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School district to have demographic study conducted

When the Newton Community School District Board of Education met on Oct. 14, they had to shelve a vote on a demographic study that NCSD Superintendent Bob Callaghan highly recommended for the district and on Monday, it got approved.

“Mr. (Gayle) Isaac and I met with Rob Schwarz from RSP, he comes highly recommended, and he believes he can provide the services that we require for maximum of $18,000.” Callghan said.

Isaac serves as the district’s business manager/board secretary.

“Under the requested services, we requested the enrollment analysis and the boundary analysis,” Callaghan said.

Callaghan explained the enrollment analysis would be used to find information about citizens aged zero to four years old,  15 to 59 year old females, household income and characteristics, and could also find out more detailed information about student enrollment.

“They also use data to determine market and infrastructure types of things that are going in the city and the community that are related to enrollment,” Callaghan said.

The city of Newton is currently undergoing an extensive rebranding and marketing plan.

“In regards to the boundary analysis, they can provide ‘what if’s?’” Callaghan said. “They can show all different proposals for all different school sites with all different grade level comparisons. Then they can show you maps relating to those proposals.”

The board approved the measure and Callaghan said he would ensure that there is communication between RSP, who is performing the demographic study and Des Moines-based RFK Architects and Engineer who is conducting the facilities study.

During his report, Callaghan laid out his six goals for the district, which he said are also related to the district’s superintendent’s goals.

·         Development and articulation of a shared vision that’s supported by the school community.

·         Advocating for and sustaining a school culture and instructional program that is conducive to student learning and staff professional development.

·         Ensuring management of the organization a safe, effective and efficient learning environment.

·         Collaborating with families and community by responding to our diverse community interests and needs.

·         Acting with fairness, integrity and within an ethical manner.

·         Promote student success by understanding the profile of the community.

He also provided the board with an update on the district’s certified enrollment figures.

“We believe we’re at 3004.72 and the difference between last year and this year should be about 1.7 students,” Callaghan said. “We are excited and encouraged by this data. The final numbers are being placed on Thursday and board members, we believe we will be at 3004.72.”

During his business services report, Isaac reported some figures he felt were startling.  In October 2008, 35.8 percent of students in the district were using free and reduced lunch services. This October, 59.45 percent of students utilize those services.

“It’s kind of noticeable, I don’t know if it’s due to the economy, but we have had a substantial jump in practically every building of those who are qualifying for free and reduced lunch,” he said.  

In other business:

·         The board approved the Certified Annual Financial and Special Education Services reports.

·         A new contract with Youth and Shelter Services was approved. The district will now pay $2,000 for those services versus the previous amount of $10,000.

·         Several of the district’s administrators said parent teacher conferences were a success.

Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641)792-3121, ext. 426, or at,

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