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Superintendent’s Update

Posted April 09, 2013 in Community Blogs, Norwalk

Dear Patrons,

Norwalk Turns 4A in many activities 

Those of you who have shared this long journey toward 4A can mark another milestone for Norwalk.  Activities Director Al Lammers announced those sports and activities which will be moving to 4A.  Several years ago, a former Warrior asked warned me to “watch out for 4A”.  After our recent success and facility upgrades, I think that “4A needs to watch out for Norwalk”.  In many activities, we have been competing against Iowa’s 4A schools already and doing quite well.  Please read Al Lammers article in our school newsletter for more details.

The School Levy is Reduced

The school board has been able to reduce the levy for Norwalk School District taxpayers for eight of the last nine years.  The levy has dropped from $22.85 in 2005 to $19.65 for the coming year.   That is a reduction of $3.20 over that time.  We hope that our services and quality have simultaneously increased over that time.   We have tried to focus on making good, efficient decisions for our students and our taxpayers.  Please catch Kate Baldwin’s article on our website.

The New Calendar is on the on school website:  More professional development time for teachers

When the state began having conversations about increasing the number of contact minutes for students along with increases in the required professional development time, change was inevitable.  Mark Crady has done an excellent job leading a School Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC) parent group, surveying parents, listening to our staff, examining state requirements from our last State of Iowa Site visit, doing comparability studies of other districts and much more.  His report is found later in this newsletter.  The new calendar will have early outs on each Wednesday beginning at 1:00 and 1:30.  This time will be used to meet the increased state requirements of the Iowa Core, training in the new state assessments, professional development and building level strategies.  I realize the inconvenience that this will create for families.  I regret that.  However, to meet the new state requirements, we will have to become more like other neighboring districts in our comparability group.  Mark’s creative work with the calendar also increased on-task student contact time. A final regret is Mark’s impending advancement to a “Zone Coordinator’s Position” at AEA 11.  We will be studying several models to replace the Curriculum Director position in the next few weeks.  Good luck to Mark!

Andy Mogle is Iowa’s Family and Consumer Science Instructor of the Year

A week ago, I received a notification that Andy Mogle has been selected to receive the Family and Consumer Science Teacher of the Year Award.  This award, along with Andy’s Teacher of the Year Award, puts him among the most honored teachers in Iowa.  Andy will be honored at a luncheon on Saturday April 6th at Central Campus.  Andy joins a growing number of Norwalk educators honored with statewide awards over the last two years.  That includes Iowa Principal of the Year Dale Barnhill, Iowa Central Office Administrator of the Year Mark Crady, Iowa Technology Leader of the Year Tim Geyer and Iowa Teacher of the Year Charity Campbell.  Norwalk is honored to have a staff of such high quality.

School Improvement Advisory Committee   

Tuesday April 9th we have our SAIC end of the year meeting.  Fifteen parent groups will finalize reports and share them at this meeting.   Groups include Gifted and Talented, Title 1 Reading, Multicultural Gender Fair, Activities and Recreation, Special Education and many others.  Feel free to attend.  If you would like to participate next year, please email my administrative assistant, Melissa at to get on the list.


The district has “closed” on our new central office south of town

The building is the former “chiropractor’s center” on the corner of Highway 28 and Wright Road.  The address is 380 Wright Road.  Thanks to owner Kim Reuter for being gracious and reasonable with the entire process.  The site will provide office space and storage space for years into the future.  Anyone looking for a turn-of-the-century brick building for a reasonable price?  Call central office with any leads.

A new Principal for Oviatt: 

The Norwalk School Board has approved Sheila Taylor as the next Oviatt principal.  After a very intensive search, consensus was found by all four Oviatt interview teams.  Sheila is a principal in the Morton School District In Illinois.  Sheila has a wide range of experiences in education.  She taught for 5 years in Adair Casey at the elementary level and coached.  She served 16 years as an administrator in Boone, Knoxville Illinois, and Morton Illinois.  Her present district is comparable to Norwalk and she works at the largest neighborhood school in Morton.  She has 66 staff members (certified and classified) and 455 students.  Her school was recently an Illinois nominee for the National Blue Ribbon Schools Award.  Lincoln has been honored with the Illinois’ Academic Excellence Award eight years in a row.   Lincoln hosts the district’s only early childhood program and the only primary and intermediate programs for challenged learners.  A recent work transfer for her spouse made it possible for Sheila to return to her home state, Iowa.
Background: Sheila has leadership experience in:
-elementary math and reading textbook selection and alignment to the Illinois State Standards and the Common Core
-6 Traits trainer
-Response to Instruction (RTI) trainer
-teacher evaluation planner
-curriculum mapping and master mapping
-oversaw the district at-risk program in Knoxville
-wrote and implemented the Knoxville Illinois technology plan
-implemented an all-day kindergarten program, among other duties.

This hire is the result of weeks of work by many people.  My thanks to:
-an outstanding group of candidates!
-our Oviatt teacher leadership team that studied the Iowa Administrative Standards and created a selection rubric based on Oviatt’s needs and those standards
-our “first cut” team that narrowed 41 candidates to 14 with a rubric
-our second cut team used a more extensive rubric to narrow from 14 to the final 8
-our parent team, teacher team,  classified team and administrative team for their unanimous selection over a period of two days of interviews (during an unexpected snowstorm)

But more than anyone else, I want to thank Laura Sivadge for providing a high bar for leadership at Oviatt.  Additionally, her early announcement provided time to select the most qualified candidates for interview.
Go Warriors!

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