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Superintendent's Blog - Archived Posts



Engage. Inspire. Empower.

“Service to a just cause rewards the worker with more real happiness and satisfaction than any other venture of life.”  

Carrie Lane Chapman Catt


Juniors and seniors in the Charles City Community School District: Do you have an interest in providing student perspectives to school board issues?  Does your schedule allow you to attend board meetings the second and fourth Mondays of each month from 6:30 PM until roughly 8:00 PM?  If so, please consider applying to serve as the student board member for 2017-18.

Applications are available at the district website (www.charlescityschools.org).  Completed applications (including one letter of recommendation and two short essay responses) must be turned in at Central Office to Terri O’Brien, Board Secretary, no later than 4:00 PM on Thursday, August 24, 2017Emailed applications are not accepted.  Please bring a completed, printed application.  Central Office is located at 500 North Grand Ave.

Parents and community members in the Charles City Community School District:  Do you have an interest in providing input on major educational needs, long-range student learning goals, and much more?  The School Improvement Advisory Committee, or SIAC, is made up of stakeholders like you representing our students, teachers, parents, community members with no children in school, administrators, and school board members.  It serves as an advisory group that meets once every-other-month.         

We have openings for 2 parent representatives and 2 community members with no kids in school.  The term is for 2 years.  If you would like to get involved, please fill out the application form at our website and submit it by August 31st.

1.18.17, Missed Days



1.11.17 - Community Needs Assessment Survey, Improvements



1.4.16, Community Needs Assessment - Growth

12.21.16, Reflecting on student successes in 2016

12.14.16, Comet Drive

12.7.16, School Messenger Alerts

11.30.16, Holiday Concerts

11.23.16, Thanksgiving

11.18.16, American Education Week - Substitute Teachers

11.17.16, American Education Week - School Boards

11.16.16, American Education Week - Support Staff

11.15.16, American Education Week - Teachers

11.14.16, American Education Week

11.9.16, Community Needs Assessment Survey

11.2.16, Shrek the Musical

10.26.16, Professional Learning Day



Elementary Math Family Fun Night

National principal month

No school, Monday, October 10

Students flood to help during fall flooding

Walking trail, Charles City Middle School

Iowa BIG North


Activity Calendar

Grand Opening

School to school 5K

Back to school time

Class of 2015 Graduates

Senior Recognition Night

School Board Recongnition Month


Spring play & Charles City Community Excellence in Education Foundation Annual Fundraising Dinner

Welcome Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds


2016-17 calendar input

One ballot, two issues

Two sources of revenue

Improving student learning

Taking Center Stage

Innovative Educational Learning Opportunities

Reaching the pinnacle

The inside of the new Charles City Middle School


May has been designated as “School Board Recognition Month” by the Iowa Association of School Boards.  This year’s theme is “School Boards Matter: Making a Difference for Iowa’s Students.” 

In Charles City and across our state, school board members face a variety of challenges on a regular basis.  Yet few people truly understand the scope of school board members’ responsibilities.  All Iowans should recognize the important contributions of these community leaders, and focus their attention on the crucial role these elected public officials play in the education of our children. 

School board members establish a vision for the educational programming of the school district, hire a superintendent to achieve that vision, ensure that schools are accountable to the community, and advocate for continuous improvement in student learning.  Here in Charles City, the work of our school board members also has involved traveling to Des Moines each of the past two years to advocate for adequate school funding for all students in Iowa.

The work of a school board member involves an endless array of meetings and school functions to attend; volumes of paperwork to read and study; and a host of difficult decisions to make.  School board members come from all walks of life: artist, business owners, farmer, and forester.  Although their backgrounds differ, they share a common goal of excellence and equity in public education.  

Board members contribute countless hours each year leading their districts.  They keep their focus on increased student achievement as they simultaneously craft and revise policies, listen to stakeholder concerns, and recognize outstanding programs.  The time spent in board meetings represents just a small fraction of the hours school board members spend fulfilling their duties. 

In addition, board members also invest in their own professional growth through seminars and training sessions to keep updated on the latest trends in educational reform as well as spending many hours at extracurricular events.  Charles City school board members have the distinction of being the only school board in Iowa in which 100% of the board members earned the Better Boardsmanship Award through the Iowa Association of School Boards in 2014-15. 

Please join me in thanking our school board members and recognizing their efforts to make the Charles City Community School District a world-class system.  President Scott Dight served for 12 years (1993 – 2005) before being reelected to the board in 2013.  Lorraine Winterink in is her fifth year.  James Frisbie and Robin Macomber are in their third year.  Jason Walker was appointed to the board in July of 2014 and won election in September of 2015. 


Dr. Dan Cox


Staff at the Iowa Association of School Boards contributed to this bog post.



Another school year is winding down for students.  End-of-year concerts, banquets, and awards nights have been taking place and will continue over the next four weeks.  A common theme at these events has been an attitude of gratitude, which fits perfectly this first week of May: National Teacher Appreciation Week.

Caring.  Dedicated.  Compassionate.  Role model.  Like a second father.  These are just a few of the adjectives and phrases that students and community members have used to describe Charles City teachers over the past week at public events like the Excellence in Education banquet and fine arts performances. 

Charles City teachers engage, inspire, and empower students every day.  On average, teachers touch the lives of 3,000 students in their professional career and their impact extends far beyond the boundaries of the classroom.  My high school classmates and I will be celebrating another class reunion later this summer.  After all of these years, I remain grateful for the impact that teachers like Mr. Libke, Mr. Milder, and Mrs. Schmitt had on my life as well as Mrs. Oakes, our superintendent of schools.             

In the midst of all of the busyness around us, I encourage you to take a moment to jot a short, hand-written note, compose a brief email, or make a phone call to a teacher who made a difference in your life. 



Dr. Dan Cox

Superintendent of Schools



Voter information - ISL / PPEL


On Tuesday, April 5, residents in the Charles City Community School District will have the opportunity to continue two levies that help provide educational resources for students.  Here are some important facts to know about the Instructional Support Levy and the Physical Plant & Equipment Levy vote.

• The continuation of these levies will not raise your taxes.  In fact, after Governor Branstad signs the school funding bill, your property taxes will decrease by 4.88% next year. 

• Nearly 98% of school districts in Iowa have an Instructional Support Levy

• Approximately 75% of school districts in Iowa have a voted PPEL

The school district has utilized Instructional Support Levy funds to purchase musical instruments (cellos, tubas, etc.), industrial technology equipment (plasma table, 3D printer, band saw, robotics kits, etc.), Comet Café equipment, and much more.  We have utilized Physical Plant & Equipment Levy funds to improve and expand our facilities.  Some of those expenses have included the parking lot at Washington Elementary, security upgrades in our school buildings, improving the bleachers at Comet Field, and the purchase of nearly every bus in our fleet.                                                            

I invite you to check out our website (www.charlescityschools.org) and click on the large PPEL ISL Vote icon to see a detailed list of ways in which these funds have been utilized.

 If you have any questions about PPEL or ISL, please give me a call at 257-6500 or email me at dcox@charlescityschools.org 



Dazed Over Days vs. Hours

Why do we have to make up snow days if we switched to a calendar based on hours? 

This is our first year using an hours-based calendar instead of one based on days and I have had several people ask why we have to make up snow days if we are on an hours calendar. 

Under a traditional approach, students must be in school 180 days and the day has to be 6 hours in length (excluding lunch).  There is no option to dismiss early if you have an athletic team competing in a state tournament, for example, but late starts and early dismissals for weather are allowed. 

Using an hours-based calendar, students must receive at least 1080 hours of instruction during the school year (180 days x 6 hrs = 1080).  There is no minimum or maximum length for the school day or required number of days.  The Iowa Department of Education provides guidance on this at https://www.educateiowa.gov/sites/files/ed/documents/2014-04-01InstructionalHoursVsDaysGuidance.pdf

Whether a school district follows a calendar based on days or hours, time spent on parent/teacher conferences can be counted as either a school day or instructional hours. 

With all of the changes that we are making instructionally at all grade levels to better engage, inspire, and empower our students, the school board agreed to double our investment in the professional learning of our staff, from five days a year ago to ten days this year.  The increased amount of professional learning time allows us to provide substantially more training for staff in areas like Project-Based Learning and Math Investigations while still meeting the required hours for students. 

Our school calendar this year has 1118 hours, which includes 24 hours of parent/teacher conference time.  Prior to the blizzard, we had used 9.5 hours in weather-related late starts and early dismissals and we still have at least six more weeks of winter ahead of us. 

We value the instructional time that we have with students and making up a missed day of school is sound educational practice.  Due to the blizzard, the next two teacher professional development days (February 15 and April 27) will be converted to school days.  For now, the final day of school for students is still June 2.  Our staff will make up the missed days of professional learning on June 3 and June 6. 

For additional insights about what’s taking place inside your schools, visit our website at www.charlescityschools.org

Why do we have to make up snow days when we have a calendar based on hours?

Parent / teacher conferences

School board meetings on the road

State funding for schools

A new calendar for 2016

Home for the Holidays

FIRST LEGO League Challenge

All-State Musicians

We're thankful...

American Education Week

Investment in professional staff



STEM BEST efforts begins

BIG Cooperation Lands BEST Opportunities for North Iowa Students and Businesses

We are excited by the news from the Iowa Governor’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Advisory Council that the Charles City, New Hampton, Osage, and Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock Community School Districts have been awarded a $25,000 STEM BEST (Businesses Engaging Students and Teachers) grant to enhance project-based and profession-based learning for our students. 

Collaboration and Creativity are two of the super skills for the 21st century.  I am proud of the collaboration among our four school districts to creatively figure out how to expand learning opportunities for our students and strengthen the partnerships with our amazing business partners here in Floyd, Mitchell, & Chickasaw Counties.

The $25,000 dollar STEM BEST grant from the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council and the $40,000 dollars of in-kind support from our business partners will allow us to establish a North Iowa expansion of the Iowa BIG (Big Ideas Group) program in Cedar Rapids.  At its core, the Iowa BIG program taps into students’ passion to engage them in authentic community projects and connect them with local businesses.

Through the use of technology, the T in STEM, students in Charles City, New Hampton, Osage, and Rockford will be able to engage in the same types of project-based learning experiences at their own high schools while they collaborate with peers in the consortium, in Cedar Rapids, or both. 

Charles City High School students currently have numerous STEM class options from which to choose.  Students in our Exploring Science Careers class research and explore a broad range of careers and engage in field trips and job shadowing experiences.  They are doing exactly what these four school districts are looking to expand on — cooperating with local businesses so that students can enhance their core learning while learning about possible careers.

These students are getting authentic experiences that will benefit them as they determine their career paths.  This is also good news for local STEM businesses, knowing that students are interested in returning home to Northeast Iowa to the STEM possibilities available right here in their own back yard.

Students in our Agriculture classes are flying drones, a unique experience that isn’t available in many Iowa school districts.  Industrial Technology students have partnered with Mitas Tires on two different projects in the past six months.  STEM is important in Charles City and our students know that for many of them, their future lies in STEM careers. 

Charles City, New Hampton, Osage, and Rockford high school students also will have the opportunity to take part in profession-based learning on-site at one or more of our business partners, spending a trimester or semester exploring STEM careers while also earning high school, and potentially college credit, just as students do in the Waukee APEX (Advanced Professional Experiences) program in suburban Des Moines and the Northland CAPS (Center for Advanced Professional Studies) program in suburban Kansas City.

We believe that this STEM BEST grant is a game-changer for education in North Iowa.  It reinforces for the rest of the state that students in rural Iowa school districts, like Charles City, New Hampton, Osage, and Rockford, can, and do, receive a world-class education.

BIG cooperation among our schools certainly has landed BEST opportunities for our students and area businesses.


Red Ribbon Week

You might see some Charles City students with crazy hair, wild mustaches, or wearing red decorations as part of Red Ribbon Week this week. 


Red Ribbon Week began 30 years ago as part of an effort to support the nation’s families and communities in nurturing the full potential of healthy, drug-free youth.  It’s the oldest and largest drug prevention program in the country.  As part of the weeklong activities, students learn how to work together to make good choices and sign a pledge to stay drug-free.              


Parents also have a role at home in supporting drug-free environments.  Did you know that the children of parents who talk to their teens regularly about drugs are 42% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t?

We as a community can help discourage illegal drug use and allow our students to grow up safe, healthy and drug-free. 


Thank you for your continued support of our school system.



Authentic real world learning

Single campus construction update

German American Partnership Program

Project Based Learning

An Argentine in the Heartland

Promoting mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries is the mission of the Fulbright Program.  For the next three weeks, a school administrator from Argentina will be here in Charles City on a Fulbright exchange learning about educational excellence in Iowa through hands-on immersion. 

Graciela Uequín is the superintendent for technical high schools in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  She oversees approximately 7000 students and 3000 teachers in four schools.  Otto Krause, with 1800 students and 900 teachers, is the largest technical high school in the Americas.  Graciela also represents the City of Buenos Aires in the Ministry of Education, lending her expertise at the national level on technical education.

During her stay in Charles City, Graciela will visit classrooms, attend professional development with our staff, and learn more about the connection between the school and community.  She also will get to experience things that are more uniquely American, like parent/teacher conferences and Homecoming.

If you see Graciela at a school or community event, please give her a warm Charles City welcome.


Becoming One In Spirit, Not Necessarily in Opinion

The year was 1892.  A group of community members and business leaders in Chicago had been working together to launch a new and modern university; one where instructors shared their ideas and engaged in interdisciplinary teaching.  According to the history page of their website, William Rainey Harper, the first President of the University of Chicago, gathered his new faculty together and shared these words with them: “The question before us is how to become one in spirit, not necessarily in opinion.”  Those words ring true here in our community today.  

Vigorous debate over the past 5-10 years about how to move our district forward has made us stronger.  Yet, there is so much more going on than just facilities: new interdisciplinary courses at the high school, a new math curriculum at our elementary buildings, exploration of Project-Based Learning in the middle and high schools, and an increased focus on personalizing the learning experience for all students. 

We may continue to have differing opinions on how to get there.  For the good of the community, let the focus be on assuring that ALL Charles City graduates are prepared for the demands of the 21st century.

“The question before us is how to become one in spirit, not necessarily in opinion.” 





Nurtured Heart Approach

We all strive for greatness and to be positive members of society, and we want the same for our children.  This fall, elementary school teachers and support staff invested time in learning about the Nurtured Heart Approach.  This strategy gives adults additional tools to allow children to flourish.

Faculty and staff learned how to stop energizing negativity in student behavior by using body language, words, and actions when a student is seeking attention. Through staff action, students realize there is nothing to be gained by continuing the negative behavior.

In its place, teachers and support staff learned how to energize student success toward making small or large progress toward the desired outcome; reinforcing the positive.

The third component of the Nurtured Heart Approach is establishing and implementing clear limits and consequences.  By following the rules, students get positive energy and create positive relationships.

Elementary school counselors Nina Coulson and Sandy Thomson served as trainers for the professional learning sessions.  If you would like to talk with them, you can find their contact information on our school website (www.charlescityschools.org). 

The Nurtured Heart Approach is one more way we are helping Charles City students find success. 


Frequently Asked Questions


Mark Twain is credited with saying, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”  Half-truths and flat out misinformation have been circulating across our school district for the past several weeks.  Let’s put an end to that.

Did you know that taxes are NOT going up because of the new middle school?  The fact is, the school is being paid for by money we receive from the 1 cent sales tax and the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL). 

Did you remember that in September of 2009, the public approved how sales tax and PPEL money would be spent?  The two questions passed with 86% and 84% support respectively.  It would be ILLEGAL to conduct an election now on the question of “Should we spend sales tax and PPEL money to build a new school?”

Maybe you wondered why the school board didn’t spend the sales tax and PPEL money to add some Advanced Placement classes at the high school.  The truth is, the money building the new middle school cannot be used on academics.

The answers to many more questions about school finance, facilities, and students achievement can be found in a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) sheet at the Charles City Community School District website (www.charlescityschools.org).  The information on our FAQ sheet has been reviewed by the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board and may be distributed using public funds.

Help the truth get its shoes on and start traveling. 


60 second snapshot - First Day of School

Listen to this week's 60 second snapshot - Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Activity Calendars

Like many of you, I had become accustomed to looking at the printed activities calendar that the Charles City Booster Club handed out each year.  In a glance I could see what activities were coming up that I needed to enter into my smartphone calendar.  Shortly after being printed, however, weather issues and variations in student activity participation resulted in changes being made; thus, the print calendar was now out-of-date.

In order for parents, community members, and students to access the most up-to-date information on school activities, the District will be providing the activities calendar in a digital format at our website: www.charlescityschools.org.  The traditional print copy of the school activities calendar has been discontinued.

The online calendar is updated often and it can be segmented into various activity schedules, viewable in a day, week, or month view.  You can sign up to receive automatic text or email notifications when changes are made as well as having the school calendar imported into your Outlook, Google, or Yahoo! calendars.  Look for the District Calendar box on the lower left-hand side of our district website.

If you prefer to have a monthly printed copy of that activity calendar, the large box on the upper left-hand side our website gives you the ability to print off one month, or all 12. 

Whichever version of the calendar you choose, we look forward to seeing you at Comet activities in 2015-16 and beyond.


Facilities for the Future

What will Charles City look like ten years from now?  Or 20?  Will we have a Community Center in town for civic events, wedding receptions, and conferences?  Will we have a new jail or should we pay a neighboring county to house them?  Would it benefit the community and our young people to have a YMCA built at the high school site so the school and Y could share facilities?

Over the past three weeks, your friends and neighbors have been brainstorming ideas about what the future of this community could look like and how best to utilize and share existing and potentially new buildings in Charles City.  With aging facilities in need of updates and repairs, the city, county, school district, and YMCA commissioned a study to gather community input on how to move forward.  Numerous ideas have been shared and some interesting concepts have been created. 

 Ideas that resonated with the citizens who have attended the meetings have been refined and tweaked.  Those that didn’t generate support or that didn’t match the criteria set by the Advisory Task Force have been discarded.  We still need your input as the final options are determined. 

 The last meeting to brainstorm ideas and narrow the options for future facilities is set for today, Wednesday, August 19, at 5:30 P.M. at the NIACC Center in Charles City.  This meeting is open for anyone who is interested in attending, especially if you have an interest in how the 500 North Grand building will be utilized after this school year.  Your investment of one hour will pay big dividends in the years to come.

What will Charles City look like ten years from now?  Or 20?  The answer depends on you.



A Culture of Success

According to best-selling author and keynote speaker Jon Gordon, teams and organizations that focus on and celebrate success create more success.  Our organization, the Charles City Community School District, has had quite a few successes over the past year.  As we gear up to begin a new school year, I want to pause and celebrate some of those accomplishments from the past 12 months.

Innovative approaches to teaching and use of time have really taken shape at the high school.  The implementation of SMART lunch gave students the ability to maximize their achievement, relationships, and time according to their needs.  Opportunities for re-teaching as well as learning something new, like fencing, gave SMART lunch an immediate and positive impact. 

High school students will see several innovative courses offered in the 2015-16 school year as a result of teacher collaboration last year.  The science and FCS departments have partnered together to offer a new culinary science course.  The math and industrial technology departments have teamed together to offer construction mathematics.  Other new classes include character and leadership, humanities, and AP government

Changes in food service are another success to celebrate.  A task force made trips to Albert Lea and Kasson-Mantorville in Minnesota as well as to Decorah to learn more about options in food service.  The highly popular salad bar was re-implemented at the middle and high school last spring and will expand to include Lincoln this fall.  Building upon last spring’s successes, students will see even more changes this year regarding options for fresh fruits and vegetables and alternate main dishes. 

At the school board level, board members spent a day in Des Moines meeting with multiple state legislators to advocate on behalf of adequate funding for school districts.  Their extra efforts made an impact at the state level and also earned them an opportunity to present a session on advocacy at the Iowa Association of School Boards fall convention this November.

These are just examples of the great things going on in the Charles City Community School District.  I can’t wait to see the exciting things that await us in the coming year!



60 second snapshot - Back to School Registration

Listen to this week's 60 second snapshot - Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Join the School Improvement Advisory Committee

Over the past year we have made it even easier to keep updated on academic and extra-curricular activities taking place in the Charles City Community School District through our social media outlets, traditional media outlets, redesigned website, and the Public Access Network.  Community members, parents, students, and teachers all have a vested interest in creating and maintaining a high quality school system.  And that’s exactly what we are doing here in Charles City.

If you would like to learn more about the programs taking place in our schools and take an active role in formulating recommendations to the school board, please consider applying for a seat on our School Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC).  We are seeking to appoint 2 parents of Charles City students, 2 community members who don’t have children in the Charles City Schools, 1 teacher from the middle school, 1 teacher from Washington Elementary, 1 CCHS freshman, and 1 CCHS junior.  By Iowa Code the SIAC must, to the extent possible, have balanced representation with regard to race, gender, national origin, and disability.

The purpose of the SIAC is to make recommendations to the school board about important items such as: major educational needs; student learning goals in reading, math, and science; and harassment or bullying prevention goals, programs, training, and other initiatives.

The committee typically meets five times during the school year in the months of September, November, January, March/April, and June.  Meetings usually last one hour and are held in the middle school cafeteria.

Applications are available at our website (www.charlescityschools.org).  Go to the District tab and you will see the link for the SIAC.  Completed forms should be returned to the Superintendent’s office by 4 PM on Monday, August 17.  The new SIAC will be appointed shortly thereafter.  Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about the School Improvement Advisory Committee.

Go, Comets!


Looking Back and Looking Ahead


Another school year is coming to a close.  Over the next two weekends, students at Carrie Lane and the Charles City High School will be graduating and moving on to college or careers.  Reflecting back, there have been a number of beneficial changes that took place since last August.  A new buddy program between Charles City High School and Washington Elementary made a positive impact on both sets of students.  Bowling became an official sport at the high school and our boys’ team finished third in the state.  Lab classrooms were implemented at Lincoln and Washington to strengthen our math and reading instructional practices.  And the list goes on.

Looking ahead to 2015-16, there are additional changes designed to improve our student achievement efforts.  Here are just a few of them:

Calendar:  Traditionally the school calendar has been based upon 180 days of instruction.  Beginning in the fall, the school calendar will be based upon 1080 hours.  Switching from days to hours give us the flexibility to invest more heavily in professional learning for teachers in order to get a bigger impact in our student achievement efforts.  Our calendar will have 1118 hours, which provides a cushion for weather-related late starts or early releases.  

Grade-Alike Elementary Schools:  Our mission is to create an environment in which students and staff can achieve their maximum potential.  Having 32 students per 4th grade classroom at one elementary and 20 per 4th grade classroom at the other elementary contradicts that mission.  Shifting all students in grades K-2 to Washington and grades 3-5 to Lincoln brings balanced class sizes, provides more opportunities for individualized learning opportunities, strengthens the teaching teams, and is a wise use of school resources.  

New Elementary Math Curriculum:  Students are expected to reach a higher level of complex mathematical thinking at a younger age.  Based upon 20 years of research, the new curriculum is designed to help students learn that they can be mathematical thinkers, engages them in a range of mathematical topics, and supports teachers in accommodating the learning needs of all students.

Pre-School: Not being selected for the Shared Visions grant will allow the District to offer pre-school to more students than before.  Morning and afternoon sessions are available and we can accommodate 60-80 students.  This makes pre-school much more accessible to every family who desires it.

Project-Based Learning:  Students in grades 6-12 will experience more opportunities to develop deeper learning competencies that will be required of them beyond high school.  Backed by research, PBL is an approach in which students are given the time, resources, and freedom to pursue their passions while spanning multiple-curricular areas.  Already this year in the Charles City Schools, students have been learning about agricultural innovation, nature & scientific design, and robotic engineering.

We have a lot of great things taking place in the Charles City Community School District.  Our administrative team, in cooperation with our dedicated teaching staff and support staff, is working diligently to ensure that each of our school buildings has an environment in which all Comets can soar.

World-class schools deserve more than 1.25%

There was a time, not long ago, when Iowa schools led the nation in student achievement. Since his inauguration in 2011, Governor Terry Branstad has put forth many reform proposals designed to provide world-class schools for all children in Iowa.  A strong focus on STEM, early literacy initiatives, and the Teacher Leadership and Compensation system are just a few examples of the initiatives in place to ensure that students in Iowa are ready to compete at the global level.

At his website, Governor Branstad asks Iowans to “have a renewed commitment to provide the best education in the world.”  It goes on to say: “Providing Iowa’s children with a globally competitive education is key to their future – and the future of this state.”  His proposal for an increase of just 1.25% in supplemental state aid for schools next year and 2.45% in FY17, however, falls short of that goal.

The current bill adopted by the Iowa House of Representatives sets education funding at the second lowest level in Iowa history. This will not help Iowa school districts elevate to the world-class level.  We are currently 34th in the nation for funding.  At the proposed level, we will fall to 40th in the nation next year. Why can other states do better than Iowa?

In Charles City, we graduated 150 seniors last spring and brought in a Kindergarten class of 95.  Due to the enrollment drop, we are cutting our expenses by $330,000 for next year.  An increase of 1.25% in supplemental state aid in FY16 and 2.45% in FY17 instead of 4% both years could result in approximately $435,000 less state aid for the Charles City Community School District.  We will be reducing teachers and support staff, eliminating our curriculum director position, increasing class sizes, and may close our school swimming pool for next year.  Additional cuts would be necessary with the Governor’s proposal.  

In order to get to the world-class level, we need to continue to invest in the professional development of our staff.  Charles City teachers and administrators have been working collaboratively on calendar options that would support increased time for professional learning in the areas of Project-Based Learning, the Common Core, a Multi-Tiered System of Supports, and much more.

The good news is that this isn’t state law...yet.  The Iowa House and Iowa Senate are working on the issue in conference committee.  Now is the time for action from parents, teachers, and stakeholders in Charles City and across the state.  Under-funding of Iowa schools is taking its toll.  It is time for Iowa education funding to be set at a level that will establish Iowa as a world-class place to raise and educate children.

I encourage you to join the Charles City Board of Education and me in contacting your legislators to express your support for a 4% increase in supplemental state aid for FY 16 and FY 17.  We can do better than 40th place in the nation.


Dr. Dan Cox

Superintendent of Schools

Iowa House Switchboard: (515) 281-3221
Iowa Senate Switchboard: (515) 281-3371

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