Elementary heat issue, staff shortages hit Tuesday

District apologizes for not notifying families in a timely manner


FORT MADISON – A broken pipe and some staffing issues made it a tough day for Richardson Elementary School on Tuesday.

According to Superintendent Dr. Erin Slater, the district experienced a boiler issue at the elementary school causing a lack of heat in first grade classrooms and the media center.

Slater said the students were immediately relocated to other areas of the building until the issue was corrected by district maintenance staff. However, scheduled visits to the media center in the morning for book checkouts and story times were still held while students were wearing jackets and hats.

The district also experienced a staff shortage at the school the same day in food services and students were provided a field trip lunch rather than a hot lunch.

Parents weren’t notified of the changes via PowerSchool or other means and Slater said the district apologized for not getting that done,.


“Fort Madison strives to be transparent. At times, we may fall short of meeting that goal in a timely fashion,” Slater wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon.

“Our priority is always the safety of our students and staff. We also strive for timely and consistent communication as much as possible with our families. We apologize that a timely notification was not sent yesterday and we appreciate the feedback and comments that have been shared with the district and we will continue to learn and grow alongside our students.”

The district attempted multiple times over the past five years to entice voters into building a new consolidated elementary building on the school district campus off Bluff Road, but district residents voted down the proposals each time, with a supermajority of 60%+1 vote required to pass bond referendums in Iowa.

The district recently announced plans to move all elementary students into the Middle School on the campus, while 7th-12th grades will be relocated to the current High School. Plans for both projects, totaling more than $30 million, are underway with construction planned for 2023.

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