June 2021 School Leader Update

school leader update - a monthly journal for iowa educators

June 2021

Celebrating successes and preparing for opportunities ahead

Director Ann Lebo, Iowa Department of Education

As we close out this school year, I am grateful for the hard work of our school administrators, educators and staff who pulled together to help our students, families and each other. You found new ideas and inspiration through each challenge and accomplished more than you thought possible. For all of that, and so much more, I want to simply say thank you.

I encourage each of you to find time to reflect, disconnect, and recharge over the summer and look forward to the opportunities that lie before us to reimagine how we support students and our schools. Leveraging all that we learned this past year and prioritizing our resources will help us drive our educational priorities moving forward. 

To address some of our highest need state-level educational challenges, a comprehensive and coordinated network of professional learning, training, coaching and support will help ensure schools have the resources and support needed to meet the needs of students and families.

NOTE: School Leader Update is transitioning to a quarterly publication. Future issues will be published in August, November, February and May.

New course offerings coming to Iowa e-Learning Central; existing courses will be retired on July 1

Iowa E-learning Central logo

Work is moving full steam ahead for a summer launch of a new Iowa e-Learning Central website, which will include an online repository of courses developed by Iowa teachers, an updated resource library as well as a student/course exchange to facilitate sharing of online courses across districts. The new website will replace the current Iowa e-Learning Central Google site.

In preparation for the launch and the availability of newly developed course content for the 2021-22 school year, the Department will retire courses that are currently available for download or listed within the Iowa e-Learning Central Canvas Commons Consortium on July 1. Schools that have already downloaded and are using these courses can continue to do so, although there will be no additional updates or support provided.

More information, including descriptions of the new course, will be shared throughout the summer.

Refer to the Iowa e-Learning Central fact sheet for more information.

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Some families eligible for discounted broadband service

Broadband image

Families whose children participate in the free or reduced-price lunch and breakfast programs at school may qualify for a $50-a-month discount on broadband internet service under a temporary program administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In addition, Pell Grant recipients may be eligible for the discount, as well.

Households with a child who has received approval for benefits under the under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) or the School Breakfast Program (SBP), including a child who attends a school participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years are now eligible for the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB Program). Pell Grant recipients, who are usually undergraduates with exceptional financial need, also qualify for the FCC’s EBB Program to help pursue postsecondary education if they received their grant during the 2020-21 award year.

In addition, each participating household may also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 for one connected device – a laptop, desktop, or tablet computer – where available from a participating broadband provider, as long as the household contributes between $10 and $50 towards the cost of the device.

Eligible families of K-12 students and eligible Pell Grant recipients can apply for the discount online, via mail, or through a participating service provider. Eligible households can find participating internet service providers in their area by entering their zip code into the Companies Near Me tool.

Learn more.

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IDEA Data Profiles available

Woman working on laptop computer

IDEA Part B Data Profiles for districts and area education agencies are available on EdInsight and redacted versions are posted to the Iowa Department of Education’s website.

IDEA Part C Data Profiles for area education agencies are also posted on the Iowa Department of Education's website.

For more information contact:

Part B – Courtney Clement at courtney.clement@iowa.gov or 515-971-7687

Part C – Kate Small at kate.small@iowa.gov or 515-281-5437

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Spring Student Reporting in Iowa season reminders

Reminder notice.

Below are some Spring Student Reporting in Iowa (SRI) season reminders:

  • Get your data onto SRI as soon as possible so you can start reviewing your reports. Pay special attention to:
    • Non-fall Supplementary Weighting
    • Graduates
    • Attendance/Absenteeism
    • In-School and Out-of School Suspensions and Expulsions.
  • View the recorded webinar on Spring SRI 
  • Spring SRI Certification deadline is June 23

Save the Date:   Cedar Connect New User Trainings will be offered Tuesday, Aug. 31 and Wednesday, Sept. 1. If you have new staff working with SRI collections in Cedar Connect, or staff that need refreshers – plan on having them attend one of these sessions.  More details and registration will be made available in August.

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Assessment Accountability: A reminder to public districts

Deadline clock image.

The deadline for certifying your participation for Partial Academic Year (PAY) and subgroups on the Assessment Accountability application is June 24. Districts will want to get data into Student Reporting in Iowa (SRI) before reviewing this application since participation and PAY are calculated based on students’ enrollment entries and exits. 

For questions on Assessment Accountability, contact an SRI consultant.

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Meal flexibilities for next school year

School lunch on tray

The United States Department of Agriculture has extended a number of nationwide child nutrition waivers through the 2021-22 school year. These waivers will allow many of the service models implemented over the past year to continue through next school year, including the distribution of multiple meals at one time.

The waivers will also provide needed flexibility for alternative service models within schools, like meals in the classroom. Schools may continue serving free meals to all students at the higher Summer Food Service Program reimbursement rate based on the waiver allowing all schools, regardless of location, to operate the Seamless Summer Option through SY21-22.

Marketing is one of the most effective tools for increasing participation in school meals. Promoting school meals on a regular basis can remind families that school meals are something that they can rely on. No Kid Hungry has launched a School Meals Marketing Toolkit, that includes a variety of both ready to use and customizable resources in English and Spanish.

Read more about the USDA Child Nutrition COVID-19 Waivers

Read more about the School Meals Marketing Toolkit

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School nutrition summer training

School nutrition employee preparing food

Registration is open for the Bureau of Nutrition and Health Services virtual summer training series. Sessions are free and count towards the required School Nutrition Professional Standards training hours. Encourage your school nutrition team to participate.

For full session descriptions and registration information visit: School Meals Education Events Webpage.

  • Introduction to School Nutrition Leadership: July 6, 12, 19, and 26
  • Manager’s Update: July 27
  • Meal Pattern Essentials: July 28
  • Culinary – A Fresh Approach to School Nutrition: July 29
  • New Director Networking: August 2
  • School Nutrition Records: August 3
  • Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN) Training Day: August 4
    • Emergency Preparedness
    • Food Production & Operation Management
    • Key Performance Indicators
    • Special Dietary Needs
    • Procurement & Inventory Management
  • HACCP (Food Safety) for School Nutrition August 5

For questions, contact Jean Easley at jean.easley@iowa.gov or 515-360-5149.

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Agricultural Educators Conference, June 28-30

Adult with agriculture student checking plants

Encourage agriculture instructors to attend the Agricultural Educators Conference, scheduled for June 28-30, at the FFA Enrichment Center on the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) campus in Ankeny. The conference is supported by the Iowa Department of Education.

The Agriculture Education program component termed SAE’s (Supervised Agriculture Experiences) are taking on a new look. SAE’s are a student-led, instructor-supervised, work-based learning experience that results in measurable outcomes within a predefined, agreed upon set of standards and career ready practices aligned to the Agriculture Career Plan of Study.

Training is being made available to all agriculture instructors because work-based learning is an important topic that is covered by Future Ready Iowa, STEM, and Perkins V. 

Other Conference topics will include:

  • Perkins V updates including allowable expenditures;
  • Self-Study breakouts workshops;
  • Activity account best practices;
  • Industry interactions.

For questions, contact Matthew Eddy at matthew.eddy@iowa.gov or 515-281-3080.

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STOP School Violence Prevention and Mental Health Training Program

STOP school violence hand

The Iowa Department of Education 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 funding is intended to help schools prevent and respond to acts of violence and support 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.

Options for training include: October 2021, December 2021 and February 2022. To learn more, view the information slide deck or contact Nancy Hunt at nancy.hunt@iowa.gov or 515-326-1031. Schools interested in the training should complete an application to participate.

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Preparing for Fall 2021 myIGDIs Administration

Preschool boy writing at desk.

After a year of educational challenges, myIGDIs can be used in the fall as valuable instructional information for 4-year-olds in Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program classrooms. If your school district did not administer myIGDIs during the current school year, consider signing up to administer myIGDIs in the fall.

Districts and their community partners that administered myIGDIs during the current year do not need to complete the interest form again. In the fall (after system rollover), login to myIGDIs and verify the number of seats you have. Contact Heather Miller at Heather.Miller@renaissance.com if additional seats will be needed. It is strongly recommended to register and attend a webinar live to support myIGDIs rostering on one of the dates below:

June 17 (10 – 10:30 a.m.) 
July 13 (10 – 10:30 a.m.) 
August 3 (1 – 1:30 p.m.)

For more information, contact Jennifer Adkins at jennifer.adkins@iowa.gov or 515-954-5652.

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Choose Iowa Student Culinary Competition results are in!

Chicken Lo Mein, 1st Place, Choose Iowa Culinary Competition

The Iowa Department of Education hosted a Choose Iowa Culinary Competition for high school students enrolled in a culinary arts class or foods-based course through a school’s family and consumer sciences program. The concept for the competition was to plan a recipe that featured a local food item and follows the USDA school meal guidelines. Through a competitive review process, the top 12 recipes have been identified:

1st Place: Chicken Lo Mein - Grinnell Newburg CSD

2nd Place: Baked Teriyaki Chicken - Grinnell-Newburg CSD

3rd Place (tie): Cheesy Bacon Grits and Apple Cinnamon Crumb Muffins - Grinnell Newburg CSD  

Remaining top 12 entries:
Chicken Ramen - East Mills CSD
Chicken and Veggie Quesadilla - Grinnell Newburg CSD
Iowa Gourmet Crispito - Dallas Center Grimes CSD
Easy Cheesy Breakfast Bake - Grinnell Newburg CSD
Chicken Tikka Masala - Grinnell Newburg CSD
Super Potstickers - Shenandoah CSD
Snappy Pork Meatballs - Kuemper Catholic
Zucchini Pasta - Grinnell Newburg CSD
Apple Cinnamon Crumb Muffins - Grinnell Newburg CSD

The recipes will be tested and standardized to be used by school nutrition programs. The students that submitted the top 12 recipes were invited to be part of a virtual culinary competition. This project was funded with a USDA Team Nutrition Grant. For more information contact Carrie Scheidel at carrie.scheidel@iowa.gov

Choose Iowa™ is a program of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Pictured: Chicken Lo Mein, 1st Place winner in Choose Iowa Culinary Competition, Grinnell Newburg CSD.

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