Monday marks five years since Marvin Wade arrived from Colorado to lead the Marshalltown Community School District as superintendent.
Wade, 56, said in some ways it has felt like it's been five years and in other ways it has moved faster than that. He said he knows they have challenges ahead but he feels the district is headed in the right direction.
Wade said the plans are in place which have helped increase school safety, improve school buildings and increase student attendance.
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Marvin Wade, superintendent of the
Marshalltown Community School District, will reach five years on the job this Monday.
He said he wishes student achievement would have seen more growth in his time in Marshalltown.
"I would like student achievement to be higher for all student groups," Wade said. "We have some areas to improve upon."
The district is guided into the future by its strategic action plan, which was originally put in place in 2011 by Wade and continues to be followed by the district.
Timeline for Marshalltown schools under Marvin Wade
July 1, 2008 - Marvin Wade's first day as superintendent of school district, replacing Harrison Cass. Wade came from a school district in Colorado.
Sept. 22, 2008 - Marshalltown district announces it has been put on the District in Need of Assistance as part of the No Child Left Behind mandates as a result of low standardized test scores.
May 4, 2009 - Wade closes all of the schools in the district due to the H1N1 flu outbreak among students and staff. The schools were closed for three days.
July 2, 2009 - The school district announces it has received a four-year $5.6 million Safe Schools Healthy Students federal grant to help with students with behavior issues.
Jan. 3, 2011 - Wade unveils the school district's five-year strategic action plan. Among the goals are to increase student achievement and school safety and provide supportive areas for learning. The district continues to look at the plan regularly.
May 2, 2011 - Wade announces the hiring of Aiddy Phomvisay as principal of Marshalltown High School. Phomvisay takes over for the retiring Bonnie Lowry.
August 21, 2012 - Fisher Elementary School hosts its first day of the school year after its $6 million renovation and addition project. It was the biggest building project with Wade as superintendent.#
June 17, 2013 - The Marshalltown School Board extends Wade's employment contract to June 2015 and sets his new annual salary at $175,156.
Diversity among the students has been a staple in the school district since well before Wade arrived. There have been more challenges in recent years since that diversity has included not only the Hispanic population, but also the burgeoning population of Burmese in town.
"That diversity is something that is good from the standpoint that it reflects the broader world, but it does present some challenges," Wade said.
Wade said flexibility and the proper training is key in dealing with a diverse student population that is always changing.
"It still continues to be a work in progress," he said.
Wade had one of his biggest challenges in Marshalltown in May 2009. He made the decision to close down the schools due to the H1N1 flu outbreak among students and staff for a total of three days.
"We did what we needed to do," Wade said.
Adding on to that stress was the fact he brought teachers back for two days and then had a fear they would need to extend the school year to make up the days. The district ended up not having to make up those days.
Wade said now the district was in a financial crisis last fall. With lower student enrollment and uncertainty in state funding, the school district decided to discontinue the early retirement incentive policy for one year. It led to a wave of the most experienced and the highest paid teachers retiring which saved the district money. Even though state funding came through, Wade doesn't regret the decision.
"We felt is was our fiscal duty," he said.
Wade said he feels the district is on much better financial footing thanks to assurances from the state in funding.
"We are in a good position right now financially," he said.
Wade said a feather in the cap for Marshalltown schools is the many partnerships it has with the community. He cited the Business-Education Alliance, Spread the Words - Read by 3rd effort, Not In Our Town anti-bullying campaign and the Marshalltown Education Partnership as examples of these partnerships.
"They make the Marshalltown community stronger," Wade said.
Wade said he is proud of the hires he has made and the people already on board who have helped push the district forward.
Among the key hires by Wade during his tenure have been Marshalltown High School Principal Aiddy Phomvisay, Miller Middle School Principal Jacy Large and Associate Superintendent Susan Pecinovsky.
Overall, he is pleased with the entire MCSD staff.
"We've got a lot of good people here who work hard, know their stuff and really care about the kids," Wade said.
Nichole Christensen, a second grade teacher at Fisher Elementary School and current president of the Marshalltown Education Association, said the teachers have a good working relationship with Wade and his central office staff.
"I really value that he strives to make sure that he asks for input from all of his stakeholders before making a decision," Christensen said. "We may not always agree, but he is always asking for input and advice."
After five years on the job, Wade said he feels it has been a good fit for him.
"I enjoy Marshalltown," he said. "I enjoy the school district and have a good relationship with the board."
Contact Andrew Potter at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org