Investments in the future

As an educator, the signs of fall always bring to mind the concept of a fresh start. School is back in session and students are experiencing the “new beginning” that comes with being in a new grade, with potentially different teachers and possibly a new school building. Their excitement is contagious! From the lens of an Area Education Agency, optimism around the potential of what students can achieve through our partnership with the adults who serve them is equally as high. Our agency has made some big investments this past year to ensure that we are prepared to meet current and future demands–including those of the over 65,000 students our services reach.

On July 1, we officially changed our name to Central Rivers Area Education Agency from Area Education Agency 267. Our new name ushers in an era of consistent, collaborative service across the 18 counties we serve and moves us beyond references to the three agencies we were prior to merging some 15 years ago.

Along with the name change, we made several investments in our Marshalltown office to ensure that our conference facilities are comfortable, desirable places for learning and our office space is efficiently used. In addition, we moved our entire set of classroom materials to Marshalltown to capture efficiencies in how we transport them to the 53 public and 18 accredited nonpublic schools who make daily requests for them for their classrooms. Making this change alone will save our agency over $100,000 annually in associated expenses.

In Cedar Falls, a decision was made to move our operations from our three former buildings on Cedar Heights Drive to one building on Technology Parkway. This investment has expanded professional learning capacity for the 5,000 educators we serve, increased efficiency by reducing long-term overhead costs, and advanced efforts to integrate fundamental services by housing them under one roof. Our new site has a capacity of 500 participants in the main conference center as well as contemporary work spaces that encourage collaboration between and among local educators and staff. These expanded conference facilities have allowed us to increase our professional learning trainings for area teachers and administrators which should translate into more effective teaching and learning in local classrooms.

All of these changes have been done with one sole purpose — to ensure that our services are here for those we serve not just today, but for years to come. Thank you for your continued partnership! Iowa’s Area Education Agencies, including Central Rivers Area Education Agency, are deeply invested in ensuring that all students can succeed both now and in the future.

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Sam Miller is the chief administrator of Central Rivers Area Education Agency, based in Cedar Falls. He can be reached at (319) 273-8204.