April 19, 2021 Board Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Communications
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

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

Initial Review

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

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, May, 3 2021 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave. The meeting will be available to watch via live stream through the Bobcat News Network (BNN) YouTube channel.

April 5, 2021 Board Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Communications
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 303.1 Administrative Positions (adopted, second reading waived)

Initial Review

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

From Board President Bea Niblock

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

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

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

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, April 19, 2021 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave. The meeting will be available to watch via live stream through the Bobcat News Network (BNN) YouTube channel.

March 15, 2021 Board Meeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Communications
Communications Director Adam Sodders reviewed the good news from the district by sharing newspaper articles as well as school communications articles. That list can be seen here.

Personnel items
For a list of personnel items approved Monday, click here.

Policies
First Reading

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

Initial Review:

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

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, April 5, 2021 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave. The meeting will be available to watch via live stream through the Bobcat News Network (BNN) YouTube channel.

March 1, 2021 Board Meeting

2 Mar
3A State Champion MHS Boys Bowling team head coach DJ Wilder, assistant coach Dustin Peterson and student-athletes Demitri Ferneau, Xander Pickett, Damon Borton, Aaron Ratte, and Dru Wilder are recognized Monday. Not pictured are team members Tyler Wilson and Dylan Cooper.

State Champion MHS Boys Bowling team celebrated
The newly-crowned Class 3A State Champion MHS Boys Bowling team was recognized at the Monday, March 1 Marshalltown School Board meeting. It was a triumphant return after last year’s impressive runner-up finish at the state level. 

“We peaked at the end of the season like we always want to do,” said MHS Bowling head coach DJ Wilder. “All of them contributed in many different ways to the championship. They all bowled really well, I’m very proud of all of them.” 

Several impressive individual performances helped lead the team to victory last week, including those of 2nd-place overall winner Demitri Ferneau and 5th-place overall winner Damon Borton. Wilder said he is excited to welcome back the entire championship team next school year.

Wilder additionally shared his pride for the MHS Girls Bowling team, which he also coaches. He commended the girls team for an impressive conference win and for breaking a school record high score this season. The future is bright for Bobcats Bowling!

MCSD and Center Associates partnering to provide mental health services, support
The short, often overcast days of late winter and early spring can take a toll on mental health even under “normal” circumstances. With the built-up stress caused by the 2018 tornado, the 2020 derecho and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Marshalltown Schools is continuing to partner with Center Associates to support and provide mental health services to the Bobcat community. 

District Director of Special Services Matt Cretsinger shared three exciting ways this partnership is helping Bobcat students, their families, and staff members through this challenging time. 

One such event was last week’s mental health live stream, where Cretsinger and Center Associates mental health experts offered advice and strategies to fight stress and anxiety, as well as address mood disturbances.

Center Associates therapists are also working with MCSD principals to offer support to the hard-working, dedicated employees who deliver education and services to students. Additionally, Cretsinger said the popular “Supporting Children & Families” video series is returning with brand new episodes.

Along with these great supports offered by MCSD and Center Associates, Cretsinger said employees can seek mental health support through the District’s Employee Assistance Program, which covers the cost of a number of appointments with Center Associates and other health organizations. Bobcat students also have many avenues to seek support, from school counselors and building administrators to  outside services.

“Every year during our At-Risk (programming) conversation, the board approves a grant that supports students who struggle to have the money for the co-pay part of going to a  place like Center Associates,” Cretsinger said. “It’s important to us to try and support our families and make sure money is not a barrier.”

Lenihan fifth-grader Jaslene Valdovinos reads her “What the Flag Means to Me” essay

American Flag Essay winners highlighted
Lenihan Intermediate School fifth-graders Maritza Barajas, Jaslene Valdovinos, and Anna Phomvisay won respective first-, second-, and third-place awards in this year’s Fifth Grade American Flag Essay contest, sponsored by the American Legion; their accomplishment was celebrated at Monday’s board meeting. 

Jaslene Valdovinos was on-hand to recite her thoughtful essay about what the American Flag means to her.

“Over the past years, many people have been fighting for justice in this country,” Jaslene said, reciting her essay. “Leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Susan B Anthony fought for justice and rights for everyone in our nation.” 

Congrats to Maritza, Jaslene, and Anna on your well-written essays!

Student Klaudia Hernandez shares State Board of Education Equity Committee update
MHS senior and Student School Board Representative Klaudia Hernandez is one of a handful of students statewide to serve on the State Board of Education Equity Committee this year, and she presented an update on the committee’s work Monday evening. 

Hernandez said one major focus of the committee has been following state legislation, including Senate File 2102, which relates to the Teach Iowa scholarship program.

“We’ve been trying to get teachers of color as priority applicants,” she said of the Teach Iowa program. 

Hernandez is also taking a closer look at the various cultures represented among Bobcat students. She said her goal is to do research on that topic, compile data, and then present her findings to her peers and school staff members.

“I think it’s awesome that you’re sitting on that committee and that Marshalltown has representation there as one of the more diverse districts in the state,” said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte, adding that Hernandez is welcome to present her research on cultural diversity to the board.

MHS senior and Student School Board Representative Klaudia Hernandez discusses the work she is doing on the State Board of Education Equity Committee.

Project to upgrade Lenihan A/V and intercom systems moves forward
The intercom and audio/visual systems at Lenihan Intermediate School are another step closer to a major upgrade after board action Monday.

The proposed work would see the current building intercom system replaced with a new, high-quality system.

“This new system we’re looking to propose and install in the building will get us coverage in all of the classrooms,” said District Buildings and Grounds Director Todd Goulding, adding that classroom video capabilities would be included in the project to support virtual learning.

Dr. Schutte said the goal is to use federal ESSER II dollars to fund the project after the Iowa Department of Education shares guidance for use of that funding. The board tentatively adopted a resolution for the plans, specifications, form of contract, and the estimated total cost of the proposed project. A public hearing on the proposal was also set for 5 p.m. Monday, March 15.

Generous donation by local Walmart recognized
From pencil boxes and folders to notebooks and sanitizer wipes, the local Walmart Supercenter shared thousands of important classroom supplies with Marshalltown Schools last week.

The donation effort was led by store manager Scott Ferguson, who said he knew the donation would support learning and student health. 

Get the full story on this generous donation here!

CIML realignment discussion continues
Important conversations about the future of the Central Iowa Metropolitan League have continued since late last year, and six CIML districts are proposing the formation of a separate conference starting in the 2022-23 school year. 

Under the proposal discussed Monday, Marshalltown Schools would join Ames Community Schools, Fort Dodge Community Schools, Mason City Community Schools, Ottumwa Community Schools, and the five Des Moines Public Schools in leaving the CIML and forming a new, 10-team sports conference. 

Dr. Schutte has helped lead realignment discussions among fellow CIML districts in recent months; he said he fully supports the proposed new conference.

“Many of the districts are looking for an opportunity to have a much more equitable and competitive playing field,” Dr. Schutte said. “We truly believe that every team, no matter who it is within this conference, should be able to week-in and week-out feel like they have a legitimate chance to compete well and to potentially win.”

He added that Marshalltown, along with the other five districts supporting the move, would still be free to schedule out-of-conference competitions with the remaining CIML districts in suburban Des Moines, but would no longer be required to play against several of those larger districts throughout the year. Dr. Schutte also said he has received a lot of positive feedback from Marshalltown community members related to the proposal.

The board did not take action on this item Monday. The proposal is set to be brought before the board for a vote at the March 15 regular meeting. If all six districts’ boards approve of the move, a letter to withdraw from the CIML would be expected to be submitted by April 1.

Two new school buses joining Transportation fleet
The board approved the purchase of two new school buses for transporting student-athletes to and from sporting events Monday evening. Both the 56-passenger bus from School Bus Sales and the 44-passenger bus from Hoglund Bus Co. Inc. are air-conditioned and feature seatbelts.

Student School Board representatives (from left) Klaudia Hernandez, Haley Reed, and Itzary Avalos update the board on upcoming events and activities at Marshalltown High School.

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

  • Upcoming fine arts events include an MHS Solo/Ensemble performance on April 12, the MHS Band Spring Concert on April 25, and a Jazz Band Coffee Concert (grades 6-12) on May 10; the MHS Vocal Concert will take place on May 11, and the All-District Orchestra Concert is set for May 18.
  • Spring is in the air with warmer weather, and excitement is building for the upcoming girls soccer and girls golf seasons. Boys and girls track and field competition has already begun.
  • A winter sports roundup shared the season results for boys and girls basketball, as well as a celebration of the 3A State Champion Bobcat Boys Bowling team.

Networking upgrades approved
Exciting tech upgrades are coming to MCSD with approvals by the board Monday. 

A three-year wide area network agreement with Windstream will provide transport of up to 10 GB of bandwidth, meaning even faster, higher-powered internet access delivered to all MCSD buildings. In addition, the board approved an agreement with Heartland Business Systems to upgrade the District’s wireless equipment, a move which will also ensure continued high-quality and secure internet access at Marshalltown Schools.

Board adopts Budget Guarantee resolution
The board adopted a Budget Guarantee resolution for the 2021-22 fiscal year Monday. District Director of Business Operations Paulette Newbold said declining enrollment this school year caused the need to participate in the state Budget Guarantee program. 

The 2.4% increase in state supplemental aid to schools this year was not enough to offset the enrollment decline, Newbold said. The Budget Guarantee program ensures the District receives 101% of this year’s school funding in the upcoming 2021-22 school year.

Important message shared by author Jamie Vollmer
Early each calendar year, Marshalltown Schools and districts across the state plan out their upcoming fiscal year budgets. With that in mind, Monday’s meeting featured a short, timely video from “Schools Cannot Do It Alone” author and public education advocate Jamie Vollmer. 

In the segment, Vollmer outlines the importance of community support for public schools; while most taxpayers do not have children who attend school, he said it is important for all members of the public to support their local school district. 

Vollmer shared several statistics showing the benefits a strong, well-supported school system brings to its community, from lower crime rates to a healthier local economy, and more. Earlier this school year, the board and District administration held a book study on “Schools Cannot Do It Alone,” which included regular discussions about growing community support for public education.

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 – 

  • 301.2 (new 302.2) – Superintendent of Schools – Contract and Contract Non-Renewal (amended, second reading waived)
  • 507.2-E2 – Parental Authorization and Release Form for the Administration of Prescription Medication to Students (adopted, second reading waived)

Initial Review – 

  • Old 301.3 Superintendent of Schools – Functions (deleted)
  • Old 301.4 Evaluation of the Superintendent (deleted)
  • 301.4-R (new 302.5-E1) Evaluation of the Superintendent (marked as reviewed)
  • 301.4-E (new 302.5-E1) Formal Superintendent Evaluation Report (marked as reviewed)
  • New 302.4 Superintendent Duties (will come back for a first reading)
  • New 302.5 Superintendent Evaluation (will come back for a first reading)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“A year ago, the CDC declared the Coronavirus pandemic. By now, we are all getting a little weary of all of the things surrounding Covid. The district is well aware of the stresses placed on the staff because of the pandemic. Vaccinations have been offered to all staff and the district EAP program has been widely used. It is important for us to support the ongoing mental health needs of our staff, students, families and community.

Please reach out to others if you need additional support. Our nurses and administrators can help you make the connections needed to help you. And remember, wear your mask properly, social distance and practice good hygiene. We can beat this – together!” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, March 15, 2021 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave. The meeting will be available to watch via live stream through the Bobcat News Network (BNN) YouTube channel.

Feb. 15, 2021 Board Meeting

16 Feb

Marshalltown Virtual Academy approved for next school year
The Marshalltown CSD is delighted to introduce the Marshalltown Virtual Academy (MVA) for the 2021-22 school year and beyond!

The Marshalltown Virtual Academy recently received Iowa Department of Education approval, and the Marshalltown School Board granted its approval of the exciting new, permanent virtual learning program at the Monday, Feb. 15 regular meeting.

Dr. Stevenson discusses the exciting new Marshalltown Virtual Academy.

“We’re excited … to be able to continue to offer this learn from home option, not only to kids who live in Marshalltown, but kids who may live in other parts of Iowa,” said District Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson. 

Students in grades PK-12 from anywhere in Iowa are able to enroll in the Marshalltown Virtual Academy. MVA students will not only receive a flexible, personalized, and enriching educational experience, but they will also be able to fully participate in school sports, fine arts, clubs, and other activities along with their fellow Bobcat students. 

With Monday’s approval, the MVA is now accepting student enrollment applications. Parents and guardians interested in the Marshalltown Virtual Academy are asked to take this brief MVA interest survey. (PLEASE NOTE: students in grades 1-12 who will be new to the Marshalltown CSD in the 2021-22 school year must enroll by March 1)

To learn more about how the Marshalltown Virtual Academy will provide an excellent environment for students to grow and thrive, visit https://www.marshalltown.k12.ia.us/marshalltown-virtual-academy/

Board earns prestigious IASB Team Achievement Award
The Marshalltown School Board is one of just five board teams statewide to earn a 2019-20 Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB) Team Achievement Award; that outstanding accomplishment was celebrated at Monday’s meeting.

The 2019-20 Marshalltown School Board members honored include: Board President Bea Niblock, Vice President Sean Heitmann, Mike Miller, Karina Hernandez, Sara Faltys, Jan McGinnis, and former member Bob Untiedt.  

In addition to the Team Achievement Award, Niblock, Heitmann, Hernandez, Faltys, McGinnis, and Untiedt earned Individual Achievement Awards from IASB. Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte was also recognized for being one of seven education leaders statewide to earn an Award of Honor from IASB for 2019-20. 

Learn more about these incredible achievements by District leaders here!

Amy Harmsen shares information on a new partnership with the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program

Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program to bring mobile hotspots, learning environment support to MCSD
The Marshalltown CSD is partnering with the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program to support and create innovative learning environments after board action Monday.

Marshalltown Schools is one of only 30 districts nationwide, and one of only two in Iowa, to be selected for the exciting Verizon Innovative Learning Schools initiative.

The program provides free internet access in the form of hotspots to students who qualify for free/reduced lunches and identify as not having high-quality internet access. In addition to free access, the program provides training and classroom technology integration support for school staff. 

District Director of Technology Amy Harmsen said the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program will allow MCSD to continue providing internet access to students for the foreseeable future.

Bid approved for major MHS, Anson air-conditioning projects
Projects for new and upgraded air conditioning at Marshalltown High School and Anson Elementary School took another big step forward Monday. The board approved a bid from Garling Construction, Inc. for the work, and project costs are set to be much lower than originally expected. 

The bid to complete the upgrades at MHS and Anson, along with four additional alternates, was approved at $5,253,000. That figure is more than $2.5 million less than the initial estimated cost for the project. 

The alternates approved as part of the bid include LED lighting upgrades, pool HVAC/dehumidification work, and classroom flooring replacement work at MHS, as well as south window replacement work at Anson. All project costs will be paid for with bond proceeds from the issuance of School Infrastructure Sales, Services, & Use Tax (SAVE) Revenue bonds.

MHS student’s Know Your Constitution program achievement recognized
MHS sophomore Yessenia Alvarez Zamora was recently named as a Finalist in the Iowa State Bar Association’s Know Your Constitution program. Yessenia’s accomplishment was recognized at Monday’s meeting, and she described her experience in the program. 

“It pushes you to do your own research and be educated on issues … to have your own opinion based on facts,” Yessenia said of the competition, which included a 50-question quiz and an essay focusing on felon voting rights.

Yessenia said she does not plan to pursue a career in law, but found the competition both fun and informative. She said she became interested in the competition by participating in MHS Youth for Awareness activities; she added she would recommend the Know Your Constitution competition to her peers.

Discussion held on potential CIML scheduling realignment
MHS Activities Director Ryan Isgrig shared an update with the board on the schedule realignment discussions happening within the Central Iowa Metropolitan League (CIML), of which MCSD is a member district. 

The realignment has been called for by some districts in the CIML with the intent to ensure fair, healthy competition between and among school sports programs. The current proposal would see the 19 CIML schools move into two conferences, one with 10 schools and the other with nine schools, to provide better competition and equity.

“It would still be the CIML conference, but the 10-team pod would consist of Ames, the five Des Moines public schools, Fort Dodge, Marshalltown, and Mason City, as well as Ottumwa,” Isgrig said, adding there would still be opportunities to play against the large suburban schools within the CIML, including Waukee, Ankeny, West Des Moines, and others.

He said such a change “would be a step in the right direction” for Marshalltown Schools. 

Discussions among CIML school districts and leaders are ongoing, and other proposals could still be made before a final plan is approved within the League. If changes are approved, they would be set to take effect in the 2022-23 school year.

The Marshalltown School Board did not take action on this topic at Monday’s meeting; the item was for information and discussion only.

Revised COVID-19 Pandemic Response policy adopted
Updates to the District’s COVID-19 Pandemic Response supplemental policy were adopted by the board Monday. The revised language reflects the extension of emergency paid sick leave for staff through March 31, 2021, despite the end of federal support for such leave at the end of 2020. 

The document also includes the District’s multiple safety measure requirements to help fight the spread of the coronavirus.

Board adopts resolution on state SF 159 legislation
A resolution opposing a state legislative bill was adopted at Monday’s meeting. The bill referenced in the resolution is Senate File 159 – Scholarship Funds, Vouchers, Education Savings Accounts and Expanded Tax Credits.

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 – 

  • 403.3-E1 Hepatitis B Vaccine Information and Record (adopted, second reading waived)
  • 501.4 Entrance Requirements-Evidence of Age (amended, second reading waived)
  • 502.8 Search and Seizure (amended, second reading waived)
  • 502.8E1 (new 502.8-E1) Search and Seizure Checklist (amended, second reading waived)
  • 507.2-E1 Authorization Asthma or Airway-Constricting Disease Medication or Epinephrine Auto Injector Self-Administration Consent Form (adopted, second reading waived)
  • 603.1 Basic Instruction Program (amended, second reading waived)
  • 604.6 Instruction at a Post-Secondary Education Institution (amended, second reading waived)
  • 605.4-R (new 505.5) Graduation Requirements (amended, second reading waived)

Initial Review – 

  • 301.2 (new 302.2) Superintendent of Schools-Contract and Contract Non-Renewal (will come back for a first reading)
  • 302.2 (new 301.1) Associates to the Superintendent-Qualifications (marked as reviewed)
  • 507.2-E2 Parental Authorization and Release Form for the Administration of Prescription Medication to Students (will come back for a first reading)

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, March 1, 2021 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave. The meeting will be available to watch via live stream through the Bobcat News Network (BNN) YouTube channel.

Feb. 1, 2021 Board Meeting

3 Feb

School year calendar approved for 2021-22
The Marshalltown School Board approved the 2021-22 school year calendar at Monday’s regular meeting. Here are a few key highlights from next school year’s calendar: 

  • First day of school: Aug. 24, 2021
  • Last day of school: June 1, 2022 (barring potential inclement weather days)
  • Thanksgiving Break: Nov. 24-26, 2021
  • Winter Break: Dec. 23, 2021 to Jan. 2, 2022
  • Spring Break: March 14-18, 2022
    (aligned with state regent universities & Marshalltown Community College) 

“[The calendar] incorporates 190 teacher contract days, 177 of which are student contact days,” said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte. “We’ve got 11 teacher professional development and/or work days built in.” 

The 2021-22 school calendar is available to view now on the MCSD website.

Resolutions adopted for A/C projects at MHS, Anson Elementary
Marshalltown High School and Anson Elementary School are set for major upgrades after the board adopted plans, specifications, and forms of contract for projects at each building Monday evening. 

The main focus of both projects will be the buildings’ air heating and cooling systems. Additional work to be done as part of the projects includes window improvements at Anson and upgraded LED light fixtures at MHS, among other items.

The board also adopted a resolution for $10 million in school infrastructure, sales, services, and use tax revenue bonds in order to finance the important projects at MHS and Anson. Public hearings on the both projects and on the bond resolution yielded no comments.

District will not move forward with proposed staggered school start/end times
A proposal for staggered school start/end times at the PK-4 and 5-12 grade levels did not gain board approval Monday.

With the removal of hybrid learning for grades 7-12 beginning Tuesday, Feb. 16, the District will continue to implement safety measures such as mask wearing, frequent deep clearing and sanitation of school buildings and, as much as possible, social distancing of at least 3-6 feet, among other measures.

AT LEFT: Rogers Elementary third-graders Bennett Thede, right, and Vayda Smith, left, have put some serious miles on the Rogers track as part of the school’s Mileage Club program this school year. AT RIGHT: Rogers P.E. teacher Nicole Boliver discusses the success and benefits of the Mileage Club.

Rogers Elementary Mileage Club program recognized
Rogers Elementary P.E. teacher Nicole Boliver has seen impressive participation in the school’s Mileage Club program, which seeks to get kids outside and active by logging the distance they walk, jog, or run over the course of the school year. 

As of last month, the Rogers students have logged more than 600 combined of miles this school year. 

Two students who have covered a lot of distance on the Rogers track joined Boliver as the program was recognized Monday evening. Third-graders Bennett Thede and Vayda Smith said they’ve enjoyed putting in the miles this year, and look forward to adding even more before the end of the second semester.

Learn more about the incredible Rogers Mileage Club program here!

School counselors’ crucial work spotlighted
This week, Feb. 1-5, is National School Counseling Week. At MCSD, we are blessed with a top-notch team of caring, smart, and supportive school counselors.

Board member Jan McGinnis recited a board proclamation celebrating the important work school counselors do every day. Learn more about how they help guide Bobcat students to success here!

Student School Board Representative update
Student school board representatives Itzary Avalos and Haley Reed shared an update from Marshalltown High School with the board. Their report included: 

  • Highlights from recent events, including the virtual MHS Orchestra Concert and the recognition of MHS Class of 1981 alum and wrestling icon Larry Jackson last month
  • A preview of the upcoming National Honor Society “Piece of Mind” project, which will focus on student mental health in March
  • A roundup of Bobcats basketball, boys swimming, and wrestling events, as well as a look ahead to soccer and girls track and field this spring
MHS Principal Jacque Wyant shares information about the new courses added to the 2021-22 MHS Course Guide.

MHS course guide for next school year approved
The Marshalltown High School Course Guide for the 2021-22 school year got the board’s nod Monday evening, and there will be three new classes offered to MHS students.

The three new classes are AP Art History, Prep for College English, and a new College and Career Readiness seminar. In addition, MHS Principal Jacque Wyant said students in the Fire Science program will have the opportunity to earn an EMT certification next school year thanks to a partnership with the Marshalltown Fire Department. 

Students who earn the EMT certification would be able to apply to join the MFD as a professional firefighter.

Steps taken toward upgrade projects at Lenihan, Franklin Elementary
Two proposed projects are moving forward with the board’s approval Monday evening.

One proposal is for design work outlining an audio/visual and intercom renovation project at Lenihan Intermediate School. The other proposal is for the services related to the demolition of the bleachers on the Franklin Elementary School campus, along with paving work.

The Lenihan A/V and intercom upgrades would be paid for out of ESSER Part 2 funds, while the proposed bleacher demolition and paving project at Franklin would be paid out of PERL funds.

Technology items approved
District staff and members of the Marshalltown community will join forces as part of the new Technology Advisory Committee approved Monday. The committee, made up of 17 members, will advise the MCSD Technology and Curriculum departments on the use of technology by students and staff.

The District Technology Department also gained approval to seek bids for wireless networking equipment. Director of Technology Amy Harmsen said the federal e-Rate program will help cover a significant amount of the cost for the equipment. 

Additionally, the board accepted a bid for Acer Chromebooks and related equipment for students in grades 2, 5, and 10. A bid was also accepted for PC laptop computers to replace teachers’ current desktop workstations. Both the Chromebooks and the laptops were purchased as part of the District’s normal technology replacement cycle. 

Harmsen said the PC laptops will allow teachers more mobility and convenience compared to their current desktop workstations. She said the Chromebooks teachers currently have will not be replaced by and will still be available for use.

Special education overview presented
Director of Special Services Matt Cretsinger and Central Rivers Area Education Agency Executive Director of Special Education Amy Knupp shared an overview of Chapter 103 of the state’s administrative rules.

Cretsinger said MCSD staff have completed updated training based on Chapter 103, and the board recently approved several updated policies to align with the regulations within the chapter.

MHS student set for early graduation
MHS senior Skye Johnson will graduate early this school year after board approval. She will join several other Bobcat high schoolers who have successfully worked toward early graduation.

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 – 

  • 204.8 (new 210.7) Rules of Order (amended, second reading waived)
  • 205.1 (new 216.3) Compensation for Expenses (amended, second reading waived)
  • New 210-7-R1 Rules of Order Regulation (adopted, second reading waived)
  • 312.3-E1Fringe Benefits-Administrators/Supervisors (amended, second reading waived)
  • 409.2 Employee Leaves of Absence (amended, second reading waived)
  • 507.2 Administration of Medication to Students (amended, second reading waived) 
  • 507.2-R Administration of Medication to Students (deleted)
  • New 604.10 Online Courses (adopted, second reading waived)

Initial Review – 

  • 205.3 Board of Directors and Elected Officials (marked as reviewed)
  • 403.3-E1 Hepatitis B Vaccine Information and Record (will come back for a first reading)
  • 507.2-E1 Authorization Asthma or Airway Constricting Disease Medication or Epinephrine Auto Injector Self-Administration Consent Form (will come back for a first reading)
  • 507.2-E2 Parental Authorization and Release Form for the Administration of Medication to Students (will come back for a first reading)
  • 501.3 Compulsory Attendance (marked as reviewed)
  • 501.4 Entrance Requirements-Evidence of Age (will come back for a first reading)
  • 502.8 Search and Seizure (will come back for a first reading)
  • 502.8-E1 (new 502.8-E1) Search and Seizure Checklist (will come back for a first reading)
  • 603.1 Basic Instruction Program (will come back for a first reading)
  • 605.4-R (new 505.5) Graduation Requirements (will come back for a first reading)
  • 604.6 Instruction at a Post-Secondary Education Institution (will come back for a first reading)

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15, 2021 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave. The meeting will be available to watch via live stream through the Bobcat News Network (BNN) YouTube channel.

Jan. 19, 2021 Board Meeting

20 Jan
Woodbury Elementary third-grader Theo Lewis, right, discusses his research on aviation this semester. Extended Learning Program teacher Nicole Holman Lankelma, left, praised Theo for following his interest in aviation as part of his education.

Woodbury third-grader recognized for research on aviation
Woodbury third-grader Theo Lewis has a passion for all things airplane-related, and he used that intense interest to fuel research projects on aviation this semester. Theo was recognized Monday for his research efforts, which included interviews with professional pilots. 

Get the full story on Theo’s research and learning about aviation here!

Step taken toward Marshalltown Virtual Academy creation
The coronavirus pandemic has caused many changes to how education is delivered to students nationwide. At Marshalltown Schools, students have had the option to learn in a fully virtual setting this semester, and now the District is working to create a permanent virtual learning option – the Marshalltown Virtual Academy (MVA)

The Marshalltown School Board approved the District to apply for the creation of the Marshalltown Virtual Academy with the Iowa Department of Education at Monday’s meeting. District Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson said now is the right time to build a virtual learning option for students. 

“We did want to be prepared, because we had over 25 percent of our students who chose that option this year,” she said. 

Marshalltown Learning Academy Principal Eric Goslinga said the Marshalltown Virtual Academy would benefit many Bobcat students at the secondary level. 

“We’ve had a number of students and families who have found this to be a highly desirable way to learn,” he said of virtual learning. “It opens a lot of time in the schedule for work-based learning experiences.” 

Dr. Stevenson said virtual academy students would be able to participate in extracurricular activities, and they would take assessments and receive report cards just like their in-person peers.

2021-22 school year calendar proposal presented
Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte presented a proposed 2021-22 school year calendar for board consideration Monday. No action was taken on calendar approval as the item was for information and discussion only. 

Here are a few key takeaways from the proposed calendar (please note: this is a proposal only, and calendar details may change prior to final board approval): 

  • The proposed school year start date is Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021
  • Thanksgiving Break would be Nov. 24-26, 2021
  • Winter Break would be Dec. 23-31, 2021
  • Spring Break would be March 14-18, 2022
  • The proposed last day of school is Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Public hearings set for MHS, Anson Elementary air conditioning projects
Public hearings were set for two exciting improvement projects at Marshalltown High School and Anson Elementary School at Monday’s meeting. Both projects will involve the installation of new air conditioning units to provide a comfortable learning environment for students, among other upgrades. 

The public hearings on the plans, specifications and form of contract for each project are scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 1. Please contact Board Secretary Paulette Newbold for questions about sharing comments during the public hearings: pnewbold@marshalltown.k12.ia.us

Student School Board Representative update
Student School Board Representative Klaudia Hernandez shared an update from Marshalltown High School Monday evening. Key items highlighted in the presentation included: 

  • A visit from U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley earlier this month, where MHS government students asked several thoughtful questions about lawmaking and the federal government.
  • The MHS Holiday Concert, which was held on Jan. 17 after being rescheduled from December. The concert was a success, and audience members were able to view a live stream of the performance. 
  • It’s finals week at MHS; the second semester begins Tuesday, Jan. 26.
Student School Board Representative Klaudia Hernandez shares an update from MHS at Monday’s board meeting.

Communications/Marketing audit approved
The board approved a communications audit to be performed by the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) at Monday’s meeting. The audit process will support the District by gaining feedback from the school community in several key communications and marketing areas. 

Special emergency paid sick leave will be provided through March 31
MCSD employees will continue to be provided special emergency sick leave in accordance with the federal Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) after the adoption of a board resolution Monday. 

The resolution extends the provision of up to 10 days of special paid sick leave related to COVID-19 through March 31; those sick days had previously officially expired on Dec. 31, 2020. The board’s action does not add more special sick leave days beyond the 10 days outlined in the FFCRA, but extends the timeline in which those days may be used by three months.

MLA student approved for early graduation
Marshalltown Learning Academy student Kristi Strickland was approved for early graduation. She joins several fellow Bobcat high school students in being approved to graduate early this school year. 

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 – 

  • 204.5 – Organizational Meeting (deleted)
  • 200.1-R1 – Organizational Meeting Procedures (amended, second reading waived)
  • 210.1 – Annual Meeting (amended, second reading waived)
  • 507.8 – Special Health Services (amended, second reading waived)

Initial Review – 
Will come back for a first reading 

  • 204.8 (new 210.7) – Rules of Order
  • 210-7-R1 – Rules of Order Regulation 
  • 205.1 (new 216.3) – Compensation for Expenses
  • 604.10 – Online Courses 
  • 312.3-E1 – Fringe Benefits-Administrators/Supervisors
  • 409.2 – Employee Leaves of Absence 
  • 507.2 – Administration of Medication to Students

Adopted, second reading waived

  • 503.6 – Physical Restraint and Seclusion for Students 
  • 503.6-R1 – Use of Physical Restraint and Seclusion with Students 
  • 503.6-E1 – Use of Physical Restraint and/or Seclusion Documentation Form 
  • 503.6-E2 – Debriefing Letter to Guardian of Student Involved in an Occurrence where Physical Restraint and/or Seclusion was Used 
  • 503.6-E3 – Debriefing Meeting Document

Amended, second reading waived

  • 503.1 – Student Conduct
  • 503.1-R1 – Disciplinary Procedures and/or Penalties (Responsibility) 
  • 503.5 – Physical Restraint (Corporal Punishment) 

Deleted

  • 507.2-R – Administration of Medication to Students

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 1, 2021 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave. The meeting will be available to watch via live stream through the Bobcat News Network (BNN) YouTube channel

Dec. 21, 2020 Board Meeting

22 Dec

Second semester Return to Learn plan approved
Marshalltown Schools will stay the course with current learning model options through the end of the third quarter after board action Monday evening.

Specifically, students in grades 7-12 will continue to learn in a hybrid model, which includes block scheduling with alternating on-site and remote learning; students in grades PK-6 will continue with fully in-person learning. All families were given a fully virtual learning option when second semester preferences were collected in November. 

One major change planned at the PK-6 level is that Edgenuity will no longer be used to provide virtual learning; instead, Google Classroom and Google Meet will be used to deliver virtual learning.

“I would anticipate we will be back to the board sometime in March to talk about where we’re at,” said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte. 

The District’s recommendation to continue with the current learning models was made with student and staff safety in mind. Dr. Schutte acknowledged differences of opinion within the community on the topic of learning during the pandemic, adding the District’s Return to Learn plan was designed to balance student and staff safety with student achievement during unprecedented times.

Also continuing next semester are dozens of District safety measures, which were put in place to prevent disease spread in school buildings. Those measures include social distancing rules, a face mask requirement, frequent deep cleaning and sanitation, and widely available hand sanitizer, among many others. 

MHS seniors discuss upcoming work experience at Iowa Capitol
Monday, Jan. 11 will be a big day for MHS seniors Abbey Welden and Mary Kate Gruening – both will begin their work as legislative Pages at the Iowa Capitol Building in Des Moines. 

Welden and Gruening were recognized by the board Monday, and they shared their motivation to become Pages. The position will see the students assist state lawmakers and policy leaders during the upcoming Iowa Legislative Session. 

For more on these exceptional Bobcat students and their upcoming work experience in politics and government, click here

Extended Learning Program provides quality education for gifted students
Meeting all Bobcat students’ educational needs is one of the core goals of Marshalltown Schools, and the Extended Learning Program (XLP) plays a major role in meeting that goal. 

A dedicated team of XLP teachers shared an overview of the program Monday, highlighting the history and importance of XLP instruction. 

“The needs of our gifted and talented students are not always met by the regular curriculum,” said XLP teacher Vanessa Engel, who serves Lenihan Intermediate School and Marshalltown Learning Academy students. “The XLP program helps high-ability students meet their academic potential.” 

Susan Fritzell has taught gifted Bobcat students for two decades and said there have been exciting changes recently, one of which involves how high-ability students are identified. The Cognitive Ability Test (CogAT) is used alongside a student’s ISASP score to determine if the XLP program is the right fit. 

Once identified, XLP students are given a Personalized Education Plan (PEP) and work with a curriculum built to meet their learning needs. Students in the program also have access to academic competitions, small group enrichment, independent studies and projects, mentorships, and more. 

The XLP teachers emphasized the importance of continuing to adjust the program to meet the needs of gifted Bobcat students. 

Training in co-teaching approved for 27 District staff members
With board approval Monday, more than two dozen general education teachers will be trained in the area of co-teaching. In a co-teaching system, general education teachers work closely with English as a second language (ESL or ELL) and special education teachers to meet the needs of students.

The training will touch on how these instructor teams can plan, teach, and assess students with special needs and students who are learning English. 

“The District has had a handful of people trained in this in the past … we needed to re-create more of a system-level thinking of how can we make this a priority,” said Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson. “We’re really excited to be able to have an evidence-based strategy that our teachers have been asking for training and support in.” 

2021-22 At-Risk budget set
The District’s At-Risk budget for next school year has been approved, with the action coming after previous presentations by District leadership. The At-Risk budget supports drop-out prevention and the summer Bobcat University program, among many other important programs. 

Director Business Operations Paulette Newbold said the 2021-22 At-Risk will increase only slightly from the current year’s budget, meaning a minimal impact on the property tax rate. Despite no new programming being added to next year’s At-Risk budget, Dr. Stevenson said the program’s offerings have grown significantly in the past five years. She said the approved budget will continue to serve and benefit Bobcat students. 

Proposal shared for District communications/marketing audit
Communications Director Adam Sodders shared information on an anticipated District communications/marketing audit for the board’s consideration.

The National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) communications audit would center on gathering family, staff, and community stakeholder feedback to continue improving District communications. No action was taken on this item at Monday’s meeting; an official recommendation and vote on the communications audit is planned for the Tuesday, Jan. 19 regular meeting. 

Student School Board Representative update
Student School Board Representative Haley Reed delivered an update from Marshalltown High School. Her presentation featured the MHS gingerbread house contest, which concluded on Dec. 14, as well as a look at MHS basketball and swimming. 

Eight students approved for early graduation
The board approved eight Bobcat students – six seniors and two juniors – for early graduation Monday. All eight students worked hard to meet the District’s graduation requirements prior to the end of the school year. 

Among the early graduates are seniors Godgive Gbala, Mary Kate Gruening, Alysha Ortega, Abbey Welden, Hector Yanez, and Kordell Cripps. The junior students set to graduate early are Austin Christen and Kadence Hartwell. Congratulations to all! 

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 – 

  • 204.1 (new 210.2) – Regular Meeting (amended, second reading waived)
  • 102 – Equal Educational Opportunity (amended, second reading waived)
  • 603.2 – Summer School Instruction (amended, second reading waived)
  • 603.3 – Special Education (amended, second reading waived)

Initial Review – 

  • 204.3 (new 212) – Closed Sessions (marked as reviewed)
  • 204.5 – Organizational Meeting (will come back for a first reading)
  • 200.1-R1 – Organizational Meeting Procedures (will come back for a first reading)
  • 210.1 – Annual Meeting (will come back for a first reading)
  • 507.8 – Special Health Services (will come back for a first reading)
  • 607.2 – Student Health Services (marked as reviewed)
  • 605.6 – Internet-Appropriate and Safe Use (marked as reviewed)
  • 701.2 – Transfer of Funds (marked as reviewed)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“Winter Break is upon us. Wishing each of you a memorable winter holiday – whichever of them you choose to celebrate. May all of your holiday hopes and dreams become a reality. Hoping your time away from planning, checking papers and screen time is restful and relaxing. Best wishes for a new year of health and happiness!” – Bea Niblock

Board President’s quote shared at the Dec. 21 meeting: 
“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child at Christmas time.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021; the meeting will take place on a Tuesday due to the MLK Jr. holiday on Monday, Jan. 18. The meeting will be available to watch via YouTube live stream. 
NOTE: The Jan. 19 meeting will be the only regular board meeting in the month of January.

Dec. 7, 2020 Board Meeting

8 Dec
Nate McCulley, left, discusses the donation of hand tools to the MHS construction program taught by Raul Arevalo, right.

Local company donates tools to MHS construction program
Marshalltown High School industrial arts teacher Raul Arevalo accepted a generous donation of hand tools from Marshalltown Co. at Monday’s meeting. Company Director of Product Sales Nate McCulley said the MHS construction program prepares Bobcat students interested in the construction industry for local career opportunities. 

“We ’re just grateful for these types of programs in our community and we’re glad we can help be a part of this,” McCulley said. 

Arevalo said the tools will play a crucial role in the construction program curriculum. 

“We can have the students learn skills that will really take them a long way in finding a career,” he said. 

Return to Learn update and second semester plans presented
The Marshalltown School Board heard an update on the District’s Return to Learn instruction at Monday’s meeting; parent and guardian learning model preference data for the second semester was also shared.

So far, Director of Instruction Dr. Lisa Stevenson said most District parents and guardians – about 75 percent – have shared which learning model they prefer for their children.

Stevenson said school staff members have been communicating with families regarding the second semester learning model options, including discussions about which model may best fit each student. The learning model data shared Monday will continue to change as more parents and guardians share their preferences with the District. 

In addition to the second semester preferences data, Miller Middle School co-principals Dave Glenn and Kristyn Kell described the measures being taken to keep fully virtual students engaged in learning, with one example being the new Saturday school beginning Dec. 12.

The middle school administrators said they hope the Saturday school program will be able to expand to include more students who could benefit from increased academic support. 

Marshalltown High School Principal Jacque Wyant said virtual students in need of more academic support have Saturday school as an option this week; support is also offered through the school’s Pier program and Academic Support Center. 

The board will receive another Return to Learn update at the Dec. 21 regular meeting. 

Preliminary designs and cost estimates for MHS, Anson renovation projects approved
Another important step in the upcoming renovation projects at Marshalltown High School and Anson Elementary school was taken Monday. The board approved preliminary designs and cost estimates for the work, which will include the installation of air conditioning at MHS and a new HVAC system at Anson, among other improvements. 

With Monday’s action, construction documents will be reviewed ahead of an expected public hearing for adoption of plans, specifications, and form of contract for the project in January of 2021. 

State Rep.-Elect Sue Cahill, left, and State Sen. Jeff Edler, right, discuss legislative priorities with the Marshalltown School Board.

State lawmakers discuss upcoming legislative session
State Sen. Jeff Edler and state Rep.-Elect Sue Cahill sat down with the school board to discuss goals for the upcoming legislative session.

Edler, who will begin his second term in the Iowa Senate in January, said he has worked to address several key items for K-12 public schools in the last four years, including improving student mental health services, the introduction of the Seal of Biliteracy award, and more. 

Cahill, a veteran educator at Marshalltown Schools, will bring her decades of experience in public education with her to the Iowa House. She said she looks forward to supporting students’ needs as a lawmaker. 

Edler said it is too early to predict what potential per-pupil state funding increase there could be for the 2021-22 school year; he said he will work to ensure the amount of state supplemental aid to schools is decided as early as possible to help school districts plan their budgets for the next fiscal year. 

Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte pointed to several key items the legislature could address in the coming session, including continued support for mental health services, increased access to high-quality broadband internet, and incentives to boost interest in the teaching profession. 

Dr. Schutte also said one-time funding to support students who have fallen behind academically during the pandemic would be a big help for schools. 

The 2021 state legislative session will begin Monday, Jan. 11, 2021.

All-State music honorees (from left) Elijah Thiessen, Taylor Hoffman, and Rebekah Stone discussed their great accomplishment at Monday’s board meeting.

All-State music honorees recognized
The Bobcats are well represented in this year’s All-State music ensembles, with six talented MHS students earning the distinction. The All-State honorees were recognized at Monday’s board meeting.

Only 1.7% of all high school musicians in Iowa earn an All-State music accolade each school year. This year’s winners – Olivia Adams-Zmolek, Veronica Herrera, Taylor Hoffman, Aaron Seberger, Elijah Thiessen, and Rebekah Stone – join a large group of Bobcat All-State music honorees. 

Board book study discussion features author Jamie Vollmer
The board and District administration team read the final chapters of Jamie Vollmer’s book “Schools Cannot Do It Alone” ahead of Monday’s meeting, and had the opportunity to welcome the author virtually for a book study discussion. 

Vollmer emphasized the importance of building permission and patience within a school district community. He said it is crucial for schools to communicate not only with students, families, staff, and community stakeholders, but also with those who do not have a child in school.

Vollmer said he has enjoyed working with Dr. Schutte as District leadership read and discussed “Schools Cannot Do It Alone” throughout the fall. 

Student School Board representatives Klaudia Hernandez, left, and Itzary Avalos, right, share an update from MHS

Student School Board Representative update
Student School Board representatives Itzary Avalos and Klaudia Hernandez shared an update from Marshalltown High School, including the upcoming gingerbread house making contest on Dec. 14 and information about winter sports

Steps taken on student Chromebook replacements, teacher workstations
The District Technology Department will begin working toward replacing teachers’ current PC desktop computer workstations with portable laptop workstations after board action Monday. Director of Technology Amy Harmsen said the laptops will offer teachers more mobility while continuing to provide the necessary power to complete important work tasks. 

Additionally, the board approved the purchase of second-, fifth- and 10th grade student Chromebooks to replace older models, in accordance with the District’s regular Chromebook replacement cycle. Harmsen said the request to seek bids for the new devices had been scheduled to take place in the spring, but the item was brought to the board early to ensure the Chromebooks could be received in a timely fashion. 

2021-22 At-Risk programming and budget discussed
The District’s proposed At-Risk budget for next school year was an important discussion item at the Dec. 7 meeting. At-Risk programming is designed to serve students in need of academic support and to prevent dropping students from dropping out of school. 

Dr. Stevenson said this year’s At-Risk budget will not include any programming increases, meaning the funding will remain consistent with the current year’s budget. She said the recommendation to not increase program funding is to reduce the budget’s property tax impact; however, she said the At-Risk program has shown great growth in the past several years and will continue to provide necessary services to students throughout the District. 

There was no action taken on the 2020-21 At-Risk budget Monday evening.

Update shared on District contributions to COVID-19 dashboards
Marshalltown Schools has contributed data to two important COVID-19 dashboards, one at the national level and the other at the state level. 

Dr. Schutte said the District began sharing COVID-19 data with a national dashboard through a partnership with the School Superintendents Association (AASA) and Brown University earlier this year. In November, the District began voluntarily contributing data toward the Iowa Department of Education’s dashboard.

In looking at the numbers presented by each dashboard, Dr. Schutte said students show a low rate of infection, while the rate is higher among staff members. He said he remains confident that spread is taking place primarily outside of the schools.

Updates on the dashboard data are planned to be shared as numbers continue to be updated. In addition to the state and national dashboards discussed Monday, the District shares weekly COVID-19 positivity numbers on the MCSD website. 

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 – 

  • 300 – Statement of Guiding Principles for Administration (amended, second reading waived)
  • 301.1 (new 302.1) – Superintendent of Schools – Qualifications and Recruitment (amended, second reading waived)
  • 501.3-E1 – Attendance Requirements (amended, second reading waived)
  • 501.3-E2 – Attendance Regulations (amended, second reading waived)
  • 501.5 – Attendance Center Assignment (amended, second reading waived)
  • 705.2-R1 – Suspension and Debarment of Vendors and Contractors Procedure (adopted, second reading waived)
  • 705.1-R2 – Using Federal Funds in Procurement Contracts (adopted, second reading waived)

Initial Review – 

  • 204.1 – Regular Meetings (will come back for a first reading)
  • 204.2 – Special Meetings (marked as reviewed)
  • 102 – Equal Educational Opportunity (will come back for a first reading)
  • 603.2 – Summer School Instruction (will come back for a first reading)
  • 603.3 – Special Education (will come back for a first reading)
  • 102.E4 – Complaint Form (marked as reviewed)
  • 501.7 – Transfers Out or Withdrawals (marked as reviewed)
  • 504.2 – Student Organizations (marked as reviewed)
  • 505.6 – Early Graduation (marked as reviewed)
  • 603.10 – Global Education (marked as reviewed)
  • 603.11 – Citizenship (marked as reviewed)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“The board and Central Office administrators finished their book study last night. They have been reading and discussing “Schools Cannot Do It Alone,” written by Jamie Vollmer. Animated and thought-provoking discussions have taken place at each meeting.

Directors and administrators have shared impressions and asked each other questions as we have moved through the content of the book. We have all learned ways to engage the full community in discussions that could change the course of our work in increasing student achievement. 

A video conference with Jamie Vollmer last night culminated our book study.  He spoke directly to our needs as a community and school district. He helped us bring our thoughts full circle and gave us momentum and enthusiasm to do the work we need to do.” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21, 2020. The meeting will be available to watch via YouTube live stream. 

Nov. 16, 2020 Board Meeting

17 Nov
Marshalltown Education Partnership (MEP) Coordinator Ryan Flack discusses the collaboration among MCSD, MCC, and local businesses and organizations to provide post-secondary support to first-generation students.

Marshalltown Education Partnership program highlighted
The Monday, Nov. 16 Marshalltown School Board meeting featured a presentation on the Marshalltown Education Partnership (MEP) program, a collaborative effort with Marshalltown Community College which serves several Bobcat students and graduates. 

“We are a college access program for first-generation students,” said MEP Coordinator Ryan Flack. 

The program begins engaging students in eighth grade. At the high school level, MEP supports students with career and college exploration, advising, academics monitoring, college financial aid process assistance, and by offering the MEP Scholarship. 

“When they get to college, they can utilize the MEP Scholarship here at MCC,” Flack said, adding students who earn the scholarship are supported with academic and career advising, four-year transfer advising, college visits, and more; students who choose to attend a four-year college after high school can also find support within the program.

Students may take multiple post-secondary paths with the MEP Scholarship. More than half graduate from MCC with a transfer degree and go on to a four-year college; many students opt to earn a diploma or certification, and still others choose to enter the workforce after graduating with their associate’s degree.

The MEP program is supported by outstanding community partners, including Emerson, JBS Marshalltown, Lennox, and the Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation. For more information on the Marshalltown Education Partnership, click here

Board approves purchase of additional internet hotspots
The board approved the purchase of 70 internet hotspots for the next six months at Monday’s meeting, boosting the District’s overall hotspot inventory. The devices are being used to support virtual learning for Bobcat students without reliable home internet access. 

District Director of Technology Amy Harmsen said the temporary transition to required remote continuous learning has increased the need for District-provided hotspots. 

“We consider it very important that our students have internet access as we’re asking them to do remote work,” she said. 

The Technology Department has worked diligently to provide as much home internet access as possible to Bobcat students who require such support.

MHS Tennis athletes hit a volley on the new Marshalltown Court Complex, which will soon receive an additional tennis backboard thanks to generous donations.

Generous donations go toward additional tennis backboard at Marshalltown Court Complex
Generous donations from local families and businesses were accepted and recognized at Monday’s board meeting. The donations, totaling $3,600, will be put toward the purchase of an additional tennis backboard at the incredible new Marshalltown Court Complex

The donations were received from the Lankelma Family, the Lents Family, Shomo/Madsen Insurance, and Strand’s Flooring and Paint. Thank you all!

Authority to temporarily reduce working hours for some hourly employees approved
The board voted to authorize the superintendent to reduce working hours as necessary for hourly District staff members due to the transition to required remote continuous learning through Tuesday, Nov. 24.

“Arriving at these recommendations has not been easy,” said District Director of Business Operations Paulette Newbold. “This is just a temporary work shortage, basically, for which benefits are still offered and maintained.”

The temporary transition to virtual learning came in response to rising coronavirus cases in Marshall County, concerns related to health care resource capacity, and an inability to effectively staff District classrooms and buildings due to employee absenteeism; the transition has meant a significant change in District staffing needs while students are away from school buildings. 

“I believe our District has a responsibility to be fiscally responsible while also being empathetic to our employees’ needs,” said Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte. 

All general fund hourly employees are being paid for their normal assigned hours on Thursday, Nov. 12 and Friday, Nov. 13. The District transitioned to remote learning on Nov. 12 for grades PK-6; grades 7-12 moved to remote learning on Nov. 16. 

Currently, the District expects to resume in-person and hybrid classes on Tuesday, Dec. 1. The temporary transition to remote learning will be followed by Thanksgiving Break (Nov. 25-27) and there will be no school on Monday, Nov. 30 due to staff professional development.

District voluntary early retirement incentive not to be offered this school year
The MCSD voluntary early retirement incentive program will not be offered this school year after a board decision Monday. Newbold explained why it was recommended not to offer the incentive this year. 

“This is a very unique year, and although we came into the year, in terms of year-end, in a pretty good fiscal position, we have a lot of concerns … relative to what the future holds, particularly as it relates to our tax rate,” she said. 

The voluntary early retirement incentive is funded through property taxes, Newbold said. Due to the District’s need to address the special education deficit and participate in the state budget guarantee program next school year – both of which are also funded through property taxes – she said it was necessary not to offer the early retirement incentive.

“As we do every year, we would revisit [the voluntary early retirement incentive program] in the fall of 2021 to determine if we want to offer it for the 2021-22 school year,” Newbold said.

Presentation shared on school transportation communication tool
A useful new communication tool is coming soon to Bobcat families who use District Transportation services. District Director of Transportation Rex Kozak presented an update on the Stopfinder app, which will make it easier for parents and guardians to keep track of their students’ bus route, pick up and drop off times, and bus stop information. 

One major feature of the app is GeoAlert, which will allow parents and guardians to receive a notification when their students’ bus is within a chosen zone. Kozak said parents may choose for the alert to be sent when their child’s bus is a few minutes away. Important District notifications can also be received through the Stopfinder app. 

The app is currently being developed for MCSD. More information is expected to be shared with families who use District Transportation services in the near future.

Niblock, Heitmann to continue in school board leadership roles
Marshalltown School Board President Bea Niblock and Vice President Sean Heitmann will continue to serve in their respective leadership roles after annual board appointments were decided Monday.

In addition, District Director of Business Operations Paulette Newbold will continue to serve as the school board secretary for the 2020-21 school year, while Ahlers & Cooney, P.C. will act in the school attorney role.

Student School Board Representative update
Student School Board representatives Itzary Avalos, Klaudia Hernandez and Haley Reed shared an update from Marshalltown High School with the board. Among the updates was a change in this year’s National Honor Society (NHS) induction ceremony, which was rescheduled to take place next spring. The ceremony had been set to take place late last week. 

Also discussed was the Girls State Swim Meet hosted at the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA last weekend, where the Bobcats improved on their previous best 200-yard medley relay time this season. Hernandez, one of the four Bobcat competitors at the meet, said it was a unique experience as there were no fans in attendance for safety reasons. 

“It was a little different, but the energy was still there,” she said.

Part IV of “Schools Cannot Do It Alone” discussed
Board members and District administrators discussed Part IV of Jaime Vollmer’s book “Schools Cannot Do It Alone,” Monday. In the reading, Vollmer described “The Great Conversation” Districts must have with the larger community in order to have successful, positive, effective change for the benefit of students.

School Budget Review Committee applications approved
Two applications to the state School Budget Review Committee (SBRC) for supplemental aid received board approval at Monday’s meeting. 

One application requests modified allowable growth regarding open enrollment out of the District which was not part of the fall 2020 enrollment count. The other application is being made to support English language learner (ELL) programming beyond five years.

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 – 

  • 203.10 Board Self Evaluation (amended, second reading waived)

Initial Review – 

  • 300 Statement of Guiding Principles for Administration (will come back for a first reading)
  • 301.1 (new 302.1)  Superintendent of Schools – Qualifications and Recruitment (will come back for a first reading)
  • 501.3-E1 Attendance Requirements (will come back for a first reading)
  • 501.3-E2 Attendance Regulations (will come back for a first reading)
  • 501.5 Attendance Center Assignment (will come back for a first reading)
  • 701.3 Financial Records (IASB Policy Primer) (marked as reviewed)
  • 705.2-R1 Suspension and Debarment of Vendors and Contractors Procedure (IASB Policy Primer) (will come back for a first reading)
  • 705.1-R2 Using Federal Funds in Procurement Contracts (IASB Policy Primer) (will come back for a first reading)

From Board President Bea Niblock
“Last night’s board meeting saw the board, once again, complete. With Bob Untiedt’s resignation in October, the board was left to appoint someone to fill that position until the next election in November 2021. That election will see four seats up to be filled.

The board appointed Niko Aguirre to fill that position. Last night’s meeting was his first meeting.  Niko had served on the board once before. It was a comfortable feeling having him back with us at Monday’s meeting. Welcome back, Niko!” – Bea Niblock

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. The meeting will be available to watch via YouTube live stream.