Strategic plan approved

School board takes action concerning special education deficit, board room video system

TIMES-REPUBLICAN

The plan is in place.

After several months of development, the Marshalltown School Board approved the 2017-18 district strategic plan at Monday’s regular session.

“We initially started off with a survey of our school community,” said district Superintendent Dr. Theron Schutte on the process.

That strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis helped pave the way for the strategic plan. After the SWOT survey was taken by district residents, staff, administrators, students and parents, the input was placed in the Thoughexchange program.

“From that, five primary goal areas were identified: student achievement, staff development, learning environments, communication/engagement as well as resources,” Schutte said, adding community meetings were held to decide the district’s new vision and mission statements.

The five main aspects of the new strategic plan, approved 5-0 by the board, include student achievement, staff development, communication and engagement, learning environments and resources. Each of those main items has its own metrics and strategies.

Schutte said the plan is set for the next three to five years, and will not be completed within the current year.

The district’s special education deficit was also discussed at Monday’s meeting.

“Certain educational programs, such as special education, have mechanisms in place so that, when we have over-expenditures due to lack of state or federal funding, we can get that money back,” said district Director of Special Services Matt Cretsinger as he presented information on the deficit.

Along with district Director of Business Operations Brian Bartz, Cretsinger was seeking board approval to seek authority from the state School Budget Review Committee (SBRC) for allowable growth and supplemental aid to lessen the deficit. The board gave it’s unanimous approval of the move.

There were several factors outlined by Cretsinger as to how the 2016-17 special education deficit of $1,986,826 came to be. Issues with Medicaid, transportation costs and higher special services costs were among those factors.

“Overall, we had our revenues decrease by 5.3 percent and our expenses increase by 1.8 percent,” Cretsinger said.

On Medicaid, he said that the district’s previous vendor during the 2014-15 school year gave only one of it’s three scheduled payments.

“The following year, we got a reimbursement, plus two-thirds of the one before that, so we had a huge bubble come in,” Cretsinger said. “The other big change was that Medicaid changed the rules mid-year on us.”

To address the budget issue, he said things like staff retention, collaboration with the Area Education Agency (AEA) and overall efficiency were areas being worked on.

Cretsinger also said professional development for special services teacher and paraeducators is a focus, and that outside districts are now able to pay for their students to use Marshalltown’s special programs, as space permits.

In other business

In a 4-1 decision, the board approved a bid by Mechdyne Corporation to upgrade the board room’s video system. Fletcher was the sole “no” vote, with Board President Bea Niblock, Vice President Janelle Carter and members Karina Hernández and Sean Heitmann voting in favor. Board members Ross Harris and Mike Miller were not in attendance at Monday’s meeting.

The move comes after the board’s recent approval of a bid for an upgrade to the room’s audio system, and the total estimated cost for both upgrades is $37,683.

A request for proposal (RFP) was also approved for 131 Acer chromebooks with accompanying headphones and carts. The equipment would be for Title I classroom use, and funding would come out of about $59,000 carried over from the district’s 2016-17 Title I Part A allocation.

The district’s principals were recognized at the meeting as part of National Principals Month.

The next Marshalltown School Board meeting is set for 5 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Central Administration Office, 1002 S. 3rd Ave.

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com