Monday, November 4, 2019

Every Vote Counts!

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 5th is a big day. It is an election day, and there are important issues on the ballot. It is the first time school, and municipal elections are being held together. School Board members, City Council members, and the Shenandoah CSD bond issue are all included in this election; some are calling this election Super Vote I. It is a bit of change to have elections that are combined this way. Still, it has been received well by most and a more efficient way to hold elections.

There has been a lot of discussion about each of these items and how they affect Shenandoah CSD. Hopefully, you have been able to take note and learn about the Shenandoah CSD bond referendum. If you have not been able to study this issue, you can read more about this on our website at or watch the video posted on KMA. 

We also have two open seats on the Shenandoah CSD School Board. Several candidates are running for these positions.  Information about each of them is included on The Valley News and KMA websites.  You can also read about the City Council candidates as well. I wish all of the candidates the best tomorrow.

The polls are open from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM tomorrow. Each and every vote counts, so be sure to take a moment to cast your vote!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Sharing Some Board News and More

The start of the school year has gone by too quickly. The leaves are starting to change color and the weather has also turned. I was looking at my calendar and recognized that parent-teacher conferences are in three weeks.  These conferences are scheduled for November 7th, so please mark your calendar. The staff is looking forward to visiting with you!

It is also the time of year when certified enrollment for Iowa schools is completed. Shenandoah CSD was able to certify an increase of 7.7 students for the funded enrollment count. This is positive news for the district.

Dr. Timothy Smith was appointed to the School Board to fill a vacancy early this month.  We were pleased to have him join us on October 14th  for his first official board meeting.

The Board agenda was quite full and several decisions were made that impact the District's finances and facilities.  Mrs. Sherri Ruzek, the District's School Business Official, provided the Board with an excellent overview of the District's financial position. Her presentation can be read here.   This information was quite helpful as the Board moved forward with decision making at the meeting.

The Board approved requests for Allowable Growth and Supplemental State Aid for the special education deficit in the amount of $203,855.18 and for limited English proficient program in the amount of $57,827.66.

Travis Squires, from Piper Jaffray, joined the Board meeting as part of a conference call to discuss the financial proposals and to recommend directing the sale of approximately $5.8M school infrastructure sales, services and use tax revenue bonds. The BB&T proposal was submitted with a 2.13% interest rate and was awarded the bid. You can review the bid summary sheet here.

I am very pleased the Board took action to approve the design development project submittal with the DLR Group and the design development budget report with Carl A. Nelson & Company.  This is critical work that has been done to outline the design of the renovation work and associated costs.  Mike Kros from the DLR Group was present to participate in this conversation.  This action, along with the sale of the revenue bonds will allow us to move forward with necessary renovations at the High School.  The public hearing for the use of SAVE funds for these projects was set for November 11th at 5:00 PM.

We have had a few new staff members join us this fall. I am very pleased to share their profiles with you.  They are great additions to our team.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Agriculture and More

I attended Rotary yesterday. I must say I was truly inspired as I listened to Sarah F. Martin, the High School agriculture teacher, talk about the program, how it has evolved and her students. She is a strong advocate for students, a passionate educator and has a clear vision for the future of education.  There was a nice group present but I really wish I would have captured her presentation.  I wasn't able to do that today, but I was able to locate a recent recording of a recent interview she had with Dean Adkins on KMA.  Dean was generous enough to allow me to post these.

If you take the time to listen to these clips, I imagine you might be excited about what is happening in the agriculture program. The District is working diligently to expand opportunities in these areas and also help students transition into postsecondary learning and work opportunities. The Career EdVantage program is an excellent example of how we are collaborating with SW Iowa Schools, Iowa Western, and Future Ready to provide these types of opportunities for students.  This is supported by a $2.8 M grant from the Charles E. Lakin Foundation.

Some have asked what some of the programs in the STEM and CTE education areas might look like if the bond issue passes and the district is able to repurpose space and build new additions. I want to share these renderings that were provided by DLR Group, the District's architectural firm.

Saturday, September 21, 2019


Homecoming is always a great time to honor the tradition of times past and also embrace a new vision for the future. I have enjoyed this week as there have been many ways for people of all ages to participate and come together to celebrate. It is a shining example of why Shenandoah CSD is was the place to be.

The 2nd Annual Color Run was a great way for families and friends to join in the fun together, have some great food and watch our girls play football. It was hot and humid afternoon, but the laughter and bonding made it all worthwhile.  We all need to thank the Burdorf's and other volunteers for their effort to make this all come together.

The pep rally Monday evening would not have been entirely complete without Joe Nebel's auctioneering skills.  Jason Shaffer took the floor alongside him to liven up the crowd and gave it a shot as well. 

I have always loved a grand parade and this year's display made me quite proud to be part of the Shenandoah Community.  There were students, friends, staff, and families of all ages, joining together showing their school pride.

Strike up the band!

It was great to see the bleachers full and sense the positive energy in the crowd at the football game. The Sweet Sound of Victory could be heard well into the evening. I am not sure who to credit for the video but thank you shenactivities on Instagram for posting.  

The Homecoming Court was quite impressive. It was neat to see Roxy Denton and Devin Morelock were named Homecoming Queen and King. Ethan Daoust and Kynzlee Shaffer served as the first grade candidates.

It is now Saturday morning. I am enjoying my coffee and reflecting on the week. I am very thankful for the staff and volunteers who worked together to make this a great week. I am proud of our students and community who participated in the homecoming traditions and new activities. Shenandoah is a great place to be for all of these reasons and more.  I am now left thinking about the vision for the future success of our school and community and what it will take to accomplish our goals.  It will take time, persistence, commitment, collaboration, and more, but the investment will be worth the effort.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Recent Board Decisions

Several key decisions were made at last night's board meeting that will help the district move forward to implement the facility plan.

The board voted unanimously to support the issuance of approximately $5.8 M School Infrastructure Sales Service and Use Tax Revenue Bonds.  These are the funds that will be used to support the work in the renovated portion of the plan.

Additionally, the Board received the petition to order an election of the issuance of $14.7 M of general obligation school bonds.  There were 243 signatures included on the petition that will need to be validated by Page County.  However, only 111 signatures were required for the petition to be filed.

The Board approved ordering the election for this purpose on a 4 to 1 vote. Mr. Anderson shared his concerns about the facility proposal and exercised his right to vote.

Mr. Anderson tendered his resignation at the end of the board meeting which creates a vacancy on the School Board. The Board took action to accept his resignation on Wednesday and will appoint a replacement to complete the term that expires in November. 

How was the plan developed?

An extensive facility study completed by the  DLR Group started this process. Additionally, C.A. Nelson & Company Construction Management and a facility committee have been involved in the process. The Board visited school districts in Columbus, Nebraska and Maryville, Mo. They also toured Riverside Community School District's facility.

When will the vote occur? 

Now that the petition has been received and the Board has voted on the resolution to order the election, the Board Secretary is able to file the documentation with Page County. The vote will occur on November 5.

What is being voted on?

The language of the ballot will include issuing general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $14.7 M to build, furnish, and equip gymnasium and career technical additions to the high school facility, including related remodeling and site improvements, and to improve, remodel, repair, furnish and equip the facility and site.

What does the plan look like?

 facility plan poster

What are the Financial Facts?

The financial facts page was prepared by Piper Jaffray out of Des Moines. The firm specializes in public finance investment banking.

What do the terms CTE, STEM, and SAVE stand for?

CTE:  Career Techincal Education

STEM:  Science Technology Engineering and Math

SAVE: Secure An Advance Vision for Education  also known as Local Option Sales Tax

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

More Information About the Facility Plan

The Board has had a number of discussions over the last several months related to the district's facility plan and the financing necessary to support the plan. I have been asked several times what will be included, how much will it cost, and how it will impact the levy.

There are three main components of the work that are color-coded on the image provided.

The grey areas on the image are areas of the building where the majority of the anticipated work will be related to the HVAC system, ADA compliance, energy efficiency, safety and esthetics, parking lot improvements and other infrastructure needs.  This work is estimated to be 6.3 million dollars. It will be funded using SAVE funds and will not impact the levy. We are able to borrow against the SAVE fund for 11 years to generate enough revenue to complete the designated projects.  While it will not increase the tax levy it will commit the use of our SAVE funds until they are paid back in full.

The lighter pink areas on the image are areas of the building that would be repurposed to expand STEM education and maximize the space to be as efficient as possible.  It would also address some ADA issues in an office area and adult restroom areas. The darker red areas are new additions. These new additions include a career technical education wing to support instruction in the areas of agriculture, auto technology, construction, woods, and welding and also a new gym that will include a standard size court and fitness area.  The total cost of the repurposed space and additions is 14.7 million dollars and will require a bond issue to complete.

Currently, the total levy is $14.60 so it would require adding approximately $2.70 to the levy if the bond issue passes.  There has been a discussion about how we could lessen the impact of the levy by reducing other operations funds, specifically the management fund by $0.95. There are many factors that go into setting a budget and determining the levy including some things such as state aid, enrollment, and valuations.  However, reducing the management levy would make the estimated impact of the levy $1.75 setting the levy at approximately $16.35.

Most people want to know how the increased levy would impact them on a personal level if the bond issue would pass.  The following financial fact sheet helps to explain the impact of the levy based on the valuation of personal, commercial, and agricultural property.

Hopefully, this information provides you with a better understanding of the facility plan and finances necessary to support the completion of the project.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

A Lot of News

Don and I went on vacation last week.  It was really good to take some time together to relax and enjoy nature.  I thought about posting several photos from our vacation, but had second thoughts about turning this into the ultimate Facebook page.  Instead, I would just encourage you to take time this summer to find some space for you and your family to connect and refresh.  It is beneficial for all of us to do from time to time.

Fantastic things are happening on and off-campus this summer.  We have had all kinds of extended learning camps, athletic events and camps, open gyms, and free meals available.

It was quite rewarding to have the Pella staff work with our students to provide a STEM camp this summer. This school business partnership is making a large impact on our students. Pella's contribution of time, expertise, and resources add a lot of value to what our system can offer.

I am delighted to share information about four of our new staff members. If you look closely, some of them look quite familiar.  Jennifer Chapa will be teaching High School Language Arts this next year. She has been teaching in Alaska. Natalie Denton is returning to the district to serve as a Home School Liaison at our High School next year as well. Robynn Manley teaching in the district's preschool program. She has been on our staff as an associate for several years. It is great to see her advance in her career within the system. Jennifer Housman has been serving the district as a member of the Green Hills AEA staff for quite some time and will now serve the district as a school counselor. We are very excited to have each of them back on our staff and part of the Shenandoah CSD family.

We have had a few board work sessions this summer to discuss facility planning and how we might be able to finance some of our needs. This week the board reviewed a fairly comprehensive list of general projects that can be financed using SAVE funds that will improve the overall condition of the building. Additionally, the board discussed the need to repurpose part of the existing high school to create classrooms to support STEM instruction and build two additions. One addition would include space for the Career Technical Education programs, and the second would consist of an auxiliary gym. It is anticipated the cost of the STEM renovation and two additions will require a bond issue. The board is carefully reviewing the steps that are necessary to borrow against the district's SAVE funds and also what is required to have a bond election.

We are continuing to work on refining the plan, budgeting, and reviewing potential sources of revenue with the hopes to have accurate information pulled together within a short amount of time to share with the public. Creating this plan has been a lengthy process, but I am pleased with the efforts of everyone who has been involved in continuing to work and commit their time.   

This is not something the Board can decide on their own merit. Issuing General Obligation Bonds for the STEM Renovation, CTE Addition, and Gym addition will require a public vote. We anticipate continuing to discuss, seek feedback, and refine the budget as we move toward a general obligation bond election in November.  

Every Vote Counts!

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 5th is a big day. It is an election day, and there are important issues on the ballot. It is the first time scho...