Iowa public school districts depend on state money to operate. Each year the legislature determines if and how much it will budget for the schools. It’s a per pupil dollar amount and they call it allowable growth. Right now the Democrats are asking for 4% and the Republicans want 2%. The Governor wants 0%. While the legislators are trying to come to an agreement, districts still have to prepare their budgets. Last night Mt. Pleasant business manager Ed Chabel presented the school board with a preliminary budget that’s based on zero percent allowable growth. Without planning on any new state money Chabel was able to come up with a five cent decrease in the total levy rate from $14.30 per thousand to $14.25. If 2% allowable growth is passed the levy rate will drop 45 cents. Public hearings on the final budget for next fiscal year and for amending this year’s budget will be held at the April board meeting.
The Henry Washington Early Childhood board is concerned that the Mt. Pleasant School district is missing out by not having state funded preschool. In 2006 the district opted not to participate in order to protect the private preschools in operation. At the time there were enough available slots in the private preschools. Chair of the early childhood board Dave Helman shared with the school board his board’s concern that this is not the case anymore. He encouraged the school board to ask legislators to support opening up the opportunity to join the state program so that Mt. Pleasant and the rest of the 10% of districts who chose not to join, could re-think that. Supt. Roederer agreed that much has been learned since the program started and it appears it is here to stay so he recommended the board take another look.
Mt. Pleasant High School principal Todd Liechty and the school board policy committee will take another look at the class ranking formula. One student’s parents spoke to the board on the issue, expressing concerns that the formula did not match the district goals and mission statement. Liechty and the committee will have recommendations for next board meeting.
Liechty also promised the board a more detailed plan for removing the integrated math series from the high school curriculum. Liechty is proposing requiring high school students to take algebra 1, geometry and algebra 2. Changes to the high school math curriculum mean changes at the middle school as well.
Supt. Roederer told the board there is a link to a survey on the school website for families. The family engagement survey is designed to provide additional feedback to help improve the district. Parents of students in the district are encouraged to fill it out. If you don’t have a computer contact the district office. Parents also received the survey to fill out at parent teacher conferences.
Personnel items were approved by the board last night. The board accepted resignations from Anna O’Flaherty, Jennifer Petty, Alan Peck, Nichole Hoskins and Janet Cermak. A second year of leave was approved for high school art teacher Rebecca Haffner. Several volunteer coaches were also approved.