January 9, 2024
Winter weather is upon us! The meteorologists were accurate about this current weather system. The snow is wet and heavy! Mrs. Ryan and I were commenting last night on how times have changed as compared to when we were growing up. Technology has certainly improved accuracy and timing of snow falls. Way back when, we would wait and pray that our superintendent would make a posting on the local TV station by the end of the 10:00pm newscast. That was the soonest we would hear of any announcement due to the lack of internet, technology, and cell phones. The students of today just don’t get to experience the true anticipation of a called snow day! Anyhow, I certainly hope our students were able to have a traditional snow day today. The temperatures are tolerable for the month of January and its a perfect day to be outside. I hope they are able to enjoy some time sledding and other winter activities.
School safety is on the forefront of all of our minds. In the aftermath of the Perry CSD tragedy, every school across the state is reflecting upon what occurred and how it could have been prevented. We routinely visit our safety plans and practice our drills. School safety is not a “one time” experience. School safety is what we practice every day, even though our procedures can be inconvenient at times. A few things that we currently do are listed below.
Secured Safety Entrances – Entrance into the school buildings from 8:00am to 3:15pm are through one entrance and must be allowed permission to enter. The entrances are locked controlled. We do not issue metal keys and all staff have electronic FOB devices to allow them in the buildings. By not issuing metal keys our district is implementing a prevention practice to avoid keys from unauthorized duplication. All electronic entrances record date and time when the FOBs are used.
Safe + Sounds App. This is an app that the State of Iowa implemented for anonymous reporting of any school safety topic. We have shared this app with our students and have encouraged them to use the app when it is necessary. We strongly support the philosophy of See Something, Say Something. The app is free and available to the public.
Regular emergency drills and training in all safety aspects. This includes intruder drills, fire drills, and severe weather drills. Active shooter drills are and how we respond are part of the procedures we implement.
Character Strong and Teach to Heal. These are two curriculums that our staff has been recently trained in or are currently going through the training. Much of the learning is focused on social emotional topics that fosters collaborative relations of student to student, student to staff, and staff to staff.
Mental Health Resources – Our district contracts with Center Associates in Marshalltown. Center Associates visits our school multiple times per week and is available to students and staff. These services are available when students may be struggling with emotional topics.
Strong and Supportive Relationships with our Marshall County Sheriff’s Department. The Sheriff’s Department is part of our Emergency Operations Planning team and we have very strong and reliable relationships with our law enforcement agency.
As always, if parents have questions or concerns about our ongoing safety practices, they may call any of the school principals or me as a resource.
Our school district’s PPEL levy will be expiring soon. The PPEL levy helps fund the replacement of physical and plant items, such as school buses, maintenance equipment, and computers/technology. The PPEL is vital for maintaining an appropriate educational environment for our students. The district will be asking the voters to reauthorize the PPEL levy for a ten year extension. This is common and the East Marshall CSD voters approved the PPEL levy in 2015. On March 5, 2024 the district will be asking our voters to reauthorize the PPEL. If a patron has questions about the PPEL, I may be contacted at the District Office by phone at 641-498-7481.
As we begin our second semester I wish to extend many thanks to our supporters who make things happen for kids in our district. There are many supporters that are behind the scenes that rarely get the attention they deserve. I send sincere thanks to all of you. You ensure that our students experience a well rounded education with opportunities at East Marshall CSD.
As always, today is a great day to be a Mustang!
Yours in education,
December 5, 2023
This week our school district is hosting our annual winter holiday vocal and band concerts. The performances continue to impress me. The students do such a wonderful job. I am always amazed at how well our students perform and the growth that occurs within a short amount of time. Kudos to the vocal and band teachers for leading such wonderful programs!
Our Facilities Community Committee met last Wednesday. The next scheduled meeting is December 20th and will be at the high school in LeGrand. Tyler Riley, the district’s architect, is guiding our committee through identifying what the committee believes are the priorities in regards to developing a multiyear plan. The conversations have been productive. The meetings have occurred in the classrooms, which has been a quality experience because most patrons do not visit the classrooms. The committee has been able to have a first hand and practical experience with the conditions of the buildings.
School funding is always a topic of attention when discussing any update to school facilities. Our school district has been very diligent over the last several years when it comes to local taxes. The district has either maintained a steady tax rate without increases or the tax rate has decreased. Over the last handful of years the school district refinanced the former GO Bond, thus saving our local tax payers money. The former GO Bond was fully paid off last spring which was several years earlier than anticipated. This too, saved the school district local tax money. Over the last three years, local residents have experienced a decrease in taxes related to the school district. Our district has been able to do this without negatively impacting academics or extra-curricular activities. This has occurred with strategic and decisive decision making. Our school district is in a very responsible position in regards to funding and appropriate use of public funds.
Recently, the Iowa Department of Education released the Iowa School Performance Profile. Our school district experienced academic growth in all three of our school buildings. I applaud our staff and give them a tip of the hat. Our district had areas in annual growth for math and language arts. We have identified that some areas may not have met the goal and are shy of the state average, but our annual growth was heading in the correct direction. It is important that we meet kids where they are with learning and create an opportunity for growth. Again, our staff does a fantastic job with blazing a trail in these areas. There are definitely reasons to celebrate this year!
On December 6th the East Marshall Board of Education will be hosting a Legislative Dinner/Forum with four of our local state legislators. Those who will be represented will be Representative Cahill, Representative Fisher, Senator Edler, and Senator Rozenboom. This forum will allow opportunities for our local school board members to ask questions in regards to the upcoming legislative session. We appreciate the time and dedication that our legislators commit to the people of the State of Iowa.
This week we are experiencing a higher percentage of student absences than typical. There are a couple of viruses working through our school system. We remind our families to wash hands often and to keep your child home if he/she is running a fever. Guidance on returning to school can be found in our student handbooks or by calling the school office and visiting with the school nurse.
Our school calendar is nearing the end of the semester in three weeks. We encourage all of our students to finish the semester strong. Winter break is right around the corner!
Today is a great day to be a Mustang!
Yours in education,
November 13, 2023
Midterm second quarter is upon us and the winter student activities are underway. Good things are occurring within the district. East Marshall CSD is truly a great organization.
Parent Teacher conferences are behind us and the percentage of turnout was high. We appreciate all of the support that our families provide the district, staff, and students. We are on the downward slope of the first semester.
District facility improvement continues to be a major focus of planning. There are been several planning committee meetings with the district’s architect. Conversations are providing valuable information from our parents and public. Along the way, we will be discussing opportunities for improvements. Our district is in a good spot with Funds that support facility improvements and construction. The school board was proactive with refinancing former G.O. bonds and paid them off early, saving local tax payers money. The 2007 edition of high school construction was fully paid last June. This leaves East Marshall CSD’s tax base in a historical favorable condition. More planning to come in the near future and the next Facility Planning Committee meeting will occur on the evening of November 29th.
Our school district continues to consult with the Central Rivers AEA in regards to professional resources for our teachers and instructional environment. The AEA staff does a wonderful job providing the latest in research as we keep up with the latest demands of education. Currently the AEA staff is assisting the East Marshall CSD staff in the areas of social emotional/behavioral health, Teach to Heal, mathematics, Character Strong, and artificial intelligence (AI). On January 2nd, the AEA will be spending the afternoon with our certified staff focusing on next steps with artificial intelligence in preparing our students how to use AI responsibly, prepping the students on how to use AI with academic honesty/ethics.
Our district will be researching the idea of a four day school academic calendar. A committee will be gathering data and discussing the positives and negatives of a four day student calendar. One may wonder the “why” our district is researching this topic. The field of education has entered into an era that there are limited teaching candidates for open positions. East Marshall CSD is not immune to this challenge of limited applicants. This topic is what prompted the original discussion of this type of calendar. Many other school districts throughout the state have transitioned over to a four day student calendar and each has been able to work through the possible challenges along the way. In addition, feedback from families of these districts have favorable reviews of the transition and the communities have been able to meet the needs of the challenges of the transitions. Our East Marshall committee will work through insights provided from the other districts with a focus on doing right for East Marshall CSD and our families.
As always, if a patron has questions he/she is welcome to contact me by email or by phone at the district office.
Yours in education,
Sept. 11, 2023
Dear East Marshall CSD patrons,
We have had a great start to the 2023-2024 school year! Our students transitioned from summer to the school day routines with success. Our teachers and staff welcomed our students with open arms and the classrooms were setup to be nurturing for learning. Great things are going to happen this school year!
East Marshall CSD has invested a lot of resources in curriculum reviews and upgrades for this school year. Melissa Blohm is our Director of Curriculum and she has met with our teacher committees when selecting updates. Moving forward during the 2023-2024 school year, our district will focus on staff professional development around social emotional learning, Character Strong, and HumanEx activities.
Fall extra-curricular activities are in full swing. All three of our fall season sports have experienced success this fall. The fall musical auditions are right around the corner and the band will be marching in the Oktemberfest parade. We look forward in seeing such talent being shared by our students.
The district continues to plan for future facility upgrades. Recently, the facilities committee met and discussed East Marshall CSD’s current scenario and began discussing long-term planning. On August 27th the committee will meet, again, with the district’s architect, Tyler Riley. As shared at the last committee meeting, East Marshall CSD refinanced the G.O. bonds over the last handful of years and the district’s last G.O. bond was paid in full last spring. This places East Marshall CSD is a good position financially with moving forward with facility decisions.
Homecoming is scheduled for the last week in September. There will be the traditional Homecoming activities during the seek of September 25 through September 29. Coronation will be Thursday, September 28th.
We would like to thank all of our families for supporting a wonderful start to the school year. East Marshall CSD is a great place to go to school and we value our families. Thank you for all you do at home in support of our school district.
As always, today is a great day to be a Mustang!