September 3, 2017

Leading the Way

This year’s theme is Leading the Way.  Stay tuned to future Principal’s Posts to see how JFK is Leading the Way, and why last year’s theme, “Here We Go!” was so accurate.

Examples Showing that There Is a Difference in Education

  • At a school where a former JFK student currently attends (the family has moved), the teacher was explaining a classmate’s illness to the students.  When another student asked, “How can we help her?” the former JFK student responded, “At my former school [JFK], we would pray for her!”​
  • A JFK graduate was so excited to receive an A on her first high school Spanish quiz that she wanted to call her former JFK teacher [Mrs. Woerdehoff}] to share the good news.

Text Messaging Service Needs Your Action

JFK and Faith Formation will be using SchoolMessenger for its automated email, phone, and text messaging service.

In order to receive text messages, please type “Y” or “Yes” to 67587.  If you have not yet responded, you will receive a text message invitation on Wednesday at 5:00 p.m.  Reply with a “Y” or “Yes.”  You will not receive further text messages if you do not take action yourself.

There is no action required to receive email or phone messages.

Principal’s Post and Facebook

The Principal’s Post is written each weekend.  It is posted on our website, available off the front page, and I send a link via email.  Hard copies are also sent home in “backpack mail” with the “youngest or only child” in a family at the beginning of each week.  I use the Principal’s Post to reach the whole school community and sometimes highlight happenings in particular grades.  Please note that it does not replace the many grade level and homeroom specific communications you will receive from your children’s teachers.

We also utilize a JFK Facebook page, and there is a closed group JFK Moms & Dads, where people can post to others in the group.  JFK’s Facebook page can be accessed from the front page of our website as well.  Make sure you “like” us there!  Highlighted Events and Headlines on our website are also updated each weekend.

Nutrition Nuggets

We hope you enjoyed the first edition of Nutrition Nuggets, which was sent via email last week from Meredith Ash, our lunch program manager.  Nutrition Nuggets is a monthly newsletter highlighting nutritional, health, and physical activity information.  Such communication is part of JFK’s wellness policy.

JFK’s Handbook and Policies

JFK’s parent and student handbook can be accessed on our website under the “For Parents,” and “Policies and Forms” headings and is linked here.  Please access the handbook, review it with your child(ren), print the sign-off page, and return the signed page to the school office.  By not printing hard copies for every family, we can significantly save paper.

Each year, a committee of parents, board members, and staff review about 1/3 of all of the policies., and we often look at policies of neighboring Catholic schools and sometimes the public schools as well.  While the below does not substitute for reading the entire document, below are some highlights of changes:

  • Cell Phones and Other Electronic Devices:  While there was a lot of discussion, the actual changes were not as significant.  Students cannot use cell phones and other electronic devices from 7:30 a.m. until they leave the building, unless granted permission by a staff member.  The devices should be kept off and in students’ lockers.
  • School Uniform Policy:  Currently, the various dress code policies are reviewed every year.  There were minimal changes this year.  As a sign of the times, we added language regarding lights (and sounds) on shoes.  The issues with which we deal typically do not change from one year to another.  Please check that your child’s shorts, skirts, and skorts are of the proper length.  Ear rings should not dangle.  Belts need to be worn in grades 2-8, and shirts should always be tucked in.  If your child receives a dress code reminder or demerit, please cooperate with the JFK staff members.  Even with a written dress code, people’s interpretations sometimes differ, and it’s hard enough to get 50+ staff members to agree on the interpretation, let alone 400 students and their parents.
  • Attendance Policy:  Again, attendance generated a lot of discussion.  In the end, however, there were no changes made.  JFK’s attendance rate last year was 96.5%.  However, 2.7% of the students had a “chronic absenteeism” problem, which is defined as missing 10% or more of the school days, regardless of the reasons.  You may have seen area advertisements for students to miss no more than five days of school per year.
  • Policy for School Medication Administration:  The biggest change here is that a prescriber’s signature is needed on the form.
  • Athletic Policy:  Application of the policy to non-athletic extracurricular activities was rescinded.
  • Lunch Program Family Account Balances:  Changes were made regarding how negative balances are handled.

Lunch Program Costs and NSLP Applications

JFK participates in the National School Lunch Program.  As such ALL lunches are partially subsidized by the federal and state governments.  By our understanding of the formulas, we actually should be charging at least $2.86 per student meal, but we can only raise the price $0.10 per year.  If you would like to apply for further government help with hot lunches, please complete an NSLP application for free/reduced lunches.  New applications must be filed each year and were sent home to every K-8 family.  Please contact us if you would like another application.  The 30 day grace period of eligibility from one school year to the next will expire in a couple of weeks.

“It is the policy of JFK not to discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or religion in its programs, activities, or employment practices as required by the Iowa Code section 216.7 and 216.9.  If you have questions or grievances related to compliance with this policy by (name of CNP Provider), please contact the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, Grimes State Office Building, 400 E. 14th Street, Des Moines, IA 50319-1004;  phone number 515-281-4121, 800-457-4416;  web site:”

Extra-Curricular Activities:

Several of our non-athletic extra-curricular activities should be beginning soon.  Future Lego League and Future Lego League, Jr. flyers went home last week for students in grades 1 – 6.  (Please let us know if you need another one.)  Cub Scouts will be holding their information/registration meeting on September 5th at 6:30 p.m. in the cafeteria.  Mock Trial information for students in grades 6-8 should be disseminated shortly, and new guidance for Creative Crusaders is being developed.  We are most grateful to JFK parents Lori and Adam Brown, Patrick Smith, Mike Motto, Trish Rolfstad, David Stombaugh, and our other adult volunteers for leading these activities.  If you would like to help, please contact the school office so we can relay your contact information.  If you are interested in starting another extra-curricular activity at JFK, please let me know.  Please also remember to thank staff members Julie Brownell, Elisha Kubalsky, Noelle Myers, and Anna Schott who are helping with these activities this year.

School Coordinator for Davenport Parks & Rec Sports
There is need for a JFK parent to assume the role as coordinator for the various sports through the Davenport Parks & Rec department (formerly Dad’s Club). Ben Jobgen has performed this role for at least the last five years, and is stepping away. This position is helpful in maintaining JFK students on the same team for the various sports, dividing teams fairly when there are multiple teams per division, and having as many JFK parents coach the JFK students as possible. The time commitment is approximately two hours per season, with four seasons per year.  With such a minimal time commitment, it is a great way to be involved and have a big impact.  Please contact Ben Jobgen with any questions or interest (email:

Major Summer Work on Boiler and Heating System

Our summer heating project is winding down.  We replaced the boiler, water heater, and fan units in the cafeteria and north stairwell.  We also replaced controls in 17 classrooms and various other rooms.  Estimated originally at $172,000, we believe this project will actually cost about $134,000 after nearly $23,000 in rebates and a nearly $20,000 Scott County Regional Authority (Bettendorf riverboat) grant are applied.  Because OLV/JFK is assuming debt for this project, every bit of savings will get us that much closer to a doable timeline for air conditioning and ventilation!

With all of the heating work being done this summer and our shorthand discussions about HVAC being referred to as replacing the boiler and adding air conditioning, I am almost afraid there is a misconception regarding the HVAC needs of the school.  While replacing the boiler was essential for all our needs, it did not resolve all of the potential heating issues we have.  The large pipes that circulate the hot water around the 1963 section of the building had a life expectancy of 20 – 50 years, and we are now into borrowed time.  The HVAC committee’s recommendation to meet our needs was a Variable Refrigerant Flow (VRF) heating and air conditioning system, which operates like a heating/cooling exchanger, the boiler replacement, and mechanical ventilation.  Adding the VRF system allows us to begin cooling the building and transition away from the need for the hot water circulating pipes as they continue to wear out.  The total cost of the HVAC committee’s recommendations was about $836,000.  We have about another $664,000 to go.

It is a misconception to think that the cost effective solution to our HVAC needs now that the boiler has been replaced is to just add in window air conditioning units.  Looking out over  the next 20 years, the cost to replace the boiler and add window units and mechanical ventilation was projected to be about $425,000.  Having to replace the pipes could cost another $800,000 or more.   The total of $1.2 million is well over what the HVAC committee is recommending.  The HVAC committee’s recommendations with the VRF system are a prudent way to utilize the financial resources of the OLV/JFK community.

$100 Away from Permanent Memorial for Peg Gooder

We are only about $100 away from the funds needed to purchase a permanent memorial bench for Peg Gooder.  If you or your organization would like to make a donation for such a memorial, please send it to the school office in an envelope labeled, “Peg Gooder memorial.”  Checks can be written to Our Lady of Victory.

Altar Server Training

Altar server training will take place in the church on September 9th from 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.  This training is open to those in 4th grade and up, including adults.