School board makes policy updates

Friday, September 16, 2022

LE MARS — Three changes to board policies were made by the Le Mars Community School District Board of Education at its meeting Monday, Sept. 12.

Two of the changes regard open enrollment of students out of and into the district.

A bill signed into law lets Iowa parents enroll their children in any public K-through-12 school at any time. The bill was approved in the final days of the 2022 legislative session.

The two board policies affected are Policy 501.9 – Open Enrollment Transfer Procedures as a Sending District and Policy 501.9.1 - Open Enrollment Transfer Procedures as a Receiving District.

“This past school year, the Iowa Legislature changed the open enrollment laws,” Webner told the board. “They are much more liberal now. There are no more timelines and there are no more ‘good cause’ reasons. Parents can sign open enrollment paperwork at any time during the school year now and don’t need a good cause to do it or be accepted.”

The law went into effect once it was signed by the governor in May.

“In light of that, there are some changes we need to make in our open enrollment policies,” he said.

In both policies, the timeline with a March 1 deadline is no longer valid.

The deadline of Sept. 1 for kindergarten students also needs to be deleted.

In the open enrollment out Policy 501.9, the wording is changed to add “and prekindergarten children enrolled in special education programs and included in the district’s basic enrollment will file in the same manner set forth above.”

Board President Angela Catton questioned how the change in policy will affect planning a district’s budget; the potential influx of students throughout the school year, and how state funding dollars are allocated.

Webner said he has not yet seen the final details on the funding questions.

He did say, the change makes it more “family friendly” as he pointed to a report earlier in the meeting of 11 open enrollment applications approved.

Policy 501.9.1 deals with open enrollment into a district.

“I got rid of any dates and it also states that we need to act on open enrollments within 30 days of receiving the application,” Webner said. “They also did away with the ‘good cause’ so there aren’t many reasons why a school district can say no to someone open enrolling in.

However, there are some reasons and one would be space, that hasn’t changed.

“If we have a grade level that is absolutely packed with students, we can deny it. Also, as it says, if we don’t have a special education program for a student that wants to enroll in, we do not have to hire anybody and we can deny that open enrollment if we do not have that program,” he continued.

Still in effect, but now for students in grades 9 through 12, is the will not be eligible for participation in varsity interscholastic athletics during the first 90 days of open enrollment into the school district (not counting summer school) unless an exception applies allowing immediate eligibility under Iowa Administrative Code 281 – 36.15(280).

“For sports, this basically means the first 90 days,” Webner said.

However, he noted the state has it spelled this out that if both districts agree that the student can start participating and they meet academic eligibility, they may participate.

The third policy change was for Code 701.5, Food Service Procurement, and deals with micro-purchasing.

The district’s policy defined a micro-purchase not to exceed $3,500.

“The Department of Education strongly recommends that we increase that to $10,000, partially because costs have gone up, and also because this ($3,500) is a little out of date,” Webner said. “This means we would not need to receive competitive bid quotes for anything under $10,000.”

This means if the food service directors gets in a bind, and needs to order food she knows she can go and get it and not take bids, but that is a rarity, according to Webner.

Webner recommended approval of the legally mandated policy changes to policy 501.9 and 509.1.1, as well as the change to the food procurement policy.

Because these are revisions, the board only needed to approve the changes, rather than hold a series of policy readings.

Board members unanimously approved the changes to the three policies.

The board also acted on an addendum to the agenda on the superintendent’s recommendation of exclusion from the high school for a student found to be in violation of board policy 502.3.2.

According to Webner, the student and family have waived their right to a hearing with the board and accept the superintendent’s recommendation.

The board unanimously approved the exclusion agreement for Student A through Nov. 15, 2022.

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