The West Delaware School Board discussed the State of Iowa’s new focus on career readiness and career skills at the June 13 board meeting. With the addition of a portfolio review as a graduation requirement beginning with the Class of 2025, career readiness will be introduced in homeroom classes immediately, according to Superintendent Dr. Kristen Rickey. This approach helps students find meaning and see how the work they’re doing now connects to work they will do in the future, according to Rickey.

The board also discussed a change in the open enrollment deadline, which previously was mid-March. Students will now be able to enroll anytime throughout the school year, causing Rickey to be concerned about the wellbeing of students. She anticipates more transience and more change, both a result of parents being able to pull their students out if there is a disagreement or they don’t like a grade. Interpersonal conflict follows people, said Rickey and she fears some will choose the option to change schools as a way to not accept consequences or avoid conflict. One benefit she can see is “if a kid moves out of district with family, they can stay enrolled in their school.”

Rickey offered an update on her Finland Fulbright experience reflection process. The concepts on her mind are time, trust and respect. Rickey is interested in “building in more time for play,” and wonders if this could improve the state of mental health in children. She is contemplating how to use time differently, as well as how to increase respect for teachers. “Baseball and apple pie here is education there,” said Rickey. On the subject of trust, Rickey offered, “They don’t evaluate teachers but when you think about it, we don’t evaluate doctors or lawyers. They believe everyone is out for the best interest of everyone else.”

The board discussed the facilities’ renovation, and Rickey stressed there are things happening beyond their control, such as supply chain and workforce delays, making the project more challenging. There were issues discovered with a science room window sag and drainage outside the middle school music room where there is currently a big hole in the ground. To Rickey, this is exciting because it means the work is moving forward.

The board approved a new job description and salary for a grounds and maintenance worker, who will be required to get an Iowa Commercial Pesticide Applicator License. Rickey looked at other districts’ pay scale for similar positions. The starting pay will be $14.50 and increase to $17.50 once certified.

Rickey presented ethical dilemma scenarios to the board and asked them to talk about what they thought they should do in each situation. “The biggest challenge of an ethical dilemma is you don’t know you’re in one,” said Rickey. Scenarios included a niece being expelled and two board members having private conversations before a board meeting regarding decisions the board is supposed to make together.

The board is using the jigsaw approach to summer reading instead of all focusing on the same title this summer. Board members will each read a different book and come together in July to share what resonates with them. The selections include “Power of Positive Leadership” and “Miseducated” as well as other books.