Tuesday, March 20, 2018

GOOD NEWS!

Two examples of great works by our students!

State Speech March 10, 2018

Coach Hensel and her Thespians performed on Saturday with great results. Here's the report from Coach Hensel:

Two people who got straight ones, Daniel Thatcher in Radio News and Olivia Moore in Acting. There were 5 more one ratings, Taylor Miller received an overall one in Prose, Kanyon Huntington received an overall one in Literary Program, Lauren Hadley received an overall one in Prose.  Receiving twos were, Emmaline Mitchell in Poetry, Olivia Moore in Storytelling, Abby Harper in Acting, Colton Mitchell in Radio News, Kate Sutton in Poetry, Kylie Tate in Public Address, and Casey Allen in Prose.  They all did an amazing job, I am proud of each and every one of them.  Remember it is hard to get up in front of people to speak, let alone having 3 judges critiquing you on to boot.  Please congratulate them all if you see them today. They represented East Union well.  Thank you for all your support.

FFA District Competition March 10, 2018 - from Mr. Cooley


Congrats to these FFA members who represented East Union at District competition in Grinnell Saturday. Kanyon Huntington won 1st place  Gold in Freshman Creed Speaking and Sidney McFee was 1st place Gold in Ag Broadcasting, qualifying both of them to compete in those events at State on April 23rd. Quinn Eslinger competed well and received a Silver rating in Job Interview. Jarryn Stephens and Alissa Weinkoetz were voting delegates at the District Business session, and Sidney McFee, Casey Allen, Lauren Mitchell, and Brayden Martinez were recognized as State Academic Achievement Award Winners for maintaining a GPA above 3.5 in high school during their 4 year FFA career.



Saturday, March 10, 2018

EU Update 3/9

March Board Meeting

The March regular meeting of the East Union School Board will be next Wednesday, March 14. We had to make the adjustment due to a scheduling conflict and the work the Board is doing to hire a new superintendent. Materials and documentation have been posted on the Board website. 

Infant Toddler Care Center

Over the past 3-4 months our Early Childhood Director, Ms. Hope Hall, and I have had discussions regarding the possibility of providing care for infants through 2-year-olds for area families. As we've discussed this we've evaluated a variety of factors, with these factors being the primary focus: need, retention of students and financial impact on the K-12 educational system. Working from last to first here are some thoughts from the district perspective.

One area we always want to be mindful of is what type of an impact a decision will have on our financial bottom line. Schools operate as a "not for profit", while we do keep reserves to pay for expenses through months when we get state aid, we're not looking to stockpile funds. These state aid funds go towards educating students PK-12 (PK = preschool age 4), not to our Early Childhood Center (attendees below the age of 4 by September 15th each year). The ECC does receive limited state funding for students that are 4 years old, but other than that their operations are funded through grants, student tuition, and scholarship donations. It is not legal for the district to use funds levied for PK-12 education for infant-toddler care. As a result, the Infant Toddler Care Center would have to be a self-sustaining entity.

A second area we are paying attention to is our Open Enrollment. Currently OE we are sending 17 more students out than we are getting in (a net of -17 on our enrollment funding). The majority of those students are exiting due to convenience. One of the premises we think with the ITCC is if we are able to provide high-quality care for young children we can keep them when it comes time for them to enroll at East Union. And since for the most part, we're dealing with young families perhaps their second child would have come along by that time and they want to enroll them in our system as well. 

As a part of our research, we've asked area families if they would be interested in East Union providing this service and we've received an overwhelming "yes" from those polled. This is another key, is there a need in the area for Infant Toddler Care. Priority will be given to qualifying aged children in the East Union district, but if openings are available we will consider children from outside the district as well. 

Because of various changes in Child Care regulations, there are fewer in-home providers now than in the past. In the East Union district, there is only one licensed provider and she's expressed that she is at her capacity. I think it's important when the school looks at providing services we make sure we aren't duplicating and taking business away from local providers. Due to the fact that we have one provider that's said she'd be happy if we started an ITCC we're not infringing on her business.

The information we've collected tells us there's a need for an ITCC in the East Union District. Why aren't other schools doing it? Well, in fact, there are several around the state. Not as many as you might think, but there are also different services in other communities. The ECC is the primary daycare provider for the Afton area. In other communities, there may be an established daycare provider or center that isn't connected to the school. That center probably provides care for infants and toddlers as well. We just don't have that. 

These are the main factors that were considered as we evaluate the opportunity to begin providing infant and toddler care to the Afton area. We've had some significant contributions from Greater Regional Hospitals and First National Bank that have helped us get about a fourth of the way to our financial goal for startup. That goal is $200,000. We're applied for additional funding from the Dekko Foundation. 

New Conference Approach at High School

Next week you will see some changes if you are a secondary parent - the link above gives a great description. 

New School Sign

After our school sign stopped working my first year I've been working off and on to find a
replacement, something a little more visible and usable for messages to parents and visitors. Mr. Hardy came to me last spring about this and since then we've worked with the Student Council to fundraise and secure funds to offset district costs. The graphic I've inserted is a rendering we worked with the designer on and then consulted our Student Council for the final decision. The board will have LCD displays on both sides and be placed on the front of the school property so that traffic on High School Drive and Grand will have a good view. At the February Board meeting, the Board voted in favor of proceeding with the project. The school has committed $13,000 of SAVE and PPEL funds to kick-start the construction. The remainder we're looking to the Student Council to fundraise. They've received $5000 from YACC (Youth Answering the Call of the Community) and have other opportunities in mind. Look for more information about these later this spring. If you'd like to donate to the project you can contact me in the district office (641-347-5701) or Mr. Hardy. 

Friday, February 23, 2018

EU Update 2/23 UPDATED! UPDATED AGAIN!

How quickly a month can go by. Sorry as I've missed a post or two, but I'll get back on that every-two-week schedule now!


Current Events

Well, it's hard not to talk about the weather when it comes to current events. These past two weeks certainly we've seen a different weather pattern and it has caused disruptions to our regular schedule. We've had to put off events, cancel other things and Mr. Nelson has moved a lot of snow! At this time we've got enough hours built into the student schedule we will not be making up any of the missed days. However, going forward we will have to take a strong look at this as we don't want to sacrifice too many of the learning opportunities we have with our students. After Spring Break I'll share more details regarding our missed days and if we will be making any up. 
Olivia Moore, a current 10th grader at East Union, serves on the state youth advisory council (SYBAC) to the ICN. She participated recently in a visit to the capital and met some elected officials and toured the ICN's Broadband Information Center and the Office of the Chief Information officer's Security Information Center. (contributed by Lori Paup). Here's a link to more information about this visit: https://goo.gl/iEzL5C





Fine Arts

East Union Individual Speech participants will compete in the District speech at Clarke High School in Osceola Saturday, February 24. There are a large number of students involved at this point with a wide variety of categories addressed. If you've got the time head over to Clarke and listen to them do their thing - you will be entertained!

Update on Speech results - the following students have qualified for the State:

T'Annah Banda --Improvisational
Olivia Moore--Acting and Story Telling
Lauren Hadley--Prose
Abby Harper--Acting
Kanyon Huntington--Literary Program
Colton Mitchell--Radio News
Casey Allen--Prose
Emmaline Mitchell--Poetry
Kylie Tate--Public Address
Daniel Thatcher--Radio News
Kate Sutton--Poetry
Taylor Miller--Prose

Congrats and "Break a Leg" - they will compete Saturday, March 10th, in Nevada. 


Our music department has been giving us some really good "tastes" of just how talented some of our students are over the past few weeks. We've heard the pep band play, Audrey Young sang the National Anthem twice during Regional Girls Basketball play, and we were able to see the first performance of the East Union Drumline. The drumline is a new addition to the secondary instrumental music and really provides a great way to draw in and connect some students that otherwise might not be connected. 

The FFA Chapter participated in the Sub District competition held in Adel on Tuesday. Here are the results as shared by their sponsor, Mike Cooley.

Everyone performed great. Really proud of the way this group represented themselves, East Union FFA, East Union Schools and our communities within our district. Class act all the way!

Gold advancing to Districts- Job interview- Quinn Eslinger
Gold advancing to Districts- Freshman Creed Speaking- Kanyon Huntington
Gold advancing to Districts- Ag Broadcasting- Sidney McFee
Gold alternate team to Districts- Chapter Program- Lauren Mitchell, Casey Allen,  Kendra Kirkland
Silver alternate to Districts- Parliamentary Procedure- Rakenzy Pryor, Colton Mitchell, Macy McFee, Callie Gossman, Taylor Purdy
Silver award-Ag Sales- Lauren Hadley
Bronze Award- Conduct of Meetings- Olivia Cheers, Grace Nixon, Taylor Miller, Beth McKnight, Alissa Weinkoetz, Jarryn Stephens, Mikenna Cass

Greenhand Quiz participants- Nate Purdy, Blake Wuebker, Storm Hoadley, Mikenna Cass, Kanyon Huntington,

Activities

Boys and girls basketball bowed out with first-round losses. Both teams have a healthy mix of older and younger players so opportunities for improvement are there. Our wrestling squad while small this year provided quality over quantity with 5 of the 7 team members qualifying for District action. Sherman Hayes (132#) and Matthew Wittstock (138#) finished second at their respective weights at the District meet and qualified to compete at the State Meet. Both were unable to progress past the first day. Congrats to all our athletes on completion of your winter seasons! We had great participation numbers and hope that we can continue to build on these in the years to come.

The Winter Awards Night has been rescheduled to March 1, 6:30 p.m. The program will begin at 6:30 with dessert to follow. Junior High and High School winter athletes and their families are invited to attend and asked to bring a desert to share. Tableware and drinks will be provided by the Eagle Pride Boosters. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

EU Update 01/24

The tail end of January means we've settled back into the school routine after the break and are moving along. This year has certainly been moving quickly and I attribute that to the good things that are happening here at school! 
During the month of January, we see a wide variety of activities going on aside from athletics. Our Academic Bowl team begins their different competitions for the year. Mr. Triggs is their sponsor and in talking with him the team is performing well thus far. Students involved with Ms. Hensel and the Speech Team performed well at Large Group speech with the Short Film team of Daniel Thatcher, Mattie Riemenschneider, and Patrick Groves moving on to state. Group Improv advanced as well (Garrett Skarda, Patrick Groves, and Colton Mitchell) Congrats to all the Speech students! Division I performances advance to State Large Group contest February 3. According to Ms. Hensel, High School Speech Coach:

"In order to advance on to state, they had to receive one rating.  2 of those groups did that one improv group consisting of Garett Skarda, Colton Mitchell, and Patrick Groves.  One of the short film groups also received a one that group was Daniel Thatcher, Matty Reiminshcnider, and Patrick Groves. All of the other groups did well, they received a 2 rating. I am proud of all of them.  Group state speech is in Waukee on February 3.  We are also getting ready to gear up for Individual speech which will be right around the corner."

Another group that's been busy is our Archery team. Since starting practices in October they've been "shooting" most weekends (they have 10 shoots total). We've got over 50 archers involved elementary through high school and East Union Archers are consistently at the top of their classes.

The School Improvement Advisory Committee met Monday, January 15. Minutes of that meeting are available through the SIAC site. One of the things the group will be doing very soon is a community needs survey. This is a regular information collection to get impressions from the community. After discussing the survey and administering it at the January 15th meeting we set a meeting February 5th at 6:00 p.m. to allow us to focus on the development of the survey and how we would distribute it. If you have an interest in contributing to the conversation join us! Meeting start time is 6:00 p.m. and we plan to be done by 7:30.

Facility

During the school months, most of the work done on the facility is more behind the scenes. Our primary focus is maintaining a comfortable environment for students to learn in and a big factor of this is the HVAC (Heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system. I know, probably sounds like a broken record. This has been a constant point of communication over the past three years and I'm glad to say our system is functioning well. We still have some day to day issues but by the district agreeing to be part of a program for "break-fix" insurance we're doing regular preventative maintenance and finding things to be repaired before they become much larger items. As this process has evolved we've moved from fixing to discussions to make the system run more efficiently. A more efficient HVAC system saves General Fund dollars and allows us to use those dollars to impact instruction. This is our long-term goal. 
Numbers shared here show that our enrollment has remained comparable to a year ago at this time. The top table represents last year, bottom one this year.
Day 101

KG
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
Total
01/25/17
Totals
43
24
31
45
39
38
35
40
42
34
32
32
39
474

Day 101

KG
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
Total
01/26/2018
Totals
41
34
23
32
47
38
40
33
40
42
38
31
33
472
Just a reminder that the KG or Kindergarten number includes students attending our Junior Kindergarten program which would explain the 9 student difference from KG 2017 and 1st grade 2018 as these students are enrolled in our regular Kindergarten program in the fall. Comparing other grades in a similar way you can see enrollment changes from last year to this one. We have some subtle shifts in the grade levels, but nothing major. 

Opportunity

As you've probably read or heard somewhere by now I've given the Board my resignation effective June 30, 2018, as Superintendent and Activities Director of the East Union Schools. I've been offered the position of Superintendent for the West Central Valley Schools in Stuart, Iowa. There were few jobs that would take me away and one came open. So for the next few months, I'll be working to tidy up loose ends here. The Board will be working to find a replacement and I'm confident due to the early date that a deep pool of candidates will be available. I'm thankful for the honor of serving the district and will continue to work and do what's best for East Union Students and the community through the end of June. We do have a few projects to complete and I'll be communicating more about those in the next few weeks.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

EU Update 01/04 - Happy New Year!

I hope your New Year has gotten off to a great start

Whether you rang it in with a group large or small, or on your own, I hope it was a memorable experience! The end of 2017 turned out positive for both our in-state bowl qualifiers. With the Hawks and Clones both Bowl Winners there will be LOTS of talk heading into that matchup in the fall. We enjoyed a moviegoing break, seeing several of the new releases. My personal favorite was "The Greatest Showman" the story of P.T. Barnum's early days and how those all came to pass. I know that Hollywood takes a few liberties on things like that, but the message was pretty solid - have a dream, do the work, be persistent (have some "grit") and you can make it come true. Don't run away from the first "no" you've got to keep working and things will work out in the end.

Cancellations and Delays

Our return to school also marked our first questionable weather of the year. Since we are entering the time of the year where we typically see weather causing travel issues I thought it would be a good time to review our communication steps regarding school cancellations and closings. Each time a weather event approaches we do our best to get the information out as soon as possible so that parents can prepare accordingly for the coming day. We carefully consider weather factors, educational impact, student driver safety, kids unsupervised time at home if school starts late, etc. You can find information regarding cancellations and delays through these sources: WHO radio and TV, WOI TV, KCCI TV, KSIB Radio and the school website. We will also communicate with you regarding cancellations or delays through the following; JMC Messaging (Text, email, and phone), and Twitter (follow @EUCSDSupt). In the case of an early dismissal or cancellation, all activities (including practices) for that evening would be canceled/postponed to a later date.

Current Events

We jump right back into ballgames and events over the next two weeks. We're hosting Murray in a Basketball doubleheader tonight, travel to Mount Ayr tomorrow night for Basketball and Wrestling will head to Winterset this Saturday for a tournament. Next week has been identified as "Winter Fest" week and there will be a variety of activities going on throughout the week culminating in "Pack the Gym Night" Friday vs. I-35. The Eagle Pride Boosters are serving a meal on Friday night - Beef and Noodle Sundays with a dessert for $6! More information will be shared about this and the other activities going on next week so keep your eyes and ears open!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

EU Update 12/21 - Merry Christmas!


Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Christmas Break begins tomorrow and will continue through 1/2/18, with students returning to school in the new year on January 3rd. The 3rd will be a full day of classes for students, no early out that Wednesday. I hope all our students and staff have a safe and relaxing break and come back ready to learn and grow through the rest of the 2017-2018 school year.



Fifth Grade Visits BizTown

December 11th the Fifth Grade classrooms of Ms. Luther and Ms. Hoadley traveled to Des Moines to experience BizTown. This is an annual trip for the fifth grade and one I see as very valuable. I was curious about the experience so I decided to take the time to go and visit and see for myself what happened when the fifth graders were turned loose. For those of you that don't have any experience, here's how it works in a condensed version. Students apply for different "jobs" to work when they enter their BizTown shop. There were about 14 different businesses that students staffed, worked and learned about during the prep time and during their experience at BizTown. Here's what the BizTown website has to say about the experience:
Elementary school students are not old enough to drive, work, vote, or be the boss. But that doesn’t stop them from operating banks, managing restaurants, writing checks, and voting for mayor at JA BizTown! The program combines in-class learning with a day-long visit to this fully-interactive simulated town facility. The program helps students connect the dots between what they learn in school and the real world.
Through daily lessons, hands-on activities, and active participation in this simulated community designed to support differentiated learning styles, students develop a strong understanding of the relationship between what they learn in school and their successful participation in a worldwide economy.
I spent a good portion of the morning visiting and talking with our volunteers and the students as they went about their work. It's a great learning opportunity, and a big "THANK YOU" goes out to our PTO group for their support dollars help pay for the experience. 

It's great to have opportunities for our students to engage in authentic learning activities and make real world connections to the skills and experiences our adults have on a daily basis. I heard from more than one of the students that they were "so busy" and observed the CEO of the Bank get approached by 4 different businesses regarding financial decisions in a 5 minute time segment. It doesn't get much more real world than that!

School Report Card 2017 Released - Quick Guide to the measures

The Iowa School Report Card was recently released and East Union Elementary saw it's status change from "Commendable" to "Acceptable" on the state's rating scale for schools. The scale looks like this:
Priority - Needs Improvement - Acceptable - Commendable - High-Performing - Exceptional
To compare, our neighbor's (to east and west) elementary schools rated as "Acceptable" and "Commendable" respectively. There are many factors that go into the rating, and as I've reviewed our data the area that impacted us the most is "Closing the Gap". This is a "measure that reflects a statewide goal of narrowing the gap in achievement for students with disabilities, students who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals, and English Language Learners." This will be something that the admin team is discussing after we return from Break.

East Union Secondary maintained it's status as "Acceptable" actually showing progress towards "Commendable" on the state report card scale. As with the elementary, the one area of decline in the Secondary scores is "Closing the Gap". The change was less than 1% so it had little impact on the overall score. To compare our neighbor's (to east and west) secondary schools rated as "Acceptable" as well. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

EU Update 12/8

Happy Holidays!

Welcome to December! While it may not look it, it sure is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas! Weather this week has reminded us of the highs and lows of life in Iowa when it comes to the outdoor temps we see. Monday was quite a switch from morning to night! Funny thing is, that's not really a whole lot different that what we see from students sometimes. They run on highs some days then we see them hit some really low times as well.


Current Events

If you are looking for morning and afternoon hours, love kids and like to drive have we got a deal for you! We're looking for folks just like you to drive our school buses! Each year we look for candidates fo fill our driving ranks. This year it's a little more urgent as we don't have as many substitute drivers as we've had in the past. If you've got an interest you can contact the district office, or our transportation director Herman Chenoweth. 

Fine Arts

It was our pleasure to present the ECC Winter Concert and  7-12 Winter Concert via the HS Cube. In the future if you aren't able to attend these types of events we're going to do all we can to get them broadcast. Stay tuned for more information in this area as there's some exciting opportunities for us on the horizon. 

I'd like to commend our audiences for both nights of concerts. The crowds were attentive and respectful of our performers. Thanks to Mr. Clark and Ms. Killian for putting together two great nights of music. Mark your calendars for these upcoming dates and times:


  • February 12 - Concert Grades TK - 1
  • April 23 - Concert Grades 4 & 5
  • May 14 - Concert Grades 6-12

Activities

All East Union winter activities are in full swing. Currently we have Junior High and High School Basketball (girls and boys), High School Wrestling and Archery competing. After the Holiday Break we will add Junior High Wrestling to the mix. I'm proud of how our athletes have worked hard to prepare for their competitions. As I've talked to our coaching staffs about their respective teams they all agree our kids are bringing the right attitude and effort when it comes to getting better each day in the practice room. There's lots of opportunities to get out and see our students in action - check out the calendar and join in the fun!