Eggs And Issues Focuses On Education

Oskaloosa Community School Superintendent Paula Wright answers questions to the gathered crowd at Eggs and Issues on Saturday.

Oskaloosa Community School Superintendent Paula Wright answers questions to the gathered crowd at Eggs and Issues on Saturday.

by Ken Allsup

Oskaloosa, Iowa – During Eggs and Issues, we typically find our state representatives center stage, in the hot seat, with a battery of questions being flung at them.

This Saturday, North Mahaska and Oskaloosa School District Superintendents answered questions from the public. Members of their respective boards joined the superintendents.

The early childhood development center has been a topic for several years, and the process of making that new facility has gained steam as the city of Oskaloosa and the Oskaloosa School District have signed the 28E agreement to make it happen.

With the rural portion of Mahaska County deciding not to participate, plans and specifications had to be drawn up for the available resources.

With the deal signed, Oskaloosa School Superintendent Paula Wright said that process is moving forward on the early childhood development center and recreation center. The YMCA is also partnering with the school district and the city as the operator of the new facility.

The YMCA currently handles the three and four-year-old preschool for the area.

Wright said that she had spent a considerable amount of time “getting up to speed” on the project since her arrival to Oskaloosa in the summer of 2018.

Wright said that the project is now in the process of selecting architects. “I know our portion of it is going to be eight classrooms for four year old preschool along with some specialty classrooms for special needs kinds of things. Then we’ll have some common shared space like kitchens and gyms, playgrounds, and the things that the kids need.”

“There will also be classrooms from birth to 4-year-old program, so an overall childcare center,” added Wright.

The selection of the architect firm is scheduled to take place in the middle of March.

“Our goal is 18 months from the time the agreement was signed, which was early January. So 18 months we will be breaking ground, or well on our way to breaking ground if everything goes according to plan,” added Wright.

The new facility would be just east of the current Oskaloosa Elementary School building. “That makes a lot of sense to put it out there for us,” Wright explained.

Another question that is often posed to local educators is how they are working with area employers to educate the youth to be prepared to step into the workforce, while also having programs that keep students college ready.

Wright said that the Oskaloosa School District has many partnerships with many different businesses.

An example of that collaboration was held on Friday at the school, where students take on and develop an answer for area businesses. Students get an opportunity to work in a real-world environment, solving real-world problems while employers get the opportunity to have a fresh set of eyes looking at the problem from a different perspective.

This year, Cablevey, Clow, and Musco all participated with Oskaloosa students in the project.

Wright also explained that the school district works with economic development like MCDG to help find and develop those partnerships to help students and employers better prepare tomorrow’s workforce.

Wright gave an example of the welding program that is shared with North Mahaska. “Oskaloosa students go to North Mahaska for the first set of classes with welding, and then North Mahaska students come to Oskaloosa for the second half of the welding training.”

The welding program is a partnership with Indian Hills Community College and local businesses to support that program.

When students are finished with the program, they are certified welders, and can make upwards of five dollars an hour more than other welders.

The district is also beginning to develop apprenticeships with area businesses to better aid students in the transition into the workforce after school. “We just established an official apprenticeship with Kelderman (Mfg).

Those collaborations between schools and businesses are examples of how districts are trying to cost share and provide more opportunities for students.

Wright said that the Oskaloosa School District is looking at building other apprenticeship programs in and around the Oskaloosa area.

An example of that is North Mahaska collaborating with Montezuma for a Calculus teacher. Two students from North Mahaska travel to Montezuma Schools for instruction.

School funding is also a concern for the districts, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has asked for an increase of two percent, for K-12 schools.

The Iowa Senate has introduced Senate File 172 which would set supplemental state aid or SSA, while they also introduced Senate File 171 which is the transportation/per pupil equity bill, which would come with an 89.3 million dollar increase for K-12 schools.

School districts like North Mahaska and Oskaloosa are waiting for the Iowa Legislature to set the amount of funding they will be providing, so the districts can then certify their budgets.

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Posted by on Feb 12 2019. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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