School board weighs change to Wednesday early outs

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

The MFL MarMac School Board held a preliminary discussion on the 2019-2020 calendar at its Dec. 10 meeting, largely focusing on whether to rethink the district’s Wednesday early outs. 

For the past five years, school has dismissed an hour early, at 2:20 p.m., most Wednesdays, and staff members use that time for professional development, committee meetings and other activities. 

Superintendent Dale Crozier questioned if the board would like to see fewer early outs or even change the day. The early outs could also be removed and the duties usually performed during that time incorporated into the regular part of the school day, he added. 

Crozier was wary of the latter, however. 

“Our test scores and climate have never been better,” he said. “What we’re doing is working.” 

“I think it would be a mistake to take them away, then pile on that work at night,” remarked board member Joshua Grau. 

Staff have begun to rely on that regular meeting time, noted elementary principal Kathy Koether. 

“They like to continually talk about things,” she said. “We’ve gotten a lot done.” 

High school principal Larry Meyer said he’s also seen the benefits of regularly discussing topics. Plus, parents are used to the early outs now, and they’ve figured out daycare arrangements. 

Board member Collin Stubbs said it might not be a bad idea, though, to ask the teachers how they feel. 

Crozier said it has been awhile since the staff were questioned, and promised to distribute a survey seeking their opinions. 

The board will continue discussion about the calendar at a future meeting. 

Contracts and resignations approved 

The board approved several staffing changes, including the resignations of DeAnn McGlaughlin, a paraprofessional at the elementary school, and Julie Fuelling, who has been in food service with the district for many years and was most recently the head cook at the Monona Center. 

A food service contract was approved for Celia Brown, while Pat Wille was approved for assistant softball coach. 

No early separation offered this year 

The board agreed the district will not offer early separation to staff to this year. Around five individuals qualify now, said Crozier, but he recommended waiting until next year. It’s been two years since early separation was offered, and five teachers took the offer at that time. 

Updates in old wrestling room 

Crozier said a heater was recently purchased for the old wrestling room at the high school and a new forced air furnace will be installed soon, since the old system failed. The project will cost an estimated $5,000 to $6,000, he noted. 

“It’s still functional, even though it was built in 1912,” Crozier said, explaining that the space continues to be used for practices, classes and storage. 

Plan, funding approved 

The board approved the dropout prevention plan and request for modified supplemental aid in the amount of $250,827. The funding will help cover costs associated with implementing next year’s at-risk and drop-out prevention program.

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