School board OKs math curriculum updates

Changes in ag course titles proposed as district to offer dual credit with ICCC

At Monday night’s regular meeting, the Webster City School Board approved high school math course updates slated to begin with the start of the 2020/2021 school year.

Jama Hisler, Webster City School Director of Teaching and Learning and high school Principal Dan Johnson, addressed the board regarding Math curriculum updates. The educators advocated that the Webster City High School remove remedial math courses in the high school and instead offer Pre-Algebra in the middle school with all freshman students required to take Algebra I.

The requirement would not change for any current high school student, emphasized Hisler but would be applied for incoming eighth grade students. In order to facilitate this proposal, an algebra readiness lab would be offered for support.

In addition, with the Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) model to be adopted at the beginning of the next school year, students would receive the additional instruction necessary to help them master the concepts, explained Superintendent Dr. Mandy Ross.

MTSS is a course of study which will allow teachers to help students grasp concepts by allocating additional time and effort until skills are learned and mastered.

In regards to the Ag Program, Johnson proposed that for the 2020/2021 school year, the district begin to offer dual credit with Iowa Central Community College. In this transition, Agronomy would become Principals of Crop Production, Landscaping would become Principals of Horticulture and Animal Science would become Survey of Animal Husbandry. Ag Business would become Risk Management.

These programs will be offered to Junior and Senior students. Only Gifted and Talented sophomore students who are proficient on the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress testing would be eligible for enrollment in the program, he said.

“This creates a continuous study,” explained Johnson. “It sets up three strands of instruction – plant science, animal science and ag business. It also sets students up for success if the Ag Academy comes about.”

Hisler and Johnson also addressed the Iowa Department of Education mandate that requires all students receive financial literacy education.

As financial literacy study is imbedded in the required Economics course of the WCHS Social Studies department, there is no need to develop a single course to meet the state requirement, said Hisler.

“This instruction will blend economics and consumer literacy,” explained Johnson.

The board approved all course updates.

The board approved the 2020/2021 school calendar with a full day of Professional Development scheduled for November. The proposal adheres to the 195 days of teacher-contracted instruction.

Ross recommended the full day be scheduled in order to give teachers continuity of training. Currently, PD training is done in an hour before or after school with late starts or early dismissals for students on those days.

Board members asked that the full day out be communicated in advance so that parents can make child care arrangements.

In personnel, the board approved the voluntary transfer of Michael Ross from Instructional Coach to First Grade teacher for the 2020/2021 school year.

The board approved a contract with School Pointe Website Redesign for a website update. The cost for the first year is $7,500 with subsequent years costing $5,000.

The new design allows for a phone app which will contain all the district’s information, said Ross. In addition, it will include task management tools such as applying for vehicle requests and work tickets on-line.

“It is user friendly with a lot of usable features, including the posting of board policies and board decisions,” she said.

A protective equipment fund transfer was approved in the amount of $1,569.

The board approved three fundraising requests: the Prom Donation request letter to be sent to parents of Juniors; WC Rocketry Trivia Night to raise money for team expenses; and a Middle School “unfundraiser” which will ask for a flat donation rather than requiring students to sell products.

The board approved the facilities agreement with the semi-pro football team, the Central Iowa Chiefs for use of the Northeast Hamilton Elementary Football Field. Eric Patterson and Marlin Pruismann had approved the agreement for several years while serving as NEH School Board Directors and endorsed the current partnership. Event dates will be scheduled for three games in May and one in mid-June.

The board approved two education contracts for students services with Manson NW Webster CSD. Before the vote, Director Linda Williams asked for an accounting of the number of students who are contracted out of the Webster City district. Ross will report back to the board on those numbers.

Changes to Board Policy 900 were highlighted during the first reading of the document.

“We want to make this specific enough to guide but not make it so cumbersome that people don’t read it,” said Ross as she began to highlight several changes which eliminated redundant clauses and strengthened initial policy.

Board members agreed to designate the superintendent as the district spokesman rather than the board president. Also, all news releases will require the approval of the superintendent. The board agreed with President Beth Van Diest’s request that the new policies be included in both the employee handbook and in board policy.

The student in media policy was moved to the student handbook in an effort to be more available for students, parents and staff to access.

Pruismann asked that policy regarding the behavior of visitors to the schools be made practical and functional so it is known to all attending school events. In addition, all postings and flyers in the school must be approved through the office of that building.

New policy also outlined the private transportation of students.

As for building use, Ross noted that current policy allows non-profit entities to use the school’s facilities without charge. She proposed that a fee schedule be established to help the district recapture costs incurred rather than the district pay the cost of use out of its General Fund.

The 900 Series also establishes all the district’s buildings as a Smoke-Free Environment with no tobacco, tobacco products or vaping products allowed.

Regarding the use of drones, the policy allows use in accordance with FAA regulations. The drone policy will also be posted in the student handbook which will give the administration the authority to regulate.

In administrative reports, Ross announced that mid-year visits with staff members in each district building have begun. She also will be available one afternoon a month after school for staff members unable to attend in-building meetings.

Ross also announced the publication of a monthly staff newsletter which will serve as a communication tool to help keep staff informed of district news and events.

The work session scheduled for Feb. 24 after the regular board meeting will address the district’s unused facilities. The superintendent has asked for the board’s direction on future policy.

The meeting adjourned at 7:19 p.m. The next meeting for the school board is scheduled for Feb. 24 at 6 p.m.