April 30, 2017

Discounted Registration Fee Deadline Expired — Open Registration Now Begins

With this weekend’s passing of the deadline for the discounted registration fees, we are also now going into “open registration.”  Seats are no longer reserved for returning families and parishioners.  If you have not returned your tuition contract for next year, please do so as soon as possible.  You don’t want to be without a seat!  For questions about your tuition contract, please contact Rita Nagle in the parish office (391-4245).

Preschool and ECLC Registration Continues — Childcare Still Available

Registration for preschool and ECLC continues in the school office.  JFK has several options for three and four year olds, and there are still some childcare spots available:

  • T/Th morning 3 year olds
  • MWF morning 3 year olds
    • Both of the 3 year old programs can be combined with full day childcare.
  • M-F morning 4-5 year olds.  This program can be combined with full day childcare.
  • M-F afternoon 4-5 year olds

Register now as waiting lists have started to form.

Employee Recognition

At the 11:00 a.m. Mass on Sunday, the following staff members will be recognized for service (5 year increments):

5 years:  Caitlin Putnam, Matt Ryan, Emily Thomas, and Jennifer VanSpeybroeck

10 yrs:  Nancy Casillas, Chris McGraw, and Rachael Whelchel

20 yrs:  Kitty Temming

30 yrs:  Mary Epping

Online and Digital Safety

If you were not able to attend the online and digital safety parent education session, I hope you find other means to keep up to date with these issues.  It seems that almost all significant issues that arise in schools these days have something to do with technology, if the technology itself is not the sole problem.  Sometimes, the issues even involve youth at multiple schools as passing a note at school these days is not done on paper; it’s done by text and social media and usually sent to one’s “group” of “friends!”  Today’s social media of choice seems to be Snapchat, but it will change tomorrow.  Please exercise parental responsibilities in relation to children’s cell phones and use of technology.

Entrepreneurs Curtailed

It seems that there is a growing number of entrepreneurs, some as young as in third grade, at JFK taking orders and selling “slime.”  Policies 820 and 820.5 would apply, and this “business” is prohibited.  Back to cleaning one’s room and doing chores!

End of the School Year Date Changes

Thank you for responding to the poll regarding what we should do about our last day of school now that the DCSC has changed its last day, which will affect bus transportation.  Right now, about 80% of the poll’s respondents have voted to do what the DCSD is doing and just move the last day of school up a day, and, thus, eliminate a day of school.  JFK’s board meets on the first Tuesday in May and will make the final decision at that time.

Please also continue to check the website calendar and backpack mail for other happenings in May.  It gets very busy this time of year!

Fine Arts Standards Feedback

The Iowa Department of Education is seeking feedback on the National Core Arts Standards, which were developed by the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards. Feedback gathered through spring public forums and an online survey will be used to provide guidance to the Fine Arts Standards Adoption Team, whose charge is to recommend fine arts standards to the State Board of Education. If adopted, fine arts standards would be recommended, but not required for Iowa school districts.

Public forums have been scheduled statewide on April 25 and April 27, and an online feedback survey is open through May 12 at the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZF7BCQY

The in-person public forums are from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.  They are originating in Johnston, Iowa, but the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency in Bettendorf is a satellite site as well.  The MBAEA is located at :  729 21st Street, Bettendorf.

Last week’s email from the DE was the first I’ve heard about the standards in ages.  I’ll have to explore them myself.

Legislative Recap

It was a busy Iowa legislative session.  Here is a sample of things affecting education, some affecting just public schools, some just private, and some both.  I’ve tried to bold the ones impacting JFK directly:

  • Educational Savings Accounts – Due to a mid-year budget cut and lower projected 2017-18 revenue, ESAs were not advanced.  However, there was quite a bit of statewide debate, and legislators promosed to study them in more detail before the next session begins in January.
  • Increase to School Tuition Organizations – Tax credits seemed to be on the “chopping block” in general this year, and rather than being able to lobby for increases, efforts had to be made to retain the tax credits for donations to School Tuition Organizations.  We were successful in protecting the STOs.
  • Third Grade Retention: Eliminated in the law because the following was also eliminated
  • Intensive Summer Reading Program Requirement: Eliminated due to lack of funding, primarily.  JFK is still unique in that it offers Leaps & Bounds, a reading and math oriented summer program for students.  We have four two week sessions from which one can choose.  The program runs from 8:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. each day.
  • Transportation: Small cuts were made to the reimbursement that families can receive from a district if the district chooses not to provide bus transportation to those that meet the distance requirements.
  • Textbook Funding: The amount was capped at $20 per student for non-public students.  That doesn’t mean we’ll get $20, but the cap is $20.  We’ve received about $19.50 per student the last two years.  The science textbooks we’re looking at for next year are about $101 per student in K-5.
  • TIER (the technology system for the state’s reading screening and progress monitoring system): If the state allocation doesn’t cover the full cost, districts/schools can be billed for the difference.  I also did not see in the language any explicit expansion to math or social-emotional-behavior in the same manner that literacy is specifically mentioned.
  • Statewide Assessment: The DE must issue a request for proposal by July 1 for a new statewide assessment to be administered in 2018-19.  It will align with Iowa Core in ELA (both reading and writing), math, and science.  (It seems that science may only need to be administered in grades 5, 8, and 10.)  This process is actually taking place for the second time.  During the first time, the DE’s task force selected the Smarter Balanced Assessments as the new statewide assessment.  Legislative action was later taken to strike the existence of the task force and its recommendation.  The process is starting over again.  The two contenders last time were the Smarter Balanced Assessments and the Next Generation Iowa Assessments (produced in partnership between Pearson and the University of Iowa).  Non-public schools were exempted from the statewide assessments, but the only reason we can really see why is because the state will not want to pay the higher costs for the new assessments to be administered in non-public schools.
  • AEA: Cuts were made to some funding streams used to support the implementation of the Iowa Core.
  • AEAs: The AEAs were cut another $15 million statewide.
  • AEAs: Cuts were made to professional development for Teacher Leadership and Compensation initiatives in public schools.
  • Collective Bargaining: It seems as if the only thing that must be in collective bargaining are wages.  All benefits, it seems, were removed from bargaining requirements.
  • Minimum wage: Counties/cities cannot set different ones than the state.  The state minimum wage did not change.  JFK’s lowest wage is for summer seasonal work at $8 per hour.
  • Mentoring and induction: Funding was eliminated.  Districts no longer have to provide a mentoring and induction program for beginning teachers, although they can use other funding sources.  These funds were not available for non-public schools.
  • Mentoring and induction: The Board of Educational Examiners will still require a mentoring and induction program to be completed for beginning teachers to move from an initial to standard license, and an amendment was added to offer options on how this can still be accomplished without funding.
  • Computer science: Although not mandated (because it’s not funded), computer science standards will be written/adopted, and the BOEE will establish an endorsement that teachers may earn for their license.
  • Home rule: School districts may have more leeway in making policies and interpreting Iowa Code.  In the past, districts could only do what was explicitly stated that they could do by code.
  • Equity Per Pupil Funding for Districts: The major part, which would have made state funding equal across the state, didn’t pass, but there were some other related parts that may help ease the “pain.”
  • Transportation Equity Funding: This equity issue also didn’t seem to go anywhere.  Rural districts complain that they have to spend far more than urban districts for transportation yet the transportation dollars per pupil coming from the state are the same.  Rural districts have to use other funds to pay for transportation that could be used for educating students.