VINTON — With input from staff and community members, a committee from the Vinton Shellsburg Community School District presented two possibilities of a school calendars to the school board to review during a meeting last week. “A survey was conducted with staff and the community,” Kyle Koeppen, district superintendent told the board. “We’ve spoken with staff again and are looking for feedback from you the board before going back to the community.” Highlights from the surveys included: -”Community and staff agree that they want breaks built into the calendar. The debate is on when that should occur. The committee attempted to offer a compromise of sorts and offer extended weekends in March and April around Easter.” -”Community and staff agree they want snow make-up days built into the calendar.” -”Community and staff agree they want professional developments and early outs on Fridays (versus other days of the week). This works well with preschool as they have no-school every Friday.” Koeppen explained that traditionally the district has had an early release on the first day of school. However, with the block scheduling at the high school, “we are recommending that we have an early release the first two days of school.” Board member Mike Timmerman agreed with that idea, “we need to respect that” with the block scheduling. For a numbers of years, State of Iowa had designated when the school year could start. “The earliest school could start would be August 23,” Koeppen pointed out. With the two proposals presented to the board, one had the final day being May 27, while the other reflects May 31 as the final day of school. The second proposals allows for additional time off around the Easter holiday. Koeppen also shared that the district will be gathering input on when graduation should be held. “It was surveyed previously and there was strong interest in moving graduation to the weekend prior to Memorial Day weekend. Mr. (Matt) Kingsbury will be working with junior families to seek feedback.” Despite being able to use the remote learning days during the current school year, Koeppen told board members that he felt it was necessary to schedule snow make up days into the calendar. “I don’t believe that we will be allowed to have remote learning next year,” he stated. With the feedback from the board, Koeppen explained that the committee would narrow down questions related to the calendar and provide it to the community for input. “There will be public hearing at the March board meeting for the calendar to be approved,” he stated. In other business: — The school district has spent the funds provided from the initial CARES act relief. “We have spent all of our GEER (Governor’s Emergency Education Relief) and ESSR (Elementary and Secondary School Relief) I funds and are generating ideas of how to best use the ESSER II funds,” Koeppen stated. “Supporting summer school and student interventions to make sure that all students are progressing is a priority” to staff. “We also have been discussing a possible partnership with Therapeutic Innovations. Vanessa West, owner of Therapeutic Innovations has been working already with students who are clients of hers in our buildings. We would be looking to expand this into a partnership in which a therapist would be on site in the district every school day working with students and staff in a variety of ways.” Another possible idea for the funds would be upgrades on the district HVAC systems “to help prevent illness. “The middle school and Shellsburg are in need of a HVAC upgrade to provide an equitable learning environment,” he said. “Another idea is to continue with offering a virtual academy for families. We would probably look at targeting secondary students only for this.” — Koeppen asked the board to consider meeting for a work session to discuss long-term facilities plans for the district. “The school district’s bonds for the high school are set to expire in May 2025. There are various needs facilities speaking, through the district to make all learning spaces equitable,” he wrote in the board packet for the meeting. “Most notably, the Shellsburg site and the amount of upkeep and efficiency work that is needed there. Also, upgrades/additions to the heating, ventilation and cooling system(s) at the middle school. We will always have our large ongoing maintenance costs, such as roof replacements. With the bonds coming to an end it is time to think beyond yearly upgrades and position the school district to have a short term and long-term facilities plan.” He suggested that one of the first steps to do this “would be to have an accurate picture of our current state. How much square feet of space do we having? What is our capacity of spaces in the district? What is the timeline of reconditioning or replacement? We currently do not have the answers to these questions. I propose we hire a firm to come in and conduct a facilities audit of the district and then assist us with planning our next stages. This way we can clearly identify our current state and engage all stakeholders in the future planning with accurate information.” Board members agreed that having a long term facilities plan was a good idea. Koeppen to begin work gathering information for a special work session in the future.
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