The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

March 3, 2014

UPDATE: Middle schoolers catch 'big break' with calendar

By Brenden West
Assistant Editor

CLINTON — Despite recent reports of weather-related delays, Clinton School District administrators demonstrated excitement, Monday for the new middle school set to open this December. Plans of action made years ago are already set in motion and the school board is aligning directives to meet changes to the original timetable.

Middle School Principal Dan Boyd was on hand during the board’s regular meeting to shed light on some of those initiatives. Teachers have collaborated across buildings to form Professional Learning Communities, started co-oping sports programs like swimming and track and have conjoined assemblies, among other actions.

“It’s one of those things that we’re trying to work together and get together as a concept,” Boyd said. “We started back three years ago as two really separate campuses. We knew one day we were going to become one middle school... so we wanted to try to unify that curriculum even more.”

Ideas to align curriculum between Lyons and Washington middle schools started rolling three years ago, he said. They culminated this year with new T-shirts uniting the student body in anticipation of the new facility. And the first unified middle school Parent-Teacher Association meeting takes place tonight at 6:30.

The building was originally slated to open in July. A wet 2013 spring and relentless winter season have caused contractors to lose 77 days as of late February.

However, Boyd said the district will still make incremental moves into the new building over the summer and that all grades will move at the same time.

“With any change there’s going to be challenges,” he said. “The anticipation of everybody being at the school in the beginning of the year, everyone was really looking forward to that. Naturally there was some disappointment that it was going to be delayed. But there’s also a realistic time frame of when we know we’re going to be in there, which works fine with the way our trimester schedules are laid out.”

Meanwhile, the Clinton School Board approved several measures involving the facility. Resolutions to improve voltage to the industrial arts classroom and add a new 77-person school bus both passed unanimously. A third calling for a more accommodating 2014-2015 school calendar passed 5-1 with board member Jack Wenzel voting against it.

The calendar shows middle schoolers will have an 11-day Thanksgiving break. When they return on Dec. 3, it will be to a new building.

“This gives us the entire week of Thanksgiving of not having school,” said district Superintendent Deb Olson. “Once all of the materials are moved into the new middle school, the staff will have a day or two to get their rooms in shape for children to come.”

Olson added that the district anticipates receiving the building, construction free, in mid-October. She’s anticipating a bulk of the building transition to take place during the prolonged break.

The calendar shows middle school students will have Dec. 1 and 2 off, contrary to others enrolled in the district. Sixteen days after they return from Thanksgiving, they’ll receive a 16-day winter break from Dec. 20 to Jan. 4.

Another important alteration to next year’s calendar is the district has opted for an “hours-based” schedule. Each student is to receive 1,080 hours of instruction, as opposed to a fixed number of days. This meets a new guideline across the state of Iowa.

The calendar has students beginning class on Thursday, Aug. 14 and ending Wednesday, May 27 assuming no make-up days are used.