All Mt. Pleasant students will receive similar diplomas

By KARYN SPORY

Mt. Pleasant News

All Mt. Pleasant students will receive the same diploma, regardless of their educational journey.

Melody Patent, a concerned parent, spoke to the Mt. Pleasant Community School Board during their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, about the Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Patent said according to the language in the police, her daughter, who is currently a junior, would not be offered a diploma, but rather a certificate of completion.

Patent said when she was preparing for the annual IEP meeting; she discovered her daughter wouldn’t be offered a diploma.

“The terminology, up until that point, had not been in her IEP,” said Patent. “I started asking more questions and apparently Mt. Pleasant has never offered a diploma to students on IEP unless they fulfill the requirements for credits like gen-ed (general education) students are required to do.”

Patent said this practice seemed contrary to the idea of an individualized education plan and Mt. Pleasant’s mission of having an inclusive environment and education.

“My daughter is high functioning and very verbal and I believe she can hold several different kinds of jobs in her lifetime, but even an entry level job, like McDonald’s… one of the questions is if you have a high school diploma. If you check no, you cannot proceed with that application,” said Patent.

Even continuing her education at Kirkwood under the VITAL (Vocational Individualized Training and Learning) program, which is designed to help high school special education students succeed in careers, would not be possible without a high school diploma, Patent explained.

“My daughter has made great gains over the last several years and I’m not willing to eliminate the possibility of other kinds of jobs where a diploma would be necessary,” she continued.

Patent asked the board to align the practice with the policy and make positive changes, especially since the policy was on the agenda for a first reading.

Superintendent Dr. Mike Wells said after examining the policy, a second sentence had been added to the policy regarding special education. The policy 602.9, now states all students will receive the same diploma.

“If they meet their IEP goals, it is very clear they will receive a diploma,” said Wells.

Since the additional sentence is a major change, the policy will be receiving two readings, last night’s being the first.

During the meeting, the board also approved the budget for fiscal year 2016

Despite not having a final answer from Iowa Legislature on the Supplemental State Aid (SSA), the board approved a $14.01 per $1,000 taxable valuation.

Ed Chabal, board secretary and school director of finance, said as of right now, the governor and the House have proposed 1.25 percent for FY16, while the Senate is asking for 4 percent.

Chabal said if no agreement is made, the SSA would revert to 0 percent, which is what the budget is based on. The budget was unanimously approved.

The facility committee also presented to the board Monday night about changes they see needing to be made.

Stephanie Zinkle, co-chair of the committee, said the committee settled on eight recommendations. She said although the various recommendations were not unanimous, they did hold a majority of the committee’s vote as items that needed to be done. Zinkle added pricing estimates came from 2013 study.

Recommendations and pricing estimates include:

• Installing air conditioning for each of the elementary schools, $3,189,370

• Safe and secure entryways that requires a scanning system for admittance for each of the elementary schools and high school, $1,126,100

• Security cameras for the elementary schools, $100,000

• All schools be handicap accessible, including all restrooms being ADA complaint and an automatic door for each building, $500,000

• Extended learning spaces for each elementary school, $1,829,900

• An additional gym located at the high school, $2,205,000

• Adding a second exit at the high school for traffic, $150,000

• Allotting $500,000 for athletic renovations at Maple Leaf

The committee recommended extending the revenue purpose statement to pay for the projects.

“This would not be an increase in taxes, but a change in language of the revenue purpose statement to the year 2029,” said Zinkle.

When asked by a board member what would happen if there wasn’t enough money for all eight of the projects, if the committee would rather drop one project or just not do as much with all eight, Zinkle responded that would be a decision for the board to make.

A resolution approved the revenue purpose statement and ordering an election to authorize expenditures and the state secure and advanced vision for education fund was approved with a 6-1 vote.

In other business, the board approved the 2015-16 student fees and meal prices. Wells stated student fees were staying the same as the current fiscal year and meal prices were increasing by a nickel. The board also approved the 800 and 900 policy series review.

 

 

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