and comprehensive school mental health programs.
  • English Learners – supporting sufficient, timely funding for English learners until the students reach proficiency.
  • Early Childhood Literacy – Supporting continued development and funding for research on best practices for improving proficiency in early literacy strategies, continued funding for professional development and classroom intervention strategies focused on best practices for early literacy in grades PK-3, additional funding for programs designed to ensure all students meet literacy expectations by the end of third grade, and more. 

For more details on this year’s adopted MCSD legislative priorities, click here

English learner education spotlighted in end-of-year report
District English Learner (EL) and Migrant Coordinator Rachel Inks shared data on the English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21) with the board. 

The EPLA21 is used to determine English language learner (ELL) students’ home language, provide a placement screener, and get a summative measure of students’ English language proficiency. Teachers are also given professional learning modules to support the implementation of Iowa’s English Language Proficiency Standards. 

To check out the ELPA21 report presentation from Monday’s meeting, click here

School board meeting dates set for 2020-21
The Marshalltown School Board meeting dates for the 2020-21 school year were approved Monday. They can be found here or on the MCSD School Board web-page

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:
– 710.4-R1 – Meal Donation Allocation Regulation (adopted, second reading waived)

Initial Review: There were no policies up for initial review at the July 13 board meeting. 

From Board President Bea Niblock
“About 90 minutes of time was spent discussing the Return to Learning plans for the district. Seventy-two people – administration, teaching staff and community people – gathered together in six different committees to draw together resources, develop protocols for safety, and determine professional development to prepare staff. 

During the meeting, eight chairs/co-chairs went through the information compiled in the six committees. They will continue their work, get answers to board and community questions, and present a plan for approval at the Aug. 3 board meeting. 

The plan will be one that emphasizes student, staff and family safety, follows the procedures of CDC, WHO and medical experts, and brings our students back to learning! March 6  was a long time ago!”  – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 3, 2020. The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom and a live stream of the meeting will be available via YouTube.

June 15, 2020 Board Meeting

16 Jun

MHS

MCSD school nurses led an effort to create and distribute cloth face-masks as COVID-19 concerns grew earlier this year. In addition, MCSD Health Services staff continue to perform safety screenings and provide services to students and families remotely.

School board hears 2019-20 MCSD Health Report
MCSD Lead Nurse Stacey Tool-Crawford presented the annual district health report to the Marshalltown School Board Monday. She said there was nothing unusual about the first several months of the school year – that changed in February as concerns about COVID-19 grew. 

“As school nurses, we started to do some further screening of students and staff who would come into our offices with fevers,” Tool-Crawford said. “Then, of course, we went on spring break, and then ended up not returning.” 

She said the district’s team of nurses and health aides had to quickly adapt to a constantly-changing situation due to the coronavirus outbreak. Even as the district buildings closed and students were sent home, Tool-Crawford said Health Services employees were screening essential personnel throughout the district to maintain safety. 

She said she continues to work closely with Marshall County Public Health Nurse Pat Thompson on monitoring the situation with the virus. Tool-Crawford has also worked with MHS Activities/Athletics Director Ryan Isgrig on maintaining health and safety of student-athletes, parents and fans with the recent return of summer sports. 

Along with providing health care to students, MCSD’s team of nurses are involved in several education and training activities. Those include implementing a K-4 health curriculum, education on proper hand-washing and avoiding germs, providing information on cold/flu illnesses, facilitating the MHS Health Fair, and more. 

Femineers STEM program coming to Miller Middle School spotlightedmiller-middle-school-1
Last week, Miller Middle School was announced as one of just six schools in Iowa to be chosen for the University of Iowa College of Engineering Femineers Adopt-a-School program. Miller Extended Learning Program (XLP) teacher Ann Jackson was instrumental in bringing the three-year STEM learning opportunity to the school. 

“We’ve noticed in our trends with XLP programming that girls are not choosing our STEM-based activities,” she said. “We’re hoping that the Femineer program, since it is just for girls, will pique some interest.” 

Jackson said she will attend professional development training this fall at U of I to prepare to implement the Femineers program. In each of the next three years, participating students will focus on areas like Creative Robotics, Wearable Technology, and Raspberry Pi Robotics. 

“Another great thing about the program is they provide a U of I mentor student for us, and it’s just another way for girls to see successful women in STEM careers and STEM learning fields,” 

Jackson said she would like to see the program extended beyond XLP as an opportunity for all girls attending Miller Middle School. 

Action taken on 2020-21 school meal prices
The board approved a slight increase to some school meal prices for the upcoming school year Monday, and Food Service Director Lynn Large said the USDA’s paid lunch equity tool was used to determine the need for the move.

The 10-cent increase will be applied to the paid student lunch and breakfast prices at Miller Middle School and Marshalltown High School, as well as adult meals. Meals will continue to come at no cost to students at all other district buildings because of the USDA Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) program. Federal reduced-price breakfast and lunch prices will remain $0.30 and $0.40, respectively. 

Public hearing set on MHS Parking Lot project
The board approved a public hearing on the proposed Marshalltown High School parking lot improvement project for 5 p.m. Monday, July 13. The goal of the proposed project is to upgrade the high school’s existing parking lot areas. 

Those wishing to participate in the July 13 public hearing should contact Board Secretary Paulette Newbold (pnewbold@marshalltown.k12.ia.us) by 4 p.m. on the day of the hearing. 

End-of-year reports focus on teacher leadership, mentoring
Teachers are at the center of ensuring student success, and two programs focused on

Mentoring 2019-20

Miller Middle School composition teacher and Marshalltown High School counselor Rebecca Whalen work on a teacher mentoring activity.

teacher training and support were discussed at Monday’s board meeting.

MCSD mentor-coach Sue Cahill shared information on the district’s  mentoring program for new teachers from the 2019-20 school year.

“The mentoring program is for our new teachers, whether they are brand new to teaching or they are experienced teachers coming to our district,” she said.

The district’s mentoring program includes the following goals:

Establish a welcoming climate and clear expectations for successful teaching.

Establish a habit of professional collaboration

Practice and become proficient in the skills of self-analysis and reflection

Cahill said she focuses on gathering feedback from individual new teachers to ensure they are able to learn and grow. By supporting new teachers, the mentoring program also benefits students; teachers can use strategies they practice in mentoring to improve student achievement.

Also discussed at Monday’s meeting was the district’s Teacher Leadership and Compensation system (TLC). Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson said the leadership opportunities provided to teachers benefit students and staff.

She said the first-year and five-year teacher retention rates are both continuing to improve, and that teachers in the district continued to collaborate exceptionally during the 2019-20 school year.

The Department of Education requires at least 25 percent of a district’s teachers to hold an additional leadership role within the TLC system, and Stevenson said Marshalltown’s numbers are well over that baseline, at 38 percent.

“I’m happy that so many teachers within Marshalltown want to help support each other and our new hires,” she said. “We’re doing really good things, I think we’re making some really nice growth.”

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
No action was taken during the policies section of the June 15 meeting.

From Board President Bea Niblock
“It’s that time of the year when the board meeting is filled with end-of-the-year reports. Tonight’s meeting brought a variety of people from around the district to share information.

The board received the health report for the past year. Included in that report were statistics and highlights of the impact of COVID–19 on the district. I remember a time when we didn’t have nurses in every building. What would we do without them now?

The mentor program report was also shared. The training of new teachers as they come into the district is essential. Without that mentorship, they would struggle with the rigors of the job. Teaching is hard work! Mentor connections help new teachers survive that first year and enjoy the work.

Time for goal setting coming up! Stay tuned for more information about the work of your board.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, July 13, 2020, and it will be the only meeting in July. The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom and a live stream of the meeting will be available via YouTube. 

June 1, 2020 Board Meeting

2 Jun

Baseball

Bobcat baseball and softball are set to return to action this summer. To ensure safety amid ongoing public health concerns, the MHS Activities/Athletic Department has several rules and guidelines for student-athletes, parents, coaches, and fans to consider.

Update shared on summer sports return and safety measures
School sports were among the many areas impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; in May, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced the return of baseball and softball summer seasons. While it is exciting to know Bobcat student-athletes will return to action, MHS Activities/Athletics Director Ryan Isgrig said safety is still the top priority as summer sports begin and many details are still being determined. 

“There are several guidelines and regulations out there,” Isgrig said, adding a summer sports parent meeting was held last week. “It’s a collaborative effort.” 

A wide variety of actions are being taken to ensure the safety of student-athletes, parents, fans, coaches and everyone involved in summer sports, including (but not limited to):

  • Posting signs around sports facilities communicating safety expectations
  • Equipment cleaning before and after practice
  • Coaches screening student-athletes’ temperatures before practice 
  • Limited fan seating
  • Encouragement of social distancing among all parties
  • Closure of concession stands

District Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte said because Marshall County is still among Iowa’s top-ranking counties in terms of the number of COVID-19 cases, MCSD is surpassing the safety expectations set at the state level. 

“We’ve taken those minimum expectations and I think, in a reasonable way, expanded them,” he said. 

For more information on MCSD summer sports guidelines, rules and information, click here

Dual-graduate and Biliterate Bobcats’ accomplishments recognized
Bobcat Pride is running high even amid a difficult public health situation. The board recognized two sets of great student accomplishments at Monday’s meeting. 

Nine Marshalltown High School students will graduate with both their high school diploma and an associate’s degree, including: Carmen Araiza, Mia Barajas, Olivia BiliteracySeal2020-webimage-250x250Brintnall, Grace Fisher, Saylor Hempy, Amanda Hoffman, Trevor Ketcham, Kaci Uhde, and Liz Vargas.

“I really appreciate everything that MHS and MCC have done for us,” Ketcham said. “It gave all nine of us a way to push ourselves and get ready for college.” 

Fellow dual-graduate Carmen Araiza said the college coursework was challenging and rewarding. 

“It’s been a really fantastic opportunity,” she said. “Time management was a huge thing for me since I had a lot of classes first semester.”  

All nine students can take these academic accomplishments and look to their future education and careers with confidence.  

Also spotlighted were the 54 students who earned a Seal of Biliteracy this year. Students earn the honor by demonstrating proficiency in both English and at least one other world language. Nearly four times as many Bobcat students earned the Seal of Biliteracy compared to last year, when the seal was introduced. 

Board takes action to provide internet to hundreds of district families
After several weeks of dedicated research and surveying district families by the MCSD Technology Department, the school board approved a contract with Mediacom to provide low-cost internet to 437 families for six months.

Director of Technology Amy Harmsen said those families were deemed by Mediacom to qualify for the company’s low-cost internet program, and her department will continue to survey families, seek internet solutions and provide any other support necessary to get students connected to high-quality digital learning. 

The contract with Mediacom to provide low-cost internet to families for six months can be viewed here

Strong MCSD employee culture survey shows across-the-board growth
Board members heard a summary of the 2020 MCSD employee culture survey from Brad Black, CEO of Humanex ventures – the results showed positive growth in the district’s work culture since the 2018 survey. 

In the survey, Humanex used 15 dimensions to measure the work culture at MCSD. All of the dimension scores increased in 2020, continuing a trend of positive feedback from previous surveys. More than 80 percent of all district employees shared their perspectives in the survey. 

Resolution calling for a safe, healthy, district-specific reopening process adopted
As various parts of Iowa society begins to open up for the first time in months, MCSD joined the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) in adopting the “Resolution in Support of a Safe, Healthy, and District-Specific Reopening Process Informed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines.” 

The full policy is available here

List of Class of 2020 graduates approved
A total of 375 Marshalltown High School and Marshalltown Learning Academy students are set to graduate in June. The board approved the student list Monday, and MHS Principal Jacque Wyant said more students may soon be joining the graduating ranks in coming days and weeks. 

For information on the tentative Class of 2020 graduation ceremony plan, click here. 

Per diem pay for certified substitute teachers increased
Certified substitute teachers provide important and valuable support and services throughout the school year. The board approved an increase in certified substitute teacher pay from $115 to $120 Monday, ensuring a regionally competitive pay rate.   

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:

  • 312-3-E1 Fringe Benefits-Administrators/Supervisors (amended and second reading waived)

Initial review

  • No policies were up for initial review at the June 1 board meeting.

From Board President Bea Niblock
“Recognitions filled the first part of our meeting.  Students were recognized for graduating from high school with a diploma from MCSD and an AA degree from MCC. What an accomplishment!  And 54 students were recognized for receiving the Seal of Biliteracy at graduation. What a tremendous accomplishment – being literate in 2 languages! All of the students are well positioned for a successful college career.

Each year, more and more opportunities are afforded to the students in the Marshalltown district. Project Lead the Way continues to grow. Internships have been added to our curriculum.  And, our students continue to receive accolades at the state and national levels.  

And, our teachers spend countless hours challenging students at every grade level. Special education, gifted education and supports for all students help each child succeed at his/her own level. Where else would you want parents to send their children? Nowhere but the Marshalltown School District!” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, June 15, 2020. The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom and a live stream of the meeting will be available via YouTube. 

May 18, 2020 Board Meeting

19 May

Roundhouse WEB

As in previous years, the MHS Roundhouse will serve as the venue for the Class of 2020 graduation ceremony, even though this year’s ceremony format will be unique due to the global pandemic.

Tentative plans for Class of 2020 graduation ceremony shared
Marshalltown High School Principal Jacque Wyant shared tentative plans for the Class of 2020 graduation ceremony with the board Monday evening. The ceremony is currently set to take place Sunday, June 28 starting at 2 p.m. Due to the ongoing public health situation, the ceremony will take place in a unique way compared to previous years. 

“We have looked at a way to celebrate each graduate with their family present in the Roundhouse,” Wyant said. 

The plan calls for each family – in a group numbering 10 people or fewer – to arrive at the MHS Roundhouse parking lot within a designated time frame. School staff will then guide graduates and families from a pick-up station to the Roundhouse. Each graduate will walk across the stage in the Roundhouse while their family watches. 

Prior to the start of the ceremony, pre-recorded graduation speeches will be broadcast on multiple formats.

“It’s just a way to celebrate the accomplishment of the student,” Wyant said. “We’re confident we can move this along, as long as everybody arrives at their designated timeframe in the parking lot and follows directions.” 

Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte said that while this year’s ceremony will be unique, it will also allow graduates and their families to more closely share the experience. 

NOTE: Due to the ongoing public health situation, changes may be made to the current graduation ceremony plan.

Student School Board WEB

MHS students Carmen Araiza, Mia Barajas, and Diana Sanchez have served as excellent student representatives to the board during the 2019-20 school year.

Student School Board members’ service celebrated
Each school year, three exceptional high school upperclassmen are selected as Student School Board members. This year’s student representatives – Diana Sanchez, Mia Barajas, and Carmen Araiza – have done an excellent job of keeping the board updated on the happenings at the high school and sharing their input as students. 

“You were great role models serving in those roles,” Dr. Schutte said. 

The students said they appreciated the experience. 

“I learned a lot about how the school works,” Araiza said. 

Sanchez said it was interesting to become familiar with how the school board makes key decisions. 

“I’ve learned a lot from this experience. I’m grateful for the opportunity,” Barajas said. 

All three will be given plaques to thank them for their service. 

Kind gesture from Raymon-Donco recognized
Also highlighted at Monday’s meeting was a kind act by Raymon-Donco owner Larry Donco, who is donating 750 face-masks to the district. The masks will be used to help ensure employee safety as students’ personal belongings are packed up and given back to students.

“That was a significant contribution from Larry and his company that we really appreciate,” Dr. Schutte said.  

Other recognitions at Monday’s board meeting included: 

  • School nurses, celebrated earlier this month during National School Nurse Day
  • MHS students Averi Bolar and Jason Strand, who qualified for the nationwide National History Day contest with their project on the suffragist Alice Paul. Fellow student Klaudia Hernandez earned a strong third-place finish at the state NHD competition. 

Discussion held on MCSD summer learning
Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson shared an update with the board regarding this year’s summer learning programs. One change will be that MCSD will not contract with Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) for summer school services, as has been done in previous years. 

“We have to offer summer school in a virtual format this summer due to the pandemic,” Stevenson said. “So much of the work that MICA supported in terms of the enrichment activities – the field trips, the extended learning – just are not able to happen in the community this summer.” 

She said MICA will still provide a separate “Transition to Kindergarten” program at Woodbury, Anson and Rogers elementary schools later in the summer. 

Virtual summer learning will look much like the virtual learning currently taking place in the district. The Learn From Home website will continue to run June 15 to July 31. Paper packets with educational materials will also continue to be distributed regularly.

“The Bobcat University that you are familiar with at K-3 happens at each of our six sites, and what we’re doing this summer is offering one hour of synchronous instruction through the Google Meet format by grade level at each site,” Stevenson said. 

She said a summer learning program at Miller Middle School is being worked on, and that Marshalltown High School and Marshalltown Learning Academy student credit recovery programs will still take place. In addition, a virtual 9th-grade transition program is planned for students moving from middle school to high school. 

Board adopts renewed Instructional Support Levy resolution
The school board adopted a resolution renewing MCSD’s ability to use the state Instructional Support Levy for a further five years.

The levy allows school districts to increase their general fund budget by up to 10 percent of the regular program district cost. Adoption of the resolution came after a public hearing on the matter yielded no comments from the public. 

Bus exterior WEB

The MCSD Transportation Department will be able to better track buses and improve efficiency with the software upgrade approved by the school board Monday.

Transportation software upgrade approved
A software upgrade to improve the Transportation Department’s communications and operational efficiency was approved by the board. 

Transportation Director Rex Kozak said the software – Transfinder Plus – will allow buses to be tracked closely; the program also runs diagnostics on the buses and can notify mechanics if something needs to be addressed on the vehicle. Kozak said the upgrade will provide opportunities to lessen bus idling time and to make bus routes more efficient. 

Updated COVID-19 resolution adopted
The board adopted an updated version of the district’s COVID-19 Pandemic Resolution. The resolution includes updated guidelines in response to the changing situation with COVID-19. Click here to view the resolution. 

MCSD to continue improving classroom audio systems
Hoglan Elementary will be getting a classroom audio system upgrade after board action Monday. Dr. Schutte said the improved audio system at Hoglan will follow similar efforts at Woodbury, Rogers, and Anson elementary schools. The purchase for the 15 Lightspeed TOPCAT units was approved at $24,990 and will be paid with sales tax funding.

Along with helping students who have hearing difficulties, Dr. Schutte said the improved audio systems also help preserve and protect teachers’ voices. 

Administrator, secretarial salary and benefits changes for FY2021 approved
Changes to MCSD administrator and secretarial salary and benefits were approved at Monday’s meeting. One change for both groups is the inclusion of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a paid holiday, among other changes. 

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

  • 506.2-R1 Use of Directory Information (adopted, second reading waived)
  • 201.7 (new 200.1) Organization of the Board of Directors (amended, second reading waived)
  • 506.2-E1 Authorization for Releasing Student Directory Information (amended, second reading waived)

Initial review

  • 312-3-E1 Fringe Benefits-Administrators/Supervisors (will come back for a first reading)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“Last night’s meeting opened with the public hearing on the proposed resolution to consider continued participation in the Instructional Support Program. There were no comments from the public. I think that everyone understands just how important that funding is for the budgeting of this district.

Later in the meeting, the board unanimously voted to support the continued participation in the Instructional Support Program. The program was originally begun to allow districts to increase their general funds by up to 10% of the regular program budget. That is especially important to a property poor district as ours. We generated about $2.1 million dollars in this manner during the last budget year.  

The resolution will guarantee continued participation for 5 years beginning with the fiscal year July 1, 2021. ” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, June 1, 2020. The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom and a live stream of the meeting will be available via YouTube.

May 4, 2020 Board Meeting

5 May

2020_SBRM_PublicSchoolProud-graphic

National School Board Recognition Month/”Public School Proud!”
The Marshalltown School Board recognized several outstanding students, employees, and community efforts at Monday’s board meeting, including National School Board Recognition Month

This year, the recognition of school board members is being given a new twist under the unique circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to recognizing locally-elected school board members for their hard work on behalf of Bobcat students, the theme “Public School Proud!” is also being celebrated. 

“Thank you for your commitment to living up to our district’s mission and vision, and the countless hours you put in,” said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte to the board members. “Thank you to all of you on behalf of Bobcat students, parents, employees and the community as a whole.”

Board President Bea Niblock said public schools are a key piece in the lives of thousands of Iowa students. She thanked MCSD employees for their work to continue to provide for students during the current crisis.

“This includes 592 educators – teachers, paraeducators and secretaries – for innovating to provide online learning and support for students; 58 food service staff for providing meals for students and families; 62 Transportation staff for delivering meals to students and families; 1 superintendent and 15 principals for providing excellent leadership; 38 Central Office staff for managing day-to-day operations; and 41 operations and maintenance staff for ensuring buildings and facilities are safe, clean and sanitized,” Niblock said. 

Teacher Appreciation Week celebrated
Teacher Appreciation 1May 4-8 is Teacher Appreciation Week, an annual celebration of teachers for the crucial role educators play in the lives of their students. MCSD teachers do an outstanding job under typical circumstances and have been doing excellent work during the current COVID-19 situation.

To celebrate, MCSD administrators recited the poem “A Child’s in Need of Us” by retired Pella Community Schools Superintendent Mark Wittmer. A video of the poem reading premiered at Monday’s board meeting and is available on the MCSD YouTube channel

Math Team WEB

These MHS Math Team students qualified for the Math Leauge Midwest Regionals. Top left – senior Jay Drummer; Top right – Ketcham brothers Trevor (left) and Derek (right); Bottom left – junior Marek Jablonski; Bottom right – senior Zach Swartz.

MHS Math Team qualifies for Midwest Regionals contest
Marshalltown High School Math Team members Jay Drummer, Trevor Ketcham, Zach Swartz, Marek Jablonski and Derek Ketcham shared their experience at the recent state Math League competition. The group’s impressive performance led to a qualification for the Midwest Regionals contest. 

Read more about the MHS Math Team’s accomplishment here

A caring community
Though the current circumstances are challenging to communities all over Iowa, the U.S. and the world, Marshalltown community members continue to show how much they care for MCSD and Bobcat students. 

  • Marshalltown Mayor Joel Greer recently proclaimed May 2020 as Marshalltown Senior Class Month, helping recognize the perseverance of senior students through the COVID-19 situation.
  • Shomo-Madsen Insurance and IMT Insurance donated $500 to the MCSD Nutrition Department in a gesture of gratitude for the district’s feeding programs at school sites and mobile routes. 
  • April 19-25 was National Volunteer Week. Service through volunteerism is a staple of Marshalltown Schools and the broader community, from 2018 tornado recovery to providing services through the current global pandemic. 

Board adopts updated Pandemic Response resolution
An updated MCSD Pandemic Response resolution was adopted by the board. The resolution reaffirms the district’s commitment to continuing to pay employees during the COVID-19-related closure, to provide voluntary educational enrichment opportunities to students, and to continue to hold school board meetings virtually. 

Additionally, the resolution reaffirms the district’s commitment to following the Iowa Department of Education’s guidance by submitting a “Return to Learn” plan by July 1. To read the full resolution, click here.

Important steps taken on district technology
The school board was presented with several important items related to technology Monday. The board approved the replacement of Chromebooks, as well as related  device cases and carts, in accordance with the district’s annual technology replacement cycle. Additionally, the board approved $31,250 for the Marshalltown High School Project Lead the Way (PLTW) lab.

The board also approved technology expenses due to COVID-19, which include Chromebooks to replace lost or broken items as well as cases. The board also approved the purchase of internet hotspots for summer school students.

For more details about the annual replacement cycle purchase, click here. For more on the technology-related actions taken in response to COVID-19, click here

Public hearing set on Instructional Support Program renewal
The state Instructional Support Program allows school districts to increase their general fund budgets by up to 10 percent of the regular program district cost. With the current five-year Instructional Support Program board resolution set to expire in June of 2021, Director of Finance Paulette Newbold recommended adoption of a new five-year resolution so the district can continue to utilize the program. 

The board set a public hearing on the matter for 5 p.m. Monday, May 18. More information on the program can be found here.

Multiple 2020-21 school year handbooks approved
After being presented to the board in previous meetings, several MCSD handbooks for the 2020-21 school year got final approval on Monday. They include the handbooks for the Transportation Department, preschool and elementary students, Lenihan Intermediate School, Miller Middle School and Marshalltown High School.

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

  • 211 Open Meetings (adopted and second reading waived)
  • 711.10 School Bus Passenger Restraints (adopted and second reading waived)
  • 201.7 (new 200.1) Organization of the Board (will come back for a first reading)
  • 201.8 (new 202.4) Vacancies (amended and second reading waived) 
  • 204.4 (new 210.1) Annual Meeting (amended and second reading waived) 
  • 204.5-R (new 200.1-R1) Organizational Meeting Procedures (amended and second reading waived) 
  • 204.6 (new 210.5) Notice of Board Meetings (amended and second reading waived) 
  • 204.9 (new 210.10) Agenda and Order of Regular Business Meetings (amended and second reading waived) 
  • 204.7 (new 210.6) Quorum for Meetings (amended and second reading waived) 
  • 204.12 (new 215) Minutes of Meetings-Publication of Proceedings (amended and second reading waived) 
  • 206.1 (new 216.2) New Board of Directors’ Member Development Training (amended and second reading waived) 
  • 404.1-R2 (new 404.1-R1) Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics Regulation (amended and second reading waived)  

Initial review

  • 506.2-R1 Use of Directory Information (will come back for a first reading)
  • 506.2-E1 Authorization for Releasing Student Directory Information (will come back for a first reading)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“May finds National School Board Recognition and Teacher Appreciation Week at its core. Since 2007, IASB has led the charge in celebrating school board members, but this year, in the midst of a global crisis, our school board wishes to thank all educators, administrators and district staff for their profound efforts to continue the education, feeding and meeting the needs of Marshalltown’s youth and families.

This year’s motto for School Board Recognition Month is ‘Public School Proud!’ We are, indeed, proud of the work of all members of the MCSD family. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed and have been essential to providing our students and families the support they need. Thanks to each of you for the things you do in this complex and challenging time.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, May 18, 2020. The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom and a live stream of the meeting will be available via YouTube. 

April 20, 2020 Board Meeting

21 Apr

NHD state qualifiers

Three MHS students will compete in the National History Day state contest on May 4. They are, from left: Klaudia Hernandez, Averi Bolar and Jason Strand.

Three MHS students talk qualifying for National History Day state competition
The Marshalltown School Board heard from three Marshalltown High School students who qualified for the state-level National History Day contest recently. The students – junior Klaudia Hernandez and freshmen Jason Strand and Averi Bolar – discussed their “Breaking Barriers in History” projects. 

“I did my paper over Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz,” Klaudia said of her research project. “She’s considered one of the first feminists during her time. She was really an advocate for breaking barriers for women in colonial Mexico.” 

Averi and Jason described their performance project titled “Alice Paul: Breaking Barriers in Political Inequality.” The students said they chose to spotlight Paul because of her crucial role in the movement to allow women to vote in the early 20th century.

“This year, 2020, we celebrate 100 years of women being able to be politically involved,” Averi said.

Marshalltown High School XLP teacher Susan Fritzell said she is proud of Klaudia, Jason and Averi, as well as all the students at the intermediate, middle- and high school levels who took part in National History Day this year. The state National History Day contest will take place May 4. The students will record their projects on video to be sent to contest judges.  

 

MMS co-principals

Dave Glenn, right, has been an associate principal at Miller Middle School for four years and will take up a co-principalship role at the building next school year. Kristyn Kell, left, will return to MCSD to lead as a co-principal at Miller after five years as the BCLUW High School principal. 

New Miller Middle School co-principals hired
Exciting news was announced at Monday’s meeting regarding leadership at Miller Middle School for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.

Current Miller Associate Principal Dave Glenn and current BCLUW High School Principal Kristyn Kell will team up as co-principals at the middle school beginning next school year. Current Miller Principal Pat Rial will take up an associate principalship at Marshalltown High School next school year, replacing outgoing Associate Principal Justin Boliver. Both administrators said they are excited to start their co-principalship journey. 

“I’m really excited to continue the good things going on at Miller and I’m excited for Dave and I to take it to the next level,” said Kell, who previously worked at MCSD as a teacher and teacher leader at the middle- and high school levels. “I’m really excited to be back in Marshalltown. It will be nice to be back home.”

Glenn said he looks forward to continuing his work at Miller. 

“I think we’re going to make a great team,” he said. 

MCSD administrators offer COVID-19 closure updates
Several district administrators shared COVID-19 response updates from their departments with the board Monday.

Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment:
Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson shared information about the launch of the MCSD Learn From Home website, as well as the creation of educational paper packets for students and families without access to the internet at home.

“We know it is important to keep kids in a routine of learning,” Stevenson said. “Even though this is considered voluntary, it is critical to get this practice and continue learning.” 

She also thanked the hundreds of teachers and district staff who develop new, high-quality educational materials for the website and paper packets on a weekly basis. 

Technology:
Director of Technology Amy Harmsen shared data from the ongoing effort to share district Chromebooks with PK-6 students during the school closure. So far, she said 1,891 devices have reached those students, including the majority of elementary students and Lenihan Intermediate School students. 

Harmsen also said many families do not have access to the internet at home; a survey on internet access was sent to district families and has so far received answers from 85 percent of those families. Harmsen said her department is working hard to ensure the remaining 15 percent of families are able to share information about their access to the internet. 

“We are still continuing to do the work to get people more access,” she said.

Harmsen said one major priority is ensuring MHS students dual-enrolled in classes at Marshalltown Community College have a digital device and access to the internet. The Technology Department is continuing to investigate ways to help provide internet for families who do not currently have such access. 

Food Service:
Director of Food Service Lynn Large gave an update on the district’s efforts to share meals with as many students as possible during the school closure. Since March 16, children 18 years old and younger have been able to pick up meals at district school building sites. Since March 23, six bus routes have been running throughout the district to deliver meals to children

Large commended district Food Service employees for their hard work through this challenging time. 

“They’ve been really excited to try new things and do whatever it takes to get these meals into the hands of kids,” she said, adding the district’s Transportation employees have also been fantastic in helping deliver the meals. 

Large said around 1,400 children are being served meals per day through the feeding programs, with a rough split of 900 served through the bus routes and 500 served through the school sites.

Marshalltown High School student grading and credit options approved
The global pandemic has created a challenging situation for students of all ages. That is especially true for seniors, whose final year of high school is presenting significant challenges. 

MHS Principal Jacque Wyant presented a guide for students regarding grading and credits for the remainder of the current school year. She said students have three options when it comes to the classes in which they are currently enrolled, and each option would only impact students’ high school transcripts.

Option 1 would allow students who did not complete all of this semester’s school work prior to March 6 a chance to re-learn and finish that work with the help of their teachers. Once that work is complete, the grade they earn would be recorded and impact their GPA and receipt of high school credit. A failing grade would carry no credit, while a passing grade would add credit.

Option 2 would convert the regular grading scale to a pass-no pass scale. A “pass” would mean the student gets credit for the class, but their GPA would not be impacted. A “no pass” would mean the student does not get credit and there would be no impact on their GPA. 

Option 3 allows a student to drop a given class. However, Wyant said students will have to think carefully and work with their school counselor before dropping a class. Some classes are required in order for a student to graduate. 

The guide, which was sent out online, via letters to families, and via video, goes into more detail about options students have in regards to grading and credits. The guide includes information for dual-enrolled students who are taking classes through MCC. 

School day start and end times changed for 2020-2021 school year
Dr. Stevenson shared a proposal to change school day start and end times for next school year at the April 6 board meeting. After consideration, the board unanimously approved the school day time changes at Monday’s meeting. 

The action means the school day for K-4 students will be 10 minutes longer and the school day for Lenihan Intermediate School, Miller Middle School and Marshalltown High School students will be 5 minutes longer.

Buildings and Grounds summer project list approved
The annual list of Buildings and Grounds summer projects got the board’s nod. The projects listed amount to a total estimated cost of $429,000 and include a steam pipe replacement at Miller Middle School, parking lot work at Marshalltown High School and more.

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:

  • 401.3 Nepotism (adopted, second reading waived) 
  • 404.2 Fraternization (adopted, second reading waived) 
  • 404.7 Resignations of Certified Personnel (adopted, second reading waived) 
  • 711.2 Student Conduct on School Transportation (amended, second reading waived)
  • New Regulation 711.2-R1 Student Conduct on School Transportation Regulation  (adopted, second reading waived) 
  • New Regulation 711.2-R2 Use of Recording Devices on School Buses (adopted, second reading waived) 
  • 711.3 Extracurricular Activities Bus Services (amended, second reading waived)
  • New Policy 711.7 School Bus Safety Instruction (adopted, second reading waived) 
  • New Policy 711.9 District Vehicle Idling (adopted, second reading waived) 
  • 907.R.1(new 907-R1) United States Flag Procedure for Displaying the Flag and Respect for the Flag (amended, second reading waived)

Initial review:

  • 206.3 (new 260.4) Secretary-Treasurer (marked as reviewed)
  • 211 Open Meetings (will come back for a first reading)
  • 711.10 School Bus Passenger Restraints (will come back for a first reading)
  • 201.7 (new 200.1) Organization of the Board (will come back for a first reading)
  • 201.8 (new 202.4) Vacancies (will come back for a first reading)
  • 204.4 (new 210.1) Annual Meeting (will come back for a first reading)
  • 204.5-R (new 200.1-R1) Organizational Meeting Procedures (will come back for a first reading)
  • 204.6 (new 210.5) Notice of Board Meetings (will come back for a first reading)
  • 204.9 (new 210.10) Agenda and Order of Regular Business Meetings (will come back for a first reading)
  • 204.7 (new 210.6) Quorum for Meetings (will come back for a first reading)
  • 204.12 (new 215) Minutes of Meetings-Publication of Proceedings (will come back for a first reading) 
  • 206.1 (new 216.2) New Board of Directors’ Member Development Training (will come back for a first reading)
  • 404.1-R2 (new 404.1-R1) Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics Regulation (will come back for a first reading)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“Our second Zoom board meeting is now over. And, when technology works the way you expect, everything is fine. But, when it doesn’t, we just shake our heads and problem solve.

Tonight’s board meeting saw the approval of the purchase of curricular materials, the purchase of Human Resources Department solutions platform, the review of various handbooks, an update on COVID-19 continuous learning options, and new HS grading policies due to closure caused by COVID-19. The list of those things tackled by the board last evening is long.

In addition to the regular work of the board, school closure due to COVID-19 has increased the work of the administration and the directors. But, ever mindful of what is best for students and staff, we forge ahead with our decision making. We will be successful in continuing to make MCSD a place of sound learning and great pride!” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, May 4, 2020. The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom and a live stream of the meeting will be available via YouTube. 

April 6, 2020 Board Meeting

7 Apr

Recognitions WEB

Fisher Elementary School, Woodbury Elementary School and Hoglan Elementary School have all offered encouraging messages through videos to students.

Elementary school staff recognized for outreach to students, families through video messages
Students and MCSD school staff were suddenly separated in response to the spread of COVID-19 weeks ago. However, the closure of school did not deter the excellent staff at Marshalltown Schools from reaching out to students and families.

Staff at Woodbury Elementary, Fisher Elementary and Hoglan Elementary made great use of social media to provide encouragement and education to students via video.

“We were brainstorming different ways we could reach out to students everyday … we came up with Daily Woodbury Adventures,” said Woodbury P.E. teacher Sarah Murphy, who led the video project. “It really was a cool way for our staff to come together and provide something for our students.” 

The educational videos are posted to the Woodbury Facebook page daily to keep students engaged and learning during the closure. 

Hoglan and Fisher staff put together heartfelt videos which featured reassuring messages to students. Third grade teacher Hannah Pfantz led the Hoglan effort and Hilary Klyn led the Fisher project.

In addition to the elementary outreach efforts, the board also recognized the crucial role of the district’s four associate principals. This week, April 6-10, is National Associate Principals Week

Board adopts resolutions in response to COVID-19
The board approved giving Marshalltown Schools Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte the authority to continue paying hourly and non-exempt employees throughout the temporary COVID-19-related closure. 

“It’s the right decision to be made at this time,” Dr. Schutte said. 

Director of Human Resources Dr. Nora Ryan presented a resolution which combined several key district policies and procedures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The resolution, adopted unanimously by the board, addresses emergency sick leave, travel procedures, illness reporting and more.

FY2021 school year budget approved
After a public hearing on the proposed Fiscal Year 2021 school budget received no comments at Monday’s board meeting, the board approved the budget as presented. Some key information items related to the budget include: 

  • 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 property tax rate of $18.34 per $1,000 in assessed valuation. That is the same rate as is in place this year for the district. 

The board also approved an amendment to the current school year budget, which did not receive any public comment at Monday’s public hearing on the matter. 

IDoE WEB

MCSD educators are working hard to ensure students can access Voluntary Educational Enrichment Opportunities during school closure.

Discussion held on continuous learning during school closure
District Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson shared an update on how MCSD educators will offer Voluntary Educational Enrichment Opportunities for the duration of the COVID-19-related school closure, per requirements announced by Gov. Kim Reynolds; that announcement accompanied the closure of schools in the state until April 30. 

“We have decided as a district to move toward Voluntary Education Enrichment Opportunities,” Dr. Stevenson said. “Because they’re voluntary, students won’t be given grades, for example, during that process, but we are going to be engaging with families and engaging with students.” 

Educational materials will be made available for students online. Physical paper packets will also be created and given to students as well. The materials will be sent out by the district beginning Monday, April 13.

Employee master contracts approved for next school year
Several master contracts between the district and various employee groups were approved at Monday’s meeting. Each agreement was for a period of one year. The contracts included: 

Marshalltown Tennis Complex construction agreement approved
A construction agreement with Garling Construction Inc. for work on the Marshalltown Tennis Complex got the board’s nod Monday. Dr. Schutte shared an update on construction plans.

“We had our first pre-construction meeting today, which went really well,” he said. “Garling is looking at starting Phase I construction later this month.” 

Dr. Schutte also said there is potential to complete the entire project earlier if spring sports are unable to continue due to public health concerns; such a situation may mean the project will not have to be done in phases and could be completed sooner. Whether that can happen or not will likely become clearer later in April, depending on decisions regarding school closure and spring sports.

Several Marshalltown Learning Academy students approved for first semester graduation
Hard work and perseverance paid off for several Marshalltown Learning Academy students who earned the credits to graduate during the fall semester of the current school year. They include Jake Ascher, Analisa Balderas, Destanne Campbell, Hunter Diggins, Cesar Ortiz, Madeline Reynolds and Jhair Rodriguez.  

Bus combo WEB

At left: The MCSD bus fleet will have three additions after board action Monday. At right: The three new buses will include shorter seats, increasing aisle space. Shown here is the aisle space on a large school bus in the MCSD fleet.

School bus, Chromebook bids addressed
The board approved a bid for three new buses from Hogland Bus Company Inc. The bid total came to $271,343 and PPEL funds will be used to pay for the vehicles. District Director of Transportation Rex Kozak said the buses will feature seatbelts, as well as a wider center aisle due to the seats being shorter in width.

District Director of Technology Amy Harmsen’s request to seek bids for Acer Chromebooks was also approved by the board. Harmsen said she is seeking those devices as part of the district’s regular Chromebook replacement cycle. The board also gave their permission for Harmsen to seek bids, if needed, on Chromebook models like those being shared with PK-6 students during the temporary COVID-19 closure. 

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: 

  • 402.6 (new 401.13) Staff Technology Use/ Social Networking (Approved as amended, second reading waived)
  • 402.6-R (new 401.13-R1) Staff Technology Use/Social Networking Regulation (Approved as amended, second reading waived)

Initial review: 

  • 401.3 Nepotism (Will come back for a first reading)
  • 404.2 Fraternization (Will come back for a first reading)
  • 407.2 Resignations of Certified Personnel (Will come back for a first reading)
  • 711.1 Student School Transportation Eligibility (Marked as reviewed)
  • 711.1-R1 Student Eligibility for Bus Service (Marked as reviewed)
  • 711.2 Student Conduct on School Transportation (Will come back for a first reading)
  • New Regulation 711.2-R1 Student Conduct on School Transportation Regulation (Will come back for a first reading)
  • New Regulation 711.2-R2 Use of Recording Devices on School Buses (Will come back for a first reading)
  • 711.3 Extracurricular Activities Bus Services (Will come back for a first reading)
  • 711.4 Summer School Program Transportation Service
    (Will come back for a first reading)
  • 711.5 Transportation of Nonresident and Nonpublic School Students
    (Will come back for a first reading)
  • 711.6 Transportation of Non-school Groups (Will come back for a first reading)
  • New Policy 711.7 School Bus Safety Instruction (Will come back for a first reading)
  • New Policy 711.9 District Vehicle Idling (Will come back for a first reading)
  • 711.8 Transportation in Inclement Weather (Will come back for a first reading)
  • 711.9 Transportation Insurance Program (deleted)
  • New Policy 711.10 School Bus Passenger Restraints (Tabled for a later decision)
  • 907 United States Flag Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag (Marked as reviewed)
  • 907.R.1(new 907-R1) United States Flag Procedure for Displaying the Flag and Respect for the Flag (Will come back for a first reading)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“These times are unsettling. COVID-19 has imposed a new order of how we do things, how we face challenges, and how we try to support each other.

The pandemic brought a new order to board meetings as well. To facilitate the governor’s orders of social distancing and groups no larger than 10, we held our first Zoom meeting. Thanks to CO staff and board members for working together to be visually and auditorily present for each of you.

The work of the board was completed and the public was allowed access as they are when we meet in the board room. Our public forum on the budget was held at last night’s board meeting and the public was given access to make comments then, as well.

Stay safe, stay healthy and support one another!” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, April 20, 2020. The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom and a live stream of the meeting will be available via YouTube.