Supt. gives legislative update
Wed, 02/06/2019 - 1:37pm admin
—Students report on various workshops, clubs regarding STEM
By Marcie Klomp ~ News Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Cresco - Howard-Winneshiek Superintendent Ted Ihns gave a legislative update to board members and visitors at the Jan. 21 meeting.
“On Jan. 14, Gov. Kim Reynolds delivered the Condition of the State address and released her fiscal year 2020 proposed budget. Her recommendations included an increase of $93 million for Pre-K-12 education, which includes a 2.3 percent increase in per pupil funding.” That equates to about $155 or $6,891 per student.
Also included were disproportionate transportation costs of $11.2 million. This helps How-Winn since it is one of the largest districts and the extra money spent on transportation in the past can stay in the general fund.
Reynolds also proposed increases in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) funding and Future Ready Iowa. In addition, she asked for $3 million to train teachers to better recognize early signs of mental illness.
Ihns noted there is a shortage of teachers in Iowa, as well as all over the country.
He concluded by saying the district has saved nearly $51,000 by purchasing items in bulk. The departments racking up the most savings were food service with $37,118.67 and office and classroom with $12,982.10.
• Four students, Annaleigh Shileny, Niklaus Knobloch, Eric Trautsch and Tyrone Grant, along with instructor Mr. Todd Knobloch, reported on the Cyber Cadets 7646, a newly-formed robotics team. Read more about the team in a future article.
• Science teachers Karen Steffen, Dale Dennler and Liz Siepker gave a report about changing curriculum. The group wanted to add a class specifically about Earth/Space Standards, which is a graduation requirement.
Steffen said they have been teaching it in other courses, but wanted to give Earth/Space its own semester.
This would be offered for ninth graders. Biology would stay the same as a sophomore year-long class.
Juniors and seniors would still have the option of taking a semester each of Introduction to Physics and Introduction to Chemistry or the year-long physics and chemistry classes.
The new structure would require six semesters of science, compared with the four semester currently required.
Students would still have several elective classes available to them.
• Mrs. Steffen gave an update on a special STEM workshop eight of her students attended in January at Viterbo University in LaCrosse. Students Shileny and Grant explained the workshop they chose.
Steffen said three of the five hands-on workshops were Diagnosing a Clinical Case, Engineering Invention and All About the Base (coding).
Shileny stated she took Forensic Entomology. “We solved a murder case and dusted for fingerprints.” It was like CSI.
Grant said, “I took The Speed of Chemical Reactions.” The group decided which factors affect the rate of the magnesium-hydrochloric acid reaction.
Steffen and her students were pleased with the excursion, so they will try to do it again next year.
• Board President Duane Bodermann mentioned he had received some comments regarding closing school on Jan. 18, when the predicted snowstorm wasn’t supposed to start until later. Another point raised was that other schools had a half-day of school.
Supt. Ihns explained, “Some schools, like Decorah and others, are still on days, rather than hours. Brian (Swestka, Transportation Director) and I had a long discussion on whether to have school that day. If we wanted to send kids home at noon, we would have had to start feeding lunch to the elementary kids at 9:30.
“We just want our staff and students to be home before dark.”
In addition, How-Winn is one of the largest districts in the state and is required to get students home safely. A lot of nasty weather can strike in the hour it takes to get from Cresco to some students’ homes on the outskirts of the district.
• At the Dec. 17, 2018 meeting, the board voted to purchase Motorola two-way radios from Electronic Engineering of Des Moines. After the meeting a local vendor, Dave Neubauer of Upper Iowa Communications, approached Ann Smith, who was researching the purchase of radios, saying he misunderstood her request for a bid.
After discussing different options and parts of his bid, which included a repeater, the board voted to go with the local vendor on a vote of 3-2 (Toni Johnson, Alison Holten and Bodermann for and Todd Hill and Karlos McClure against). In addition to winning the bid, Neubauer will pay a restock fee of $2,737.60 to Electronic Engineering.
• McClure was voted to represent How-Winn as the Howard County Conference Board member.
Since the next regularly-scheduled board meeting is on President’s Day, Feb. 18, a new date is being determined.