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School board talks next steps on addressing student behavior, absenteeism | News, Sports, Jobs | #schoolsaftey


T-R PHOTOS BY ROBERT MAHARRY — Members of the Marshalltown School Board and Superintendent Theron Schutte discussed holding workshops on student behavior and chronic absenteeism during Monday night’s regular meeting.

After two parents spoke up to express their concerns about bullying and violence at Miller Middle School during the previous meeting two weeks prior, the Marshalltown Community School District Board of Education and Superintendent Theron Schutte discussed potential next steps as part of a jam-packed agenda Monday night.

Becky Kouang, one of the parents who spoke at the previous meeting, again took the podium and contended that her efforts to get an item on the board agenda related to bullying had been denied, although she did ultimately secure a two-hour meeting with Schutte and Board President Sean Heitmann.

“In the last year, I’ve had 15 to 20 families reach out to me regarding bullying, violence and unethical behavior in the schools regarding students, and, even more alarming, some administrators,” Kouang said. “My goal is for the students to be safe in our district. That’s my number one priority, and once this issue is addressed, I hope that we can move forward finding mutual respect in the district and the families it serves.”

From there, the board moved into its first agenda item, the scheduling of a future workshop utilizing data on student behavior and best practices to address incidents of bullying, violence and other misconduct. Schutte reported that he had attended a recent superintendent roundtable with the Educational Advisory Board (EAB) covering a number of hot topics in education, including teacher shortages, student behavior, absenteeism and learning loss post-COVID.

“All of our administrators would tell you that the challenges have become much more significant at the elementary, intermediate, middle school and high school related to the number, and, in some cases, the severity, of student misbehavior,” Schutte said. “I think we would all agree that we’re concerned with the level of suspensions and/or long-term suspensions and expulsions that we’ve had to deal with, this year particularly, but the last couple years on a variety of issues. It’s my feeling that we need to first start with a workshop with experts who have looked at the research because this isn’t just a Marshalltown issue. You can talk to most anyone in schools across Iowa, across the country. They’re all dealing with the same types of concerns, and nobody has a magic bullet answer. But at least through the research, we can take a look at what has proven to be most effective and try to determine what we might need to do differently or do better or continue to do or discontinue to do based on what that research is telling us.”

John and Kenzie Stalzer of Stalzer Photography, pictured with MCSD Superintendent Theron Schutte, left, received a Career Readiness Partner recognition and plaque during Monday night’s school board meeting.

Schutte added that he was working “diligently” to get workshops scheduled and hoped they would happen sometime this summer, preferably by July or August, and include both the board and the administrative team.

“I think there’ll be a large benefit in doing that and then working together to try to figure out how to make things better for all students and staff for the ’23-’24 school year,” he said.

Heitmann commented that he would like to see data specific to Marshalltown to ensure an accurate picture of the situation and how to correct it moving forward.

“You can talk about it, but you need to actually know what’s going on. Otherwise, I’m not sure it’s useful,” Heitmann said.

Fellow board member Jan McGinnis added that the sooner the prospective dates could be shared, the better, and Schutte said he was “pushing” to make that happen.

In other business, the board:

• Recognized Stalzer Photography as a Career Readiness Partner.

• Approved the consent agenda as listed.

• Reviewed the results of the MCSD Insightex culture survey with Brad Black of Humanex Ventures.

• Heard a presentation on the Bobcat Ready initiative and post-secondary attainment progress with Miller Middle School Co-Principals Dave Glenn and Kristyn Kell and High School Principal Jacque Wyant.

• Approved the Class of 2023 June graduates.

• Approved the purchase of new high school Industrial Arts curriculum at a total cost of $99,665, with $41,735 coming out of RPP and the remaining $57,930 being paid from the general fund.

• Approved the adoption of OpenSci Ed science curriculum with Activate Learning for grades 7 and 8 while pausing the adoption of new curriculum at the high school level.

• Approved the creation of an Esports Coordinator position with a stipend of $4,925.

• Approved the purchase of a server and storage replacement through Heartland Business Systems in the amount of $83,026.41.

• Approved replacing three grades worth of Chromebooks to paraeducators at a total cost of $462,520.

• Approved the list of summer buildings and grounds projects at a total cost of $498,000.

• Approved an amendment to the professional services agreement with FEH Designs for the replacement and upgrade of the high school HVAC system in the range of $56,500 and $63,300 depending on whether ESSER funds are used as presented.

• Approved four change orders for the Athletic Complex project, including one that will credit the district $147,145. Also denied one change order request that would change the fences under the grandstand from galvanized steel to vinyl at a cost of $10,918.

• Set a public hearing on a proposed lease agreement with Interstate Power and Light Co. (Alliant Energy) for the next meeting on June 19 at 5 p.m.

• Approved a motion to amend and waive second readings on policies related to students with head lice, life threatening allergies and life threatening allergies regulation.

• Approved a motion to delete a policy on Board of Directors records as presented.

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Contact Robert Maharryat 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or

[email protected].

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