School board talks digital mapping, legislative priorities
The Marshalltown Community School District board of education covered a variety of topics at their regularly scheduled meeting Monday night, including digital mapping of district buildings to improve school safety, an increase in compensation for support staff substitutes and the Iowa Association of School Boards’ (IASB) legislative priorities.
Superintendent Theron Schutte said that over the last year, MCSD has been communicating with Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper about creating digital maps of school buildings for emergency management.
Tupper previously paid for Marshalltown High School to be digitally mapped during the 2021-2022 school year to show how the process worked and why it would be beneficial. Once MHS was finished, Schutte requested a cost estimate for digitally mapping the remaining buildings in the district from the Critical Response Group, which came to $32,205.35.
“My hopes are that by getting this quote approved, that we can get on the top of (Critical Response Group’s) list, or near the top of their list. I don’t know if it’s nationally, but we were the first building in Iowa actually to use their services,” Schutte said.
Schutte recommended paying for the project through the general fund, and then, once more details become available on how to utilize the $1 million investment in Iowa school safety that Gov. Kim Reynolds announced last week, he recommended the district seek reimbursement for it.
$6 million of that $100 million set aside for schools throughout Iowa is dedicated to digital critical incident mapping technology, so the funds will be available for that purpose.
“I talked to the Department of Education Director Ann Lebo about this specifically because my concern was — in some cases they don’t want you to supplement what you’ve already done or are already doing, but they assured us, especially since we were already maybe one of the first to do this in Iowa that, in one way, shape or form, we will get reimbursed for this digital mapping,” Schutte said. “She did not want us to wait or slow down the process as we wait to find out details from the state.”
The proposal from the Critical Response Group for digital mapping of the district in the amount of $32,205.35 received unanimous approval from the board with Sarah Faltys absent.
The compensation for hourly support staff substitutes — substitute custodians, paraeducators, food service employees and secretaries — was also discussed during the meeting. Director of Business Operations Paulette Newbold said the wages paid to those individuals have been relatively low and have not been adjusted for several years.
With the labor market making it difficult to find employees as it is, Newbold recommended that the substitute support staff wages be aligned with step one of the respective employee groups pay schedules in order to maintain a competitive wage without having to address it annually.
The board approved the change unanimously.
Schutte also reviewed the IASB’s legislative priorities and highlighted past MCSD legislative priorities for the school board. Generally, he said, the concerns of IASB and the MCSD are closely aligned, with some key exceptions.
Legislation related to additional support for English language learners and for students who are identified as at-risk have been high priority items for the MCSD, but after legislators made adjustments for at-risk students two years ago, the MCSD has focused their attention on support for English language learners.
“It’s probably not realistic that the state as a whole are going to adopt that as one, just because we’re kind of an anomaly and many of the districts across the state, like our surrounding districts, don’t have a significant percentage or number of second language students,” Schutte said. “I still think it’s something that we have to push to keep out there, in hopes that we can either get an additional year’s worth of funding or a higher supplemental amount attached to it.”
Specific legislative priorities for the MCSD will be brought forward at the July 11 school board meeting, and Schutte said if the board members are in agreement with the topics discussed, they will be brought forward again in August for formal approval to be sent to IASB.
In other business,
• Heard an update from Marshall County Arts and Culture Alliance Director Amber Danielson and artist Stephen Johnson on the “Scherzo” sculpture being installed in front of the Marshalltown Performing Arts Center.
• Recognized MHS students Yessenia Alvarez Zamora and Leticia Herrera for their National History Day project “La Huelga: The Struggle That Earned Farm Workers Rights” that is being virtually showcased at The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
• Approved a vehicle purchase recommendation in the amount of $52,994.
• Approved a three-year contract with Hogan-Hansen for annual financial statement audits.
• Approved a three percent salary increase in alignment with the certified staff for Superintendent Schutte.
• Approved the purchase of an aquatic display for approximately $92,000 and approved a contract for the Fisher Elementary walking path in the amount of $78,582.02.
Contact Susanna Meyer at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.