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Highlights From the May 8th Board of Education Meeting

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Below are highlights from the May 8th board meeting. Please remember these are just highlights and should not be considered the official minutes.

District Enrollment/Demographics:

Rob Schwarz, Owner of RSP & Associates, presented the board with enrollment projections/demographics, a history of the resources used to study the enrollment projections/demographics, and actual enrollment projections for the district and grade-levels. Some of the projections shared were: 1) by 2021 K-12 enrollment will be approximately 8,000 students, 2) elementary buildings have the greatest immediate need for space/capacity, and 3) the district has significant available land for residential development in its boundaries which will rapidly increase the rate of enrollment throughout the district. RSP performed an enrollment projection study for the district in 2012…four years later their projected versus actual enrollment was 99% accurate. Be sure to review Exhibit 301.1 for additional details and projections as RSP & Associates supplied a great deal of information.


District Enrollment/Capacity:

Shannon Bisgard, Associate Superintendent, shared a report on building enrollments and capacity that reflected percentages for enrollment increases and capacity for each building.

  • Based on the 2016-17 enrollment figures building capacity percentages range from 86% to 106% with the district capacity at 97.46%.
  • With the changes for 2017-18 (addition at Westfield completed, modular unit at Indian Creek hosting 2 classrooms, HS renovation completed, two Early Childhood Blended programs moving to Echo Hill, and the new autism program added at Novak) building capacity for all buildings would fall to 86% to 98% with the district capacity at 90.06%.
  • If the proposed district restructure plan was already in effect for the 2017-18 school year (two new 5-6 grade buildings, one new elementary building, elementary grades as PreK-4, MS grades as 7-8, HS as grades 9-12) building capacity percentages would fall to 59% to 87% with the district capacity at 73.73%.


District Restructure Update:

OPN Architects provided the board with an update on the district restructure plan including a timeline, list of priorities for necessary work on the three historic elementary buildings (Bowman Woods, Wilkins, and Indian Creek), and history of the process the Facilities Committee went through to prioritize these needs (tours of buildings, meetings with building Principals, collective discussions and prioritization of needs, and individual prioritization of needs). View Exhibit 303.1 for an in-depth overview.


Funding & Bond Language:

JT Anderson, Chief Financial Officer, presented a history of general obligation bond funding and three funding scenarios that considered different factors including the projected overall tax increase for community tax payers. The tax increase ranged from a 3-year incremental increase of $1.65 debt levy, $3.35 immediate debt levy, and $4.05 maximum debt levy. The 3-year incremental increase would have the least negative impact on taxpayers.

Anderson also presented information on the PPEL and SAVE 10-year capital projects funding that included a snapshot of how big the district is and possible projects for FY2018-2027 by building. Based on estimated revenues and expenditures for the PPEL and SAVE funds, the district would have approximately $25 million in 10-year capital project funding, but there are several factors that may impact funding from property valuations, sales tax receipts, student enrollment, additional debt issued against SAVE and/or PPEL, and other purposes for the funds based on legislators or Board driven.

Anderson presented the board with a draft of the bond petition language for their consideration in preparation for their approval vote on May 22nd. The full draft language can be read by viewing Exhibit 304.3.


Facilities Communication Strategy:

Matthew May, Communications/Media Coordinator, and Carly Weber, OPN Marketing Director, shared a quick overview of the communication opportunities and action plan for sharing details of the restructure plan/bond vote with the Linn-Mar community. Opportunities and strategies range from Facebook, online videos, board meetings, block parties at senior living centers, speaking with community groups and events, etc. The communications plan will kick-off on May 24th if the board approves to move forward with the restructure plan and bond campaign at their May 22nd meeting.


The board recognized the SODA/TRY programs by presenting High School Sponsors Tonya Moe and Kevin McCauley and the student leaders with a certificate of recognition. In 2016-17 there were 402 SODA members and 181 TRY members.

The board enjoyed hearing about the programs and having a chance to recognize these great student leaders and programs.


Liz Sheka and Mark Matson, Linn-Mar Iowa BIG Teachers, shared updates on the program with help from a special presenter, Vi Phan, a Linn-Mar student completing her first year in the Iowa BIG program.

  • In 2016-17 there were 130 students enrolled in BIG, 100+ community partners, 7 public high schools participating from 4 local school districts (Cedar Rapids, College, Linn-Mar, and Mt Vernon), and one location at the Geonetric Building in the NewBo District.
  • In 2017-18 the program will hire a third teacher with the focus on Social Studies, accept all 78 Linn-Mar High School students interested in participating in BIG, enroll 2 Marion Independent students, increase enrollment from 130 to 220 students, and open the Linn-Mar extension of Iowa BIG at the Kerndt Bank on Boyson Road.
  • Vi also highlighted various student projects, community partnerships, and a reminder that XQ The Super School Project presented Iowa BIG with a $1M grant for five years.

The board approved the FY17 certified budget amendment, installation of a sprinkler system at the LRC, and various contracts including an agreement with the Marion Fire Department to use an old farmhouse on Linn-Mar property for training and a controlled burn.

Please remember the full agenda and exhibits can be viewed on the board/policy website.