All three building principals enlightened the Perry School Board on several issues related to the beginning of the new school year at their September meeting Monday.
The first item on the agenda was a public hearing on a proposed easement on school property to the Dallas County Conservation Board for use by a recreational bike trail.
Conservation Director Mike Wallace provided some particulars to the board. When no member of the public spoke on the matter, the public hearing was closed, with the board voting approval of the easement.
Perry High School Principal Dan Marburger spoke next, praising staff, custodians, cooks and others for what he called “a seemless” start to the new school year.
The faculty, he noted, had a challenging task in preparing for the new block scheduling at the school, in which classes meet for three times each week but for extended periods.
“We have had to make a few adjustments, like move lunch periods five minutes, but everyone has made it work,” Marburger said. “We are still trying to fit all the pieces together, but it is going well.”
Block scheduling has changed class times from 43 minutes to 86, with the lunch period remaining 23 minutes. Periods 1-3-5-7 meet Monday and Thursday, with periods 2-4-6-8 meeting on Tuesday and Friday each week. All eight periods meet on the shortened Wednesday.
He noted that 115 students attend DMACC classes in the morning and another 130 in the afternoon.
“That is like having one whole class out of the building,” Marburger said. “Our freshmen are right around 115 students, so it gives you the idea of what it is like. What it means is that periods 3-4-5-6 are really packed, because that is when the whole building is here at the same time.”
PHS Associate Principal Brad Snowgren spoke the board about attendance, noting PHS is averaging 97 percent, with the statewide average at 95 percent.
“It basically comes down to four or five students each day,” he said. “We are really attacking attendance, having phone calls made, following up and other means, and I believe it is working.”
Snowgren said there have been two in-school and one out-of-school suspensions handed out this year, with five office referrals (for a student removed from a class). In addition, 18 Saturday school suspensions have been issued, he said, most because of truancy.
Middle School Principal Shaun Kruger spoke of what he called “the great success” of the advisory program for sixth graders, which helps integrate the new students into the school. He praised the teachers for their efforts in making the transition a smooth one for the incoming class.
Although the program is still in the beginning stages, Kruger said progress was being made in adapting to the new standards-based reporting, which is replacing the traditional grading method this year at the middle school.
He also noted the STAR 360 program was being used. The program in intended to help students in grades seven and eight reach benchmarks in math and reading.
Superintendent Clark Wicks discussed meeting with Heartland Area Education Agency officials regarding Future Ready Iowa, a program dedicated to having three of four students by 2025 prepared for postsecondary studies and to increase career readiness. Similar programs already in use at PHS would include, among others, IJAG and Skills USA.
Wicks also noted the advantage Perry has in having a DMACC campus. The community college was now serving more than 37,000 Iowans throughout their many campuses.
He was also pleased, he said, to announce the district had received an insurance reimbursement of $23,000 from EMC.
The board approved a sharing agreement with Panorama schools for girls swimming, approved the PACES “Lights On After School” event and the district’s participation in the revised Iowa Drug and Alcohol Test, part of new regulations from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The test is for bus drivers, of which the district has 26 currently under the revised testing.
Ned Menke, principal at Perry Elementary and Title I coordinator for the district, spoke to the board about the federally funded program.
The board, which approved the application to continue the program, was told more than $600,000 is used to fund summer school and after school tutoring, among other areas, the goal being the availability of additional instruction for students in math and reading.
Melody Braun, Teresa Higgins and Barb Burket are the Title I reading instructors, with Sarah Finn at St. Patrick’s school also included in the funding. Amy McCord and Katarina Sales are the two Title I math instructors.
Menke said more than 200 kids were being served, that 125 had attended summer school and about 100 were receiving additional tutoring.
“Our district has over 40 percent of the students receiving free or reduced meals,” Menke said. “What that percentage means is that we can then use the funds to serve any child, not just those on free and reduced. It means we can reach every kid who needs help.”
In other action, the board granted approval for Activities Director Tom Lipovac to sign contracts for officials at athletic events and also allowed for Lipovac to use the electronic signature of Board President Kyle Baxter for other needs.
Revisions to several board policies were approved, as were a series of personnel matters.
The Perry Community School District Board of Education meets the second Monday of every month at 6 p.m. in the Brady Library at PHS. The public is invited to attend.