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by Nancy Grindle Correspondent · March 9th, 2017


Nick Glew, president of the Marion Economic Development Corporation, visited the work session of the Linn-Mar Board of Directors on Monday, March 6, to explain the Community Promise program which MEDCO endorses.

Glew made a number of important points. He noted that educators and employers must partner to equip students for success in today's workforce. He noted that the business community "must be actively engaged in owning a solution to their workforce challenges."

He discussed the importance of project-based learning experiences to benefit students. According to the information Glew offered, the aim is to "accelerate traditional project-based learning experiences by cultivating immediate employment opportunities for students," right out of high school.

Community Promise was described as "a strategy that redefines how the business community invests in our talent pipeline." ... "students are connected with immediate job opportunities and equipped with skills to succeed both personally and professionally."

Community Promise seeks to fulfill a number of outcomes:

Equip 70 percent of graduating seniors with education and training beyond traditional high school.

Invest $250,000 in local talent by 2022 to fulfill Marion's employment needs.

Create an environment which builds community loyalty and encourages talent recruitment.

Through the talent pipeline, give the community a "competitive advantage."

Closed Session - Part of Monday evening's work session was a closed session to discuss the purchase of "particular real estate."

IASB Primer - In other business on Monday evening, the board continued to work on the Iowa Association School Board Policy Primer. The IASB provides it as a guide which takes into account recommendations and changes because of new state and national laws. The Policy Committee - comprised of Supt. Shepherd, Board Secretary Angie Morrison, and three board members (Gadelha, Nelson and Patterson) - also suggested appropriate changes.

Spatial Changes - Superintendent Quintin Shepherd indicated that some students will attend a different elementary school during the 2017-2018 school year, based on available space. Those changes include the following:

About 120 students will move from Echo Hill to Westfield.

One Early Childhood Blended Program at Linn Grove will move to Echo Hill.

One Early Childhood Blended Program at Novak will move to Echo Hill.

A new elementary autism program will be housed at Novak.

Enrollment Trends - Supt. Shepherd discussed enrollment in his blog of February 13. He noted that he had been asked about the district's trends and anticipated growth in enrollment.

In response, he suggested that people take a ride around the school district and note all the developments in the area. He also noted that Linn-Mar's schools are close to capacity.

In 2005-2006 Linn-Mar's enrollment was 5471 students. This year it stands at 7671, a 40-percent increase. He noted that the increase has been evenly distributed throughout the grade levels, and this indicates that growth is not just because of incoming children at the lower grades. Hence comes the need for "space throughout the K-12 continuum."

Shepherd will share a soon-to-be-released report from RSP analyzing current and projecting future enrollment. In the meantime, he did mention a number of predictors of future growth.

The first is the ratio of enrollment and live births in the district. He showed 2002's figures with: 1426 live births and of those, 542 entered kindergarten when they reached the appropriate age (in 2008). There has been minimal change and the average over the last nine years has been around 40 percent.

A second predictor is the number of students who return the following year. He used a term, "cohort survival rate," created from "historic data from the past 10 years," which helps with estimating class sizes.

FY2018 Budget Process - Regarding the district's budget for fiscal year 2018, a timeline was offered in Monday evening's Exhibit 801.1.

The purpose of a certified budget is to establish a maximum tax rate and to estimate the expenditures for the budget year.

1. On January 23, known budget variables and assumptions were reported to the school board.

2. During February and March, the district is continuing to develop the budget and monitor the legislature.

3. At Monday's meeting a proposed budget was presented and a budget hearing date established.

4. The proposed budget is to be published in the Marion Times.

5. A public hearing, budget presentation and board adoption of the certified budget is expect to occur.

6. The budget is to be filed by April 15, 2017, with the Iowa Department of Management and County Auditor.

The tax levy has fallen from $20.23 for FY2010 to a low of $17.00 for FY 2015. It rose to $17.38 for FY 2016 and is at that same level for both FY 2017 and FY 2018.

Facilities Committee - More members for the Facilities Committee have been recruited. On Wednesday, March 8, a meeting was scheduled for that committee to meet at and tour Excelsior Middle School.

The committee is also scheduled to tour the "historic buildings" (Bowman Woods, Indian Creek and Wilkins Elementary) on March 22, followed by a meeting on April 12, during which the committee will assess and prioritize building improvement needs.



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