Shaffer’s resignation approved by Shen School Board

The Shenandoah School Board accepted the resignation of high school principal Jason Shaffer at the Monday, Feb. 10 regular meeting.

Shaffer has accepted the shared superintendent’s position with the Bedford and Mount Ayr school districts and will leave Shenandoah at the end of the current school year.

“We’re really happy for Mr. Shaffer,” said Shenandoah Superintendent Dr. Kerri Nelson. “He’s worked really hard to prepare for making that career advancement. We know this is something he’s desired and we’re very supportive of him and at the same time, we’re going to miss him on staff. He’s been a strong contributor for us.”

Nelson said the district had begun the process of searching for Shaffer’s successor.

“Once we start forming an applicant pool, we’ll go through our interview process and start narrowing down applicants and involve some stakeholders in that decision and come forward with a recommendation for who the next principal will be,” said Nelson.

The board also approved resignations for Derek Howard as middle school football coach and head high school boys basketball coach effective at the end of the season and middle school softball coach effective at the end of this season. Also approved were the resignations of Jon Denton as assistant high school football coach, and Nicholas Stuart as middle and high school social studies teacher and assistant high school football coach.

The board rejected the general construction and site work bids for the high school’s renovation project. Nelson recommended the rejection of the bids based on the price. She said they could be rebid and come in at a more competitive point range and combining the two bids would make it a more attractive package for larger companies. The board approved the project’s rebidding.

The board set a public hearing at 5 p.m. on Feb. 24 on the asbestos abatement for the project.

Shenandoah High School teachers Nicole Grindle and Jenny Stephens and guidance counselor Heather Weiss presented a proposal of credit recommendations to the board. Staff members who worked on the proposal were Jason Shaffer; Heather Weiss, Shenandoah high school guidance counselor; Grindle from the science department; Stephens representing the math department and Amy Toye from the language arts department.

“A few months ago, we were tasked with the job at looking at some data about our building with the goal in mind to raise our ACT score,” said Grindle. “Specifically focus on the composite ACT score.”

A summary of the current credit requirements at Shenandoah High School requires eight credits in language arts, six credits in math, six credits in science, six credits in social studies, and one credit in PCR. Students are required to take math every year and have 27 core credits and 23 elective credits

Grindle said it is recommended the required math credit increases to seven and science credit increase to seven. Math would still be required every year with language arts and science. The required core credits would increase to 29 and elective credits would decrease to 21.

Grindle said in looking at the ACT composites, the majority of the students scoring above the state average had either taken calculus or preparing to take calculus.

Stephens said the committee recommends eliminating some of the math electives to ensure students are taking upper-level math courses. For students that do not plan on taking the ACT, they recommend putting in pre-algebra at the freshman level based on the data they gathered. From there, those students would take algebra and algebra II their senior year.

Data also showed in science students taking AP courses scored higher on the ACT.

Grindle said the majority of students take ninth-grade science as a freshman followed by biology and then can choose the rest of their science credits. She said from the data the committee determined students scoring above the state average on the ACT were taking a lot of science credits. The recommendation is to require all students to take chemistry. She said chemistry opens up prerequisites and there are standards in chemistry that are on the ISASP test.

It is also recommended pre-chemistry be offered for students who are not ready for chemistry. Students could go on to chemistry if they wanted to after that or that could fulfill their chemistry credit. Grindle explained pre-chemistry is the same content as chemistry just not taught on the same level or as in-depth.

Grindle said an increase in required credits is not being proposed for language arts, but they do want students to take language arts every year.

“We want to change course names from LA9, LA10, LA11 to LA1, LA2, LA3 because sometimes you’re not a 9th grader in LA9 and you’re not a 10th grader in LA10,” said Grindle.

LA11 is a requirement but it is recommended to take that requirement out to allow students to take an advanced language arts course instead.

“This would allow students to take the more advanced courses earlier on,” said Grindle.

There would be one credit language art electives offered for students that need to go that route.

The Shenandoah Community School district is working on having Amy Toye approved to teach IWCC courses at the high school to allow kids to remain at the high school while earning college credits.

Grindle said they are also looking at the instruction in the language art department ensuring the teaching of writing and grammar.

Grindle said other data that was looked at was the ACT composite score, along with GPA, which was graphed.

“We were worried about the way we grade,” said Grindle.” There was a strong correlation between our high school students GPA and how they are scoring on the ACT.”

The board unanimously approved increasing science and math credit requirements at the high school from six to seven, and the addition of recommended courses.

In other business...

The board approved an additional full-time elementary teacher for the 2020-2021 school year to be placed in a 2nd-grade class.

The board acknowledged the receipt of the opening proposal from the Shenandoah Education Association for the instructors’ contract. The proposal increases the base salary from $37,280 to $38,280 with a total increase of 3.48% or an additional $223,818. The association also proposed a three-year agreement beginning July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2025.

The board acknowledged the receipt of the Shenandoah Support Association Plus’s initial proposal, asking for an increase of 75 cents per hour for all support staff yearly.

The board approved an early retirement incentive plan for the district.

The board approved Shenandoah Middle School student council’s proposal for a mustang mascot statue to include a plaque honoring the late Elijah Baldwin. The statue would be placed in front of the middle school.

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