FY 15 Budgeting Process

March 15th, 2014

The Fiscal Year 2015 certified budgeting process began with a preliminary discussions scheduled during the March Board meeting.  This is my annual article to try and help patrons of the district to understand how the Board of Education establishes its’ tax rate and overall budget.

School districts must certify their budgets by April 15th of each year.  The total certified budget for the district will be approximately $17 million.  By law, the Board cannot spend more than their total budget authority and is limited by Iowa Code as to how revenues are expended.

The general fund is covered in Iowa Code, Chapter 257, which outlines the State Foundation Formula for funding schools.  Some history regarding the State Foundation Formula – In 1971, the first State Foundation Program was created by the Iowa Legislature to fund schools to:

  •  provide a quality education for all students
  •  equalize educational opportunity for all students
  •  provide property tax relief
  •  provide reasonable control of school costs.

It would be appropriate to note that the State Foundation Formula has been changed in every legislative session in some way or another.  This is why some of you may find school finance confusing and the reason for my attempt to bring some clarity to the process.

The State Foundation Formula applies only to the district’s general fund budget (approximately $14.0 million) and sets a ceiling for each district’s total spending authority and the funding mechanism for the total spending authority.  It is “pupil driven” in that the funds are generated by the enrollment of the district multiplied by the cost per pupil as established by the Iowa Legislature.

As was mentioned above, a growing enrollment helps to grow the budget while a declining enrollment negatively influences the annual revenues.  For the 2015 budget, our revenues will rise due to an increase in enrollment of 34 students.

The general fund budget is made up of a combination of state aid, local property tax, and miscellaneous income.  The amount of state aid and local property tax needed to fund the combined district costs are determined by the enrollment, cost per pupil, and the assessed valuation of the district.

During the March meeting the Board we reviewed the levies currently in place and discussed other levies available to build the 2014-2015 budget.  The levies as revenue sources that are described below are restricted by the language indicated as to what they can be used for.  For example, revenues received from the local option sales tax cannot be used for general fund purposes:  Following is a summary of those levies and their current rates and their purposes:

  • Board-approved physical plant and equipment levy ($.33 per $1,000 of assessed valuation).  Uses of this levy are for facility maintenance, transportation, and equipment purchases of over $500.
  • Voter-approved physical plant and equipment levy.  Uses of this levy are for facility maintenance, construction, transportation, and equipment.  This levy has expired.
  • Debt service levy – is used to pay down bonded indebtedness. The Floyd Valley and MOC indebtedness from previous bond issues has expired.  There is no debt service levy.
  • Management levy ($.52 per $1,000) is used to pay for the district’s liability insurance, tort liability, unemployment insurance, and early retirement.
  • The general fund is supplemented by three levies, the cash reserve levy , the general fund operating levy,) and the instructional support levy (a combination of property tax and income surtax).  Uses of this levy are for salaries, supplies, equipment, plant operation and maintenance, and student transportation
  • The local option sales tax was voted on in June of 2003 and may be used for renovation or construction of a school house, gym, stadium, school bus garage, or improving an athletic field, but cannot be used for general fund or instructional purposes.

The total tax levy is comprised from the levies listed above to finance the operations of the MOC-Floyd Valley Community School District.  A 13 year comparison is provided below.  The state average total tax levy for fiscal year 2014 was approximately $13.99 per $1,000.  We are proposing a total tax levy for 2014-2015 of $10.44 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

Our cash balance at the end of fiscal year 2013 was $2,654,207.  This amount would seem to be adequate but the district’s auditor recommends approximately $3,000,000 as a goal.  This would allow for the district to pay for 100 days of bills if state dollars were ever slow or cut coming to us.

As you can see, there are many financial constraints that will influence the decisions that need to be made before a certified budget is approved.  If you have questions or concerns regarding the budget please feel free to address the Board during this time, or, contact one of the Directors or me prior to the April Board meeting and your input will be shared with the entire Board.

Strategic Planning at work . . .

January 23rd, 2014

In October I shared a bit of information about the strategic planning process we were going to use to set the course for the next five years.  That process got underway on October 29 with Mr. Les Douma facilitating the discussion.  At that meeting, the forty-eight members of the School Improvement Advisory Council (SIAC) selected the action teams on which they served.  Representatives from our School Board also served on each of the action teams.  These teams then met throughout November and December to complete their tasks.

On January 13, the entire SIAC Team met.  Action team reports were presented to the collective group.   During the team reports, specific strategies and supporting action steps were shared.  These strategies and action steps will be considered for formal adoption at the February 10, School Board Meeting.

Below are the specific strategies from each team, along with brief progress reports.  Beginning with the March School Board meeting, we will regularly report ongoing progress on our efforts to implement the strategies throughout the District.

Facilities and Resources to Support Learning

Strategy #1—We will develop and maintain our facilities and resources with an emphasis on positively impacting student learning.

  • Consideration will be given to recommendations presented in Appendix A of the Facilities & Resources to Support Learning Team Report.

Progress report—The School Board approved hiring an architect to develop preliminary plans that revolve around the team’s report.

Technology to Support Learning

Strategy #1—We will make decisions regarding technology by answering the following questions:

  • Will this action support equipping our students to engage effectively in a world saturated with technology?
  • Will this action allow technology to be utilized in classrooms to deepen understanding and engagement?

Strategy #2—We will design a process for staying current on possibilities for utilizing technology.

Progress Report—The technology department and the administrative team have met to specifically consider the future direction of the District with these strategies guiding the discussion.

Climate and Belonging to Support Learning

Strategy #1—We will provide and maintain a safe, welcoming, student-centered environment throughout the school district.

Strategy #2—We will strive to communicate effectively with students and their families.

Strategy #3—We will encourage and develop positive “school spirit.”

Progress Report—Principals are working with each of their staff teams to review our current practices and current facilities using the strategies and accompanying descriptors to guide the discussions.  In regards to school spirit, Mr. Mulder is also enlisting the wisdom of student leaders.

Safety to Support Learning

Strategy #1—We will provide staff with the resources, programs, and support essential to creating a safe school community.

Strategy #2— We will be proactive and strive to provide a safe, bully-free environment at MOC-Floyd Valley.

Strategy #3—We will regularly review our system with a focus on safety and will make any necessary adjustments.

Progress Report—We have updated our Emergency Procedures Manual (EPM).  We have also developed, distributed, and reviewed an EPM flipchart for staff, and we have established specific emergency response teams in each building. 

We are constantly working with staff and students implement Strategy #2 and know that it will be an ongoing effort. 

We had a safety audit this year and will continue this on an every-other-year basis.  Finally, we have added an AED at the high school and we are in the process of labeling all outside entrances and updating the locks on classroom doors.

 

Teacher Leadership & Compensation System

December 16th, 2013

Last month I wrote about education reform in Iowa and the opportunity school districts have with the Teacher Leadership and Compensation System grant. This month, I want to share a little about what we are considering at MOC-Floyd Valley. The Teacher Quality Team, made up of teachers and administrators, has studied various options.

Historically, it is clear that when we have made the most progress as a system, it has been the result of meaningful collaboration. With this in mind, we are developing a plan that utilizes the Teacher/Student Advancement Program (TAP).

The TAP Program was designed, and is supported by the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching. It is a model that emphasizes research-based instructional practices that ultimately lead to increased student achievement. The emphasis is on meaningful, ongoing collaboration around these research-based instructional practices. There are four elements to the TAP Program. They are:

Multiple Career Pathways—In TAP schools, skilled teachers have the opportunity to serve as master and mentor teachers, receiving additional compensation for providing high levels of support to career teachers. Master and mentor teachers form a leadership team, along with administrators, to deliver school-based professional support with a high level of expertise.

Ongoing Applied Professional Development—TAP teachers participate in weekly professional learning community meetings led by the master and mentor teachers, in which they examine student data, engage in collaborative planning and learn instructional strategies that are best suited to the needs of their students. Professional development continues into each classroom as master teachers model lessons, observe classroom instruction, and support all teachers in improving their teaching.

Instructionally-Focused Accountability—TAP teachers are observed in classroom instruction several times a year by multiple trained observers, including principals and master and mentor teachers. They use a very well-developed, research-based instructional rubric as a guide during these observations. Observation results are used as formative feedback in one-on-one mentoring sessions and guide planning for PLC Team meetings.

Performance-Based Compensation—Every teacher in TAP schools has the opportunity to earn a small stipend that is based upon observed skills, knowledge, and responsibilities, along with measured student growth in achievement.

The actual Teacher Leadership & Compensation System Plan will be presented to the School Board and the School Improvement Advisory Council on Monday, January 13. It is my hope that we will submit our approved plan to the Department of Education by January 31. Schools will be notified by the middle of March regarding selection.

Utilizing the TAP system will be a major undertaking for everyone at MOC-Floyd Valley, but we believe it will provide all of our teachers with the ongoing training and support needed to best serve our students.

Education Reform–Teacher Leadership & Compensation

November 19th, 2013

Much has been talked about and written regarding education reform in Iowa. One of the most significant elements of Governor Brandstad’s, and the Iowa Legislature’s efforts has centered around implementing a Teacher Leadership and Compensation System. The intended goals for this legislation are as follows:

• Attract able and promising new teachers by offering competitive starting salaries and offering short-term and long-term professional development and leadership opportunities.
• Retain effective teachers by providing enhanced career opportunities.
• Promote collaboration by developing and supporting opportunities for teachers in schools and school districts statewide to learn from each other.
• Reward professional growth and effective teaching by providing pathways for career opportunities that come with increased leadership responsibilities and involve increased compensation.
• Improve student achievement by strengthening instruction.

Every school district in Iowa received a grant to develop a plan that meets the criteria established by the State, while at the same time, meeting the specific needs of the individual districts. There are five “Must-Haves” for all local plans. They are:

1) A minimum salary for all teachers of $33,500
2) For new teachers, additional coaching, mentoring, and opportunities for observing instructional practice
3) Differentiated, multiple, meaningful teacher leadership roles
4) A rigorous selection process for leadership roles
5) Aligned professional development.

We are blessed at MOC-Floyd Valley to have an outstanding team of educators who are committed to continuous improvement. In keeping with that commitment, we will be submitting a plan to the State prior to the January 31, 2014 deadline.

The State has earmarked $50 million per year that will be available for the 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years for school districts to implement the teacher leadership and compensation system. The $50 million in funding is available for districts serving one-third of the students to enter the system each year. Districts will be notified in early March if their plans are approved for the 2014-15 school year.

Strategic Planning

October 24th, 2013

Every five years the MOC-Floyd Valley Community School District engages in a strategic planning process. We do this to make sure that we are clear on our mission and to better align our decisions with that mission. One outcome of the 2009 strategic planning process was our current mission statement— MOC-Floyd Valley, fostering learning, excellence, and civic responsibility.

The focus of our strategic planning process for this year will be to consider the state of education and the state of our District and then to clarify our focus around this mission of fostering learning, excellence, and civic responsibility.

Mr. Les Douma will again be working with the District to complete the strategic plan. We have invited several community members, parents, staff members, Board members and students to participate in the process. We recognize that time is precious and truly appreciate their willingness to contribute their time and perspective to this important process.

We will begin the strategic planning process with a brief meeting on October 29. During that meeting, Mr. Douma and I will explain the process and allow participants to choose how they would like to serve. We will have three areas of focus and will break into smaller subgroups to address each of the areas.

They are:

• Facilities and resources to support learning
• Technology to support learning
• Collaboration, climate and belonging to support learning
• Safety to support learning

During the initial meeting, participants will choose which subgroup on which they will serve. Subgroups will meet and complete their work by December 20 and submit a report for the whole strategic planning team.  On January 13, 2014, the entire strategic planning team will meet to finalize proposed action steps that will guide us as we make decisions for the next five years.

From the Superintendent . . .

September 24th, 2013

“How is your new job going?” This is the question I hear most often these days. My typical response is, “I’m learning a lot.” Once in a while the astute conversationalist follows up with “What are you learning?” Responding to this takes a bit more reflection on my part. Ultimately, however, I realize that for the past ten years I have been in my routine and the smaller world of the high school. What I am learning now is how many amazing people we have across the entire MOC-Floyd Valley School District, and how impressive it is when we all work together for the benefit of our students.

As a former coach, I am familiar with the old saying, “TEAM—Together everyone achieves more.” We at MOC-Floyd Valley are striving to reflect this belief in our professional practices. Staff members in all buildings meet in PLC (Professional Learning Community) teams on a regular basis. The purpose of these teams is to harness the collective power of the team. As renowned educational consultant, Angela Maier puts it, “The smartest person in the room is the room.”

During this scheduled PLC Team Time, we focus on the following:
• Analyzing student work to determine levels of understanding. From this information, decisions are made as to re-teaching the whole group, providing extra assistance for students who need it, adjusting instructional strategies, and/or clarifying tasks.

• Planning instruction, designing tasks or assessments that push students to deeper levels of understanding. Challenging, pushing, and prodding each other to develop meaningful units for our students.

• Learning together and teaching one another. This is becoming increasingly important as we embrace the opportunities that technology provides in the teaching/learning process.

• Monitoring student needs and collectively developing interventions and supports that allow us to best meet those needs.

We certainly invite you to become a part of our overall Professional Learning Community. Please talk with your child’s teacher or principal to see how you might be able to work with us to help your child, or others who may benefit from your contribution.

Happy Beginnings!

August 24th, 2013

Happy Beginnings!

From Superintendent Russ Adams

As students and staff return to their respective school buildings, they do so with much excitement and anticipation!  New beginnings are always welcome and generate hope that “this is going to be the best year yet!”  That is definitely how I am approaching this school year in my new role as the superintendent of the MOC-Floyd Valley School District.  In the short time that I have served in this role, I have developed an even greater appreciation for the wonderful people who make up this district—people in all roles!  We have much to be thankful for!

Our administrative team spent two days in early August reviewing our District mission and belief statements, analyzing student achievement data, demographic data, attendance data, and discipline data, and so on.  As a result of these two days, we agreed that our focus for the school year should be as follows:

District Focus for the 2013-14 School Year

We will design our system to close the achievement gap that exists for our low SES subgroup.   This emphasis will benefit all of our students and families.

  • High Expectations
    • We will engage our students in challenging, relevant, meaningful learning activities and lessons.
      • We will utilize our collaborative time to support this goal.  (AIW, CGI, Strategic Reading, etc . . .)
  • We will be intentional about teaching the necessary academic vocabulary and context to allow all learners to understand and engage in the material.
    • Teachers will implement APL strategies, Thinking Strategies, the PLC unit-planning process, and the Common Core Curriculum.
  • Time & Support
    • We will develop timely interventions that are focused on learning rather than task completion.
      • Teachers will review current levels of achievement for students and develop intervention plans for those who need it.
      • Teachers will utilize frequent formative assessments and implement interventions connected to each. 
  • Partnership with families
    • We will be intentional about developing positive, encouraging relationships with our students.  We will use a “growth-mindset” vocabulary.
      • We will develop a shared understanding of “growth-mindset” thinking, and emphasize that mindset in all activities and discussions.
  • We will be intentional about developing positive, partnering relationships with the families of our students.  We will use a “growth-mindset” vocabulary.
    • All staff members will make at least one positive, sincere, growth-minded contact with parents per week.

Our administrative team meets three times per month.  In an effort to make sure we stay focused on these things, we will use the following guiding questions to frame our work:

Leadership Team Guiding Questions

1)      Is what we are talking about/dealing with promoting a growth mindset and helping to create a positive culture that maximizes learning, excellence and civic responsibility?

2)      Is what we are talking about/dealing with empowering teachers and/or students to utilize technology in a manner that maximizes learning, excellence and civic responsibility?

3)      Are we collaborating and/or empowering others to collaborate in a manner that maximizes learning, excellence and civic responsibility?

4)      Is what we are talking about/dealing with strengthening any portion of the learning triangle (curriculumàInstructionàAssessment) in a manner that maximizes learning, excellence and civic responsibility?

I have no doubt that we have the right team of people in place to provide all of our students with an outstanding opportunity to learn and grow!  Please consider this your invitation to join us in this exciting educational journey as we strive to embody our District Mission of “fostering learning, excellence, and civic responsibility!”

Future Planning . . .

February 18th, 2013

Greetings from the high school,

March is always an exciting and busy time at MOC-Floyd Valley High School, and this year is no exception! We are approaching the final quarter of the school year, students are wrapping up winter activities and moving into the busy spring season, and seniors are getting ready to make the leap to the next exciting chapter of their lives.

The seniors aren’t the only ones making important choices, however. On March 11, at 7:15 p.m., we will hold an important pre-registration meeting for current students in grades 9 – 11 along with parents/guardians. The purpose of this meeting will be to provide information that will allow for great decisions regarding next year’s class selections and planning for beyond.

At this meeting, we will share exciting information regarding our new Career and College Readiness (STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) Academy. This joint venture with Unity Christian High School and Northwest Iowa Community College will allow students the opportunity to earn both high school and college credit. Courses will be offered in the areas of Health Science and Business & Manufacturing. Learning opportunities will be innovative and involve partnerships with business and industry.

During the week following our March 11 meeting, Mr. McDonald and Mr. De Jong will work with students to pre-register for classes. Using this information, we will then develop a master schedule for the 2013-14 school year that takes into account student choices.

We look forward to partnering with you on March 11!

Partnering for Success

August 23rd, 2012

Greetings from the High School,
by Russ Adams, High School Principal

One of the MOC-Floyd Valley High School building goals is to strengthen the partnership between home and school. When the caring adults in a student’s life are informed and working together, the student has a much better chance of meeting with success. Below are the directions for accessing lesson plans, grade information, attendance, lunch information, daily announcements, teacher contact information, and other miscellaneous information. We appreciate your partnership and welcome any questions or suggestions.

Lesson Plans and Assignments:
1) Log on to http://www.moc-fv.k12.ia.us
2) Select “Buildings”
3) Select “High School”
4) Select “Staff Directory”
5) Select the teacher of the class for which you would like to check
a. (Example: Bundt, Joel for Calculus)
6) Select “Lesson Plans) from the top center of the teacher page
7) Choose the subject/course from the pull-down menu
8) Click on the date from the lesson plan calendar
9) Use your back arrow to go back to the teacher directory and repeat for other classes

Student Grades:
1) Log on to http://www.moc-fv.k12.ia.us
2) Select “Resources”
3) Select “Parent Resources”
4) Select “JMC Parent Access”
5) Parent Username = parent’s last name in all small letters
6) Password = whatever password you have registered at the office
a. If you haven’t done this, you can contact the office and have a password form sent to you so that a password can be established.
7) Select “Progress Reports” from the left side
8) Click on the quarter (Ex: Qtr 1) for the class you are checking
a. A list of the assignments, quizzes, tests; points possible; due date, and student score; as well as the students current grade are shown
9) Note, if you would like to contact a teacher, you can click on the teacher’s name on the side and an E-mail message will be opened

Student Attendance Records:
1) Log on to http://www.moc-fv.k12.ia.us
2) Select “Resources”
3) Select “Parent Resources”
4) Select “JMC Parent Access”
5) Parent Username = parent’s last name in all small letters
6) Password = whatever password you have registered at the office
a. If you haven’t done this, you can contact the office and have a password form sent to you so that a password can be established.
7) Select “Attendance Report”

Student Lunch Account Information:
1) Log on to http://www.moc-fv.k12.ia.us
2) Select “Resources”
3) Select “Parent Resources”
4) Select “JMC Parent Access”
5) Parent Username = parent’s last name in all small letters
6) Password = whatever password you have registered at the office
a. If you haven’t done this, you can contact the office and have a password form sent to you so that a password can be established.
7) Select “Lunch” (This will show you the balance of the lunch account)
8) Select “Student Lunch Transactions” for a detailed list of transactions*
a. *If you would like to deposit lunch money utilizing a PaySchools Account, you may do so at this location by clicking on “Make Student Account Deposit”
b. You will be directed through this process on screen

Daily Announcements:
1) Log on to http://www.moc-fv.k12.ia.us
2) Select “Buildings”
3) Select “High School”
4) Select “Daily Announcements”

Contact School Personnel:
1) Log on to http://www.moc-fv.k12.ia.us
2) Select “High School” from the left side
3) Select “Teacher Directory” from the pull-down menu
4) Click the name of the person you wish to contact
5) Click on the E-mail address at the top of the page (under the person’s name)

Additional Information:
1) The date and day of the cycle are listed at the top right of the web page.
2) Current events are shown on the right side of the home page.
a. To access the district calendar, select “Click here for full schedule” at the bottom of the Current Events box.
3) The daily lunch menu is posted on the bottom right side of the page.

Schedule for Thursdays of State Tournament

February 29th, 2012

Schedule of Classes for Thursdays of the State Tournament:
Period 1 8:05-8:28
Period 2 8:32-8:56
Period 3 9:00-9:24
Period 4 9:28-9:52
Period 6 9:56-10:20
Period 7 10:24-10:48
Period 8 10:52-11:16
Period 5 11:20 – 12:40
Lunch Periods        
Lunch A 11:20-11:52 Class–11:56-12:40    
Lunch B1 11:37-12:09 Class–11:20-11:34 & 12:12-12:40    
Lunch B2 11:51-12:23 Class–11:20-11:48 & 12:26-12:40    
Lunch C 12:08-12:40 Class–11:20-12:04