SIBLEY—Addressing staffing options, including the top job, was the top concern of the Sibley-Ocheyedan Education Board on Monday February 14.
Superintendent James Craig sought advice from the board after receiving a request to consider sharing a superintendent position with the Harris-Lake Park School District. The administrator there has accepted another position, and the district would prefer not to hire a full-time replacement or otherwise require an administrator to share a role of superintendent and director. It also affected other districts in the region.
“The question is whether or not we would be interested in an informal discussion about this,” Craig said. “That’s all Harris-Lake Park cares about right now.”
The benefits would be to add funding for both districts worth eight students or $56,384 at current rates through operational sharing, as well as significantly reduce the superintendent’s salary paid by each district. It could also provide further opportunities for program sharing in the future, both for staff and student activities.
“The trade-off is that you lose your education leader. The superintendent then becomes manager of two districts and educationally none,” Craig said. “I would have no problem doing it, but I also like the position as it is now.”
The board consensus was to move forward with the discussions.
“It never hurts to sit down and listen,” said board member Jamie Arend.
Board chairman Kyle Grimes added that it would normally have been an automatic ‘no’ in the past, but that potential future conditions make consideration more attractive.
“Just having a conversation definitely can’t hurt,” Grimes said.
Changes in maintenance staff led to the recommendation to create the full-time position of Buildings and Grounds Manager, which changes the responsibilities of the day caretaker.
Craig also recommended raising the starting guard salary to $14 per hour at the start of the hiring process, and the night guard salary by $1.00 for current staff members. The Board approved these changes.
Greg Greenfield will assume the position of director of maintenance with the resignation of Tyler Plotz. Larry Lemke has been approved to fill the position of New Buildings and Grounds.
The other resignations approved were for Haley Boeckholt, Taylor Boeckholt, Kelsey Burns and Allyssa Blanchfield. Grimes thanked them for their service to the district. A new contract has been approved for Heather Kleinwolterink as a backup bus driver.
Haley Boeckholt, Grade 3 Instructor and Coach for the K-6 Literacy Program, shared how her team strives to achieve district literacy goals.
“We’re on the cycle for a new reading program next year, so that’s mostly what our team has been really focused on,” Boeckholt said. “The science of reading is the big new thing we’re trying to move towards. The science of reading is very skill- and center-based, but centers have to be very, very intentional. We’re just looking for that kind of cohesive program that brings all of these different components together.
She asked staff for feedback on the positives and negatives of the current program as they reviewed the new material. The structure, variety of material, teacher-friendly resources, ELL readers, and 90-minute block were all positive. Writing, comprehension and phonetics were reported as missing or more difficult to implement.
Resource sites for intervention and FAST data are cumbersome. Boeckholt has assembled a comprehensive document combining and organizing the information in a much more user-friendly format.
PS-6 Principal Cory Jenness began Administrator Reports with a notice on upcoming teaching cycles and Iowa-wide student progress assessment tests, and updates on FAST test data and interventions.
Overall, Sibley-Ocheyedan students are ahead of the Northwest Area Education Agency regional and state levels for FAST test performance, earning a proficiency rate of 73% versus 65 % for the other two groups. The objective is to reach 80% by the end of the year. Breaking down the data showed performance gaps for students who receive English language learning and special education services.
Thirteen students graduated from the elementary tutoring program after the last round of testing. Principal Stan De Zeeuw reported that the college has also seen some students improve enough to transfer out of the intervention.
Craig began his report by announcing that the Iowa Senate had approved a 2.5% increase in state aid, raising the cost per student from $7,048 to $7,229. An internal bill proposes one-time funds of $19.5 million to be distributed among districts in the state.
Students will be asked about their perception of their learning as part of the educational rounds on February 15. The school improvement committee met to review the work on the vision, mission and strategic plan.
“We need to look at the system and how we’re helping students move forward in this new era,” Craig said. “It’s nice to feel that we’re all heading in the same direction.”
In-house mentoring and online professional development will begin in August, along with adjustments to teaching English as a second language as the district addresses an equitable distribution of resources.
Craig announced the results of the speech and large group wrestling, with Madison Brouwer reaching the milestone of 1,000 points scored and fifth-year student Emily Lopez-Jauregui being selected as the winner of the Dordt University Art Competition for its monthly recognition of excellence.