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Highlights from the July 10th Linn-Mar Board of Education Meeting

Here are highlights from the July 10th Linn-Mar Board of Education meeting. Please remember these are just highlights and should not be considered the official minutes.

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Good Neighbor Iowa Program: University of Northern Iowa Professor, Dr. Kamyar Enshayan, presented information on the UNI Good Neighbor Iowa Program. Good Neighbor Iowa is a statewide initiative of the UNI Center for Energy and Environmental Education. The program is reaching out to raise awareness on the long-term effects of pesticides and insecticides on children. Lawn pesticides pose unacceptable risks to children and pollute local streams. The American Academy of Pediatrics states, “Children’s exposure to pesticides should be limited as much as possible.” The program involves school districts, parks, childcare centers, and other community leaders. The Linn-Mar District currently sprays athletic fields, only, with pesticides to control weeds. Good Neighbor Iowa is currently working to include athletic fields in their program. The School Board will investigate the Good Neighbor Iowa Program further and will discuss joining the initiative.


Board Legislative Priorities: The School Board discussed the list of 30 legislative priorities published by the Iowa Association of School Boards (Board exhibit 302.1)for the 2017-18 school year. The School Board will submit the following four items as the Linn-Mar District’s legislative priorities for 2017-18:

  1. #20 – Supplemental State Aid
  2. # 26 – Unfunded Mandates
  3. # 27 – SAVE Extension
  4. #12 – Teacher Leadership and Development


Superintendent Goals: Superintendent Shepherd shared that he has drafted his list of goals for the 2017-18 school year and has requested the feedback of President Isenberg and Vice President AbouAssaly to help him narrow the list down to their requested amount of four goals for him to focus on. Once Dr. Shepherd receives the feedback he will present his goal list to the full board for their thoughts and approval.


Blended Learning Program: The Board was updated on the High School Blended Learning Program which will debut in August. Blended Learning offers students the opportunity to learn via a combination of the traditional, face-to-face classroom setting and online learning options. Jeff Frost, Director of HS Teaching and Learning, reviewed the history of how Blended Learning developed in the district beginning back in June of 2015, the process undertaken by the district to investigate Blended Learning opportunities for our students, and the great deal of information and knowledge gathered by visiting the Huntley Community School District 158 in Huntley, Illinois and their very successful Blended Learning Program.  Mark Hutcheson, HS Associate Principal, then shared information on the district’s pilot of Blended Learning that will debut for high school students during the 2017-18 school year. The Linn-Mar Blended Learning Program will allow high school students to experience courses with traditional, face-to-face classroom learning 3-5 days per week, along with 2-3 days of online learning opportunities. Blended Learning courses will have the same teaching, learning, and grading expectations as regular course offerings. The Blended Learning courses offered will be assessed each step of the way, along with student achievements, to ensure the needs of the students enrolled in the Blended Learning courses are being met. Strategies are in place in case a student needs to transition back into the traditional course setting if it is felt that their learning style is better suited to full-time, face-to-face classroom instruction. Bob Read, Director of Innovations, highlighted how Blended Learning offers more focused instruction and learning and how it enhances the teacher/student relationship. Read also shared how the Blended Learning Program is a key component of the district’s 10-year Strategic Plan. Board members thanked everyone involved in researching Blended Learning and the work they did to build the program for the district. Board members requested another update on the Blended Learning Program after the students/teachers return and have had time to transition into the program. Refer to board exhibit 304.1 for additional details and some great information on the debut of Blended Learning at the High School.


Regular Meeting: During the regular meeting the board approved the re-bidding of the LRC sprinkler system which is required by the Marion Fire Department, the first reading of a variety of policy recommendations as included in exhibit 801.1, open enrollment requests, and the consent agenda including personnel changes, bills, contracts, etc. The board shared a special note of thanks to Jeff Frost, Director of High School Teaching and Learning and Home School Assistance Program Director, and best wishes as he embarks on his new role as Executive Director of Career and Technical Education with Waterloo Community Schools.


Please remember that the full agenda and exhibits can be viewed online by visiting the Board/Policy website.