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Board Actions Support Families, Students, and Classroom Teachers

Jerry Riibe, Superintendent of Schools
June 11, 2019

The preparations for the 2019-20 school year are well underway. The MCSD Board of Education made several positive decisions at the June meeting that will make a difference for staff and students. The board decided to vastly upgrade technology in the district, approved a reduced fee structure for parents, and entered into a contract for a curriculum audit.

Upgraded Technology Coming to K-9 Classrooms

The Board of Education approved the recommendation to approve the purchase of new class sets of Chromebooks for grades 2-9, new iPad for K-1, and new smart boards for all core classrooms K-6.  This will provide a much-needed upgrade for our elementary classrooms. In the past, elementary buildings received hardware that had been in use in secondary classrooms. However, with the new online testing model and local on-line assessments, reliable computers were needed at the elementary level.

The use of tablets in K-1 for reading and math practice and drills have been a useful teaching tool. The units now in the classrooms are approaching seven years and lack the capacity for new upgrades.  The IPad for these grades will provide several years service for the district.

Teachers have found smart boards (integrated technology whiteboards) to be a valuable tool for engaging students in learning. The interactive technology allows students to share, collaborate, and solve problems in a 21st-century workplace model. The Chromebooks, IPads, and smart boards will be purchased via a three-year lease with the equipment becoming the property of the district at the conclusion of the agreement.

Supporting Families Through Reduced Fees and Minimal School Supplies

The Board also took a significant step in assisting families in preparing for the new school year by reducing the instructional materials fee from $85 (grades 9-12) and $55 (grades K-6) to $40 K-12. This will provide some financial relief for parents during the gear up for the new school year. In addition, the class lists for school supplies has been reduced to one notebook, a package of pencils, and an optional backpack for grades K-5. Grades 6-8 will have a notebook, pencils and trapper keeper on the list with the optional backpack.

Other school supplies will be ready in the classrooms for students and teachers on the first day of school. This will provide equity for all students and relieve teachers from the burden of trying to provide supplies for students without.

District-wide Audit to Begin this Fall

Finally, the MCSD Board entered into a contract with Curriculum Management Services in Johnston, Iowa for a district-wide audit.  CMSi is the leader in national and international audits of curriculum delivery models. A diverse team of auditors from across the nations will spend time in Muscatine this fall to review data, interview students, staff, and parents, and evaluate policies that support learning. It was a recommendation from the administrative team to use an independent third party to provide this information to guide the next efforts in school improvement. The study will provide valuable information that will help from the classroom to the board room.

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