District Update
 Winter 2018

Darwin Lehmann
Weather-Related Announcements
Weather-related announcements go out on the app SchoolWay and are sent to KIOW and KIMT. Click here for instructions on how to download the app and use SchoolWay.
New Iowa Test Assessment
Beginning this spring, Iowa's students will take brand new standardized tests, required by the state. They will take the place of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Testing areas include Reading, Language and Writing, Math and Science. Science testing is for grades 5, 8 and 10. Here's a summary of the key changes:

  1. There is an Online Option available for 2108-19. The Paper option is also still available.
  2. Spring is the only testing period (March 4- May 31). There have been two in past years. Forest City has tentatively set the week of March 25 as the start of testing.
  3. The new version of the Iowa Assessment is aligned with the Iowa Core Standards. Forest City Schools has been teaching to the Iowa Core standards for the past 6 years.
  4. There will be a Writing Piece added to Language part of the test. Preparing for the written part of the test has been a focus for our English Language Arts teachers.
  5. The results of the tests will be made available to the district in the fall of 2019. Those results of those tests will mainly focus on student growth, proficiency, and college and career readiness.
  6. Tutorials and practice tests will be made available to help familiarize students and educators with the general functionality of the online test, including navigation and tools.
School will dismiss for the holiday break on Friday, December 21, at 1:50 p.m.(elementary) and 2 p.m. (middle school and high school).

School will resume on Thursday, January 3.

Enjoy all that the holiday season has to offer with your friends and family!
FCHS To Offer Iowa DOT Permit Instruction Tests
Forest City High School to offer “Skip the Trip” Iowa DOT Instruction Permit Knowledge Tests

Do you have a student who is ready to take the operator knowledge test to get an Iowa instruction permit to drive? FCHS is now offering the test right here at school as part of the Iowa Department of Transportation’s “Skip the Trip” program.

In partnering with the Iowa DOT, FCHS can save families time, cost, and the hassle of making a trip to a driver’s license service center for testing. Students will be able to take the web-based test in a more familiar environment that works to reduce test anxiety and increase success rates. Tests are overseen by trained school staff to assure the integrity of test results.

To begin, FCHS will offer the permit tests at dates and times arranged by the proctors (Mr. Ziesmer, HS Guidance Counselor, and Mr. Baker, HS Principal). “Skip the Trip” allows students to take their initial test at school or another approved agency as the first step in getting your student to be a confident driver. Once a student has successfully passed the test, the student will receive an email verifying a successful test.

The student brings a copy of the email to the driver’s license service center along with the other required documentation that will prove their identity to be issued their instruction permit. Service center staff will verify passing test result emails with Iowa DOT records. Visit www.iowadot.gov/mvd/realid/success.asp to determine what documentation to bring with you to receive your student’s permit. 

To prepare for a successful knowledge test, students should study the Iowa Driver’s Manual and online practice test, both available at: https://iowadot.gov/mvd/driverslicense/manuals-and-practice-tests .

To Schedule an exam, please contact: Derek Ziesmer (dziesmer@forestcity.k12.ia.us) or Ken Baker ( kbaker@forestcity.k12.ia.us ), or by phone at: 641-585-2324
Upcoming Parent Learning Event
Free Parenting Workshop:

Helping Kids Develop Self-Control and Resiliency
Join presenter Nancy Prohaska (K-5 Counselor) for this free workshop. This workshop will point out some of the factors that are playing a role in causing today’s kids to be more impatient, bored, friendless, and entitled.

Shared will be easy “ways” to combat these characteristics from happening that will help our kids develop into resilient, self-disciplined and well adjusted young adults.

Childcare is Available FREE of charge at the YMCA during the workshop . All areas will be staffed with supervisors. Childcare for children 6 months-3 years will be in the drop-in child care room. The gym and game room are available for all ages. The pool is available for children that can swim on their own. All Y rules apply. CEU credits are available.

  • Monday January 21, 2019
  • 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
  • Forest City YMCA Multipurpose Room
  • To register, please call the Elementary School at 585-2670. Childcare is available during the workshop (at the YMCA) and it is requested that you let the school know the age(s) of your children that will attend.
  • All attendees will receive a free family day pass (one per family) to the YMCA!
Board of Education Update
From Board President Bruce Mielke...

The Forest City school board participated in the Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB) legislative policy process by talking about the impact of state policy on the district and voting on legislative resolutions for the next legislative session. Each school board prioritizes up to four resolutions. The school board determined that the following priorities for 2019 are critical to students and taxpayers in the school district:

SAVE (Secure an Advanced Vision for Education): Supports repeal of the December 31, 2029 sunset on the statewide penny sales tax for school infrastructure. Supports preserving the integrity of the statewide penny sales tax for school infrastructure including the tax equity provisions in the following manner:
  • No diversions or expansions of allowable uses prior to the current 2029 sunset date;
  • Continued growth in the per pupil amount beyond the 2029 sunset date. 
Supplemental State AID: Supports setting supplemental state aid:
  • For FY 2019, by January 31, 2018;
  • For FY 2020 and future budget years, at least 14 months prior to the certification of the school’s district budgets; and
  • At a rate that sufficiently supports local districts’ efforts to plan, create and sustain world-class schools
  • Supports a formula driven method for establishing the supplemental state aid growth rate if it is not set within the statutory requirements. 
School Funding Policy: Supports a school foundation formula that:
  • Provides sufficient and timely funding to meet education goals:
  • Equalizes per pupil funding;
  • Provides a funding mechanism for transportation costs that reduces the pressure on the general fund and addresses inequities between school districts:
  • Includes factors based on changes in demographics including socio-economic status, remedial programming, and enrollment challenges;
  • Incorporates categorical funding in the formula within three years; and
  • Includes a mix of property taxes and state aid. 
Unfunded Mandates: Opposes any new mandate that does not provide sufficient and sustainable funding for successful implementation.
Reminder: School Board Meetings are held the 2nd Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. (District Office).

Board of Education information is located on our web site under "Departments" as shown in the photo above.
Forest City ESL Program Growing
By Mallory Hartwig, ESL Instructor

Over the last three years, the English as a Second Language (ESL) program has expanded from serving five students to serving twenty-six students K-12.

When placed in the program, students receive instruction over reading, writing, speaking, and listening in English. The district has created an ESL team to partner with ESL students and families to ensure all the needs of families and students are met.
As the ESL instructor, I work with students on building their English proficiency as well as supporting growth in their native languages. I also collaborate with teachers in all three buildings to increase cultural competence and to assist in making modifications and accommodations so our English Learners (ELs) can master the essential learnings in their classrooms. At the elementary level, I also team with Shawn Miller and Lydia Thompson to deliver ESL instruction and to support ELs in the classroom.

Last May, our elementary ESL program received the KIMT Giving Your Best Tools For Schools award. We were able to purchase classroom materials and bilingual books for our students.
Department Spotlight
Maintenance Department

Elementary: Greg Richardson, Nga Truong and Jason Weiss

High School/Middle School: Wes Parks, Brian Hovenga, Inga Nelson, Dan Millard, Dave Chapin, Dan Thorson (not pictured Boyd Eser)
Just like at home, the work is never done for the Forest City Schools maintenance staff. The department of 13 staff plus part-time and summer help maintain about 200,000 square feet of building space and about 80 acres.“We work to ensure students, staff, parents and visitors have a safe and comfortable environment and that our facilities are in the best condition possible,” said Dan Millard, maintenance director.

The department is responsible for maintenance of building systems (electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation/air conditioning etc.), custodial work (cleaning), groundskeeping, ordering supplies and equipment and keeping up with codes and inspections. They do small work repair and provide input and help oversee construction, renovation and major repair projects.

In addition to the school day, the staff is also involved in every school event or function, from set-up to clean-up. “It’s vital to maintain comfortable temperatures, air quality and cleanliness in our schools for everyone involved,” Millard added.

What you may not know is that the staff plays a role interacting and working with students too. From the many hellos, smiles and conversations with kids in a school day, to putting ketchup on an elementary student’s plate, this staff goes above and beyond. Some staff work alongside students and teach them everyday life skills. For many years, this has been an important piece of learning and the staff and students enjoy it. Another thing you may not know is that in the summer, everything is removed from the classrooms, cleaned and put back into place. And one more, is that the staff works on the windmill (a good topic for a future newsletter).

Congratulations and appreciation are extended to the maintenance staff for their outstanding service to students and our schools!
Student Zach and Brian Hovenga
Student Brandon and Greg Richardson
Forest City Education Foundation
Our district is very fortunate to have the Forest City Education Foundation as a partner in education. Last year, the Foundation awarded more than $400,000 in scholarships to 2018 graduates. The Foundation also hosts the academic banquet, sends students to the HOBY Leadership Conference, provides mentoring to students and funds the John Baylor ACT test prep program, called OnToCollege with John Baylor .

After a student completes the prep test course and takes the ACT test, the Foundation reimburses a student's ACT testing fee. The course is held three times per year for students, typically on Wednesdays after school, to coincide with ACT testing periods. This year, the Foundation introduced a new course option during the last period-of-the-day study hall.

During the 2017-18 school year, 51 students completed the course. The district recorded the highest average ACT score on record, 23.6. The national ACT score average for the same period was 20.8 and the state of Iowa average was 21.9.

Thank you to the Foundation for your ongoing support of Forest City students!
Middle School Memory Book Orders
The middle school yearbook staff has been busy on a variety of tasks in the creation of our yearbook. It looks to be full of student activities, portraits, and autographs, to name a few. Although our final product will not be available until May, it is time to get that order in, so each student is guaranteed a yearbook this spring.

If you didn't order a memory book during registration time, students were asked to bring order forms home which contain information about how to purchase online or by cash/check at the middle school office.
2018 memory book example
Technology Tips
It's increasing difficult for parents and educators to keep up with the ways our children are using new and ever changing technologies. In each newsletter issue, Forest City Schools Technology Director, Mike Van Oort, will share information on important digital citizenship topics. Contact Mike with any questions at 585-2324 or mvanoort@forestcity.k12.ia.us.

Click the links below for this issue's Technology Tips!

Photo Gallery
"Gratitude Parade" Thanksgiving STEM activity
Mrs. Taft and Mrs. Egesdal
Students worked in groups to create pictures of things they were thankful for and attached the pictures to balloons. Then the balloons were attached to different types of robots. Students programmed the robots to go through a "parade route" in the hallway to show what they were thankful for.
The Advanced Comp class helped second graders with Chromebook document writings about native Americans. 
Waldorf students greeted middle school students during "High Five Friday"
The Boman Fine Arts Center is open! Performers and spectators love the new facility!
Several students took part in the Veteran's Day program at the Boman Fine Arts Center. Here, Elementary Principal Mr. Jones, talked to first graders about his experience in the service and why it's important to thank Veterans for their service.
Middle School "Motivational Monday" - Illustrating the power of a team (4 chairs or no chairs)
Radon Testing Notification
Student learning and the safety of students, staff and community are priorities for our school. The administration of the Forest City Community School District is providing you with this notification that the second radon screening will be conducted the week of 12/17/2018-12/21/2018 at Forest City Elementary. The testing is not harmful in any way, and there is no need for students, parents and teachers to do anything special in preparation.
Radon testing is required by the State of Iowa in 4-year old preschools/Headstart rooms. Radon is  naturally occurring everywhere,  but, if elevated, can cause an increased risk of lung cancer over the course of a person’s lifetime. Even though testing all school buildings is not required, our district has decided to be proactive and test ALL buildings on a rotating schedule.
To test for radon in the air, kits that look like small envelopes will be used in our learning spaces. It is important these kits are not disturbed, and that exterior windows and doors are kept closed except for normal entry and exit. The envelopes will be left in place for [5] school days.
In the event that elevated levels during occupied hours are found, steps will be taken to correct the issue using methods suggested by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
If you have further questions regarding radon testing, please feel free to contract Darwin Lehmann, Superintendent at 641.585.2323. Thank you, in advance, for your cooperation.
Radon Testing Notification
Forest City Community Schools
(641) 585-2323 District Office 

Kristin Heidemann
Communications Director
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