SOCS Board of Directors assesses start of school year sets up community outreach –


The long-discussed college Wednesday practice was enacted. Because the proposed structure of after-school activities on Wednesdays fell within existing school board policy, board approval is not required. Code No. 508.2 establishes that South O’Brien will not infringe on family and church time by not allowing school activities on Wednesdays after 6:00 p.m. or on Sundays. The policy allows specific exceptions. Parents of 7th and 8th graders can contact the school for more details on Wednesday after school practice or other activities. The adoption of Wednesday programming for lower secondary received a 20% increase in funding. It looked like the sports program. However, not all Wednesday after school programs are limited to seasonal sports activities.
The council has also set times for additional business meetings with FEH Design, a Sioux City architectural firm. Discussions between the company and the school board regarding the facilities, needs and finances of the district are ongoing. The board considered establishing a series of meetings in each of the communities to discuss the status of the results of these discussions. No specific plan has been defined.
As part of organizing and setting goals at the start of each school year, the school board has agreed to a set of legislative priorities through the Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB). The IASB lists 5 priorities online. They are 1) Abandoned/at risk. 2) Mental health. 3) Recruitment and licensing of teachers. 4) School funding policy. 5) Additional State aid.
The five priorities retained by the South O’Brien School Board are:
1) Mental health. The board discussed the use of all new mental health funds last year and would like to continue to have access to these funds. The IASB’s legislative position on mental health includes: school-based and telehealth services and increased access to in-person or telehealth care from mental health professionals. As part of this legislative priority, the IASB advocates the creation of a “special categorical funding stream for professionals serving students and the continuing mental health education of teachers, administrators and support staff.” Ongoing staff training for mental health needs, integration of suicide prevention and coping skills into the curriculum, expanded loan forgiveness for professionals agreeing to provide services to schools, a clearinghouse resources for schools and providers; and trainings that include a referral plan for out-of-district services.
2) Dropout/at risk. The SOS board included this with little discussion. The IASB outlines its efforts to include dropout prevention and funding in the “basic formula” and to include socioeconomic status as a factor in determining a student’s risk factor. The IASB wants the district to claim additional amounts for dropout prevention up to the maximum cap of 5%. The IASB opposes changes to the mandatory age of attendance without funds to implement strategies to retain these students.
3) Teacher responsibility and standards. This is a discussion point generated by the board for its priority wish of the IASB. The IASB does not display this priority online,
4) Recruitment and licensing of teachers. Focusing on areas of teacher shortage, the IASB promotes alternative licensure for teachers upon completion of training in research-based and knowledge-based teaching pedagogy content in a curriculum area; non-traditional pathways for international applicants to meet licensing requirements; reciprocity with other states; expansion of educational programs as approved by the Board of Educational Examiners; and advocates for funding to provide loan forgiveness, scholarships, and other ways to make educational careers attractive and affordable.
5) School funding. Funding is always a priority for school districts. The IASB “supports a school foundation formula that: “provides sufficient and timely funding to achieve educational goals; equalizes per pupil in all areas of the curriculum; equitably funds AEA; reduce pressure on the general fund caused by transport costs and tackle inequalities between neighbourhoods; take into account factors based on demographic changes (socio-economic, corrective and enrolment); reflects actual costs of special education services; incorporates categorical funding and a mix of state aid and property taxes.
Superintendent Wade Riley told the board of growing concern about the impact school vouchers, if passed, will have on public school funding.
Tax vouchers paid to pay students to attend private schools are touted by state officials and others as “choice of school.” The number of student enrollments can have a profound effect on a school district’s funding under the current formula.


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