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Monthly WL School Superintendant Report
by Superintendant Steve Hanson · December 04, 2013


As we enter the Thanksgiving break, we are grateful for all the support our school district receives from the community. Our parents, as well as the larger community, make our district a wonderful place in which to live and to raise children. The staff of the West Liberty Community School District thanks you for the opportunity to serve.

The musical Shrek, performed at our high school on Nov. 7-9, was an excellent example of the community involvement and support that characterize our district. In addition to the hard work and dedication of staff members (from the high school, as well as from other buildings), the production benefitted from the contributions of many parents and Fine Arts Boosters. Thank you for helping to make this a top-notch production through your help with costumes and props, scenery, sound and the printed programs.

A record number of our FFA students travelled to the national FFA convention in Louisville during the last week of October. Kathy Kaalberg (Class of 2013), who earned first place last spring at the FFA state contest in the category, “Job Interview,” competed at the FFA national convention (Oct. 30-31) and earned a gold rating, securing eighth place in the nation. Congratulations to Kathy, her parents, the FFA program and everyone in the school district who contributed to her formation. Some of our FFA students participated in the WL Holiday Open House on Nov. 24, displaying some of the poinsettias they had raised in the green house; the poinsettias went on sale on Nov. 25.

Seven students from the middle school attended a STEM conference for girls in late October at ISU in Ames, together with TAG teacher Jackie Henderson. They found the experience eye-opening in regards to STEM careers [STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math]. Also in October, middle school teacher Dan Stevenson took six middle school students to Des Moines for a student council conference. Part of their day included visiting the capitol building.

WLHS student Reghan McNaul competed at the state cross country meet on November 2. She placed 29th out of 120 runners and broke her own school record of 16:23, finishing in 16:06.

Winter sports are underway. The seventh and eighth grade girls basketball teams, as well as the wrestlers from grades 7 and 8, have been practicing and competing since late October. For a full schedule of all activities, see our school website (www.wl.k12.ia.us) or the River Valley Conference website (www.rivervalleyconference.org). The high school PBIS team has been sending tweets related to students and their activities. Their site is https://twitter.com/WLHSComets.

Our school board recently returned from a two-day trip to Des Moines for the school board convention. We truly have a dedicated board; it is uncommon that 100% of the members of a school board attend the annual state convention, yet this is a normal practice for our school board. Many thanks to Mike Duytschaver, Lynne Sasmazer, David Millage, Emily Geertz and José Zacarias for their dedication to the students of West Liberty.

The Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) committee is working on a teacher leadership plan that we will submit to the Iowa Department of Education by the end of January. The goals of the TLC plan are as follows:

1) To promote collaboration among teachers and improve implementation of evidence-based practices.

2) To retain effective teachers by providing opportunities to share their knowledge and skills, and thus impact instruction in other classrooms, without having to give up their own classroom teaching assignment to do so.

3) To provide opportunities for increased remuneration to teachers who have demonstrated their effectiveness.

4) To improve student achievement. Districts in the state of Iowa can choose from among three different TLC models; in each of the models, at least 25% of the teachers in a district must be involved to varying degrees in teacher leadership.

For our district, that means that approximately 25 teachers will assume extra responsibilities, for which they will receive extra pay, once our plan is approved. Districts whose plans are approved will receive extra revenue from the state to offset the extra expenditures. In March, the Iowa Department of Education will approve the plans of districts representing one third of the students in the state; the following year, the Department of Education will approve the plans of districts representing another third of the students in the state; the final group of districts will be added in 2016-17.

Our district leadership team is working on the calendar for the 2014/15 school year; the proposed calendar will be submitted for school board approval in the month of February.

School districts in the state of Iowa must decide whether they will count instructional time in days or in hours next year (180 days or 1080 hours). The minimum length of the school day for the 180-day calendar will be 6 hours, excluding lunch. One major disadvantage of the 180-day calendar is that we would not be able to have any early dismissals or late starts of any kind, since a day of instruction will not count unless it involves at least six hours of instruction. Adopting a 180-day calendar would impact our professional development program (Wednesday early dismissals), as well as the practice of shortening the school day due to weather concerns (fog, snow, heat, etc.).

If we choose to follow a 1080-hour calendar, and if a normal school day were to include at least 6 ¼ hours of instruction, we would be able to have weekly early dismissals for professional development, and some late starts or early dismissals due to weather, and still meet the 1080-hour minimum in 180 days of instruction.

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