January 2021 School Leader Update

school leader update - a monthly journal for iowa educators

January 2021

Teaching through change

Director Ann Lebo, Iowa Department of Education

Change can happen faster than we think, and when it’s least welcomed, but the lasting impact is often less about what happens than it is about what we do with it. Right now we are living with change almost daily, so each day we are rethinking what to do next. While daunting, there is also great opportunity to reimagine each next step as we move forward within this reality.

Teaching and learning during a year with so much change has served as an important reminder of the essential services our schools provide and the impact their absence has on students, families and communities. 

During last month’s Children’s Behavioral Health System State Board meeting, I heard first-hand how Iowa families rely on these essential services and how the delivery of critical mental health and support services has been disrupted. Their stories highlight the breadth of services schools provide to students and should incite us all to reimagine better ways to serve our students and families as a collective school community.

What happens outside of the classroom has a substantial impact on students in the classroom, which is why it is so important to focus on the health of the whole child. Access to nutritious meals as well as social, behavioral and mental health services are all a part of supporting the overall well-being of our students. 

Important new Teach Iowa update

Teach Iowa logo

In November the Iowa Department of Education transitioned to the new platform for Teach Iowa. All components of the Teach Iowa system can still be accessed using http://teachiowa.gov.

In preparation for the upcoming spring/summer months that tend to be busy with hiring, it is recommended that all employers who are using the free statewide Teach Iowa application and applicant tracking system ensure their account is established and that they have practiced creating and posting positions in the system. If you are interested in accessing the training videos provided for the hiring managers, and human resource directors, log on to your account, and access the videos under Teach Iowa Training Resources tab.

PowerSchool, our vendor for the new Teach Iowa, has created unique web links that will direct potential applicants to specific district, Area Education Agency, and nonpublic job postings. Employers who did not receive their link should contact Karine Cyrenne at karine.cyrenne@powerschool.com  or Julie Stremski at julie.stremski@powerschool.com prior to Dec. 30.

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More equity webinars added - update your calendars

Equity Series Logo

It’s again time to update your calendars for the Iowa Department of Education’s webinar series Social Justice and Equity in Education. All webinars run from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Preregistration is necessary. Upcoming topics include:

Jan. 7, 3 p.m., Viewing Homeless Education Programs Through An Equity Lens 

Jan. 21, 3 p.m., Supporting Our Migrant Students

Feb. 4, 3 p.m., Youth Voice, Education, and What Actually Works

Feb. 18, 3 p.m., Creating Restorative Schools and Classrooms

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Student Reporting in Iowa reminders

Reminder graphic

What better way to celebrate the New Year than to work on your Winter Student Reporting in Iowa (SRI)?

Just a few reminders:

  • The primary focus of Winter SRI is curriculum – courses offered and taught
  • All SRI districts and buildings are expected to submit and certify data
  • Only courses assigned to the accreditation area of Career Tech Ed (CTE)
          will carry onto the Secondary CTE Reporting Application    
  • Certification deadline is Jan. 29

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New bullying and harassment online training available

Bullying diagram graphic showing elements of bullying

The Iowa Department of Education is releasing a new Bullying and Harassment Area Education Agency Online Module in January 2021. This is the first release of ongoing work for Iowa and is accessible at Bullying/Harassment Prevention and Intervention - Foundations.

The Department, in collaboration with Area Education Agencies, University of Northern Iowa’s Mentors in Violence Prevention and Dr. Chad Rose, Associate Professor and Director of Mizzou Ed Bully Prevention Lab, University of Missouri, created an integrated, multi-tiered approach to the bullying dynamic. The work supports Iowa’s Differentiated Accountability (DA) model designed to provide support and compliance with state and federal laws for continuous improvement.

The module is created for individual, 30-45 minute sessions and supports Iowa Law 280.28 (4a.) “Provide training on anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies to school employees and volunteers who have significant contact with students.” For questions or feedback, contact Terese Jurgensen at terese.jurgensen@iowa.gov or 515-326-5378.

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Nonpublic consultation agreements for Title programs

Adult on webinar using laptop.

Nonpublic consultation agreement meetings for 2021-22 Title program services must be held between Jan. 1 and March 15. Districts are required to submit agreements through the Consolidated Accountability and Support Application (CASA) no later than March 15.

The Iowa Department of Education will be hosting a technical assistance webinar on Thursday, Jan. 14, at 3:30p.m. for districts and nonpublics. This webinar will introduce all Title programs and the explain the possibility of transferring funds for use under another Title program. Additional details will be provided to superintendents, school business officials and nonpublic head administrators via email on Monday, Jan. 4. For questions, contact Steve Crew at steve.crew@iowa.gov or 515-326-1029.

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STOP School Violence Prevention and Mental Health Training Program

Student hiding face in hands

The Department is accepting applications from districts to participate in a training grant through the U.S. Department of Justice’s STOP School Violence Prevention and Mental Health Training Program. The federal funding is intended to help schools prevent and respond to acts of violence and respond to students who face mental health challenges. 

Iowa’s project has three objectives:

  • Train teachers and school employees to respond to threats of violence and to prevent violence in schools. Training content will align with school emergency plans.
  • Train school staff, area education agency staff, and community members to respond to students who may be struggling with mental health or addiction.
  • Educate students on preventing violence against themselves and others.

To learn more, register to attend an informational webinar on Jan 19, at 3 p.m., or contact Nancy Hunt at nancy.hunt@iowa.gov or 515-326-1031. To participate in the training, complete an application.

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News to Know Webinar: School Nutrition Procurement Plan

Student meal tray with food.

The January News to Know webinar for School Nutrition Professionals will be focusing on preparing for the School Year 2021-22 procurement cycle. The webinar will be held on Monday, Jan. 25 from 2-3 p.m.

During the current public health emergency, the United States Department of Agriculture allowed School Food Authorities to extend food suppliers contracts with contract duration periods ending on or around June 30, 2020 to use a non-competitive proposal to negotiate contracts. These contracts are limited to one-year duration only and will expire on June 30, 2021.

In this webinar, we will discuss the documents you will need and the steps to update your current procurement plan.  We will answer questions as you navigate procurement during a pandemic. The procurement plan is a required part of the 2021-22 Organization Application Packet on IowaCNP.

Register now for the January News to Know webinar.

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New guidance from the United States Department of Agriculture

School cafeteria worker serving food

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released guidance to the State Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Child Nutrition agencies indicating that Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) will be made available again during School Year 2020-21.

The Iowa Department of Education is working closely with the Iowa Department of Human Services to submit a plan to the USDA for this project. Through P-EBT, eligible school children receive temporary emergency nutrition benefits loaded on EBT cards that are used to purchase food. Children who would have received free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Act if their schools were not closed or operating with reduced hours or attendance for at least five consecutive days are eligible to receive P-EBT benefits.  

Due to changes in the 2020-21 USDA P-EBT guidance, the Department's Information and Analysis Service and Nutrition and Health Services Bureaus will be conducting informational webinars on P-EBT data collection early in 2021. The Department will share information as it becomes available.   

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Iowa College and Career Readiness Academy registration now open

Iowa College and Career Readiness logo

Registration is now open for the January session of the Iowa College & Career Readiness Academy. These professional development courses are offered for license renewal, graduate credit, or for no credit (free).

The Academy was developed by Iowa College Aid and represents a partnership with AEA Learning Online, AEA PREP, and the Iowa Department of Education. The Iowa School Counselor Association (ISCA) has formally endorsed the Academy as well.

Participants may earn a College Access Professional Certificate by completing 101-301, a College Access Specialist Certificate (101-501), and an Equity digital badge by completing 601.

See the full 2020-21 course schedule at IowaCollegeAid.gov/Academy or contact Megan Sibbel at megan.sibbel@iowa.gov.

Courses beginning on January 11 include:




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Guidance issued on changes impacting full-time enrollment through Senior Year Plus Programs

High school students in library

New guidance was released by the Iowa Department of Education for school districts and community colleges which addresses changes impacting full-time enrollment through Senior Year Plus programs.

Legislation, which was passed during the 2020 legislative session under House File 2629 (Future Ready Iowa Act), amended provisions of the Senior Year Plus program by eliminating references and provisions relating to full-time and part-time postsecondary enrollment. Students are now eligible to enroll through the school district in concurrent enrollment and/or the postsecondary enrollment options program (PSEO) even if the student exceeds 23 credits at any one eligible institution within an academic year. There is no longer a statutory limit on the number of credits in which a student may enroll.

Contact Jen Rathje at jennifer.rathje@iowa.gov or 515-326-5389

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Annual upload for Secondary Career and Technical Reporting Application (SCTERA)

Iowa CTE logo

The annual upload for the Secondary Career and Technical Reporting Application (SCTERA) courses in a program begins Jan.4 and is to be completed by Jan 31. A state initiative in Iowa’s Perkins V state plan is the reporting of student participation in work-based learning courses. Refer to the following resources for how to report your work-based learning courses:

Reporting District Work-Based Learning

After your winter Student Reporting in Iowa (SRI) file is complete and uploaded, follow the SCTERA Reporting guidance handbook.

Note: SRI cannot be certified until SCTERA is completed. The Bureau of Career and Technical Education will be holding a virtual ZOOM training webinar to walk through the steps on how to complete the report. This training webinar will be held Wednesday. Jan 6, 10-11 a.m.

Register for this training webinar.

Drop-in office hours are scheduled for assistance and Q & A. Contact Matt Eddy at matthew.eddy@iowa.gov or 515-281-3080 for ZOOM details:

Jan. 7,  7:30-8:30 a.m.

Jan. 14, 3-4 p.m.

Jan. 21, 7:30-8:30 a.m.

Jan. 28, 3-4:00 p.m.

For questions, contact Jeffrey Fletcher at Jeffrey.fletcher@iowa.gov or 515-321-7309.

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Statewide initiative: College and Career Transition Counselor

High school counselor meeting with student.

The Bureau of Career and Technical Education in partnership with Iowa College Aid and Area Education Agency Postsecondary Readiness and Equity Partnership (AEA PREP) will be offering an informational webinar on Jan. 27, from 3 to 4 p.m. for community colleges and school districts interested in creating a College and Career Transition Counselor (CCTC) position. The CCTC will work directly through the community college and secondary schools to support college transition and career exploration for students in grades 11 and 12. 

Financial support will be provided by the Iowa Department of Education, Bureau of Career and Technical education. Grant recipients will receive funding for a three-year period of time to support and expand the CCTC positions across the state. 

Read about the program in action at Muscatine Community College, Louisa-Muscatine Community School District and Columbus Community School District.

Interested individuals should register to attend the informational webinar. For more information contact Katy Blatnick-Gagneat katy.blatnick-gagne@iowa.gov  or 515-281-8553.

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Iowa Visiting Teachers from Spain Program

Spanish teacher with elementary grade students.

The Iowa Visiting Teachers from Spain Program enables foreign teachers to have the opportunity to teach in an accredited school in the United States under a J-1 Visa for up to three years. This provides local school districts and accredited nonpublic schools with the opportunity to fill vacant Spanish and dual language teaching positions. 

Local institutions are responsible for ensuring that exchange visitors and their host schools abide by the strict program rules and requirements established by the U.S. Department of State and Homeland Security. Teachers are hired in accordance with all other local policies in terms of salary scale, licensure, and local system requirements. 

The Iowa Department of Education is now taking applications for the 2021-2022 school year. Go to the Visiting Teachers from Spain webpage to find information about the program and the 2021-2022 IAVTS application. Applications are due March 5.

For more information, contact Isbelia Arzola at isbelia.arzola@iowa.gov or 515-326-5962. 

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Iowa Arts Education Data Project now live

Arts Education Data Project graphic logo

The Iowa Arts Education Data Project showcases Iowa’s arts education data through a user-friendly, interactive dashboard. The dashboard is intended to promote meaningful dialogue around arts education across the state and to encourage equitable and data-driven decisions by schools, districts, educators, community members, and policymakers that support a well-rounded education for all Iowa students.

The Iowa Arts Education Data Project displays high school course and enrollment data by fine arts discipline - dance, music, theatre, visual arts, and media arts/other - as well as by grade level, gender, and building-majority race/ethnicity and Free and Reduced Lunch status. Stakeholders can use the data to determine areas of strength as well as areas of need. By providing a variety of demographic lenses as well as various grain sizes by which to view the data - state, Area Education Agency region, district, and school - the dashboard provides compelling snapshots of fine arts education access and opportunities across Iowa.

The dashboard was scheduled to go live on April 1, but the original launch was postponed due to the pandemic. Districts and schools had an extended early viewing window from March until May.

Visit the Iowa Department of Education Fine Arts webpage to view the dashboard, accompanying resources, and to learn more about the Iowa Arts Education Data Project, or contact Angela Matsuoka at angela.matsuoka@iowa.gov or 515-782-7296.

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Child and Adult Care Food Program Local Food Makes Cents

Iowa Farm to School Early Care Coalition logo

Partners within the Iowa Farm to School and Early Care Coalition have been awarded a Farm to Early Care and Education Implementation Grant (FIG) from the Association of State Public Health Nutritionists (ASPHN).   One of the grant strategies focuses on improving child nutrition by investing in Iowa agriculture through a Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) incentive pilot. The pilot, Local Food Makes Cents: For Iowa Kids and Farmers will include offering over $40,000 to eligible centers and home providers participating in the CACFP to purchase local foods from Iowa farmers, food hubs and farmers markets.

Register to join an informational webinar scheduled for Friday, Dec. 18, at 9 a.m.  The webinar will provide an overview of the project and timeline, application information, and time for questions from interested sites and partners. A webinar recording will be available for future viewing. The application process is expected to launch in January.

Contact Patti Delger at patti.delger@iowa.gov or 515-281-5676 with questions.

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Iowa Department of Education
400 E 14th Street
Grimes State Office Building
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Ph: 515-281-5294