FM approves sharing agreements with HTC

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

FORT MADISON – A move to charge Holy Trinity Catholic $300 for each football player in the shared program was rejected Monday night, but HTC players will be assessed an $80 charge per athlete for the next two years.

At Monday’s regular meeting of the Fort Madison Community School District the board voted to share girls soccer and football with Holy Trinity students. The one-year soccer sharing agreement passed unanimously, but the football program met with some opposition in a two-year proposed agreement.

Board president Dianne Hope said she opposed shared agreements because they go against the district’s mission to advocate for Fort Madison High School students.

“We have students coming in from other schools playing ahead of our students. We are elected here to do all the things we’re doing tonight and do the best we can for our students. This includes advocating for Fort Madison Community School District students,” Hope said. “In my mind, sharing agreements no longer advocate for our students.”

Board member Brian Steffensmeier said he thought the fee was unfair and that Illinois kids were allowed to come into the district and play without paying a fee.

District Business Manager Sandy Elmore said those students were part of the student body and the district does get weighted funding for those students.

Steffensmeier said regardless of that the district represents the school, but also the community.

“My kids are personally excited about a shared program because of the better team,” he said.

Hope said calculations from Athletic Director Jeremy Swink show the district pays about $1,000 per athlete for the football program. She said the district has talked in the past about some type of fee for participation.

The original agreement was rejected with the $300 fee. Steffensmeier made an amended motion to approve the agreement but with an $80 fee. That agreement was approved 4-2.

The new sharing agreement is for two years because the Iowa High School Athletic Union reconsiders districts and classes every two years. Hope said there was some potential that Holy Trinity’s enrollment which counts in any shared program, could push Fort Madison into a higher class.

However, Swink said last week that regardless of HTC’s enrollment Fort Madison would have landed in Class 4A.

Board member Brad Menke said the district charges students and $80 athletic fee at registration, so that should be charged to HTC students as well.

“I understand wanting to charge the fees, But we need to be careful in my opinion because they are playing under our flag. Everything is done by us and our oversight,” Menke said.

“But would we not bus the kids if these HTC kids don’t play? Would we not mow the field?”

Hope also added that their have been times when Fort Madison students have wanted to take classes offered at Holy Trinity, but have been declined by that school’s officials.

In unrelated discussion, the board heard an upgrade on the Student Based Learning initiative that is in a pilot program at Fort Madison High School.

Several teachers including Ingrid Brownlee, Derek Doherty and Bonnie Peterson-Slee spoke to the benefits of the new assessment system that will be rolled out to all students in the next trimester.

Assistant Principal Patrick Lamb said one teacher from every core department and the entire Career Technical Education team, eight teachers in total, are working with the new system that gives students scores of 1-4 with 1 being no evidence of learning, 2 would indicate developing, 3 would be proficient and a 4th point is being considered for advanced students.

Lamb said teaching everyone the same way is no longer a productive way of teaching and instruction needs to be student-based. He said the teachers have been being transparent with the students about expectations with the program and are seeing good response.

“The more personalized we can get with a student’s learning the better we’ll get at explaining to them what they have to do to be a better student. Whereas in the past we were just treating them all the same. The more personalized we become, which is what we’re trying to, the better we get at it and the better they get at it,” Lamb said.

Superintendent Dr. Erin Slater called the eight teachers pioneers in the process for spearheading the transition to the new assessment processes.

In other action, the board:
• approved the recommendation of the Ad Hoc committee for the facilities upgrade plan to retire the district’s elementary schools and move Pre-K through 6th grade into the current middle school and house the rest of the districts students at the high school.
• approved sending district staff and board member Josh Wykert to the National School Safety Conference.

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