Osky School Board approves 2013-14 calendar, fees

Oskaloosa Community School Administration

Oskaloosa Community School Administration

By R.D. Keep

Oskaloosa School Board met in regular session on Tuesday evening and worked through numerous agenda items in a two-hour meeting. Discussions about the next school year calendar and student fees brought many comments from board members.

The board approved the 2013-14 school calendar. Some changes were made based on a survey of parents last year and one from staff during this school year. The calendar would include the current one-hour early out. School would begin on August 20, 2013.

The biggest change will be the elimination of spring break week. In lieu of that decision, there will be two potential four-day weekends, one in March 2014, 20-23, and one centered around Easter in April 2014 17-21. The April 21st date would also be a possible make-up snow date. The calendar proposal was made to allow for starting school after the Iowa State Fair and to finish prior to the Memorial Day holiday, while at the same time retaining the necessary staff development days.

Student fees was approved, but not before a long discussion regarding the parking fee at the high school. The fee at the high school will be lowered to $20. The fee is currently $25. Fees for milk and lunch are awaiting guidance from Federal authorities.

Board member Charlie Comfort voiced his displeasure at charging a fee for students to park. He did give credit to Mr. Reiter for the reduction or elimination of some of the other fees. The parking fees are generally used to purchase the cost of additional cameras for the parking lots. Reiter said the south side of the school is the area considered for coverage this year. Board member Tom Richardson also said he felt that the charge for parking should not be charged.

Jeff Smith and David Ahmad, from the 52577 Scholarship committee, spoke to board members. The organization is a group of graduates mainly from the Oskaloosa Class of 1977. The group has awarded $62,000 over the past six years. The two men presented the information about the scholarship and indicated a willingness to partner with the school to get the word out about the scholarship availability. Applications are due on April 1.

Oskaloosa students Shawni wills and Josie Beecher asked the board to approve a trip to Minneapolis to Pheasant Fest this weekend. The local club, Pioneer Ringnecks, will have seven members and their sponsor Mike Goudy attending. The club will underwrite cost of the trip.

Board members heard a presentation by Dr. Mary Cooksley on a new grading monitoring system that would provide testing for students in grades K-12 to track student progress. Students would be tested three times during the school year. The AIMSweb program would be initiated for use in the 2013-14 school year.

The foreign language instructors Jeanne Clark, Tom Tresnick and Laura Brown via video made the professional learning community presentation. The presentation highlighted various strategies used to assist the students in learning the language including the use of video taping, studies of video and inclusion of audio and visual cues.

Focus has been on vocabulary and writing skills in the various language courses. The instructors use a data wall to help students track their progress. Many of the learning strategies include projects relating to the cultures of the countries such as how the French celebrate Christmas.

Learning targets are to build vocabulary. Writing with accuracy. Instructors explain to students the usage of nouns, verbs, and adjectives just as they do in English. These targets are used across the full spectrum of classes.

Approved a waiver request for the start of the school year. No member of the public was present to speak to the topic. Board members questioned Superintendent Reiter about possible state legislative action on the start dates. Reiter stated that as long as school does not start the first week of August, the waiver would be accepted.

In other business:

  • Board member Nik Rule thanked Mrs. Abby Peterson for allowing William Penn athletes to come to the middle school and participate in the second chance reading classes. He said the reports from the athletes were very positive.
  • Reported that the building and trades home erected last school year has not been closed upon. Dave Bower expects closing to come in the next few days. New house is currently under construction next door to last year’s home on South M Street.
  • Approved the addition of a statistics and probability course Statistics for the Modern World that had been deleted from the curriculum.
  • Approved the addition of a remedial math course at the high school for students screened for need of additional help in algebra. The course would be called Topics in Algebra and would prepare the students for Algebra I as sophomores. The approval included the use of a math lab process.
  • Approved moving March board meeting to Tuesday March 5.

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