After debate at the last school board meeting about a proposal to have two-hour late start Mondays every week, the Nevada school board approved a proposal for 90-minute late starts every Monday next year during the board’s regular meeting this past Monday.

At the previous meeting, board Vice President Laura West stated her concerns about the amount of student instructional time that would be lost if the school had two-hour late starts every Monday. So, Superintendent Steve Gray said he would re-evaluate the plans and come up with a new proposal that would allow for more staff development time without sacrificing so much instructional time for students.

At the meeting, he presented, not one, but three proposals to the board. Of the three, he recommended the one the board approved.

The approved plan allows for 90 minutes of staff development time every Monday of the school year. It also moves teacher work days already in the calendar in October and March to Mondays, rather than Fridays, so students don’t lose those two additional days of instructional time. In making these changes, the instructional hours for the next school year (1,1,42.2) are nearly equal to the instructional hours in the current school year (1,157.5).

West said she wasn’t completely happy with the proposal, but she wanted to show a willing spirit to compromise, and therefore voted in favor of the proposal.

Board member Tori Carsrud stated that her biggest concern was that the school needs to do a lot of work to "really communicate" this change to the parents before the start of the next school year.

State TLC Grant

Gray presented to the board a plan for how the Nevada District intends to utilize money from the State Teacher Leadership & Compensation Grant if the district is one of the districts chosen to receive these funds in the next year. A third of Iowa’s school districts will be chosen in the initial year, and not all districts are applying this year.

The State Teacher Leadership & Compensation grants were the centerpiece of the legislature’s education reform package that was presented last year. The program’s goals are to improve instruction/teaching and increase collaboration toward that end.

Nevada’s total grant award would amount to $47,800, based on a State-determined funding formula for the grant. A 12-person committee, made up of teachers and administrators developed a plan to implement the funding.

One thing Nevada’s plan includes is the naming of three teachers — one in each building — to move into "instructional guide" positions. As explained by Gray, these teachers would still maintain a classroom, but would be spending 75 percent of their time working with other teachers to support building and district professional development. A portion of the grant would be used to hire teachers to cover the classroom instruction time vacated by the instructional guides.

Each of the three instructional guides would receive a $10,000 stipend for the year for their position, which would also include around five additional contractual days.

Under the instructional guides, each building would have six to seven "learning team coaches" and a "peer advisor."

"Every teacher in the district would fall into a category," Gray said, "and 25 percent of our teachers must be in leadership roles to qualify for the funding."

The State plans to announce the year-one grant recipients in mid-March. Although this will create a tight turnaround time for districts to hire and implement for the fall, Gray said he believes the district’s plan is flexible enough to accommodate the timeline. Gray noted that if the district is not chosen for a year-one grant, they will resubmit for year two.

There was some concern among board members about how the school would continue to fund this program if the state eventually pulls back its funding support. Gray indicated that the committee discussed this possibility and developed the plan accordingly — with minimal hiring and/or staff transition necessary.

Gray acknowledged the hard work of the committee. "It was one of the most rewarding grant-writing experiences I’ve been involved with," he said. In addition to Gray, committee members included: Corey Barloon, Sarah Christian, Kevin Ericson, Nicole Galliart, Kathy Goecke, Justin Gross, Nancy Port, Chris Schmidt, Cary Thompson, Tonya Van Dam and Kirsten Weber.