Pella Chronicle

March 8, 2013

Board tackles various issues

By Renee Van Roekel
Pella Chronicle

Pella — The  Pella Community School Board met in regular session on February 25 to discuss a variety of matters.

Superintendent Greg Ebeling, opened the discussion on staff resignations and the search for an upcoming replacements for spring. Deb Moyer, media specialist for Madison and Lincoln is retiring, as well as Jill Payne, volleyball coach for Pella Middle School. Ebeling informed the Board that interviews have been taking place, specifically for someone with media and library experience, integrated with tech skills.

Monthly reports from the principals were delivered and discussed. High School Principal Eric Nelson reported being very pleased with the numbers from the DMACC Career Academy (98-99 percent). There are strong numbers in Agricultural business, criminal justice, welding, child development, and principals and engineering.

“Overall the numbers are very good for fall, and there is a place for all students,” he said.

When another facility is built, Nelson said, “We will be phasing in other aspects; for example, auto mechanics.”

Nelson also informed the Board that Child Development is now being offered for college credit.

Pella Middle School Principal Josh Manning, was happy to give positive feedback on the Iowa Assessments. Rather than taking two weeks, the assessments were done in three days. He reports that students remained focused and were glad for a shorter testing period. The shorter testing period was also easier on the teachers. Additionally, Mr. Manning addressed other goals for the Middle School. One of the aspects the school will be focusing on is building teacher leadership capacity, improving the process of learning for students. The principal would like to maximize life opportunities for every child, with a community approach.

“We should embrace the idea that the students are all our kids — our students. We are ALL responsible for their successes," he said. "We are better together."

Principals of Lincoln and Madison Elementeries also discussed the pre-school enrollment process as part of their report. The enrollment for upcoming preschool students took place on February 4, at 8 a.m., and was full by 10 a.m.. The Board will be taking some steps to relieve the pressure of not having a wait list for next year; considerations are being made to open up the window of time for parents to register their kids, or having an online option available.

After the regular ‘house cleaning’ items on the agenda, the Board moved on to new business. The Board spent some time reviewing a transportation agreement between the Pella Community School District and the PCM Community School District. As a result of unique circumstances, PCM will be allowed to transport a family in the Pella School District area to attend school at PCM. The agreement applies only to this family; these are students currently open enrolled to PCM.

Next on the agenda, the board reviewed the current listing of sub-teams and Board Member assignments. Because of Martin Wesemann’s departure from the Board, members had to be reassigned to a sub-team fitting their skill sets. The school’s sub-teams were assigned as followed: School Improvement/ Curriculum: Timothy Tripp; Human Resources/Personnel/Negotiations: Joan Corbin AND Greg Gustafson; Technology: Katie Peterson; Facilities and Property: Joan Corbin; Finance/Business Practices: Gary Cuppock.

The 2012-2013 upcoming work sessions were an important item of discussion. Each work session has a different topic. March is about getting prepared for the budget and its process as well as summer projects. April is the Superintendent evaluation and board assessment review as part of the process. In May, the report on professional development is given, with the possibility of a maiden voyage with the lighthouse. June finalizes the superintendent evaluation, and there is no work session for July planned.

After the work sessions were reviewed and discussed, the Summer Academy Catalog was next to be approved. The Summer Academy provides extension opportunities for the kids. There are fourteen different courses to be provided this summer for the students, fully funded by their enrollment fee. The Catalog shows the different courses and the teachers who offer them. Seven of the courses are taught by a teacher combination. For self funding, at least twelve kids are needed. The Pella Community School is not in this to make money, but to provide the benefit of extra educational opportunities for its students. All were in favor of the Catalog and the motion was carried through.

The Board of Directors was pleased about the facility planning website that has been established and recently made public. This website can be used to communicate information about the facility planning process and proposed projects to keep the public informed. The website has information on each of the building plans and of the remodels, such as enhancements for Madison. Each item can be clicked on for a closer view of the details. The website will be regularly updated as things move along and become finalized. Through the discussion of the upcoming Bond Election, it was noted that the tax impact of the facility plan must be added to the site. In efforts of providing more communication opportunities, a Community Facility Open House is to be held on March 19 at 7 p.m. in the Pella High School Auditorium. The high school will be open to walk around to show more of the re-model and answer any questions the public may have.

The Lighthouse Project was also discussed during the meeting. The Lighthouse Project is a process in which the board learns to engage the staff in meaningful conversation about how the school district can be improved.  A list of questions had been generated for the Board’s use during planning meetings with staff. The Board looked over the list of questions and agreed to move forward by finalizing the questions and doing some fine-tuning of the list.

The Pella Community School Board was adjourned until the next meeting on March 25 at 4:30 p.m.