February 28, 2024

Survey asked NCSD teachers their preferences on transitions for 2024-2025 school year

Superintendent says district wants to make sure educators are in positions they are most passionate about

Students of the Newton Community School District started their first day back to school on Aug. 23 at all seven buildings: Aurora Heights Elementary, Emerson Hough Elementary, Thomas Jefferson Elementary, Woodrow Wilson Elementary, Berg Middle School, Newton High School and WEST Academy.

Surveys were sent out to elementary-grade teachers in the Newton Community School District in order to get their feedback on how best they would like to transition during the 2024-2025 school year when the district begins its master planning renovations of Aurora Heights Elementary School.

Newton Superintendent Tom Messinger said the survey was sent out to the district’s preK-6 teachers, similar to the one sent that asked for their feedback on the alignment of the two buildings to keep in the master planning process. The deadline for the survey was Jan. 25, and the results will be released soon.

Teachers were asked to rank the first choice and second choice when deciding what was most important to them when determining their 2024-2025 teaching assignment: the building or the grade level. They were also asked which grade level building they would prefer to teach: K-4 or grades 5-6.

The district also requested teachers provide their first, second and third choice for which grade levels they would prefer to teach in K-6, as well as which buildings they would rather teach in — Emerson Hough, Thomas Jefferson or Woodrow Wilson — during the transition if they chose their preferences as K-4.

“The reason that this is necessary is because there is going to be a lot of different moving pieces to this, and we want to make sure that we’re, as much as possible, putting people in the positions they feel the most passionate about and the most qualified for,” Messinger said.

To address why fifth grade and sixth grade are included in the survey, Messinger said the faculty handbook separates staff into two categories: preK-6 and 7-12.

In mid-December 2023, the Newton school board voted in favor of turning Aurora Heights into a preK-4 building and Thomas Jefferson into a larger K-4 building, and thus closing Emerson Hough and Woodrow Wilson. These master planning decisions were more than a year in the making and drew heavy criticism.

Altogether, the plan will cost about $22.3 million, and that is with about $9.8 million of future improvements set aside from the initial total of $32.1 million.

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.