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Highlights from the November 21st Board of Education Meeting

Below are highlights from the November 21st Board of Education meeting. Please remember these are just highlights and should not be considered the official minutes.

Iowa BIG: Dr. Trace Pickering, Cedar Rapids Associate Superintendent and BIG Administrator, along with students and staff of the Iowa BIG program shared information on student projects and experiences. The program offers competency-based, personalized, relevant, and contextualized opportunities. Some of the community partnerships are Shive Hattery and Urban Orchard with the City of Cedar Rapids, Trees Forever, and Hughes Nursery. Students are busy with hands-on experiences in prototyping, designing, 3D printing assistance creating a device for patients with arthritis, computer coding, and building/using drones in agriculture. The program meets 2,000+ verified academic standards. In the first three years of Iowa BIG there has been a five-time increase in the students’ positive perception of their community. Thanks to Dr. Pickering and the BIG staff for taking time out of their evening to present to the Board. Special thanks to JaLea Horning and Nolan Jessen, LM students that participate in Iowa BIG, for sharing their excitement about the program and, as JaLea explained it, “A chance for open learning and collaboration, as well as learning that doesn’t feel like learning.”

The district is on track to launch the Innovation Center, a Linn-Mar extension of Iowa BIG, at the start of the 2017-18 school year. A special announcement will be shared during the November 30th Iowa BIG open house and XQ Super School Award Winner celebration. The event will be held from 5:00-7:00 PM at the Cedar Rapids Geonetric Building (415 12th Avenue SE). The location of the Innovation Center is still pending as administration works with local businesses to determine the best spot for the program. The curriculum is initiative-based and allows students to engage in authentic community projects, problems, and opportunities for a deeper connection to people and resources. Students are allowed to earn college level credits through the program as well.

Enrollment Trends

Associate Superintendent Shannon Bisgard shared an overview of the district enrollment trends. Certified enrollment continues to trend upward from approximately 4,500 students in 1996-97 to 7,670 students enrolled this year. Open enrollment trends reflect an increase in students coming into the district over the years. This trend is balancing out with the current number of students open enrolling in almost equaling the number of students open enrolling out.

Planning for Growth

Due to the growing enrollment trends and to address the need for more classroom space on the east side of the district, a portable classroom will be placed at Indian Creek Elementary for the 2017-18 school year. The portable classroom will house two classes. The location and final details of the portable classroom are still pending at this time. The addition at Westfield Elementary will address some of the classroom space needs on the west side of the district.


Shannon Bisgard, Associate Superintendent, also shared an overview of the district FAST data. FAST stands for Formative Assessment System for Teachers. In the fall of 2015 the average proficiency was at 77%; the average for the fall of 2016 was 77.62%. There are several variables that effect the outcomes from different students being tested from year-to-year as well as different assessments administered for certain grade levels.

High School Program of Studies

Jeff Frost, Director of High School Teaching & Learning, shared a quick update on the 2017-18 High School Program of Studies. There were four changes highlighted: 1) add Graphics One (ART410), 2) bring back AP Calculus AB (MAT510), 3) change the name of Computer Science and Software Engineering to Computer Science Principles, and 4) change the name of Computer Science Applications to Computer Science A. These changes will not cause a need for additional FTE; changes would be covered by the number of sections of various courses being offered. Only Graphics One would result in additional funding needs of approximately $6,500-$7,500 to cover purchasing approximately 10 iPads and a color, laser printer that can print items that are 11” x 17”. It was also shared that the average High School Teaching & Learning budget for the last three years was $75,000; with the majority used for textbooks. The additional funds needed for Graphics One would be covered by this budget.

Linn-Mar Website

Jeri Ramos, Executive Director of Technology Services, shared a quick overview of the new Linn-Mar website that is currently being designed. Juicebox Interactive will share an update and training session with administration on December 6th. The goal is to debut the new website by January 24th!

Board Learning/Strategy Discussion

Dr. Shepherd led the Board in a discussion on the All-Metro Board Meeting that was recently hosted with surrounding school districts; all in all the Board thought it was a good event and allowed them a chance to hear what other districts are doing. The Board also discussed their recent attendance and presentation at the Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB) annual conference. Board members presented on the district’s strategic planning process; which was very well received. Dr. Shepherd also read the Resolution of Support: The Promise of Iowa and shared that the Board would consider joining the campaign during the December 12th board meeting. The final topic discussed was the necessity and timeline for a bond vote regarding funding for the recently approved restructuring plan. The Board was in agreement to present the item for vote in June.

Board Decisions

The Board approved the following items: 1) High School Program of Studies for 2017-18, 2) School Budget Review Committee (SBRC) application, 3) the appointment of Jim Green to fill the vacant Board seat through the end of the current term, 4) open enrollment requests, and 5) consent agenda.

November 21st board meeting agenda and exhibits.

The next board meeting will be held on December 12th with the regular session beginning at 5:00 PM. Please note that the work session has been cancelled so that folks can attend the holiday concert at the High School.