A new online virtual platform will be introduced to all students with the start of the new school year, it was learned Monday, July 16, at the meeting of the West Liberty Community School District Board of Education.
“Edgenuity” will be introduced to any families of students wishing to continue or take on virtual education this school year, from kindergarten through senior in high school.
Edgenuity will provide their own teachers, making it easier on the present school faculty who will not be required to teach virtually as they were last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic when students were forced to learn virtually on several occasions while some chose to have virtual education the entire year. Others took on a hybrid model of both live and virtual education when it was available.
But the district is hoping to get things more back to normal this school year, although officials are unsure how many students might take on the new Edgenuity, a platform many school districts have contracted with to take on the virtual education portion for students desiring it. Virtual education will be paid for through federal ESSER funding, set up with COVID-10 relief funding as the district will be charged $1,500 a semester for K-15 students while sixth through 12th grade students will cost the district $200 a class.
New superintendent of schools Shaun Kruger said while older students may not need assistance, it was recommended the younger students, grades five and younger, have parental support while learning virtually.
He said students needing computers to learn virtually would be offered the same Chromebook laptops used last year by students. The program is operated through the Mississippi Bend AEA Consortium. Kruger said the only problem with the virtual platform is the face it is on a semester program while West Liberty has trimesters, but said adjustments could be made. No West Liberty teachers will be involved in teaching through Edgenuity.
The district doesn’t anticipate a lot of students taking Edgenuity, but said it makes it much easier on the district in offering the platform to those students interested. Registration of students in the district is beginning on Monday, August 23.
“Our teachers will be able to focus on educating our students here,” Kruger said.
Change in ELC leadership
In other business, the short board meeting, lasting only about 15 minutes, included a number of personnel changes including the resignations of Troy Wulf as seventh grade girls’ basketball coach and Lindsay Meeker as ELC/SPED director, effective July 31. Sarah Wagamon was hired as the new Early Learning Center/Special Education Director for the district.
In her letter of resignation, Meeker, who had been in the position for a year, said she has accepted a “once in a lifetime” opportunity, offering professional development. She offered to provide two training days per school year for the next three years in Kagan Cooperative Learning, noting the district has already paid for that training.
“I truly will miss the staff, kiddos and families so much too,” Meeker said. “West Liberty is a spcial place and I have enjoyed my work here.” She promised to assist with the transition process if needed.
Wagamon graduated from the University of Iowa in Elementary Education, specializing in Reading and Early Childhood Special Education. She earned a Master's degree from the University of Phoenix in Curriculum and Instruction and gained an administration certificate through the Iowa Principal Leadership Academy.
Wagamon has taught for over 15 years, the last 12 years in West Liberty, teaching preschool through second grade, including Preschool Special Education. For the last three years she was an Instructional Coach at West Liberty Elementary School.
A DeWitt native, she now lives in West Liberty with her husband and two children.
“I am so grateful to be able to work here in West Liberty with the amazing staff, students, and families of the Early Learning Center,” Sangamon said. “I value the importance of Early Childhood education and I am looking forward to a great school year!”
New hires in district
There were a number of new hires including Marjorie Polman as custodian, Nick Frenz as Middle School boys’ basketball coach, Blessie Miranda as ELC/High School English as a Second Language teacher, Jacky Centeno as a head start qualified instructor and Leighton Huston as third-grade dual language English teacher.
Also hired was LuAnn Bjork is head start qualified instructor, Megan Hanson as a kindergarten dual language English teacher, Tanisha Steffens as a head start qualified instructor, and Ruben Chavez as junior high wrestling coach.
Tyler Nix was also hired as an assistant wrestling coach for the high school while Michael Hart was hired as a junior high wrestling coach, Becca Moore as the dance coach for the high school and Mikayla Heick as football cheerleading coach for the high school.
In fundraising request, Jason Iske asked the board for his high school football team members to help park cars and provide security during the Muscatine County Fair to earn $3,000 to be used for team camp and equipment needs as well as team meals and camp registration fees.
Iske also made a request for the 50 members of his high school teams to sell discount tickets for an Ace Fundraiser, hoping to make $8,000 to be used for equipment, cardio and visual field needs, travel, coaching clinics, meals, player development, facility upgrades and coaching materials.
The boys basketball, wrestling and football programs would also benefit from a Comet Open Golf Tournament fundraiser to be held Aug. 21, where coaches James Laughlin, Jason Iske and Ian Alke are hoping to raise about $10,000 at West Liberty Golf & Country Club for player development, equipment, software, hotel rooms, coaching clinics, camp fees, transportation costs and facility improvements.
The board approved all three requests.
Iske also won approval for an overnight trip request for about 25 members of the high school football team to attend a team camp at Simpson College in Indianola for skill development and team building. Seven coaches would be attending as well.
The board will meet again on Monday, Aug. 2, beginning at 7 p.m. when they will get an enrollment update following most of registration of students, review faculty usage fees, get a superintendent report from Shaun Kruger, hear an FFA update from advisor Zach Morris as well as review and set legislative policies for the district.