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Weekly Update: November 4, 2016

 
Weekly Update: November 4, 2016
 
Dear Board of Education, Grinnell Staff and Friends:
 
Grinnell-Newburg School District Highlights this week!  In the spirit of celebration, I have to mention that this week we celebrated history as the Cub’s won the World Series. Although difficult for me to put this in writing, as I was born and raised near Cleveland, I could not share my weekly update without making a congratulations comment to all of our Cubs fans!   It has been a long awaited celebration.  
 
Here is some more fun news:
 
Kix 101.1 Pack the Backpack:  
Christy Hughes, third grade teacher at Davis, was chosen to receive the Backpack for the month of October from Central Office Supply in Marshalltown. She was nominated by one of her students.  Congratulations Christy!
 
Dr. Ursula Wolz:
It was a pleasure meeting with Dr. Wolz this past week!  Dr. Wolz, visiting professor, presented at Grinnell College this past week on the historical perspective on Computers in Education, raising important issues for student privacy, curricular choice, and freedom of speech.  She also discussed the impact of technology, including knowledge engineering and data science/deep learning, related to online learning.  I had an opportunity to visit with her prior to her visiting with our students who have been working on developing applications for the iPad.  
 
Copiers and Printers:
You will see on the upcoming board agenda, superintendent’s report, an item on copiers and printer consolidation.  We are exploring options to renew copiers and printers to see if we can be more efficient as well as explore cost saving measures.   On an average our copiers are more than five years old.   Printers are older than that.   We will have to consider the number of printers to renew being conscientious of future facility recommendations.
 
Early Retirement Option:
This week we presented an option for certified and noncertified staff members to opt in to an early retirement plan.   This plan will be presented to the board for consideration at the November 9, 2016 Board meeting.      
 
Phone Project update:
  • A detailed list of phone needs has been created.
  • 9 additional phones were identified as needed (including a conference phone for board room), which drove the need for a change order for $4,097.18.
  • Programming for the phones is currently underway.
  • An assessment of additional cabling/reconnection costs has been completed and costs are estimated to be under $10,000.
  • Some current wiring is not currently connected to the switches. An estimated 5 more switches will need to be purchased at an estimated cost of $25,000. The final number needed will be determined once the wiring is completed.
  • IP Pathways will be completing a Quality of Service Assessment to ensure there is no impact to the network.
  • Once this work is completed the phones will be taken to the classrooms and tested, prior to the cutover.
  • Training on the new phones will be provided in detail to Administrative Assistants. More general training documents will be provided to other staff and perhaps a short PD day training session or Q&A.
  • We are hoping for the new phones to be in use this spring at the latest.

Board Agenda Item Clarification:
Under the new business items you will see the line item budget and financial projections.  These will be discussed earlier in the meeting under fiduciary.  There was a question as to whether these items are informational or for approval.  Please know that we are asking the Board to approve these items in order for us to make financial decisions in the future. I hope this clarifies why you would see these items under new business.  
Financial Projection  Line Item Budget  
 
Administrative Meeting Highlights:
The administrative team has finalized the November 7, 2016 Professional Development.  Please note that 20 staff members will be participating in Vanguard Training.  This technology integration training will assist our staff in building capacity as we continue to make an impact on the manner in which we instruct our students in a global economy.
 
The team also discussed curriculum frameworks, assessment data and presentation, and upcoming principal evaluation meetings.  We would like to present to the Board of Education a State of the District Presentation at the December Board meeting that would include: Demographic data, assessment data, and action plans as aligned to our district goals.
 
Curriculum Focus:
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS):  Janet will be meeting with our AEA representative in order to identify professional development opportunities for our science teaching staff to continue curriculum alignment.  
 
Language Arts:
Discussions continue regarding the need to evaluate our current curriculum frameworks, materials and assessments.   Our professional development focus has taken priority this school year that will ultimately enhance our delivery of curriculum.  Later this year, Janet will begin to work with K-8 staff to enhance our curriculum frameworks that are aligned to the Iowa Core, conceptual understandings, and Depth of Knowledge in an effort to explore curriculum resources that will support our curriculum.         
 
Consortium Program:
We met with the House of Mercy representatives this past week to explore options to provide mental health support to our students who participate in the consortium.  The consortium group met a few weeks ago to explore options to provide this support for students.  It is evident that we will be able to do this at little or almost no cost to the consortium as the majority will be covered under student’s medicaid.    
 
AEA Superintendent’s meeting Cedar Falls -
This past week I attended the monthly superintendent’s meeting in Cedar Falls.   We reviewed the Smarter Balance assessment, ESSA rules that could affect how we distribute funds equitably rather than by need of our students, and the new desk audit.  The desk audit will require the district to submit artifacts by December 15 in order to demonstrate compliance.  We are required to answer many compliant questions and show artifacts such as, but not limited to: teacher certification, various policies, course requirements, evidence for music, art and PE taught at the elementary level.  We will be collecting our artifacts to upload in the next few weeks. Please know that this will take a considerable amount of time to complete.  The administrative  team will collaborate together to ensure that all items are submitted on time.  
 
Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Session:
I will be attending the ESSA informational meeting this coming Monday night at 5:00 PM in Ottumwa, Iowa.  ESSA replaces the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and will be fully implemented starting in the 2017-18 school year.  ESSA provides a more reasonable balance between the role of states and the federal government in accountability for the success of all children. Under the reauthorized law, the federal government sets expectations, and states determine how schools will reach them.  Please know that there are some rules under ESSA, such as the supplant/supplement, that could result in the loss of targeted funding for those students who may need more support or resources, as well as the ability for local school boards to make these decisions.  For more information please click on the following link: ESSA
 
Fall Concert: Piano Debut
The fall concert was simply amazing last night.  Thank you to our community of supporters who donated to the piano fund.  It was a wonderful evening, that featured fabulous talent, and was followed by an energizing reception.   Thank you GNEE for hosting the reception.  I look forward to our next concert and many more to come.
 
Math Meeting
Today I will be visiting with middle school math teachers to discuss math acceleration and programming.  
 
Upcoming Events
Board Meeting- November 9
Veterans Day Assembly - November 11
3rd Grade field trips to Faulconer Gallery- multiple dates in November
Davis trip to the Iowa Wild- November 10
Poweshiek County PK-8 STEM Festival- November 13
2nd grade FV & BP to Science Center- November 18
Movie Night at Harris Center (PTO)- November 18
Hour of Code - First Week of December 5-11
BP Kindergarten Carols and Cookies Music Concerts- December 16
Breakfast Book Club Event (PTO)- Open to the public- December 20
 
Please see the attached Board Agenda.  Our next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 9 at 6:00 p.m. in the High School Board Room.  I would like to remind all parents and community members that anyone is welcome to attend.  
 
New information has been added to our Virtual Backpack, please feel free to visit the page to find out what is going on in the community for your students! The Virtual Backpack can be found under the orange Partnerships tab.  Thanks to those who have submitted.  
 
Have a fabulous weekend!
 
I am truly enjoying Grinnell's Fall!