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Clarinda, IWCC collaboration could expand to other schools
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Clarinda, IWCC collaboration could expand to other schools

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The collaborative arrangement between the Clarinda Community School District and Iowa Western Community College to provide instructional programming could become part of a plan to expand services to other schools in the area.

During a meeting of the Board of Education on Sept. 22, Clarinda Superintendent Chris Bergman said she had spoken earlier in the day to Iowa Western President Dan Kenney “about our cooperation and the next step.”

“He has advised me to reach out to schools within a 20- to 30-mile radius and get some people together and start talking about who may be interested in joining efforts we have going already with the curriculum we want to implement that would also be shepherded a little bit through Iowa Western,” Bergman said.

Officials at the state level are currently assessing how to establish regional centers that would offer career and technical education classes.

The goal, Bergman said, is for “all kids in the state to have accessibility” to classes of a “somewhat equitable nature.”

In determining where these facilities would be located in different areas of the state, priorities would be in places “that have a community college campus already,” Bergman said, noting that “most likely that would be Clarinda.”

She said she and Kinney “both believe we are a large enough school district that even if it is just us who are working together, that’s great.”

But, she said, serving surrounding communities may be possible as well if decisions can be made about “which programs might be offered where.”

Through a cooperative approach among facilities, the needs of individual students could be met.

A project being developed by Iowa Western and the iJAG program is the conversion of the East Mills elementary school building in Hastings into a regional CTE facility.

“Let’s say we have a student who is really interested in ‘X’, but we don’t offer it, and they really want to go to another center,” Bergman said. “We can make those things work as well. We want what’s best for kids.”

Also at the Sept. 22 meeting, directors received an update from Bergman on discussions regarding the potential acquisition by the district of some facilities at the former Clarinda Academy.

She said she and Clarinda Correctional Facility Warden Stephen Weis had talked about a lease arrangement between the district and the state

“It looks like it would be a low dollar amount so that it is acceptable to us,” she said. “It’s not anything that they want to make money on.”

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Facilities that the district may acquire include the football field, a gymnasium-activities center, classrooms and possibly the baseball field.

With a lease, the district would assume responsibility for the maintenance of whatever is acquired, along with “any improvements, enhancements and repairs,” Bergman said.

Since the state currently owns the facilities, Board President Greg Jones said he assumed that “they would put an agreement together and bring it to us.”

Bergman said that was the procedure to be followed. “They are the owner,” she said. “They’re working on the agreement. Their lawyers will bring it to our lawyers.”

Weis also plans to attend a board meeting next month to provide further information to directors.

In other business, the board:

Approved a request for modified allowable growth and supplemental aid for the Clarinda district’s special education deficit of $241,325.13 in the 2020-2021 school year. This amount was more than receivable revenue and $123,910.28 less than the previous term. Because of circumstances related to federal funding levels, districts can spend more than they take in for special education, but excess expenses must be covered with general fund money, and the state allows districts to recover the spending authority.

Approved fundraising activities for various groups during the 2021-2022 year. Projects and events include fruit sales conducted by FFA members; a variety show presented by vocal music students; tailgating, a winter formal, strawberry sales and Valentine flower sales organized by FCCLA members; a “Clubs Choice” project organized by the middle school band; and “Penny Wars” and “Dollar Daze” events at the PK-6 building.

Approved two donations: $150 to the school nurse fund from the Together Class; and a quantity of ground beef to the nutrition department from an anonymous individual.

Approved the first reading of a policy related to the purchasing and bidding of items needed by the district. Because of high food costs, the provision of more free meals and the scheduling of yearly summer lunch operations, expenses in the food service department are approaching $50,000. A recommendation is being made to raise the bid limit from that figure to $60,000. Amounts above that would need to through a request for proposal (FRP) or competitive bid process.

Approved the second and final reading of Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB) policy primers reflecting updates on 2021 legislative issues and other topics.

Approved the second and final reading of a policy regarding the stocking of an epinephrine auto-injector supply.

Approved rescinding a previous policy on the use of video cameras on school property and replacing it with a policy implemented by the IASB that covers the same subject.

Approved staff hirings: Maggie Stevens as administrative secretary; Erin McPhee and Melissa Stoltz as paraprofessionals; and Cindy Darrah as elementary music and musical theatre director.

Approved the resignation of Collin Bevins as 9-10 iJAG instructor, effective Oct. 1.

Watched a demonstration by elementary school pupils of coding techniques they are learning as part of STEM-related instruction.

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