Board Approves Early School Year Start, Talks Chinese School Relationship

School BoardBy Eduardo Zamarripa, CRI Weekly News

Oskaloosa, Iowa – On Tuesday night, the Oskaloosa School Board unanimously approved an early start to the upcoming school year. Classes will start on Monday, Aug. 18. Last year, classes started on Tuesday, Aug. 20.

The board held a public hearing for the early start request, but received no comments. The board recently agreed to transition from a 180-day schedule to 1,080 school hours. The change to an hourly school calendar will give the district more flexibility with its scheduling, according to Superintendent Russ Reiter.

In addition to that, the board discussed establishing a relationship with the Chinese school that recently visited Oskaloosa. Reiter said the Chinese school would like to see “some sort of a sister program developed” with the Oskaloosa Community School District. The Chinese school, located in the Hebei province, has already partnered with West Des Moines Valley and Muscatine.

Reiter said he received a contract from the Chinese school. He asked the board to review the contract and said that, financially, the district would need help from community businesses.

“I think you’d get some support from the community to move it forward, and I think it’d be a great experience for our kids,” said Board Member Neal Hadden.

Reiter said the Chinese school is ready to send students to Oskaloosa. He plans on reviewing the financial and liability concerns of the partnership.

Earlier in the meeting, the board received presentations from the Professional Learning Community, the Elementary School SINA (Schools in Need of Assistance) Team, and the Elementary School After-School Program.

The board also unanimously approved the purchase of two 77-passenger school buses (each bus costs $120,000), and approved a a high school language arts course titled “To Infinity and Beyond” that replaces “Tech Theater.” Director of Curriculum and Instruction Mary Cooksley said the course will have more writing and will be more “genre-based.”

Reiter also announced the resignation of Elementary Principal Matt Dunsbergen. Dunsbergen accepted a position with the Ankeny School District. The board unanimously approved Dunsbergen’s resignation, which will be effective at the end of the school year.

At the end of the meeting, the board went into closed session to evaluate Superintendent Reiter.

The next school board meeting is on Monday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m.

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