Wednesday, November 27, 2013

November 27, 2013

District Perspective

Superintendent John Carver
Twitter: johnccarver
SKYPE: johnccarver

Happy Thanksgiving
As we move into the Holiday Season, it is important to stop and "take stock" of all the blessings and opportunities we have in NE Iowa. It is important to also note the hardships and challenges ahead. What will separate Howard-Winn from the rest in getting through the hard times will be our ability to "think outside the box" and harness positive energy. When we get to the point of supporting and celebrate accomplishments of all, throughout the District, an infectious excitement will occur and others will want to "come and join the Howard-Winn party". Happy Thanksgiving. Blessings to you and your love ones!

Waterline Break

Sunday night Cresco Police discovered and reported a waterline break in front of Crestwood High School. What a mess! Because of the break, Monday classes at Crestwood High School were canceled. This closing did not affect the Cresco K-8 campus, Lime Springs or Elma. It did not affect NICC classes either. The break was fixed and the water turned on around lunchtime Monday. High School students will not have to make up the day. A BIG THANK YOU to the students, teachers and staff for your cooperation and flexibility. Also a BIG THANKS to Cresco Public Works for fixing the break in challenging weather conditions.  

Reflections from the 2013 Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB) Convention
The IASB convention last week was outstanding. Keynote speaker Kevin Honeycutt's presentation was excellent. His remarks centered on one of the foundational 21st century learning design essentials...RELATIONSHIPS.
His life lessons help to shape and mold him to not only be an Art teacher, but to be an important advocate and champion of youth. His message is inspirational!

2020 Howard-Winneshiek: Focus on Instruction

We have before us to two scenarios: 
1.     The population of the region continues to decline which means that the Howard-Winneshiek Community Schools will fold back into Cresco (Howard County Seat).
2.     There is an economic transformation in the region that causes population growth, which results in an increase in enrollment.
Both are very possible. Going forward, thinking and actions of the District must be flexible so as to be able to respond to both scenarios.  The focus MUST be on instruction and learning. 

That all being said, four options are emerging:
Option #1 Keep the attendance centers as they are currently configured in Lime Springs, Elma an Cresco. On the upside, for now the District, does have a 19% solvency ratio and could operate all three campuses for one more year. Staying as is does not address elementary class size, instruction and the combination classrooms. Elementary class sizes across the District range from a class of 14 in Elma (combination classroom of 5 2nd graders and 9 3rd graders) to a class of 26 3rd graders in Cresco. This configuration makes planning and instruction challenging for both the teacher in the combination room and the the single section classroom. Staying the same also impacts financial resources. The following information is the cost per student by attendance center for the 2012-2013 school year. As of October 28, 2013 K-3 attendance in Elma is 32 students and at Lime Springs 73.
Option #2 Elma: maintain 4 year old preschool and move K-3 to Lime Springs or Cresco. Combined classrooms in Lime Springs could continue. This option does not address the question of consistency of instruction and programs. Having duplicate grade levels at Lime Springs and Cresco maintains a perceived division. If we are to attract families to the District we must be one District and not separate schools.

Option #3 Maintain 4 year old preschool in Elma and Lime Springs and fold everything back onto the K-8 Cresco campus. The challenge here is that there is not capacity on the K-8 campus to receive all the students from Elma and Lime Springs. It could happen if the District continued to shrink and the Crestwood High School campus was reconfigured to receive 7th and 8th grade students.

Option #4 Maintain 4 year old preschool in Elma and Lime Springs and assign complete grade(s) level to Lime Springs. This structure is not unusual and can be found in several District across the state. The thinking is that each campus would serve a complete grade(s) level and end duplication. This would address the combination classroom question, class size and facilitate the coordination of instruction, services and programing. This would mean bussing of students from Cresco and throughout the District to Lime Springs. 

Additional Thoughts......

If the District enrollment is to stabilize and grow, thinking must change. Old thinking is that schools were built in regions that had the population to support the schools. For the last 40 years there has been an ongoing shift in populations (information presented in 11/22/13 Admin Update) and now we must shift our thinking. We have opportunities before us if we are able to let go of the past and work to future. Harnessing positive energy, Rural County, Ridgeway, Lime Springs, Elma, Cresco, Chester, all working and pulling together can do great and wonderful things.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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