MOLINE — Moline-Coal Valley school board members agreed to schedule another goal-focused special meeting in early August after talking goals and priorities for about an hour and a half Tuesday.
Board members reviewed previously set priorities with new Superintendent Rachel Savage. Board members talked about communications, safety, equity, the high school’s finals policy and other matters.
Savage, who last served Waterloo (Iowa) Community Schools, thanked those who have helped her get settled in.
“It’s been a great first two days,” she said. “Everyone has been helpful in getting me set up and getting acclimated. We got right down to business. I’m really impressed with everything so far, and I’m excited.”
Board president Sangeetha Rayapati welcomed Savage and provided her notes from the goal setting the board did back in May. She said the aim was to help Savage and the administration team to be able to succinctly talk about these goals, determine a framework for how to get them done and assess progress.
Savage said she was still in the information-gathering stage and would likely remain so for some time. She commended the board on the work that has been completed so far, and she agreed with the priorities that have been set. She said it was her aim to start the school year with a plan in place with a “tight package of manageable and measurable goals” that everyone can work toward. To that end, she said, she recommended the acronym “PACE,” or People, Achievement, Community, Environment. She said that acronym and framework was user-friendly to help communicate goals and could apply to the many goals of the district.
Goals adopted by the board and district can be viewed at molineschools.org on the school board page. Current goals include ensuring every student reaches his or her full academic and social potential, facilities that meet the needs of stakeholder groups and communications that provide pertinent information to all stakeholders.
During Tuesday’s board meeting, board members gave their input on particular concerns or areas of interest for the district. Board member Erin Waldron-Smith discussed the policy that allows high school students with two or fewer absences to skip finals. She said she felt strongly that it was not best practice and asked that it be amended to include a minimum grade requirement or that the policy be rescinded entirely.
Board members also discussed equity in the district as it applies to facilities and experiences. Board member Andrew Waeyaert said the district needed to “put the focus on making sure kids are in environments that are acceptable for learning.” He pointed out the poor conditions of some buildings compared with others and said that some children were learning in air-conditioned buildings while others were getting sent home for heat days.
Class sizes is another equity concern, Rayapati said. She said her child was in a kindergarten class of 15 students, while other kindergarten classes exceeded 25 students. She said, “We know our administrators look at all those numbers clearly and fairly, but when we make priorities what matters to the community is that their kids are not crammed into classroom with too many distractions.”
Board members also discussed ways to better district communications and strengthen building safety measures.
In other business, board members:
- Scrapped plans for a closed session regarding employee matters.
- Approved a memorandum of understanding with Black Hawk College for dual credit and U.S. Department of Labor apprenticeship program for Moline High School. The agreement will give high school students new manufacturing apprenticeship opportunities.
- Approved the purchase of $68,239.34 in kitchen equipment for Moline High School, Washington Elementary and Willard Elementary. The contract was awarded to Tri-City Equipment. A separate Tri-City Equipment contract of $64,059.97 was awarded for kitchen equipment for Butterworth.
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