With the beginning of a new school year, it is always a time in which student and staff expectations and enthusiasm runs high. It also seems to always coincide with a number of changes throughout the district. Obviously this year is no exception!  First and foremost we are in the midst of a school renovation and addition process.  At the time of this writing, the locker room, commons/lunchroom, concession area, instrumental music, auditorium, kitchen and new heating units and thermostats are in their final stages of completion.  The new fitness room, weight room, lobby addition of the set building room and remodel to the north side of our high school facility continues to move along.  Although our progress is coming along rather smoothly we have had some glitches.  Asbestos abatement has delayed parts of the project as well as some untimely rains have slowed the process.  We are still hoping that a large part of the project will be finished by the end of August. But you know as well as I do, that once you get knee deep in a remodeling project, especially with a facility that is almost 60 years old, there will be some unforeseen problems.  In the end it will all be worth it and something we all will be very proud of.  To improve our facility with an actual decrease in our school levy rate is something that all of us can be extremely pleased with.  You can thank your School Board Directors for their fiscal savvy.  Next summer we will continue the work with classroom updates at the high school as well as some carpet replacement throughout the facilities as well as continued work on roof updates.  And as we do every summer, the custodial crew continues to work feverishly in all of our facilities cleaning, scrubbing, waxing, painting, mowing and fixing.

In addition to the physical changes that are currently happening throughout the district and those that are on the horizon, we also have a number of instructional changes that have occurred within our district.  With changes and shifting of personnel that occurred during the school year, Monica Bunn and Randy Darrow where hired as our night custodians for the Delhi campus.  Sara Kimball was also hired as a Title and Special Education Instructor at the elementary level.  With the retirement of Ellen Martin at the end of this school year, Jess Wessels moved from the 2nd grade classroom to the Title position and Randene Orr was hired as the 2nd grade instructor at Johnston.  Sarah Lown was also hired to be a part-time Title and 5th grade literacy instructor in Delhi.  Shaina Gearhart recently resigned and Amy Anderegg who is an experienced instructor at Ed-Co filled Shaina’s position.  With the departure of Chris Hadley as our secondary instrumental instructor, Travis Ford was hired to replace Mr. Hadley.  Carrie Elsinger moved back to her home district or Western Dubuque and Jen Jaeger was hired to be the districts elementary and middle school counselor.  With the departure of Tracy Morrison as the Middle School Principal to Cedar Rapids Prairie and our opportunity to share with Midland Community Schools, Troy Osterhaus moved from the science classroom to become the districts 6th-12th principal.  Brian Bruening was hired to replace Mr. Osterhaus in the science classroom.  Mrs. Brenda Becker will continue as the early childhood principal in Earlville but will move from Johnston to also become the elementary principal in Delhi.  Ann Norton will maintain her school improvement responsibilities but will also assume principal responsibilities at Johnston. Kris Wilson, who taught 3rd grade last year will teach 4th grade this year and Sara Dever, who was a 2nd grade teacher at Johnston will now be a 4th grade teacher in Delhi. Tom McAreavy replaces Bob Kirkwood who had served our kids and this district for over 30 years.  Thank you to Bob for his dedication to our children. Tammy Kramer will become one of the districts special education van route drivers.  Brandi Whittenbaugh replaces Josh Holtz as our Head Volleyball coach and Jen Tymer becomes the High School Dance Team coach.  Kurt Hatfield was also hired to be our Middle School Wrestling coach, replacing Mike Beatty who served in that position for many years.  Mike will be missed dearly.  So please take time to welcome all of the new individuals to our Wildcat family when you have an opportunity to see them in our schools.

As most of you are aware, for the coming school year our Board of Director’s has made a decision to share the Superintendent’s position with the Midland Community Schools located in Wyoming.  At this time this will be a one-year trial basis so each district has an opportunity to determine if the shared position is meeting their fiscal and leadership needs.  One of the primary questions that have surfaced regarding the sharing agreement is why is our District sharing with Midland?  To answer that question I would like to reference a recent Cedar Rapids Gazette article written by Erin Murphy.  In the article Ms. Murphy outlines that shared superintendents in our State has more than tripled over the past decade.  The reason for this sharp increase is that school districts are looking for ways to increase revenue and decrease expenditures. Sharing administrative positions does this.  We all realize that funding for public education has become stagnant for quite sometime.  As Ms. Murphy outlined in her article “the decision to share superintendents is tied to a web of fiscal factors…. one is the recent trend of below average increases in state funding to public K-12 education.  In the 38 years between 1973 — when the current school funding formula was written — and 2010, annual state funding to schools increased by 2 percent or less just three times. It has been 2 percent or less in six of the past eight years.”  As the Executive Director Bartusek from the Iowa Associations of School Board recently stated, “school boards consistently prioritize how school districts can maximize current programs for our students while still allocating the right level of resource to that important function of administration and leadership and I believe that’s what the parents and communities and taxpayers of Iowa would absolutely want.” Maquoketa Valley and Midland are always analyzing ways to reduce expenditures and increase revenue and sharing superintendents is a way to do both.  A very important advantage to sharing a superintendent is the State incentive, which adds additional state funding to districts that share administrative personnel.  So Maquoketa Valley and Midland not only reduce spending by sharing a salary but our district receives extra funding from the State.  It is a win-win for both districts.

Both the Maquoketa Valley and the Midland Board of Directors have agreed to review our agreement each spring to ensure that both districts needs are being met and also discuss other ways we may be able to share.  Not only am I hopeful, I am confident this will be a great relationship for both districts. 

All of us are extremely excited about the 2017 – 2018 school year.  With our building project, our new teachers, coaches and support staff that will be joining our MV family, I know it will be a fantastic year!  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to give me a call, drop me an email, or stop by to visit.  The doors to Maquoketa Valley will always be open for the parents and patrons of this district.