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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. 

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.