Superintendent to make recommendation on district direction in Dec.

By Marcie Klomp

“I promised that at the December meeting I would bring forward to the board physical plant layout recommendations,” said Supt. John Carver at the Howard-Winneshiek School Board meeting on Nov. 11, held in Elma.

“It goes without saying we have declining enrollment. In the last two years, we’ve lost about 40 students,” he continued. Declining enrollment is not unique to H-W. Most district, in Iowa also have less students.

Fewer students means fewer teachers are needed, so the district will again be looking at reducing staff for the upcoming year.

“Teachers at How-Winn are all rock stars and are working really hard to figure out what 21st century learning needs to be,” Carver noted.

The best way to do that is to collaborate with their fellow teachers. That’s hard to do when the teachers can’t compare apples to apples. Instructors at Lime Springs-Chester and Elma Elementaries are teaching multiple grades, whereas teachers in Cresco only teach their own grade level. What works in one building does not necessarily work in another.

Carver explained, “Teachers in Lime Springs and Elma classrooms have felt isolated and disconnected. I will stand up and make a recommendation in December (Dec. 9) as to what I feel should happen, and as a board, you need to make a decision or table it.”

He saw just two scenarios for the future of the district. “If we continue to lose students, How-Winn will fold back into Cresco. Second, if we can pull together as a region, there could be a population growth. We have a spark with LimeSprings Beef. If everything stays the same, we fold into Cresco.”

He continued, “We’re at a crossroads.” With Rochester looking at hiring 30,000 people in the next six years, that could help.

“I’m focusing on the instruction and bringing the district together. There is bad blood between the communities and that will scare people away who are looking to come in. It’s a challenge, but what I’ve seen is you’re all up for a challenge.”

Board member James Kitchen observed, “I have a lot of respect for how you’re doing this. It amounts to what is best for the kids.” Kitchen added he welcomes conversation on the matter from anyone.

Carver will make his recommendation on Dec. 9 at the 7 p.m. meeting, held at Crestwood High School.

 

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