School board visits Lime Springs campus

Flipped Learning Right: James Kitchen listens as teachers Deb Day, Tanya Riehle, Kirstin Kerian and Libby Schwade updated school board members on flipped learning.  With each student having a laptop, they can watch a short, teacher-prepared video of a lesson, and then they spend class time developing the concept from the lesson.  Class time is spent collaborating with peers and teachers, and students can consult with the teacher for any questions on the homework or class activities.   One of the benefits of flipped learning is the students can refer back to the video until they understand the concept.

Flipped Learning
James Kitchen listens as teachers Deb Day, Tanya Riehle, Kirstin Kerian and Libby Schwade updated school board members on flipped learning. With each student having a laptop, they can watch a short, teacher-prepared video of a lesson, and then they spend class time developing the concept from the lesson. Class time is spent collaborating with peers and teachers, and students can consult with the teacher for any questions on the homework or class activities.
One of the benefits of flipped learning is the students can refer back to the video until they understand the concept.

By Marcie Klomp

Local Heather Knutson spoke again about the desire of some parents to have the school buses stop at daycares next year. She also mentioned to the school board during the meeting in Lime Springs on May 12 how 30-40 youth attend the Lego and movie programs at the library on early outs.

Howard-Winneshiek School Board members were open to the suggestion. Supt. John Carver offered, “Brian [Swestka, transportation director] has been working hard on bus routes. When we have a cluster of kids, we can probably facilitate a stop.”

Knutson also questioned the board’s decision from a few years ago to discontinue activity buses to satellite communities. “We’ve shuffled back and forth with four families until this year [when sharing rides didn’t work out].” She wondered if the district could check at the beginning of each sports season on how many kids would use district transportation. Knutson even offered to pay for transportation.

Swestka pointed out the state of Iowa does not allow buses to run 15-passenger vans, as they have been found unsafe. A van is a possible answer.

A third concern of Knutson’s was having all the students visit each community to see what is offered. “I’d like to see the kids take field trips to Lime Springs and to the train museum in Elma.”

She was told field trips are taken to Hayden Prairie and Lidtke Mill. Carver admitted, “Since moving up here, my wife and I have enjoyed all the events in the area.” He added, “It’s on our agenda to have the kids, even though they are in Cresco, to experience all things. We are the Crestwood Cadets and I want to celebrate everything that’s good in the district.”

• Board member Doug Berg was able to Skype into the meeting from his hotel room during his fishing trip.

• In other business, board member James Kitchen mentioned he and fellow member Duane Bodermann toured the Elma campus and stated, “The kids are ready to make connections in Cresco. The meals were good. The plate was full of food!”

• Carver noted Sara Grimm was hired to replace Shirley Sovereign, PK-1 principal, who is retiring after 30 years with How-Winn.

The resignation of Jennifer Hemann was approved.

Carver continued, “We are assembling a [solid] team for the 2014-15 school year. I like to think of it as a player draft!”

Some additional hires include Meghan Ringeon, K-6 band teacher; Alicia Martin, high school special education; Schuyler Bieber, K-6 vocal music; Benjamin Hansen, high school science; Justin Denner, assistant baseball coach; Lindsay Steinmetz, cheer coach; and summer help—Sue Russell, Ramona Martinek, Dawn Shackleton, Ryan Herrod, Brandon Kerian, Baylee Balk, Travis Martinek, Kolter Friedhof, Zach Weigel, John Thomson, Rachel Russell, Justin Martinek, Dustin Murphy, Jordan Voves and Dylan Vorwald.

The board also reviewed a list of staff whose employment contracts will not be renewed, including Sharon Serfling, Hannah Harken, Rebecca Caffrey, Christy Sobolik, Dana Smith, Betty Schmitt and Denise Hansmeier, in accordance with Reduction in Force procedures.

• Carver explained the district has been losing about 20 students every year and the coming year seems to be on that same track.

He added how a local task force is trying to get broadband to the area and with that a hope to attract more families to the area.

“Jason Passmore just mentioned there are about 150 jobs in Howard County that aren’t filled,” Carver said. That doesn’t even include the 80 jobs that will be available when LimeSprings Beef opens its doors.

He mentioned how Jesse Stevens is working with Iowa State Extension to possibly invite international workers to the area to help fill jobs.

Kitchen added, “My wife works at Reicks View Farms, and they have workers from South America. She said they are the most polite people.”

• Principal Tim Felderman recommended to the board to transition the District’s student data management system to PowerSchool (including Pay For It and School Reach) during the 2014-15 school year. That will allow PowerSchool to be the main provider of such services beginning in the 2015-16 school year.

A group of teachers also researched PowerSchool and found it to be more convenient for parents and staff alike. Heather Klenke, IT (Information Technology) stated, “Moms and dads can look at grades and lunch accounts. These are all compatible. It’ll all be in the ‘cloud’ and not take up space.”

Although there is an initial cost, the program is less than the one currently being used. The board voted to go with PowerSchool.

• After some discussion, the board took the recommendation of Swestka to order two propane buses. Safety issues are not a problem. Dwight Houseal, a representative from Blue Bird bus company, added 28 percent of his company’s sales were propane. The system uses liquid propane that does not convert to vapor.

Pluses for propane vehicles is the difference in cost per gallon ($1.53 vs. $3.83) as of meeting time and being able to start easily in cold weather. The transportation director had talked with three other districts who had propane and were pleased with their purchase.

Kitchen asked the representative if there was any way to keep students engaged during their ride, such as having Internet or a video screen. Houseal replied, “At this point in time, the state of Iowa doesn’t allow Internet on buses.”

That got Carver’s attention as he snapped his head up, exclaiming, “What?!” He smiled and added, “At this time . . .”

• The families who turned in their open enrollment papers after the due date of March 1 were asked in a letter to respond to the board or attend the May 12 board meeting. Only one family chose to do so and that was the only family granted open enrollment.

The next meeting will be June 9 at the Elma campus.

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