As the Marshalltown Community School District’s regular school board meeting began Monday night, the mood in the room was subdued. The tragic deaths of four of the district’s students, all teenagers, in a fatal car accident on Friday evening left not only their families in mourning, but also the entire community.
Before any of the agenda items were addressed, Board Chairman Sean Heitmann spoke a few words and asked for two minutes of silence to honor and mourn Adrian Lara Mendoza, 13, Isacc Lara Mendoza, 16, Linette Lopez, 15, and Yanitza Lopez. , 17.
“I think everyone here and elsewhere is well aware of the tragic events that transpired Friday night here in Marshalltown,” Heitmann said. “I can’t imagine the sadness, the outrage that their families or loved ones are probably going through and will be going through for quite a while.”
After the minute of silence, the meeting continued while keeping a somber tone to honor the deceased. During the Student School Council Rep’s update, Rep. Yessenia Alvarez Zamora briefly shared how students and staff at Marshalltown High School coped with the loss.
“As you know, the loss of these four students has left a significant void in our community, but the students and staff have done a great job providing excellent social-emotional support and being there for each other.” , said Alvarez Zamora.
Alvarez Zamora also mentioned that certified counselors are available in the MHS library to talk about how students are feeling and teach them how to grieve in healthy ways.
Director of Education Shauna Smith and English Learner Coordinator Rachel Inks also discussed plans for the drop-in center during the meeting. Plans for the center, which will be housed at the Orpheum Theater, have been in development for some time, and Smith and Inks were excited to share an update.
The Orpheum has been used for court proceedings since the Marshall County Courthouse was damaged in the tornado in 2018, but with the courthouse tentatively slated for completion in the near future, Smith was happy to share more details on the visitor center project.
“We have been very pleased to sit in front of you and share these details for some time, and have been very patient with the courthouse as they use the Orpheum as part of their renovation project,” Smith said. “It gave us more time to think about all the details that could go into the welcome center and how we can really serve our community and our students.”
The project aims to transform part of the Orpheum building into an area specializing in “the registration and admission of all students and the whole family”. Smith handed over to Inks, as she spearheaded the project alongside Smith.
“The goal of the Welcome Center is really to provide this new and effective way for potential families to choose Marshalltown. We want them to experience what our school systems can do to support the families we serve, choose Marshalltown and thrive. in Marshalltown,” Inks said.
Having the opportunity to specialize will also be an important aspect of the Welcome Center, as Inks wants to ensure that families and students with unique needs and circumstances, such as immigration and/or migration experiences or English learning needs will be taken into account. The facility will be an asset to MCSD, according to Inks, as there is a dense population of English learners in the community and the population is diverse.
Students served in the district speak 42 different languages, and 9.4% of students were born outside of the United States. Inks also shared that the primary focus of the facility will be students who are new to the district, not students who are continuing in the district from the previous year.
Inks referenced the 2021 National School Public Relations Association (NSPR) Communications Audit Report during the presentation, as the auditors had encouraged the establishment of a drop-in center for MCSD to better respond to needs of non-English speaking and minority families like other districts. with similar tendencies had chosen to do so.
“We can enroll our students anywhere in the Marshalltown schools, but I think we can open up our drop-in center and really focus on learning from our families and those experiences and thinking through that goal,” Inks said.
Inks believes the drop-in center will allow staff to better equip families and students who may not be familiar with the American school system to succeed, and it will allow staff to answer questions and reduce family anxiety. who enter the MCSD.
Inks briefly discussed the staffing of the Welcome Center and mentioned that only two new staff will need to be hired. A person will have the title of “new family liaison”, which is a position created for the establishment. The Liaison Officer will be responsible for registering and supporting English language learners and migrant students, as well as reviewing family admissions and communication between the district and the school.
The second new staff member will be a bilingual administrative assistant and will be primarily responsible for administrative and receptionist duties. The other four staff members are already with the district and include Inks as well as Smith, although Smith will remain in the administration building.
Inks discussed the other goals of the Welcome Center, which include overhauling registration and admissions procedures for new students, as well as connecting students and their families with community resources when needed.
They began exploring the Visitor Center setting in fall 2021, and currently, it is expected to open in July 2023. MCSD officially takes possession of the Orpheum in January, and the design and furnishing of the building will be in progress in winter 2022. and spring 2023.
Heitmann shared his thoughts on the project after Inks and Smith finished their pitch.
“Your passion for this is evident, and I just think this done right will be a tremendous benefit and asset to our school district and to our families. It won’t be done right,” Heitmann said. the right people in place to do this well.”
Randy Denham was approved and sworn in as the new Board Secretary and Treasurer at the meeting, as former Director of Business Operations Paulette Newbold resigned.
In other cases counsel:
• I heard a presentation on the Marshalltown Youth Foundation.
• Heard a public comment from Marshalltown resident Anna Wolvers regarding the process for hiring substitute teachers and the CDC’s recommendation to add the COVID vaccine to the required list of school vaccinations.
• Approved the submission to the Iowa Future Farmers Association for the creation of the Marshalltown FFA.
• Approved an out-of-state trip request from Marshalltown High School Orchestra Director Brett Umthun.
• Approved a notice bonus in the amount of $1,000 for eligible staff members who give notice before December 22nd.
• Approval of the holding of a public hearing on November 21 for the proposed lease of Arnold’s Park.
• Approval of MHS Athletic Campus Owner and Architect agreement regarding proposed updates to the MHS Stadium.
• Approved the search for an RFP for Vapor Detectors.
Contact Susanna Meyer at 641-753-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.