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Board meeting highlights

To watch our School Board meetings live, tune to Channel 7 / 85 for MediaCom Digital Boxes or 121.7 for TVs with built in Digital Tuners.

Link to Board Meeting Schedule

Link to rebroadcast schedule. 

March 27, 2017

Highlights of public forum and discussion

Protection of Immigrant Students-President Luke Deardorff read a statement to clarify the Board’s position on passing a resolution for the protection of immigrant students, which had previously been proposed by Director Lewis Rosser. He said the Board’s role is to work within policies and procedures in a non-partisan and non-political manner. Superintendent Tim Taylor presented proposed revisions to Policy JEC dealing with student admissions, based on extensive legal research, which will go through the Policy Committee. Director Rosser said he believes the policy revisions accomplish most of what the resolution was intended to do. 

Meeker C.A.R.E.S-Meeker Elementary School staff presented its school improvement program called Meeker C.A.R.E.S, which stands for Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy and Self-Control. Through video, students shared how the approach, which is based on principles and practices of Responsive Classroom, has helped them focus on social-emotional skills and academic goals.

Certified Budget-Chief Financial Officer Chris Stensland presented the 2018 Certified Budget, which establishes budget amounts for tax levies and the four major budget control areas. The Board will hold a public hearing on the budget on April 10.

Public participation at Board meetings-The Board discussed revisions to the policy on Public Participation at Board Meetings. The policy revisions would allow public input on discussion agenda items but the Board has not reached consensus on how to manage the process.The Policy Committee will attempt make clarifications and bring the policy for action on April 10.

Highlights of Board action

The Board approved 2017-18 District fees, and set April 10 as the date for a public hearing on the sale of the Maintenance Building at 1621 Wilson Ave.. Due to a mix-up with the U.S. Mail, the Board found it necessary to reject all bids on the demolition of the Old Edwards Building and set a new date for notice of public hearing on April 24. 

Feb. 27, 2017

Highlights of public forum and discussion

Cultural proficiency and racial disparity-Sawyer Elementary School staff presented professional development, student counseling and learning strategies the school has put in place this year to help close the gap in achievement scores between minority students and their white peers. They said they launched the strategies based on needs they identified for their building from several sources of data. In response to the Iowa School Report Card and other reports of a district-wide gap in achievement scores between minority students and their white peers, District leaders announced the District is working with experts in cultural proficiency to develop a three-year plan for professional development to help close the gap. District leaders also announced they will be working with Inclusive Ames to bring in allies, experts and other community voices into the discussion and planning process. At Public Forum, several speakers reiterated their concerns about racial disparities in school achievement scores and disciplinary actions, and welcomed the opportunity to work with the District to move forward.

Policy on public participation at Board meetings-The Board debated the merits of revising Policy KG to allow members of the public to comment on Board agenda discussion items. The current policy allows public comment only during Public Forum. The Board is seeking ways to improve opportunities for public dialogue. The Policy Committee will continue to work on Policy KG in light of that goal.

Update on Phase I of High School Project- Sam Stagg of Haila Architects told the Board that its Phase I study shows the high school is in fair to good shape structurally but has shortcomings in terms of its sprawling layout, constricted hallways, outdated learning spaces, complex security needs and inadequate external traffic access. He said it’s too soon to make a judgment call for either rebuilding or renovating the high school. The next task will focus on studying high school needs for programming, learning spaces, and public, semi-public and private spaces.  

Highlights of Board Action

The Board

  • Approved resolutions to prepay General Obligation Bonds that will save about $6.6 million dollars in interest.
  • Approved a public hearing on March 27 for bids for demolition of the Old Edwards building
  • Approved Policy BCE, Board Committees, after discussion on whether to amend the motion to revise the policy to require committee notices and agendas to be posted five days in advance instead of the statutory requirement to post them 24 hours in advance. Based on input from legal counsel, the Board approved the policy as presented, keeping the requirement for posting notices 24 hours in advance. 

Feb. 13, 2017

Board highlights were unavailable for Feb. 13. Minutes have been posted. 

Jan 30, 2017

Public Forum

A parent suggested ways the District could engage parents and community members for input and feedback. A parent asked for the District to include students with learning disabilities and dyslexia in its discrimination statement. 

Highlights of Discussion

High school staff presented proposed names changes and content revisions to Career and Technical Education Courses to align them with new requirements from the Iowa Department of Education.

Administrators and staff presented the Iowa School Report Card. The Report Card bases 7 out of 10 data points on Iowa Assessment alone. Five of the District’s seven schools (Northwood Preschool Center is not shown because only students in grades 3 and above take the Iowa Assessment) showed a positive change from 2015 and all schools are ranked Commendable or above. Six of seven have overall score increase, but Ames Middle School lost ground, mainly due to an achievement gap among minority students. The Board discussed the Report’s limitations, and how the middle school is beginning to recognize and plan for meeting the the different needs of minority students. The Board discussed its priorities for defining student success on multiple factors throughout the school year. 

Administrators and staff gave an update on the status of implementing the Smarter Balanced (SB) assessment. They said over the past four years, the Iowa Department of Education (IDE) has been preparing to move away from Iowa Assessments to Smarter Balanced as our state assessment. The District has spent considerable time preparing for the transition, including helping the IDE test SB with some of our students, attending webinars, and checking our Internet capacity for testing, Conversations in the Iowa Legislature have started about moving away from SB. While SB is more expensive than Iowa Assessments, administrators believe SB would give the District more accurate information about what our students are learning and potentially allow us replace some other assessments that are currently in place. Associate Superintendent Mandy Ross said she hopes to gain public support for SB at the legislative level.

Dr. Taylor presented revised District calendars for 2017-18 and 2018-19 to align start dates and conference dates. 

Administrators presented the decisions and rationales for an agreement with Frontline Education for a time clock system.

Highlights of Board action

The Board approved an agreement with Haila Architecture for a first phase architectural and engineering study to provide a high level overview on approaches to improving the existing high school. The study will help the Board determine the merits of remodeling the high school versus rebuilding the high school. The services costs will not exceed $240,000. The firm will provide deliverable reports to the Board Facilities Committee and Board monthly, Feb. – May.

The Board approved a variety of facilities plans, change orders and final acceptance resolutions. 

 

Dec. 19, 2016

Public Forum

A parent spoke about concerns she has with the Board’s lack of publicity for a meeting of the attendance committee. She also spoke about concerns with the appearance of conflicts of interest. A parent spoke about the difficulties she’s had getting help within the District for her daughter who has dyslexia. 

Highlights of Discussion

Reports of Board Committee Work: Vice President Alisa Frandsen clarified that the committee to which the parent referred in public forum is not a Board committee and not subject to open meeting laws. 

Ames High School Facilities Project Phase 1 Architectural Services Agreement with Haila Architecture: Haila Architects presented a proposal to study the current high school building to provide a professional opinion of its condition, functional capacity and the feasibility of reusing, repurposing and renovating it, and to study the features needed for a new or renovated facility in order to provide a rough estimate of the size, cost and construction schedule for each scenario. The goal of the study is to provide information to vet with the public before proposing a bond referendum. Haila said the work would take about four months and fees would not exceed $294,000.

Highlights of Board action

The Board approved revisions to its policy on Community Use of Facilities. Any activity by an approved Level II organization, which includes volunteer-led organizations providing youth activities, may use facilities without charge so long as the activity finishes before custodial staff hours end. The Board tabled approval of revisions to its policy for Board Committee Work until the Policy Committee can vet a proposed amendment to the policy’s stated number of days in advance that committee meetings must be publicized.

The Board approved engineering services contracts to move forward with work on middle school athletic facilities and Northwood site improvements.

 

 

Dec. 5, 2016

Superintendent Tim Taylor read a statement about accepting the resignation of Fellows Principal Carol Page. He apologized for not speaking to Fellows staff following the special board meeting held Friday, Dec. 2, until Saturday. He said the Board and staff appreciates Ms. Page’s service and would communicate openly about a transition plan for her replacement, which will be in place by Winter Break. He said the Board and staff are open to listening to community input.

Public Forum

Nearly a dozen staff members and teachers spoke about their concerns with the Board and staff’s acceptance of Fellows Principal Carol Page’s resignation. They spoke of their high regard for Ms. Page’s leadership and asked the Board and staff to improve communication with parents. 

Highlights of Discussion

Update on Board Goals: Dr. Taylor presented the staff’s response to the Board Goals approved October 24. Read Goals here.

Board Committee Reports: The Teaching and Learning Committee reported that its observation of Professional Learning Communities shows the PLC process is being implemented effectively. The Facilities Committee reported that a plan will be finalized soon for phasing the preliminary work needed to seek community input on upgrades to the high school. The Real Estate Liquidation Committee reported that the Old Edwards neighborhood association is interested in fundraising to convert that campus into a neighborhood park. 

Highlights of Board action

The Board approved an engineering contract to begin work on expanding the Edwards Elementary School playground; approved an ad hoc security committee to deal specifically with building security, procedural guidance and security training, and passed a resolution of support for the Iowa Association of School Board’s Promise of Iowa Education campaign to focus attention on the future of Iowa public education.

Nov. 21, 2016

Public Forum

Four parents from Fellows Elementary School spoke about their concerns with the District Literacy Plan and pilot study. They asked why the plan only addresses Tier 1 instruction, they requested the gap analysis results and expressed conditions they believe necessary to rebuild trust: choose materials that meet the needs of children with learning disabilities, make decisions for the choice of materials with transparency and showing due diligence results, and keep an open mind about the choice of materials.

Highlights of Discussion

Art Program Update

Staff presented the curriculum review process for the district-wide art program, which is using National Core Art Standards. Phases 1 and 2 are complete and key essential standards are in place. Phase 3 will involve developing rubrics and common formative assessments. The Board discussed art is an integrator in STEM education. It develops skills in dimensional thinking, and pattern seeking and finding, for example.

Board Committee Reports

IASB Delegate Assembly met last week and adopted three of the Board’s legislative priorities, related to school funding, state aid, and preserving 1 cent sales tax revenue.  The Teaching and Learning Committee continues to hold meetings and work with families concerned about the Literacy Pilot. The Real Estate Liquidation Committee is reaching out to neighborhood associations as the process for selling the Crawford, old Edwards and old Maintenance buildings moves forward. The Facilities Committee will review information about Linn-Mar Community School District’s aquatic center enterprise fund at the Committee meeting Tuesday, Nov. 29, which will help with decisions for the Ames High School aquatic center.

Policies for Discussion

BCE, Board Committees:-the  Board discussed the feasibility of posting committee agendas on the website more than 24 hours in advance. Under the Open Meetings Law, 24-hour notice is the requirement. Board consensus for the current discussion is that it not feasible to make the policy go beyond the requirements of Open Meetings Law. KG, Community Use of School Facilities-the  Board discussed clarifying the policy to address community groups that might request to use the District Offices conferences spaces or conference spaces in the new Facilities and Maintenance Building, and to make sure that nonprofit groups like Raising Readers that support the District’s goals understand they are welcome to schedule facilities at no charge or for a nominal charge.

Highlights of Board action

The Board approved updates and revisions to the policies linked here..

Nov. 7, 2016

Public Forum

Several parents of Fellows Elementary School students spoke about their concerns with the pilot study of literacy materials. They said they believe they were not given acceptable choices to opt out of the pilot program and that rotating through three new sets of materials would disrupt their children’s learning. They urged the Board to stop the pilot. Superintendent Tim Taylor and several Board members said the Board and staff would discuss and address their concerns, but have no intention of stopping the pilot at this time. They said they are confident that the pilot materials and structure of the pilot were vetted thoroughly. They said the materials were chosen to fill an existing gap in literacy instruction, and therefore would benefit rather than disrupt the learning process. 

Highlights of Discussion/Information Items

Entrepreneurial Program-Business teacher Vicki Hales, ISU Research Park Marketing Director Alison Doyle and several Ames High School students presented the Ames High School Business Collaborative. The Collaborative provides high school students experience working with businesses to gain skills in entrepreneurship, communication and project management.

Fixed Assets Inventory Services Proposal- Chief Financial Officer Chris Stensland presented a proposal to hire a company to make an inventory of the District’s fixed assets valued at more than $500. The fixed asset inventory is valuable for tracking assets and determining what would need to be replaced if a loss occurs. The $23,760 cost of the inventory would come from the General Fund. The contract will come back for action on November 21.

Cell Tower-Facilities Planning and Management Director Gerry Peters presented a recommendation to the Board for an opportunity to extend the lease for a cell tower located on Ames High School property. He recommended agreeing to a 20-year lease extension that would provide a $40,000 signing bonus and extend the current revenue for the lease, which is nearly $19,000 per year. The Board discussed the flexibility of the agreement in light of potential changes in the Ames High School facility footprint. Mr. Peters will explore those concerns before the item comes back for action.

Highlights of Board action

The Board approved PPEL budgets including the 5-year summary budget and capital projects, after discussing capital projects in detail. Board members said they would support capital projects to improve Ames Middle School athletic facilities, to replace pavement and improve traffic flow at Northwood Preschool Center, to expand green space at Edwards Elementary School and to being the process of moving tennis courts from Ames High School to 24th St.   

Oct. 24, 2016

Highlights of Discussion/Information Items

11th Grade Science Courses and Pilot Texts: Aileen Sullivan, Ames High School Science Department Liaison, and Kari Smith, Teacher on Special Assignment for Math and Science, presented how 11th grade science will be phased into the three-path system at Ames High School. The courses and texts are designed to meet new Iowa Science Standards and provide students a more comprehensive science foundation with more opportunities for differentiation for interests and abilities.

PPEL Budget Overview: Director of Facilities Planning and Management Gerry Peters explained the work of the PPEL Committee and presented a budget for discussion. The budget format identifies projects, routine maintenance, capital improvements, and a five year plan. In light of a capital improvement project listed for Ames Middle School Athletic improvements totaling $1.237 million, the  Board discussed the need to establish a threshold for bringing projects to the full Board before they’re added to the entire budget for approval. 

Erosion control at Fellows Elementary School: The engineer from Fox Engineering who designed drainage and erosion control measures for the new Fellows site explained how the site’s features are designed to control runoff and improve the quality of water that returns to the water table. He said due to the site’s unfinished state during the rainstorm on Sept. 22, silt and debris clogged some of the intakes. He said grading and sodding are complete now and he’s confident the drainage measures will control runoff and prevent flooding.

Facilities related to Ames High School: The Board discussed the steps and timeframes necessary to complete a high school project, from hiring an architect to study options for rebuilding versus remodeling to completing construction. The Board asked the Facilities Committee to vet architects for the design study as the first step. The Board will select the architect and commission a study before forming a community committee and gauging community support.    

Update on enrollment: The District’s Certified Enrollment for 2016-17 shows weighted enrollment has increased by 10.69 students and open enrollment has increased by 25.5 students compared to 2015-16. The District has 217.7 more students who open enroll in compared to students who open enroll out. 

Highlights of Board action

The Board approved five goals created during a strategic planning session earlier this month. The Board suggested some edits and we will post the final version of the goals when it is available.

Oct. 10, 2016

Public Forum

Tim Gartin spoke about the achievement gap between African American students and white students in Iowa and in Ames cited in a Des Moines Register article published in May. He asked the District to make it a priority to close this gap and suggested working with the City of Ames and the community.

Discussion/Information Item(s)

Word Study Team Update. The Word study team announced materials to pilot for Tier 1 reading instruction in grades kindergarten through 2 and described details of the pilot. The Iowa Reading Research Center will provide support for the pilot design, data collection and analysis. Read more here.

World Languages Update. Ames High School world language teachers and Teacher on Special Assignment Vonda Junk presented a strategy for second language acquisition that emphasizes story telling, reading and writing  over traditional grammar instruction. They said after the first year of using the program they’re seeing students succeed more readily in foreign language acquisition.

Update on Site Construction Work on Fellows School Site. Facilities Planning and Management Director Gerry Peters updated the Board on site work completion at Fellows and the ongoing investigation into the flooding that occurred after the extraordinary rainstorm on Sept. 22. He said final grading, seeding and sodding are being completed for proper drainage and erosion control and the City is  monitoring storm lines to clean debris. He said some intakes were  silted in during construction, but the contractor has cleaned them. He is still working on confirmation that the contractor built the site according to the design specifications and that the design is adequate. The Board asked for verification from Fox Engineering.

Update on Site Construction Work on 24th Street Site.  Don Marner, from Snyder & Associates, explained that the 24th Street site conforms to City specifications and he is working with the contractor get to bottom of the detention basins and apply seed for vegetation to be established. He said he will have a new report in a week or so.

Highlights of Board Committee Work

The  Policy Committee meets Tuesday to continue revisions to the facilities usage policy to reduce barriers to community use of buildings.

The Facilities Committee will visit Linn-Mar’s aquatic center, and hold a separate session to explore the process for determining community support for high school facilities.

The Real Estate Liquidation Committee is accepting letters of interest through Oct. 20 and currently has received letters from three parties.

The Physical Plant & Equipment Levy is, moving forward with a master plan for Ames Middle School athletic facilities improvement that might be feasible next summer, subject to approval from the Board.

Highlights of Board action

The Board approved substantial completion for the Sawyer Project and early release of retainage from Woodruff Construction for the Sawyer project.

Sept. 26, 2016

Meeting highlights

Public Forum: Residents of the Fellows Elementary School neighborhood who live on McKinley Court told the Board that since the Fellows site was altered for the construction project, runoff from Fellows flows onto their property and some sump pumps can’t keep up when rain falls totaling an inch or more. They attribute the problem to the incomplete site grading and erosion control measures. 

Election of Officers: The Board re-elected Luke Deardorff as President and elected Alisa Frandsen as Vice President. The Board re-elected Chief Financial Officer Chris Stensland as Board Secretary/Treasurer.

Financial Update: Ms. Stensland presented a summary of Fiscal Year 16 financial results. The District fund balances, unreserved/ designated amounts and solvency ratio show a solid financial position.

Action: The Board approved transactions for issuing $5 million in sales tax revenue bonds based on the financing proposal approved at the Sept. 12 Board meeting. The funds are intended for building the new maintenance and transportation facility.

The Board approved the request for modified allowable growth and supplemental state aid to receive funding for the District’s special education program and deficit for 2015-16. The deficit amount requested is about $1.8 million, compared to about $2.2 million requested for 2014-15. The reduced deficit is based on steps Ms. Stensland made to achieve correct spending authority and revenue amounts and diligent management of programs and services by Special Education Director Darcy Cosens.

The Board approved several change orders for construction projects, noting that the cost of change orders has not put any of the  projects over budget.

Other discussion: The Board and staff discussed steps to follow up with reports of water damage in the Fellows neighborhood and the neighborhood west of the 24th Street campus following the overnight storm on Thursday, Sept. 22. Superintendent Tim Taylor said the District takes its responsibility seriously. Since the Board hasn’t approved total acceptance of work for either project, the District is working with the designers, contractors and the City of Ames to resolve the issues. 

The Board and staff discussed a memorandum of understanding with the Iowa Reading Research Center providing reciprocal benefit between the District and the Center for piloting materials for the District Literacy Plan. In return for providing help to the District with data analysis and assessments, the Center would be allowed to develop a research paper redacted to protect confidential student information.

 

Sept. 12, 2016

Highlights of discussion

Ames Education Foundation:  Annie Arbuckle, Executive Director of the Ames Education Foundation, provided a summary of the gifts the Foundation has provided to the District in the past year. Gifts for grants to support classroom projects and supplies, school supplies for students in need, leveled readers for elementary literacy, and money raised for new choir robes totaled $86,515. Gifts for scholarships totaled $66,500. The Foundation launched a new fundraising goal to raise $175,000 for band uniforms. The Foundation’s signature fundraising event TASTE for Education, will be held Sunday, Sept. 25. For more information, visit the Ames Education Foundation website.

Update on music instruction: Teacher on Special Assignment Erin Miller presented the process the District used during the 2015-16 school year to review music curriculum. Teacher leaders and music teachers developed a four-phase curriculum review cycle that aligns with the District’s vision and flow chart for Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). They examined National Core Music Standards, Iowa Core Music guiding documents and the District’s past grade level and course level expectations. During the 2016-17 school year, they will pilot the PLC process. Based on data and feedback,they will review and recalibrate the process. Ms. Miller said the gap analysis revealed no major gaps in instruction, although teachers across the specialties of general music, vocal music, band orchestra needed to create common vocabulary and understanding.

Sale of District-owned properties: Kelly Diekmann, City of Ames Planning and Housing Director, explained the process for zoning decisions involving government-owned property. He said all properties owned by the District are zoned under the Government category. Based on their locations, upon sale or disposal, their zoning reverts to its underlying category, which is Residential Low Density.Residential Low Density is the most conservative zoning category and only allows for single-family detached homes, with possible exceptions for churches and daycares, for example. Users seeking those exceptions must make a request to the Zoning Board of Adjustment. The City might be willing to consider using properties for neighborhood parks, although budgets and operating costs must be considered. The Crawford building might be suitable for adaptive reuses similar to the Roosevelt building, which involved a coordinated effort from the neighborhood, the City and the District. Mr. Diekmann said interested buyers should call his office and talk to a planner. The phone number is 515.239.5400.

Financing proposals for issuing sales tax revenue bonds:The board discussed selling $5 million in bonds for capital improvement to Key Bank, a Colorado-based finance bank. The funds are intended for building the new maintenance and transportation facility.The Board had previously discussed and approved the private placement approach to achieve consistent or cheaper interest rates compared to the public bond market, and maximize the District’s reserve fund over the life of the bonds. The District’s financial consultant, Tim Oswald with Piper Jaffray & Co., managed the bid process. Key Bank won the lowest bid with a fixed-rate of 2.30% after fees. Chief financial officer Chris Stensland said placement with the public bond market would have required the District place 10% of the bond’s worth in an account payable to the bondholder in case the district defaulted on the loan. With the private arrangement, the District’s reserve fund has the full $5 million to use instead of holding $.5 million in reserve.

Highlights of Board Action

The Board approved the Private Placement Letter with Piper Jaffray for the bond sale, approved the resolution directing the sale, and approved a contract with its legal counsel Ahlers & Cooney, to serve as Bond Counsel. 

Aug. 22, 2016

Highlights of discussion

Word Study Team Update: Teachers on Special Assignment Mary Morton and Erin Miller reported that the Word Study Team and the elementary principals, program directors and instructional coaches met to narrow the list of foundational skills materials to evaluate for preschool through grade 2 Tier 1 instruction. They chose four sets of materials suited for preschool through grade 2 and one set focused on phonemic awareness at the preschool level. Their goal is to finalize the materials evaluation rubric and evaluate the materials so a recommendation and purchasing decision can be made by late October. The timeline is designed to support professional development for implementing instruction using the materials in the second semester of the 2016-17 school year.

Response to Des Moines Register Article on Iowa’s Literacy Gap: Associate Superintendent Mandy Ross and Data & Assessment Coordinator Dan Andrews gave the Board data to aid in understanding how Ames students fit into the May 24, 2016 Des Moines Register article by Mckenzie Ryan. They provided comparisons with districts that are either similar in size to Ames and/or are college communities. They acknowledged achievement gaps between subgroups and white students. They said the District is looking at areas where students are showing gains, such as English Language Learners, and is reaching out to other districts, such as Ankeny, where students are showing consistent gains. They acknowledged the need to address students’ social and emotional needs, and enlist community support. View presentation materials.

Technology Update: Technology Director Karl Hehr updated the Board on the status of meeting technology initiative goals. He said goals for classroom technology are nearly 100% complete, and all students have access to a computing device for the upcoming school year. Teacher leadership, Instruction and programming are improving and professional development will continue to be offered in a fashion that is responsive to staff needs. 

Real Estate Liquidation: The Board discussed a process for soliciting proposals from buyers interested in the Crawford building, the old Edwards building and the old Facilities and Maintenance building. The first phase would request interested parties to submit written proposals of interest between Aug. 29 and Oct. 20, 2016. During this time District would inform the public of the intended sale of property and process being used, and would post the properties for sale on a state-wide and regional basis. The Board would review statements of interest in closed session on Oct. 24. Parties selected would be asked to submit bids due Nov. 16. On Nov. 21, the Board would hold a closed session to make final discussions for the sale.

Highlights of Board action:

The Board approved the Superintendent’s contract for three more years. Dr. Taylor’s salary for 2016-17 is $176,925.

The Board approved the District’s Comprehensive Assessment Plan for 2016-17, which itemizes all tests given district-wide and each grade level. The CAP provided data necessary to adjust programming and instruction and meet and exceed all state and national reporting requirements.

 

 

Aug. 8, 2016

The Board voted to amend the agenda:

  • Technology Update was tabled
  • Reports of Board Work on Committees was added
  • Change Order for Sawyer Project was deleted (this item was pulled from the agenda in time to be deleted from the current online agenda).
  • Approve 2016 IASB Legislative Priorities was added

Public Forum: Katherine Fromm spoke at Public Forum about the pitfalls of Charter Schools and the need to pare down the elementary school supply list. Kathy Schnable spoke on behalf of the neighborhood association near the former Edwards School on Woodland St. She said the neighbors would welcome a park and they hope the City of Ames and the District work together within the scope of their powers to prevent another Breckenridge situation.

District enrollment. The Board discussed the fact that based on the most current figures available, most schools have increased enrollment. Solutions will involve transferring staff to balance class sizes. Superintendent Tim Taylor said decisions on balancing class sizes and staff placement would take into consideration teacher experience. In some cases, certified Educational Assistants might be added to help support instruction and classroom management. The Board asked to be kept apprised weekly.

Report of Board Work on Committees: The Real Estate Liquidation Committee reported that it is ready to meet this week to finalize the process for Requests For Proposals in order to be able to accept proposals for the old Edwards and Crawford properties after the next Board meeting. President Deardorff said the Committee has been in contact with parties showing interest in the properties, so they are aware of the timeline.

Approve 2016 IASB Legislative Priorities: After discussing their legislative priorities, the Board agreed to submit the items listed below as their top five priorities for the Iowa Association of School Boards Legislative Resolution Committee to consider. The Committee will receive other districts’ top five priorities and prepare resolutions to submit for final approval at the IASB Delegate Assembly in November.

1.School Funding Policy that supports a school funding formula that, for example, provides adequate and timely funding, reduces pressure on the general fund for transportation and addresses inequities among districts, and considers demographic factors, 

2. Supplemental State Aid that is set for Fiscal Year 2018 and future years within 400 days (14 months) prior to the certification of the district budget and at a rate that supports local efforts. 

3. State Penny sales tax that is preserved for school infrastructure with repeal of the Dec. 31, 2029 sunset.

4. Arbitration that considers local conditions, ability to pay and local settlement history.

5. Home Rule, which provides school districts greater flexibility and local control in governing decisions.

Among other Board action items, the Board approved design consultation services for parking and traffic lanes at Northwood Preschool Center and for athletic-related facilities at Ames Middle School. 

July 18, 2016

Before the meeting, the District hosted a ribbon cutting and open house to celebrate the opening of the new District Offices at 2005 24th St. The Board held its inaugural meeting in the building’s new Boardroom.

Highlights of the meeting:

Comprehensive Assessment PlanData Coordinator Dan Andrews and Associate Superintendent Mandy Ross gave a summary of 2015-16 results of the District assessments that provide multiple measures for student learning in reading, math and science. To offer more comprehensive data, the District also provided the percentage of students proficient in at least one assessment for each subject. Overall, depending on the subject and grade level, students in the Ames School District demonstrate higher proficiency by at least five points compared to the regional averages. Compared to the state averages, they demonstrate higher proficiency by up to 13 points. On the Iowa Assessment, elementary students posted gains in reading and math proficiency. High School students demonstrated gains in reading, math and science proficiency. Scores for Ames Middle School dipped in all subjects, although 88% of middle school students demonstrated proficiency on at least one measure besides the Iowa Assessment.

Board Action

The Board:

  • Amended the minutes of the June 13 Joint Meeting with the Ames City Council to clarify the references to a 25-yard swimming pool versus a 25-meter swimming pool.
  • Reappointed coaching and co-curricular assignments for the 2016-17 school year.
  • Voted to raise substitute teacher per diem pay from $95 to $100.
  • Accepted substantial completion of the Fellows Elementary School building.

June 20, 2016

Highlights of the meeting:

Award of Contract-After a Public Hearing, the Board awarded the contract for the Facilities Management and Bus Storage Building to Jensen Builders, LTD. The base bid and alternates Nos. 1 and 2 total $5,224,800. The base bids include radiant floor heating and concrete paving in all parking areas.

Update on Literacy Plan-The Board discussed the plan to select  elementary reading materials, presented by representatives of the District Word Study Team, along with elementary principals, Teachers on Special Assignment Erin Miller and Mary Morton and Associate Superintendent Mandy Ross. The presenters updated the Board on revised plans to select PK-2 reading materials. About 30 teachers representing all five elementary schools comprise the team, which has been working since January 2016 to study research around phonemic awareness, phonics, spelling and handwriting and to conduct a gap analysis for the District’s early literacy instruction needs. The team recommends addressing the needs for a common scope and sequence of literacy instruction with common formative assessments, common professional development and common materials to supplement Tier1 instruction around foundational skills. The District had initially planned to pilot supplemental literacy instruction materials in the fall of 2016, but that plan was not well received by some stakeholders. The Word Study Team met again early in June to develop a new plan for moving forward. The administrative team took the two plans forwarded by the Word Study Team and blended them into a hybrid plan that calls for instructional coaches, the Word Study Team, and administrators to evaluate a variety of supplemental instruction materials in the fall of 2016 before making a final selection in late October. Implementation in all pre-K through second grade classrooms would begin in the fall of 2017. The revised timeline gives teachers the chance to become familiar the materials during the 2017 spring semester prior to full implementation in 2017-18. Principals from all five elementary schools and Northwood Preschool Center were present at the Board meeting. They said they fully support the plan and their staffs are generally in favor of it. The district will begin posting weekly updates to its website to keep stakeholders apprised of the plan’s progress.

Board Action-The Board approved the reappointment of administrators, administrative assistants and educational assistants. Among other action items, the Board approved substantial completion of the 24th Street project and final completion of the Dotson Drive project.

The Board did not hold a closed session, which was on the agenda for the purpose of discussing the sale of a district property. Superintendent Tim Taylor said there was no need for discussion on the matter at that time.

May 23, 2016

Highlights of the meeting

Literacy Plan update–Teachers on Special Assignment Mary Morton and Erin Miller summarized the process of drafting a District-wide Literacy Plan. Because the plan must be designed to respond to the needs of all learners, including English Language Learners, students who need extended literacy instruction, students who struggle with reading, and students identified with dyslexia and other learning disabilities and challenges, the District Word Study team has been studying best practices, reviewing student achievement data to identify gaps, and exploring materials to close the gaps. The materials include Fundations, Words their Way, and Making Sense of Phonics. The Literacy Plan, including choices for materials to supplement core literacy instruction, will be finalized and brought to the Board later this summer. Several teachers and parents from Fellows Elementary School spoke at public forum asking the Board to allow Fellows to continue using Fundations. The school had been using Fundations as a pilot study, and the PTO funded its purchase for all kindergarten through second grade teachers.

Blended math instruction–Ames Middle School math teacher Robyn Reisetter and Ames High School math teacher Teresa Testroet shared how they incorporate flipped learning into their classrooms, assigning instructional videos and guided notes as the foundation for classroom work in discussions and small groups.

Extended Learning Program annual update-Extended Learning Program Director Nicole Kuhns summarized the District’s program for students who need additional enrichment in their instruction. Nearly 23% of the student population is identified for ELP and the program also enriches the education experience of students in the general population through contests, activities and tutorials.

Alternative Learning Program presentation–Student Services Director Yonas Michael summarized programs and strategies that have led to improved prevention, identification and interventions for students at risk of academic and social-emotional failure and dropping out of school.

Sales Tax Revenue Bonds discussion–Chief Financial Officer Chris Stensland and Piper Jaffray financial consultant Tim Oswald presented options for issuing sales tax revenue bonds to finance the Maintenance and Bus Storage facility. Mr. Oswald recommends using a bank as a lender for the approximately $5 million needed. He said the District would need to choose between using Piper Jaffray as the broker for the transaction or as the financial advisor.

Update on Policy KG, Community Use of Facilities–The Board discussed an update to the draft of the policy to further simplify classifications for priorities of use and for rental charges that encourage public use and ensure cost recovery. There is more work to be done and the District is still negotiating rental rates for events scheduled by the City of Ames and Parks and Recreation Department.

Among its Action Items, the Board approved

  • The 2016-17 Board meeting schedule
  • The reappointment of teaching staff
  • 10th grade science materials
  • A Drivers Education contract with Teen Driver
  • 2016-17 Food Service prices, which did not change for students

May 9, 2016

Highlights of the meeting

School Board recognition–Dr. Taylor thanked the Board members for their commitment to public education. May is IASB School Board Recognition Month.

PLC Flowchart Implementation–Mitchell Principal Justin Jeffs and his staff presented how Professional Learning Communities function using The Four Questions. They described how they identify essential standards and plan lessons and assessments, how they determine what students should know when they enter a grade level and what they should know before they move to the next grade level. They explained how they do daily assessments, and how they collaborate with SUCCESS teachers to help identify students who need a more intense tier of support. The said when they determine learning has already occurred, they offer enrichment activities and challenges, using input from Extended Learning Program teachers. When they determine that learning did not occur, they reteach using different strategies. They described the PLC process as a cycle. They said the PLC process improves their teaching because they are accountable to each other, and they support each other as a team instead of teaching in isolation.

Early Announcement for AHS Science Resources Purchase–Staff described the process of choosing textbooks for 10th grade science courses. Sample texts will be available for the public to view Tuesday, May 10, through Monday, May 16 at Ames High School in Student Services.

STEM Scale-Up Grant/Engineering is Elementary–Teacher on Special Assignment for Math and Science Kari Smith said she applied for and was awarded a grant to pilot a program designed to build capacity for teachers in teaching engineering skills. Eleven teachers and two Teacher Technology Librarians in first through fifth grade have signed on for the pilot.

Board Committee Reports–On behalf of  the Facilities Committee, Gerry Peters, Director of Facilities Planning and Management, gave an update on the contaminated water at Meeker Elementary School. He said an expert firm, Water Engineering, conducted a three-hour, high-concentration chlorination process on Monday, May 9. His goal is  to get four consecutive samples of clean water before he opens the drinking fountains. The Facilities Committee is still discussing options for the Sawyer soffit. The Board discussed community questions about why District Offices are moving to 24th Street before the end of the school year. The answer is that staff and resources are needed to move Fellows and Sawyer into their new buildings over the summer. The Teaching and Learning Committee will bring the Board an update on staff professional development and curriculum for dyslexia instruction. The Real Estate Liquidation Committee is in the early stage of discussions for all the District’s available properties.

Policy Discussion, KG, Community Use of Facilities–Vice President Rasmussen said the policy is written in broad terms and its administrative rules provide the details for procedures. The policy is written to encourage community use of District facilities at minimal cost for events in the best interest of students.

Among its Action Items, the Board:

  • Approved the General Budget for 2016-17
  • Approved the Plans, Specifications and form of Contract for construction of the new Facilities Planning and Bus Storage building
  • Approved the Advertisement to Bid for the new Facilities Planning and Bus Storage building
  • Approved the Notice of Public Hearing on plans, specifications, and form of contract and estimated total cost of the Public Improvement: the new Facilities Planning and Bus Storage building and set the date for Public Hearing on June 20, 2016.
  • Ratified the voluntary collective bargaining agreement for teachers with the Ames Education Association for the 2016-2017 School Year.
  • Approved the Ames High School Class of 2016 contingent upon completion of all graduation requirements.

April 25, 2016

Highlights of the meeting

The Board held a public hearing and voted to award the contract for the Fellows Elementary Playground Equipment to Boland Recreation in the amount of $191,700.

Ames High School ninth grade Earth Science teacher De Anna Tibben described the researched-based practices related to project-based learning she uses to increase student engagement and achieve high levels of learning.

The Board discussed change orders for the District’s construction projects, which currently include five elementary schools and the new Administration Building. The District’s average change order rate is just over 2% compared to industry averages of 8 – 15 %. The District has used about half of the construction contingency fund. Most changes are District requests instead of design deficiencies.

Associate Superintendent Mandy Ross updated the Board on the status of Teacher Leader Positions. She said the District has filled 67 of the 70 available positions, which meets the state requirement for 25% of staff in eligible positions to be in teacher leadership roles. Dr. Ross said the District is one of the first large districts that has reached that target, which speaks well of the District’s work done before the grant was awarded, staff enthusiasm for the program and the District’s hiring practices.

Special Education Director Darcy Cosens updated the Board on Special Education staff and student numbers and the importance of the Multitiered System of Support. She attributes the reduced number of students identified for special education to the MTSS flow chart and the effectiveness of Professional Learning Communities and teacher leaders.

Chief Financial Officer Chris Stensland presented an amendment to the District budget that is necessary because expenditures in some control areas will exceed the amounts approved for the statutory budget. She said except of construction costs, the amendment does not change the total expenditures, taxes or revenue for the approved budget.

Superintendent Tim Taylor presented cost reductions he’s recommending to provide a strategic, sustainable operating budget for 2016-17 based on a 2.25% increase in Supplemental State Aid. Although the District needs to reduce costs by more than $584,000, his recommended budget reduces costs by more than $791,000. This margin helps increase spending authority and preserve the District’s financial health. Dr. Taylor said said the cost reductions still allow flexibility to address class sizes. He said the budget strives to preserve manageable class sizes and programs that make Ames outstanding.

Committee reports: The Facilities Committee reported it’s considering options for improving the soffit on the remodeled Building. The Teaching and Learning Committee reported that it will meet with staff next week to review a draft of the District’s Literacy Plan. The Real Estate Liquidation Committee reported that Board and staff are meeting with parties interested in the available District properties.

Among its items for action, the Board approved:

  • A motion to receive and place on file for future action recommendations to terminate the contracts of certain certified staff effective at the end of the 2015-16 school year. Although the District has no plans to eliminate these positions, this action is a formality that must be in place as a contingency.
  • Reappointment of Custodial/Maintenance Staff for 2016-17.
  • To award audit services to Nolte, Cornman, and Johnson, P.C. for the years ending 2016- 18 ]with the option to renew for the years ending 2019-20. Nolte et al is the District’s current audit firm, which scored favorably in a new bid process. The Board and staff report high levels of satisfaction with its work.
  • Several change orders and a final acceptance of contract related to elementary building construction.

 

April 11, 2016

HIghlights of the meeting

The Board held a public hearing and voted to award the contract for the Sawyer Elementary Playground Equipment to Boland Recreation in the amount of $113,000.

The Board held a public hearing and voted to adopt the District budget and taxes for 2016-17. Total expenditures are $77,380,387. General fund expenditures are $50,710,304. The tax rate is $14.34736 per $1,000 of taxable valuation.

John Haila, of Haila Architects, gave an update on the history and status of the District’s new Maintenance and Bus Facility, which will be built on South Bell Avenue.  The project budget is $6.85 million. Construction bids will open June 9 with acceptance June 20, and construction will start around June 27. Substantial completion is planned for May 2017, with the building to open June 2017.

Mayor Ann Campbell spoke at Public Forum, asking the Board to work in closely with the City of Ames to discuss areas of mutual interest in terms of District property sales. The Board discussed its history and philosophy of selling District property. President Deardorff said the Board’s goal is to formulate a plan within 12 months for disposing of the Crawford building, the Maintenance Building on Wilson Avenue and the old Edwards building on Woodland Street.The Board discussed balancing its fiduciary responsibility with its interests in working with the city and neighborhood associations to support and encourage buyers who have ideas for appropriate uses of the buildings.

Dr. Taylor explained how District elementary enrollment fluctuates throughout the school year. He said that so many students move out of the District during the summer without giving notice, it’s hard to have in place the right number of teachers at the start of the school year. He said administrators plan to let parents know what strategies the District will use to manage class sizes.

The Board discussed and agreed to proceed with the last phase of planned boundary changes. Students living at Schilletter Village will attend Sawyer Sawyer Elementary School instead of Meeker for 2016-17. Students who live in the neighborhood bounded by 30th Street on the south, Hoover Avenue on the west, Bloomington Road on the north and Grand Avenue on the east will attend Fellows instead of Meeker. Families will have the option for their currently enrolled students to remain at Fellows, however.

Among its items for action, the Board approved:

  • Revisions to Policies AC/JB, Nondiscrimination; GBA, Equal Opportunity Employment; and JECBA, Admission of International and Exchange Students.
  • Purchase of the grounds equipment in the amount of $85,631.88  for the upcoming fiscal year. FY2016-17.
  • Several change orders and a final acceptance of contract related to elementary building construction.

March 7, 2016

HIghlights of the meeting

Early Kindergarten Discussion: The Board discussed the ramifications of the state’s Early Literacy Implementation Program for the half-day Early Kindergarten Program. Northwood Preschool Center Principal Brandon Schrauth said early kindergarten students must receive the same level of instruction and assessment as students in the regular kindergarten program. For example, students must receive 90 minutes of explicit literacy instruction and must take the same standardized tests as regular kindergarten students. Mr. Schrauth said it’s challenging to fit the requirements into a half-day program, and is bringing the issue to the Board to start a discussion about the program’s future.

Discussion of  2016-17 budget scenarios: Chief Financial Officer Chris Stensland presented budget scenarios based on a best-case scenario of 2.5 percent allowable growth and a worst-case scenario of 0% allowable growth. If the Legislature doesn’t approve allowable growth before March 28, when the District’s proposed budget must some to the Board, the budget must be prepared based on 0%. In that case, the District must cut expenses by more than $1.3 million. Ms. Stensland also presented highlights of the statutory budget, which is tied to school tax levies. She said she is proposing adjustments to the Cash Reserve Levy and Management Fund Levy, to optimize those fund balances. The total school tax rate per $1,000 taxable valuation would increase from $14.20276 to $14.34010, which is still below $14.51772, which the District committed to maintain for taxpayers who supported the 2012 general obligation school bond referendum.

Discussion of debt collection services: In an ongoing effort to recover lost income from delinquent school meal accounts, the District is considering replacing the debt collection agency Transworld Systems with Credit Bureau Services of Iowa. Read about the advantages to the agreement with CBSI.

Discussion of school fees: The Board reviewed school fees to make sure they comply with state regulations.The changes in fees are minor, and the list diminishes each year due to streamlining with online resources.

Discussion of Community Use of School Facilities Policy: The Board members of the Policy Committee introduced initial drafts of Policy KG. They said the new elementary schools were built to encourage community use, and the policy needs thoughtful revision to provide equitable access and fee structures. They said they would be bringing the discussion to the full Board as they work out details of the administrative rules, and they welcome input from the public.

The Board approved GO Bond prepayments for bonds issued in 2013 and 2014. The prepayments will save debt interest totaling $2,186,395.

Feb. 22, 2016

HIghlights of the meeting

The Board discussed the District’s Modified Supplemental Amount budget proposal for Dropout Prevention programs. The proposed total budget is $1,935,183. The District will levy $1,366,416 in local property taxes, provide $113,295 in At Risk funds, and provide $455,472 in matching funds from the General Fund.

The Board approved school calendars for 2016-17 and 2017-18. Read more.

The Board approved the advertisements to bid for playground equipment for the new Fellows Elementary School building and set the date for public hearing March 28, 2016.

Feb. 8, 2016

Board’s response to negotiations with Ames Education Association

Before the regular meeting, Superintendent Tim Taylor presented the Board’s response to the AEA’s opening offer made Jan. 25. The AEA proposed raising teachers’ starting salary from $30,775 to $31,875. Dr. Taylor said without knowing how much state aid Iowa schools will receive for the 2016-17 school year, the Board proposes keeping teachers’ starting salary the same as last year.  A teacher’s salary is calculated on the base salary plus educational level and years of experience. If the starting salary remains the same, currently employed teachers will still receive a raise of about $1,100. The Board proposed changing the health plan deductible from $100 to $250 for employees hired after July 1, 2016 and locking the current deductible rate for all existing employees. Other contract changes the Board proposed involve clarifying language to align with current practices and comply with external regulations.

Highlights of the meeting

The Board reviewed a proposed 2016-17 school calendar, which would start classes Aug. 24 and end on June 1. Dr. Taylor said the start date is based on Gov. Terry Branstad’s change, in 2015, requiring all districts to begin classes no earlier than the week of Aug. 23. The proposed calendar schedules winter break from Dec. 22 to Jan. 3, and ends the first semester Jan. 12. Dr. Taylor said the external constraints create a large discrepancy in the length of first and second semesters, preventing the first semester from completing before winter break. He said he knows it’s disappointing, but the district is not allowed to start classes earlier in August to rectify the situation.

The Board accepted the 2015 Audited Financial Report. Chief Financial Officer Chris Stensland said the audit  found no issues of non-compliance.

Jan. 25, 2016

Opening negotiations between the District and Ames Education Association.

Before the Board meeting, the District opened negotiations with the Ames Education Association. The AEA seeks a compensation package increase of about 4.8 percent, which includes raising the base salary for teachers from $30,775 to $31,875; granting staff two, instead of one, days of leave for professional meetings or conferences, and increasing the dependent medical and/or dental benefit for full-time staff to $700. Superintendent Tim Taylor is the District’s chief negotiator. He will provide the District’s response on Feb. 8.

Highlights of the meeting.

Northwood Preschool Center Accreditation Update: Principal Brandon Schrauth provided details of the school’s recent renewed accreditation with the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Read the District news story here.

Update on 1:1 Technology and 21st Century Learning: Technology Director Karl Hehr summarized options for expanding the District’s 1:1 technology initiative to meet 21st Century learning goals, which include promoting good digital citizenship and using digital tools for academic and personal learning to create 21st century learners. Hehr recommended a plan for purchasing new laptops for the high school—selling the old MacBook Pros and generating about $500,000—and purchasing new Chromebooks and tablets for the elementary schools.The plan would ensure no devices in the district are more than 3 years old and would cost about $1.4 million, which equals the cost for first phase for 1:1 technology launched at Ames High School in 2013. The devices would be funded from PPEL and revenues from the one-cent sales tax, and not from the General Fund. This item will come back to the Board for approval in the future.

Presentation on School Finance Basics: Chief Financial Officer Chris Stensland explained School Funding Basics. View slides from her presentation

In discussing Board Committee Reports, Vice President Rasmussen said the Policy Committee is taking a closer look at Policy JECBA, Foreign Exchange Students and Policy KGD, Community Use of Facilities. He said the policies will come forward for discussion with the full Board a later time. Dr. Taylor said Duane Reeves, who led the community efforts to get the elementary bond issue passed back in 2011, met with the Facilities Committee recently. Mr. Reeves is willing to lead a group of about 30 people who want to help get feedback from the community about the future of the Ames High School facility. Dr. Taylor said conversations are ongoing about the Ames High School Pool and its cost of operation, its management and possible partners.

The Board approved updated policies, open enrollment applications and change orders for construction projects.

Jan. 11, 2014

During this brief and efficient meeting, the Board approved Policies BBB, Regular School Board Elections; BD, School Board Meetings; DFC, Grant Funding; GBE, Staff Health and Safety; IE, Organization of Instruction; IFA, Curriculum Research; IGBB, Programs for Gifted Students.

The Board approved Substantial Completion for the Dotson Drive Project.

The Board approved Schematic Drawings for the Facilities/Bus Storage Facility, with consideration for budget constraints and operating costs.

Dec. 14, 2015

The Board held a regular meeting Monday, Dec. 14. View agenda:

Public Forum: Ames resident and former district parent Nancy Stubbs asked the Board and staff to consider changing the District foreign exchange student policy to admit more students each year.

HIghlights of discussion

Overview of Iowa School Report Card/NCLB Reauthorization: Associate Superintendent Mandy Ross summarized the State’s new web-based reporting tool,The Iowa School Report Card, and the new federal education act, Every Student Succeeds, which replaces No Child Left Behind.

New Policies Announced 

Highlights of Board action

The Board approved:

  • A Resolution to Certify Participation in an Instructional Support Program
  • Asbestos Abatement at Fellows Elementary School
  • Open Enrollment Applications for 2015-16
  • Change Orders for Fellows and Sawyer construction projects

Nov. 23, 2015

The Ames Community School Board held a regular meeting, Monday, Nov. 23.

Highlights of Board discussion

  • Public Forum: Two residents asked the Board to ensure the renovation of Sawyer Elementary School provides replacement windows that are energy-efficient and gives each classroom an option for egress. Later in the meeting, Director of Facilities Planning and Management Gerry Peters said previous concerns about covering the cost of window replacements have been addressed.The PPEL fund is available to cover the cost, and pricing is currently being sought.
    • Troy Bigelow, the parent of a kindergarten student at Mitchell Elementary School, spoke against a proposed change to the bus stop on 245th Street where his son is picked up. He said there isn’t a safety concern in backing the bus up at the location and previous homeowners at that address have told him school bus services have been available there for the past 30 years.
    • Two parents of Mitchell Elementary School kindergarten students spoke to the Board about their concerns about large kindergarten class sizes.
  • Taylor Ohde Kitchell Contract: The Board discussed setting a date for a work session to update new Board members on the long-range facilities plan and discuss whether TOK will be needed for project management for the new facilities, maintenance and bus storage building.
  • Facilities Committee Report: For the maintenance facility and bus storage site, the City of Ames may approve partial paving with gravel instead of concrete, which would cut the $1 million cost of pavement by half.

Highlights of Board action:

  • The Board authorized the administration to request from the School Budget Review Committee modified allowable growth in the amount of approximately $1,521.99 for special education administration costs at the Woodward Academy Day School Consortium
  • The Board authorized the administration to request from the School Budget Review Committee modified allowable growth in the amount of approximately $3,446.53 for special education administration costs at the Grandwood Program Consortium.
  • The Board approved PPEL Budgets: FY 2014-15  Results; FY 2015-16, Final; and FY 2016-17, Initial, with PPEL Budget 5-Year Plan.
  • The Board approved final acceptance of the work for the Ames High School Window Replacement Project completed by HPC, LLC
  • The Board approved change Order for the Fellows project: #1 to the contract with Jeff MacTaggart Masonry, LLC, in the amount of ADD $3,995; #3 to the contract with HPC, LLC, in the amount of ADD $2,918; #4 to the contract with Van Maanen Electric, Inc., in the amount of ADD $218.63; and #5 to the contract with Brockway Mechanical & Roofing, Co., Inc., in the amount of ADD $2,368.87.
  • The Board approved change orders for the Mitchell project: #6 to the contract with Boone Glass, in the amount of ADD $2,601; #5 to the contract with Des Moines Marble, in the amount of ADD $636.20; #9 to the contract with Manning-Seivert Mechanical Contractors, Inc., in the amount of ADD $9,270.20; and #9 to the contract with DeVries Electric, in the amount of ADD $427.09.
  • The Board approved change orders to the Sawyer project: #3 to the contract with Manning-Seivert Mechanical Contractors, Inc., in the amount of ADD $10,915.06; and #3 to the contract with Woodruff Construction LLC, in the amount of ADD $67,045. Mr. Peters, the change orders address the changes to the window openings that need to be made for the replacement windows.
  • The Board failed to approve the request to move the bus stop at 56533 245th street to the intersection of Sand Hills Trail and 245th Street due to due to unsatisfactory winter road conditions per Chapter 285.4 of the Code of Iowa.

Nov. 9, 2015

The Ames Community School Board held a regular meeting, Monday, Nov. 9.

Highlights of Board discussion:

  • Public Forum: Ames resident and former district parent Nancy Stubbs asked the Board and staff to consider changing the District foreign exchange student policy to admit more than three students each year.
  • 10th Grade Science Course Update and Next Generation Science Standards:Teacher on Special Assignment for Math and Science Kari Smith explained how Iowa adapted new science standards based on the performance expectations for Next Generation Science Standards. Ms. Smith said the District’s goal is to implement the standards district-wide in 2018-19 and still must decide whether to phase in the standards or adopt them wholly. Ms. Smith said the District has been proactive in preparing for the new standards and has support from experts at Iowa State University. Ames High School science teacher Aileen Sullivan said the high school reworked its science courses several years in advance in anticipation of the science standards and is now contacting Regent universities to see how the course structure will help students meet college admission requirements. She said the science course structure offers students more choice and more direction for taking courses that meet their goals.
  • Criteria for Defining Success: Data and Assessment Coordinator Dan Andrews introduced the discussion about the Board’s criteria for defining success by sharing information on the Iowa Department of Education’s Iowa School Report Card. The website, which will be public in December except for the parent and community involvement rankings, will rank each for attendance center nine measures. The Board discussed whether to define success according to the Iowa School Report card or to set its own expectations, such as measuring success for a significant issue like dyslexia, which affects 20 percent of students. Director Frandsen said she would appreciate taking into account students’ improvement in the formula defining success. Director Espeset said IASB recommends that boards look at their vision statement when setting goals for academic success. Vice President Rasmussen said the Teaching and Learning Committee will continue over the next year to focus on defining success and finding a resolution for the issue of dyslexia.
  • PPEL Budgets: Facilities Planning and Management Director Gerry Peters summarized the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy budgets, which are updated to include proceeds from property sales that add revenue for elementary school projects. Highlights of the budget include a reduction in some costs for unexpected equipment repairs due to new elementary construction, and adjustments to technology budgets to fund a three-year 1:1 strategy. He said the PPEL Committee recommended deferring some high school budgets until a decision is made on how to proceed with upgrading the building.Dr. Taylor said the PPEL Levy expires in 2017 and the public will need to vote to renew it.

Highlights of Board Action:

  • The Board approved a request to the School Budget Review Committee for modified allowable growth for increasing enrollment, open enrollment out, and limited English proficiency instruction beyond 5 years in the amount of $198,135;
  • The Board approved Final Completion of the Ames High School Scoreboard Project;  
  • The Board approved Change Order #11 to the contract with HPC LLC, in the amount of ADD $5,294 on the Meeker Project.

Oct. 26, 2015

The Ames Community School Board held a regular meeting, Monday, Oct. 26.

Several people spoke at the Public Forum about the issue of educating students with dyslexia.

Highlights of Board discussion:

  • OECD International Test results: Associate Superintendent Mandy Ross presented new information about Ames High School’s results on the OECD  international test taken in 2013. She said more complete information is available because another round of high schools have taken the test since the first round, and Ames High School’s scores remain at the top.  Internationally, Shanghai’s scores are regarded as the Gold Standard, and Ames ranks second only to Shanghai. Dr. Ross said these results show the district’s systems approach to curriculum and instructional strategies is moving student achievement in the right direction. She said the results also show that effective professional development must continue to be a high priority for all staff.
  • Dyslexia Update: Literacy experts from the  District and Heartland Area Education Agency presented information about new Iowa laws for providing literacy instruction that includes dyslexia. Wendy Robinson, from Heartland AEA, said the legislation provides a definition for dyslexia from the World Health Organization; requires screening and providing literacy strategies including those that formally address dyslexia, and requires learning opportunities for teachers to address literacy strategies including those that formally address dyslexia. District staff described extensive staff training that has begun, and curriculum resources that have been implemented to address dyslexia specifically. Dr. Ross explained the District literacy plan that will clarify standard practices, materials and resources, interventions and assessments that include dyslexia.
  • Self-insured health plan consultant: Chief Financial Officer Chris Stensland introduced a consultant to assist with the District’s self-insured health plan. The Board later voted to approve a six-month agreement that would establish the firm Cottingham and Butler, the broker of record, under a consulting relationship that would prevent the firm from earning commissions. The Board will revisit the agreement after the six-month period.
  • High school computer science course proposal:
  • Update on Oct. 5 Professional Development Day: Technology Director Karl Hehr celebrated the success of a district-wide professional day devoted to learning and collaborating around technology in education.
  • 2015 Certified Enrollment: Superintendent Tim Taylor announced the District’s Certified Enrollment, which is weighted according to several categories, is up by 11.8. He said Open Enrollment into the District has increased, and Open Enrollment out of the District has decreased.

Highlights of Board action:

  • The Board voted to approve a routine request to the School Budget Review Committee to provide modified spending authority to support instruction for students with limited English Language Proficiency.
  • The Board approved a Resolution of Intent to participate in the Instructional Support Levy, which includes setting a public hearing on Nov. 9.

Oct. 12, 2015

The Ames Community School Board held a regular meeting, Monday, Oct. 12. No one spoke at the Public Forum. The Board discussed items that will be on the action agenda for  the October 26 meeting:

  • 504 Report- Special Education Director Darcy Cosens presented the annual 504 Plan report. A 504 Plan provides accommodations for students who have special needs that don’t require modifications to instruction.

Read more:

  • Director of Student Services Yonas Michael presented the Title 1 Budget. Title 1 provides federal funding that flows through the Iowa Department of Education and is allocated on the basis of  poverty levels and must be used to provide academic assistance for math and reading.

Read more:

  • Chief Financial Officer Chris Stensland explained the purpose of the Instructional Support Levy and the timeline for renewing it.

Read more:

  • The Board approved a Request to go before the School Budget Review Committee for $1,123,018 in modified allowable growth to recoup spending authority for special education expenditures that did not flow from the Certified Annual Report into the Special Education Supplement for fiscal years 2013 and 2014.

Read more:

  • The Board approved an amendment to the contract with Haila Architects needed to adjust for the change in location of  the Facilities Maintenance and Bus Storage Building; and approved an amendment with the contract with Storey Kenworthy for furniture, fixtures and equipment for the AdministrationBuilding and Facilities, Maintenance and Bus Storage Building.
  • The Board approved Substantial Completion of the Meeker Project, which means the final punch list for the project is on target and Final Completion of the project will be scheduled soon.
  • The Board discussed its new members’ orientation, opportunities for community engagement through ribbon cuttings at Roosevelt Park, Mitchell Elementary School and Meeker Elementary School, and acknowledged Ames High School English Teacher James Webb’s Distinguished Service Award from the Iowa Council of Teachers of English.

 

Sept. 28, 2015

Monday, Sept. 28 was the new school board’s first full, regular meeting since the Sept. 8 election. Here are some highlights:

District parents and community stakeholders spoke at Public Forum to request more easily accessible information about the board’s work on behalf of the district and students; about what’s going well with busing and what could be improved, such as route logistics; and to urge the District to work out a plan with the City of Ames to widen the sidewalk/shared use path on the newly constructed portion of Dotson Drive near Ames Middle School.

The board discussed its annual goals and committee assignments.These items will be voted upon at the next meeting, and we will post them on our website.

The board held a lively, yet focused discussion during Board Committee Reports that highlighted board members’ engagement with the Teaching and Learning Committee and the Facilities Committee. If you’re interested, you can watch the rebroadcast on the District Cable News Channel at 6:30 p.m. daily.

The board voted to accept the final completion of contract with Woodruff Construction for Edwards Elementary School. Edwards is the first elementary school project to reach this milestone in our facilities plan.

The board agreed on a memorandum with the City of Ames that outlines the terms and conditions for widening the sidewalk/shared use path on Dotson Drive.


 

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