MOC-Floyd Valley – ACT Results

September 24th, 2014

We recently received our District data regarding student performance on the ACT College Readiness Exam. Fifty-seven percent of the 2014 U.S. graduating class took the ACT. Nearly 65 percent of Iowa’s graduating class took the ACT. Over 74 percent of MOC-FV graduates took the ACT.

Iowa had the second-highest average ACT composite score among states that tested more than half of students in the Class of 2013. Iowa scored 22.2 out of a possible 36. Iowa’s average composite score is up from 22.1 last year. Minnesota was first in the nation, with an average composite score of 22.9. The national average was 20.9. The average ACT composite score for MOC-FV students was 24.3.

Twenty-six percent of U.S. students met all four of ACT’s college readiness benchmarks. Thirty-one percent of Iowa students met all four of ACT’s college readiness benchmarks. Forty-seven percent of MOC-FV’s students met all four of ACT’s college readiness benchmarks. The benchmarks specify the minimum scores needed to show a student has a 50 percent chance of earning a grade of B or higher, or about a 75 percent chance of earning a C or higher, in a typical first-year college course in English, mathematics, reading and science.

The 22,943 Iowa students who took the ACT comprised approximately about 65 percent of last spring’s graduating class. Seventy-eight MOC-FV students took the ACT in 2013 & 2014. Prior to 2014, this number had increased each year for the previous five years.

Test U.S. Data 2014 Iowa Data 2014 MOC-FV Data 2014
English 20.3 21.5 24.4
Math 20.9 21.4 22.1
Reading 21.3 22.5 24.6
Science 20.8 22.2 24.0
Composite 21.0 22.0 23.9


Happy New Year!

August 24th, 2014

Thank you to parents and students for placing your trust in us as we begin a new school year. We at MOC-Floyd Valley CSD don’t take your trust—or our mission lightly. We want you to know that we will do our very best to meet your needs while “fostering learning, excellence and civic responsibility!”

Each year all of the employees of the school district gather for a kick-off breakfast. At this time, we meet new team members, recognize milestones of staff members who have served the District over time, and set our direction for the year. This year’s breakfast was like many others and the excitement about starting a new year with students was palpable.

During our breakfast, I shared four themes that I believe capture our approach to living and learning at MOC-FV. The first theme is “Creating a Culture of Yes.” Yes to learning, excellence, and civic responsibility. The box below contains a list of qualities or characteristics that everyone who is a part of the MOC-FV team will all strive to model and possess. There is no doubt that these qualities will help us fulfill our mission!

Focus on Learning, Positive Outlook & Demeanor, Clear/High Expectations, Quality Collaboration, Clear Communication, Servant’s Heart, Clear Focus, Positive/Consistent Modelling, Vision, Wisdom, Growth Mindset, Timely Support, High Engagement, Belief & Hope, Unconditional Respect, Empathy & Compassion, Open Mind, Flexibility, Sense of Humor, Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control

Our second theme is “It’s not about me.” Human nature leads us to view things through the perspective of how we are affected. The more we are able to consider the perspectives and needs of others, the more we will be equipped to help, serve, challenge, teach, and learn with them.

Our third theme is “They’re all our kids.” Education is all about relationships. The more these relationships are interrelated and the more we all take ownership, the more likely we are to make sure no one falls through the cracks. There are two key words in this theme. The first is “ALL.” The second is “OUR.” We need to be aware of every student’s needs. We also need to remember that everyone on our team can help meet those needs.

The final theme is “All for one and one for all.” As we approach the school year, united in our mission, we will learn from and with each other, challenge each other, and support each other. As Helen Keller wisely said, “Alone we can do so little, together, we can do so much!”

Building for the future . . .

April 21st, 2014

Throughout the year, I have mentioned the great work of everyone involved in our strategic planning process.  This month, I would like to highlight the work of the Facilities and Resources to Support Learning Team, co-chaired by Gerald Van Roekel (School Board President) and Mark Gunderson (Athletic Director).  Other members included Brian De Kock, Seth Hulst, Carrina Huss, Ronda Pottebaum, Shannon Puttman, Bruce Schutt, Jennifer Vortherms, and Darlo Zeutenhorst.

The building principals and custodians led this team on guided tours of each of the school buildings in the District.  After concluding the tours, the team developed a list of potential projects and gave them a priority ranking.  From this information, a list of potential projects was developed for the School Board’s consideration.

Funding for these types of projects is generated through the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) and the state-wide sales tax for school infrastructure.  In order to maximize the benefits of the various improvement projects for our students, we are now working with Piper-Jaffray to arrange a financing structure that allows us to complete the majority of the projects in the next two years and extend the payments over several years.

Below is a partial list of projects in the extended plan:

Technology Upgrades Boiler Systems
Paint & Resurface OCE Gym Renovate & Resurface MS Gym
Paint & Refinish Hospers Gym Upgrade HS Fire Alarm System
Build Science Room/Labs @ HS Upgrade Family & Consumer Science Area
Update & Repair Auditorium Update & Remodel HS Media Center
Update locker Rooms (MS & HS) Repair OCE Main Entrance
Update Baseball/Softball Area & Athletic Practice Fields Reclaim Classroom in Hospers & MS
Update classrooms throughout the District Playground Concrete @ Hospers
Ongoing General Maintenance, Roofing, Paving , etc . . . Preschool Expansion
Curb & Gutter work @ MS


While many of the smaller projects will be completed by our talented maintenance staff, we have employed Neumann Monson Wictor Architects to develop and manage the larger projects.


Sharpening our Saw . . .

March 15th, 2014

In January, the Board of Education adopted a strategic plan developed by a group of community members, students and school personnel.  This strategic plan focused on four areas that will guide the District in fulfilling the mission of fostering learning, excellence, and civic responsibility in all.  Earlier in the year I shared the strategies identified by these four teams, but want to reinforce that each of the teams was tasked with the understanding that any recommendations were directed towards supporting learning—learning that allows us to fulfill our mission.

Another area that has a direct impact on learning is professional development.  It is clear that effective professional development empowers our teachers and support staff so they are better equipped to meet the needs of all students.  With that in mind, we applied for the Teacher Leadership and Compensation System grant awarded by the Department of Education.  Our grant application earned a high enough score for us to be considered, but based upon our demographic data, we were eliminated.  We will apply for funding again next year.

While we did not receive the TLCS grant, we are definitely moving forward in our efforts to empower our staff and best meet the needs of our students.  At the elementary level, the primary focus of our professional development will center around two foundational areas:  1) Improving each students’ ability to read and comprehend at the highest levels possible, 2) Helping students develop a strong mathematical foundation with an emphasis on number sense, fact, computational fluency and problem solving.

At the middle and high school levels, the emphasis has been, and will continue to revolve around the framework for Authentic Intellectual Work which focuses on requiring students to:  1) construct knowledge rather than memorize, 2) engage in elaborated communication that requires depth of understanding and the ability to communicate effectively, and 3) application of learning beyond the school building (application).

In addition to the building –specific foci, we have other areas that are important from a K-12 perspective.  One is the continuous evaluating, updating and aligning of our curriculum.  This alignment process includes consideration of the Iowa Core and the vertical alignment that allows students to build knowledge from year to year.  Another is differentiation, which is essentially crafting learning tasks and expectations to meet the learning needs of individual learners.

Finally, one of the most challenging, and potentially powerful opportunities for educators in the quest for meeting the learning needs of all students is the effective use of technology in the teaching/learning process.  As a District, we recognize the importance of meeting this challenge and capitalizing on the opportunities.  To that end, we will be hiring a full-time technology integrationist who will be providing ongoing support to teachers and facilitating collaboration among our K-12 staff.

The importance of professional development is often overshadowed by the reality of time.  I appreciate the wisdom shared by Stephen Covey in his story of the man walking through the forest and meeting a frustrated lumberjack.  The lumberjack was trying to cut down a tree, but was struggling mightily.  The man asked the lumberjack what the problem was and the lumberjack responded, “My saw’s blunt and won’t cut the tree properly.”  The man asked, “Why don’t you sharpen it?’’  The lumberjack responded, “Because then I would have to stop sawing, and I don’t have time to stop sawing.”  Too often in education, we approach the teaching/learning process like the frustrated lumberjack.

With that in mind, we are making a concerted effort to provide time and support that will allow faculty and staff to sharpen their saws.  During the 2014-15 school year, we will be adjusting our Wednesday schedules to allow for regular professional development.  Students will be dismissed at 2:15 on Wednesdays and teachers will engage in professional development that centers around the foci mentioned above.  We do not take lightly the child-care burden that this might impose on some families, but believe that this regular “sharpening” will create a significant benefit to all students!

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.