When it comes to risky behavior, there are a few areas where the Waterloo School District can grow, particularly when it comes to how it compares to the state results of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey numbers.
Director of Pupil Services Victoria Kalscheuer had initially discussed the results of the survey, taken during the 2018-2019 academic year by students in grades 6-12, with the school board earlier in the year. She was asked to see how Waterloo compares to other districts, which she presented at the May 11 meeting.
One of the major concerns was the percentage of 2018-2019 seniors who reported texting and driving; 70% reported partaking in this activity while statewide, the overall result was 47.5%.
“This was really one of the critical areas where our guidance and health curriculum we would like to review began,” Kalscheuer said.
She said texting and driving should be addressed in driver’s education, however the district does not provide the program so students must use an outside service.
“I had a student go through online driver’s ed and there wasn’t all that much in that curriculum,” the director of pupil services said.
Board member Kate Lewandowski felt there was a disconnect in teaching high school students to not text and drive in health class, yet students in grades 9-12 do not need to take a health class.
Kalscheuer said the school is looking into how much of a health class high school students should take – be it a half-credit or quarter-credit course.
Other areas Kalscheuer said the district intends to improve is having students feel like they belong, have a teacher who cares about them, and feel they can confide in a teacher. The percentage of last year’s seventh and eighth graders who felt like they belonged was 51%; statewide it was 64%. Forty-two percent of Waterloo students in that age group who felt they had a teacher who cared, versus statewide result 61%; however, 59% of Waterloo students felt they had a teacher they could confide in but across the state, the survey showed 70% believed they could confide in a teacher.
There were plenty of bright spots when compared to the statewide result, such as the number of sixth grade students who wear helmets and felt safe at school, the overall number of students who do not vape, and the percent of students who wear condoms.
Additionally, the pupil services team has created a timeline of action steps, including administering a mental health screener, and reviewing the guidance/health and human growth and development curriculum, to assist in decreasing the number of students participating in risky behavior.
Support staff to receive raise for 2020-2021 school year
The board approved the administration’s recommendation that the district’s support staff all receive a 25-cent per hour increase for next academic year.
“I think it’s important to recognize that we’re in tough times right now and a lot of folks in our community are hurting so it’s not always easy to talk about these types of things at those times,” said Superintendent Brian Henning. “But, I would just advocate that we have good people in our facilities in our district and I would very much like to keep those people.”
He would like the Waterloo School District to provide wages that would encourage support staff to continue working at the schools.
According to Henning, the increase is based on 20019-2020 1.8% CPI increase; when asked about the base increase for teaching staff, he said that was increased by 3%.
District Business Manager Sharon Peterson said the Waterloo School District “stacks up well compared to surrounding districts” in regard to the amount support staff are paid.
The board also:
• Learned the district will not be able to have summer school as it had planned. A survey was to be sent to parents to determine if they would like to have online summer school if that was the only option or if they would prefer an in-person program featuring smaller class sizes.
• Accepted the resignations of intermediate/middle school special education teacher Danielle Donnelly, middle and high school math teacher Keith Setz, and intermediate/middle school teacher Cassie Poehnelt.
•Had a second reading and approved policy 188 in regard to board member participation in meetings via technology and policy 189, allowing for virtual board meetings in emergency situations.
• Approved renewing health insurance with Dean/SSM Health and dental insurance with Delta Dental.