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School board to vote on new WW principal; announce district staff movements

Published: Friday, June 6, 2014 11:03 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, June 6, 2014 11:26 a.m. CDT

Behind the scenes, there have been a number of moves being made with the staff members that make up the Newton Community School District.

Basics and Beyond Principal/ District Human Resources Associate Director Laura Selover will discuss the changes with the board of education at Monday’s meeting.

One move that was made public ahead of time is the involuntary transfer of Berg Middle School LMC (Library) Director Brenda Hodnett.  One of Hodnett’s Berg colleagues, Deb Rose, questioned the district’s decision to move her at the May 27 board meeting.

“The other item I’m concerned about is our LMC Director (Hodnett). At a time where we are trying to improve our proficiency in reading, I think that (having) an LMC Director in a building of 450 kids is pretty crucial,” Rose said at that meeting. “She not only provides reading opportunities and encourages and supports reading in our building, but she does a lot of other jobs in that position.

“Providing immediate tech support to teachers and students, maintaining the computer lab and their schedule, as well as the library schedule, ordering materials, doing little talks like (about) the Iowa Teen awards, things like that. I’m concerned about who will fill those roles in our building without any library director.”

At the middle school level, seventh graders went from 71.2 in 2013 Iowa Assessment reading scores down to 68.9 in 2014. For eighth graders, reading scores rose from 65.3 in 2013 up to 72.2 in 2014. The statistics are based on figures released by the district at the May 27 meeting.

Another impactful staff movement at Monday’s meeting, will be the vote on who will be the new principal at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School. Current Woodrow Principal Nancy Van Wyk will step down on June 17 (see page 8A of today’s paper).

As of press time, a list of candidates for the job has not been made available.

A closed session was held at the May 27 meeting to discuss a possible contract extension for Superintendent Bob Callaghan and to give him his performance review.

Details of the extension will be discussed and a public vote will be held at Monday’s meeting. The board will also on holding a meeting day to come up with a written evaluation for Callaghan.

In other business:

• Callaghan will provide the board with an update on the negotiations with AT&T. The district has been negotiation on and off for several years on leasing district land to the company so that a cell phone tower may be placed.

• A vote on setting a date for a public hearing on district tech purchases will be held.  In the district’s comprehensive tech plan, a number of schools indicated the need for iPads and or Chromebooks over the next few school years.

• A vote will be held on what time and what dates the board should set its meetings for the 2014-15 school year.

• A discussion will be held on possible outdoor classroom for the Newton Senior High School FFA program and another on the condition of the pressbox at H.A. Lynn Stadium.

Senior staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at trushing@newtondailynews.com.

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