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STC School Board mulls 5th grade move; impact of packing plant

February 17, 2014
By Joyce Wiese - News-Herald Correspondent , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

The South Tama School Board met Monday, Feb. 3, for a work session with discussion centered on possible shift of the 5th grade elementary to Toledo and the effect on enrollment the anticipated opening of the Iowa Premium Beef plant in Tama would have on the schools.

Board members Mark McFate, Anne Michael, Jackie Dvorak and Alan Cline were present with member Michelle Yuska absent.

Discussion items included an update on the 5th grade transition plan and a plan for an English Language Learner Program.

Article Photos

Members of the South Tama School Board: Mark McFate, president and Michelle Yuska, vice president, )seated) and Alan Kline, Anne Michael and Jackie Dvorak.(l-r, standing)
News-Herald file photo

There have been several public meetings held for parents, students and the general public to have input on transferring the fifth grade students from the elementary building in Tama to the Middle School building in Toledo.

Several concerns have been voiced. One is combining fifth grade students with seventh and eighth grade students.

Superintendent Kerri Nelson said fifth grade students would be separate from the older grade students.

Fifth grade students classes would be on the first floor. Lunches would be in four sections, starting at 11 a.m., then staggered on the half-hour through 12:30 p.m.

This would give a half hour for each grade for their lunch. Recess time would be separated.

The question asked: "What would happen if they ran out of room?"

One of the solutions would be to purchase a couple of portable classrooms. This left many questions on how this would work?

Another thing to be considered is the condition of the restrooms in the Toledo building.

They are not in the best of shape and adding more students would most likely require some remodeling in this area.

Other questions raised included -"Who would fifth graders socialize with? What about before and after school mixing? Would fifth graders still have their Christmas Concerts? What about library space, and the intermingling of students in the library?

The English Language Learner Program discussed came about due to the Packing Plant planning on opening yet this summer.

Word received on the opening of the packing plant would include hiring up to 600 workers, which could mean some 600 new families in Tama, Toledo and vicinity, and would most likely bring a number of new students to South Tama.

It is assumed the majority of these students would need special instruction on the English language, as many would most likely not speak English.

Discussion was on using the Partnership center as a center for English Language learning center. The first floor could be used to teach children, and possibly some room on the second floor to teach adults.

When asked where funding for this program would come from, Superintendent Nelson said the State of Iowa has some special funding for this type of program.

This promoted related questions: "How will integrating these students into the regular classroom affect the students already in the classroom? Will this take teaching time away from the students already established? Will this require extra teachers and how many? Will the state cover this cost?

Nelson said she would like to see the Partnership center turned into a Welcoming Center. Nelson said there are several things to be considered and would take some time to work out all the solutions.

She felt the school district and personnel were very capable of finding the best solutions to both of the above discussed items.



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