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SIAC to give input on next year school calendar

The School Improvement Advisory Committee has its first major task and it will help develop the Newton Community School District’s 2014-15 school calendar.

Monday, the Newton Community School District Board of Education agreed to allow SIAC to research and reports its findings to it on which method would be better for next school year: 180 instructional days or 1,080 hours of instruction?

Superintendent Bob Callaghan, who also serves on SIAC, suggested a date of Jan. 27 for the committee to give its recommendation to the board. The district needs to submit to the Iowa Department of Education which method it prefers by March 1 and also hold a public hearing on the matter before then.

Callaghan also reported two members of SIAC had to resign due to other obligations and were replaced by Basics and Beyond teacher Charlet Daft and Newton Senior High School teacher Mike Moran.

When SIAC met on Thursday, they chose to adopt the district’s mission statement as its vision statement, but developed its own mission statement, which Callaghan read to the board.

“The mission of the School Improvement Advisory Committee is to recommend district programs and the effective utilization of resources that result in students developing 21st Century skills and their individual talents,” he said. “This will be accomplished by providing a safe school environment while respecting student diversity, focusing on students first.”

Subcommittees were also developed for SIAC and are as follows: budget, facilities and staffing. SIAC was created late last year by the district and is formed from a mixture of students, district staff, school board members and citizens.

“I thought it was productive meeting and we did accomplish a lot,” school board/SIAC member Bill Perrenoud said. “There was a lot of different input from a lot of different venues and it was very open and transparent. I think this committee is going to be very successful.”

In other business:

• A public hearing date of Jan. 27 at 7:05 p.m. was set for the district’s potential leasing agreement with AT&T for a cell phone tower to be placed on district land south of Newton Senior High School.

• The board decided on 6:30 p.m. meeting times for the remainder of this school year.

• NCSD Transportation Supervisor Curt Roorda informed the board his department had to make an “unexpected vehicle purchase.” Roorda’s department purchased a 2001 Chevrolet pick-up for $9,500 to make better use of the district’s sander, a tool used to spread sand on surfaces.

• NCSD Maintenance Supervisor Jack Suttek said the recent cold weather snap caused major complications with the heating systems at both the Berg Complex and NHS School. He said NHS also has been experiencing electrical problems they are working to resolve.

• A vote on adopting board operating procedures was tabled until Feb. 10.

• The board voted to participate in Ed Camp Iowa on March 8 at Southeast Polk Junior High School.

• Callaghan asked the board to consider using threat/narcotics sniffing dogs within the schools for added safety protocols. He said he had been asked by the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office and Newton Police Department about the idea and proposed a discussion at the Jan. 27 meeting.

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

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