Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 25, 2018

‘Stay the course’

SIAC sets recommendation, MPCSD superintendent shares action plan for 2018-2019 school year
Sep 12, 2018

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


The Mt. Pleasant Community School District is staying the course, focusing on improving students’ MAP and FAST test scores and a deeper implementation of positive behavioral interventions and supports with a focus on trauma informed care practices.

With those guidelines in mind, the Mt. Pleasant School Board approved the School Improvement Advisory Committee’s recommendations and student learning goals, and Superintendent John Henriksen presented his 2018-2019 Action Plan during a regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 10.

“What we have chosen to focus on is strengthening traditional classes and innovating classes … and consider student supports as it relates to school safety and mental health,” Henriksen said. “It has been a real focus for us and will continue to be in the future.”

SIAC’s recommendations for the 2018-2019 school year included recommendations for the district’s facilities, technology and programming.

For district facilities, SIAC recommended a continual upgrade to security in all buildings, which is a current area of focus for the district. Other recommendations included increasing the availability of small space in all buildings and developing a long-term plan to move athletic facilities to the high school site, including a fine arts and performance center.

SIAC would like to see an expansion of Wi-Fi access on buses and other areas in the district and an exploration of data on how the 1:1 program, which provides each student a laptop, improves students’ educational experience.

As for programming, SIAC asked the board to consider long-term staffing structures to expand mental health supports such as adding a guidance counselor.

Henriksen’s action plan reflected SIAC’s recommendations. Key aspects of Henriksen’s action plan include conducting monthly, collaborative conversations with principals regarding professional development in each of their buildings.

Henriksen also will conduct a book study with the administrative team to enhance their effectiveness and ultimately the effectiveness of the teaching staff, he said.

“My work this year is really the school’s work,” Henriksen said. “I think it’s important we stay the course and have an understanding of what is working and what’s not working.”

In other news, the Policy Committee reviewed several Iowa public school district’s policies governing the use of certified therapy dogs in their schools earlier this month. Henriksen said they are considering what the use of therapy dogs might look like in Mt. Pleasant.

“I think therapy animals can be a wonderful resource for our kids who often struggle with that social/emotional aspect of learning,” Henriksen said.

While the Policy Committee is in support of the use of therapy dogs, board member Martha Wiley expressed concern for students who deal with allergies to dogs or what they could bring in on their fur such as pollen allergens or mold.

“All these things impact whether or not a child can be in school,” Wiley said.

The board approved administrative team members for the 2018-2019 Teacher Quality Committee. The committee requires equal part administrative representation and teacher representation. Committee members are Henriksen, Don LeBlanc, Todd Liechty, Katie Gavin and Lori LaFrenz. They all served on the committee last year.

Funds for the Teacher Quality Committee are provided by the state of Iowa to be used for professional development and implementation of Iowa Core Standards. The committee meets monthly to consider professional development requests.

School fundraisers this year look similar to years previous, with the addition of a 5k run for the class of 2021 to raise money for prom.

The next Mt. Pleasant School Board meeting is Monday, Oct. 8.

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