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Monthly School Report, December
by Superintendent Steve Hanson · January 02, 2014


We’ve had some great concerts recently and are very proud of our music staff: Robin Evans (Elementary School music), Megan Austin (Middle School band, and kindergarten music), Brenda Miller (Middle School music), Ashley Smith (High School band & 5th grade band), and Nathan Shivers (High School vocal music). The high school show choir will make their public debut on Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. at the high school. Mark your calendars and plan to attend!

At the school board meeting on January 6, Shive-Hattery architects will present their plans for air conditioning at the Elementary building and the Early Learning Center. The school board will be asked to approve the plans and give permission for the job to go out for bids.

The school board has been examining the preschool program, since a financial report revealed that the program in its current format (all day, every day) costs more to operate than it generates in revenue. One option to help bring revenues and expenditures more in line with each other is to increase the amount of tuition the district charges for students to stay the full day. Funding received from the state is intended to cover the cost of a half-day program; our district operates a full-day program, and receives money from Head Start, Empowerment and tuition for the other half of the day.

The school calendar committee will wrap up its work on Jan. 8 and present its recommendations to the school board on the first Monday of February. In addition to determining the start date, ending date and breaks for 2014-15, the committee must decide whether our school district will count instructional time next year in hours or in days (1080 hours or 180 days). Since a school day must include a minimum of six hours of instruction (excluding lunch), a minimum of 1080 hours of instruction is the same amount of time as 180 school days of minimum length. Counting instruction in hours instead of days offers the advantage of increased flexibility, such as being able to dismiss school early for professional development and still count the hours that classes meet that day, even though there might be fewer than six hours of instruction.

On the topic of the school calendar, please be reminded that we will not have school on Jan. 13, due to professional development, nor on Jan. 20, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The state legislature has appropriated funds for a Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) system in our state. In March, the Iowa Department of Education will approve the TLC applications of districts representing one third of the students in the state, allowing them to implement their systems in August 2014. Districts representing another third of the students will be approved for funding and implementation in 2015-16, and the final third in 2016-17. These TLC systems will allow each district to involve 25% of its teacher workforce in instructional leadership, giving teachers added responsibilities for which they will receive supplemental pay. The vision of a TLC system is that teacher leaders will support colleagues as they collaborate and reflect on their practice. Teacher leaders will share their expertise, resulting in improved implementation of evidence-based instructional practices, which in turn will lead to improved student learning. More information about TLC systems is available at https://www.educateiowa.gov/teacher-leadership-and-compensation-system.

Motivational speaker, Roy Juarez, Jr., addressed our high school students on December 11; he will return to West Liberty on Jan. 7 for an evening presentation that is open to the public. Please consider attending this program at 6:00 p.m. at our high school auditorium. For more information about Roy Juarez, Jr. and his message, visit his website at http://www.homelessbychoice.com.

Thanks to you parents and members of the community who participated in a visioning survey that was conducted in November. We have received the results of the survey and will share those results next month. One of the topics of the survey was the curriculum: specifically, your level of awareness and knowledge of the Iowa Core (the Common Core). Another article will be written next month that will be dedicated exclusively to the topic of the Iowa Core.

We are extremely thankful for all the support our school district receives from our community. Peace to you and your families and friends during this holiday season.

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