DHS Students Host Madrigal Dinner Sunday, January 30

Decorah High School’s 33rd Annual Madrigal Dinner will take place on Sunday, January 30 at 5:00 p.m. at Decorah High School. (Those in attendance should please be seated by 4:50 p.m.) Advanced tickets are $25 each and are available online at https://decorahschools.ludus.com/index.php. To pay with cash or check, people can purchase tickets in the DHS office. Tickets will be sold until noon on Wednesday, January 26.

Seating for this event will be tables that will seat six people. Each ticket includes a meal fit for a King or Queen: wassail punch, field greens salad, herbed focaccia bread, roasted loin of pork with chimichurri sauce, mashed red potatoes, steamed green beans and carrots, assorted cheesecake, and coffee. Advanced orders of vegetarian entrées and gluten-free options are available when purchasing tickets.

Guests will be entertained by music of the Renaissance–performed by vocalists and brass–and the presentation of the comedic play “The Truth Fairy.” The public is invited to join the DHS Music Department on a journey to 16th Century England.

For those who do not feel comfortable participating in the Madrigal Dinner meal, general seating tickets are available to watch the program at the back of the hall at a cost of $10 per person.

Please contact Jason Rausch at Decorah High School with any questions.

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Decorah Board of Education Provides an Update on Superintendent Hiring Process

January 14, 2022

Decorah, IA – The Decorah Schools Board of Education would like to provide an update on the superintendent hiring process. The board recently met with Dr. Trent Grundmeyer and Roger Wilcox with Grundmeyer Leader Services to review the candidate pool. The position was posted from December l to January 2 and resulted in nineteen candidates.
The candidate pool included one out-of-state candidate. There were seventeen male candidates and two female candidates. Five of the candidates hold a terminal degree (Ed.D. or Ph.D.), while nine have three or more years of administrative experience.
All nineteen candidates were presented to the Board of Education in closed session on January 11. After the review of candidates’ application materials, references, licensure verification, and social media, five candidates were selected for screening interviews that will take place on January 26. The screening process will allow the board to further evaluate the candidates’ qualifications for the position and narrow the process to three finalists.
The search consultants will set up and facilitate the screening interviews and finalists will be publicly named shortly after the screening interviews take place.
The desired qualifications that were identified from the stakeholder survey will continue to drive the hiring process. Those desired qualifications included:

• Is approachable, accessible, and welcoming
• Recruits, hires, supports, develops, and retains effective staff members
• Demonstrates collaborative leadership
• Demonstrates ethics and integrity
• Promotes a community of care and support for students
• Possesses strong communication skills
• Follows through on tasks and responsibilities
• Builds community and school relations
• Strong instructional leader

The board will soon reach out to community members to serve on the team conducting formal interviews with the finalists, which will take place on Monday, Feb. 7. The new superintendent will begin leading the Decorah Community Schools effective July l, 2022.

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DHS/DMS Teacher-Librarian Shannon Horton Winner of “I Love My Librarian” Award

January 10, 2022

Today the American Library Association (ALA) announced 10 winners of the coveted “I Love My Librarian Award.”  Decorah High School and Middle School teacher-librarian Shannon Horton was one of 10 chosen from around the country.  Honorees are exceptional librarians from academic, public, and school libraries who were nominated by patrons nationwide for their expertise, dedication, and profound impact on the people in their communities. 

Horton’s nomination included this statement: “She is fiercely dedicated to best practice in all areas of library science, whether that be teaching media literacy, finding ways for students to connect to books, adding more current titles to the collections, or vetting new technology tools to help teachers and students get the most out of their learning experiences.”

“Even in these unprecedented times, our nation’s librarians continue to empower their patrons, promote inclusion in their space and collections, and provide essential services for their communities,” said American Library Association President Patty Wong. “Congratulations to this year’s I Love My Librarian Award winners, who impact the lives of those they serve every day.” 

ALA received more than 1,300 nominations from library users for this year’s award, which demonstrates the breadth of impact of librarians across the country. Hundreds of nominations focused on librarians’ swift and effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, from hosting virtual programs to distributing books and technology safely to those in need. This year’s award recipients include three academic librarians, four public librarians, and three school librarians. 

Honorees will each receive a $5,000 cash prize, a $750 donation to their library, and complimentary registration to ALA’s LibLearnX. The virtual award ceremony will take place during the conference at 3:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022 and will be available to stream live at https://www.youtube.com/user/AmLibraryAssociation

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DCSD Reports Active COVID Cases, Updated CDC Guidance

January 7, 2022

District COVID-19 Active Positive Cases

  • Total number of students and staff in isolation (currently positive) for COVID-19: eleven (11)
  • Current district facilities with known positive cases: Carrie Lee Elementary, Decorah Middle School, Decorah High School

DCSD reports COVID-19 data in alignment with the direction of the Iowa Department of Public Health. The full guidance can be found at the link below.

IDPH Information Sharing Guidance for Schools and Local Public Health

Updated CDC Guidance for K-12 Schools

On January 6, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools. The CDC lists the following key takeaways in the introduction to the new guidance.

Key Takeaways

  • Students benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person instruction continues to be a priority.
  • Vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Promoting vaccination can help schools safely return to in-person learning as well as enable extracurricular activities and sports.
  • CDC recommends universal indoor masking by all students (ages 2 years and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.
  • New CDC guidance has reduced the recommended time for isolation and quarantine periods to five days. For details see CDC’s page on Quarantine and Isolation.
  • In addition to universal indoor masking, CDC recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms to reduce transmission risk. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, such as when schools cannot fully reopen while maintaining these distances, it is especially important to layer multiple prevention strategies, such as screening testing.
  • Screening testing, ventilation, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick and getting tested, contact tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation, and cleaning and disinfection are also important layers of prevention to keep schools safe.
  • Students, teachers, and staff should stay home when they have signs of any infectious illness and should be referred to their healthcare provider for testing and care.
  • This guidance emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies to protect students, teachers, staff, visitors, and other members of their households and support in-person learning.
  • Localities should monitor community transmission, vaccination coverage, screening testing, and occurrence of outbreaks to guide decisions on the level of layered prevention strategies (e.g., physical distancing, screening testing).

In his weekly message to families, Superintendent Mark Lane shared, “Schools and local public health agencies just received this updated guidance yesterday. As we have throughout the pandemic, we will work with Winneshiek County Public Health to understand the guidance and will work collaboratively to protect the health and safety of our learning environments.”

Lane added, “January and February are busy months for student activities. You can find information and schedules for our activities through our website. I encourage everyone to support our students as they engage in our diverse extra-curricular activity offerings.”

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DCSD Reports Active COVID Cases, Mask Requirement Change

December 19, 2021

District COVID-19 Active Positive Cases

  • Total number of students and staff in isolation (currently positive) for COVID-19: eleven (11)
  • Current district facilities with known positive cases: West Side, John Cline Elementary, Carrie Lee Elementary, Decorah High School

DCSD reports COVID-19 data in alignment with the direction of the Iowa Department of Public Health. The full guidance can be found at the link below.

IDPH Information Sharing Guidance for Schools and Local Public Health

PK-6 Mask Requirement Changes After Winter Break

The PK-6th grade mask mandate will end December 27, 2021, during the Winter Break. When staff and students return from break Monday, January 3, 2022, mask wearing will be a personal choice for all staff and students. The District continues to strongly encourage vaccination for all eligible staff and students, appropriate mask-wearing aligned to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidance for K-12 Schools, good hand-hygiene and respiratory etiquette, and staying home when sick.

Bus Drivers Needed Decorah Schools has an immediate need for school bus route drivers, activities drivers, and substitute drivers. Drivers need to have an appropriate CDL license or a willingness to obtain the appropriate license. Bus route pay rates vary by the length of the trip, and the compensation for other bussing needs is $16.75 per hour. Those interested can visit the district website or call 563-382-4208 for more information about joining the Decorah Schools transportation tea

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Iowa Department of Education releases new school performance results: Decorah schools receive strong scores

December 14, 2021

The Iowa Department of Education released new results and features in an online school accountability reporting system called the Iowa School Performance Profiles.

Decorah High School and Decorah Middle School were ranked as “High-Performing,” and Carrie Lee Elementary, John Cline Elementary, and West Side Elementary were all named “Commendable.”  Unlike many other schools across the state, Decorah’s overall results have improved or stayed the same compared to pre-pandemic ratings. 

Between 2019 (the last time that the ISASP was administered) and 2021, the number of Iowa schools in the higher categories decreased, and the number of schools in the lowest two categories increased. Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo shared, “It’s important to understand the challenges brought on by the pandemic and to take that into account when looking at the 2021 performance scores.”

The high rankings of Decorah schools reveal how student performance remained strong despite the challenges of the last year. Superintendent Mark Lane commented, “It is important to recognize that the performance profile monitors multiple factors, including student proficiency and growth, student well-being, graduation rate, and college or career readiness. Our results demonstrate the resilience, perseverance, and dedication of our staff and students throughout the pandemic. 

The Iowa School Performance Profiles website shows:

  • Updated scores and ratings for all public schools based on how they performed on a set of accountability measures in the 2020-21 school year.
  • Postsecondary readiness indicators for public high schools based on student participation and scores on college entrance exams, participation in postsecondary or advanced coursework, and percentage of students who are focused on career and technical education within one of six service areas defined in Iowa Code 256.11(5)h.
  • The ability to search and compare school building, school district and state-level performance data.
  • Additional data that are required by law but do not count toward accountability scores.

The latest scores reflect results of the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP), which all 327 public school districts administered last spring.

Lane added, “I am incredibly proud of the way we have maintained a focus on student learning and well-being over the past two years.”

The Iowa School Performance Profiles, launched in 2018, meets state and federal requirements to publish report cards reflecting the performance of all public schools.

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DMS Mock Trial Teams Awarded State Honors

December 10, 2021

Decorah Middle School teams had strong performances at the State Mock Trial competition, earning a trophy and five outstanding performance medals.

Decorah’s 8th grade team won the seventh-place trophy out of 32 teams that competed at State. Decorah was edged out by 2.5 points by the team that won third place in the tournament.

Decorah’s 7th grade team performed well and lost in the second round to Harding Middle School, the eventual state champion.

 Five Decorah students were honored with All-State individual medals: Carson Bohner, Mara Branum, and Jillian Volz for Outstanding Attorney, and Kinley Leliefeld and Naomi Pedlar for Outstanding Witness. To earn this award, a student must be nominated by both judges as their top choice in a single round. Decorah tied the championship school with medals awarded for outstanding performance.

Two Decorah teams qualified for the State competition by placing first and second at the regional competition in Waterloo. Decorah’s other two teams placed fourth and fifth. Over 150 teams compete in regionals statewide.

This year’s case was a criminal trial about a restaurant chef who was accused of murder after her co-owner was found dead in their industrial freezer. For the competition, students write scripts as attorneys and witnesses and perform trials as plaintiff and defense against opposing teams.

“Our acting and knowledge of this very challenging case were exceptional,” said teacher coach Carole Sand.  “Winning the 7th place trophy and five outstanding performance awards at State is a testament to the students’ hard work, talent, and commitment.”

Many Decorah participants were nominated or honored for outstanding performances at the regional and state tournaments, some by numerous judges.

Outstanding honors went to 8th graders June Breitenbach-Dirks, Elsa Christman, Mikayla Hiner, Caleb Johnson, Klara Kelly, Trevor Kuennen, Nora Lesmeister, Madysen Lippe, Caden Malanaphy, Mack McElree, Danika Mueller, and Willow Shroyer.

Seventh grade outstanding performers included Lulu Bellrichard, Spencer Christensen, Lawrence Christman, Emma Cline, Thomas Davis, Liam Huang, Myla Leitz, Teagan Menke, Noah Potvin, Atticus Raabe, Olivia Rissman, Grace Stockman, and Colin Thompson.

            DMS Mock Trial is part of the school’s Extended Learning Program. Coaches include Sand, Scott Boylen, and Sarah Zbornik. Supporting the program are volunteer expert mentors Judge Marty Lingreen, attorney Sandra Benzschawel, and Luther graduate Peter Stelter. Decorah High School assistant coaches include Grace Blikre, Grace Gerleman, Evon Leitz, Anya Lovstuen, Lily Sandhorst, Kamryn Steines, Ethan Stravers, and Ruby Sullivan.

            “We owe much of our success to all of the mentors, assistant coaches, and high school students who donate countless hours to work individually with our students,” said Sand. “We also appreciate the Depot Outlet for a recent grant and Amundson’s Clothing for helping our guys look their best.”

Frozen in 1st Degree
DMS 8th grade Mock Trial team Frozen in the First Degree, winner of the seventh place State trophy, includes (seated, l-r) Ana Simon, Mara Branum, June Breitenbach-Dirks, Naomi Pedlar; (standing, l-r) Trevor Kuennen, Danika Mueller, Mikayla Hiner, Nora Lesmeister, Caleb Johnson, and Carson Bohner.
In Cold Blood
DMS 7th grade team In Cold Blood, which performed at the State tournament, includes (seated, l-r) Lawrence Christman, Liam Huang, Atticus Raabe, Spencer Christensen; (standing, l-r) Thatcher Brown, Jillian Volz, Emma Cline, Colin Thompson, Grace Stockman, and Kinley Leliefeld.

DMS 8th grade team Ice, Ice Baby, which placed fifth at Regionals, includes (row 1, l-r) Elsa Christman, Willow Shroyer, Klara Kelly; (row 2, l-r) Keaton Nalean-Carlson, Madysen Lippe, Kaylie Wemark; (row 3, l-r) Jameson LaBelle, Ezra Harman-Wood, Caden Malanaphy, and Mack McElree.

DMS 7th grade team Chillin’ Like a Villain, which placed third at Regionals, includes (row 1, l-r) Naomi Kutz, Jayden Lundvedt, Gavin Luzum; (row 2, l-r) Jackson Irwin, Teagan Menke, Olivia Rissman, Noah Potvin; (row 3, l-r) Lulu Bellrichard, Myla Leitz, and Thomas Davis.

State Tournament
Sporting the seventh place trophy and individual honors at the State Tournament in Des Moines are (front, l-r) Carson Bohner, Mara Branum, Naomi Pedlar, Mikayla Hiner, Jillian Volz, and Kinley Leliefeld surrounded by their teammates following the awards ceremony.

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DCSD Reports Active COVID Cases, Reminder about Weather-Related Communication

December 10, 2021

Winneshiek County is experiencing increasing COVID-19 positivity rates similar to this time last year. The Iowa Department of Public Health COVID-19 in Iowa website provides the data pictured below.

COVID 19 Data 12 10 21 1

The District encourages all staff, students, and visitors to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for K-12 Schools.

District COVID-19 Active Positive Cases

  • Total number of students and staff in isolation (currently positive) for COVID-19: eleven (11)
  • Current district facilities with known positive cases: John Cline Elementary, Decorah Middle School, Decorah High School

DCSD reports COVID-19 data in alignment with the direction of the Iowa Department of Public Health. The full guidance can be found at the link below.

IDPH Information Sharing Guidance for Schools and Local Public Health

Bus Drivers Needed

Decorah Schools has an immediate need for school bus route drivers, activities drivers, and substitute drivers. Drivers need to have an appropriate CDL license or a willingness to obtain the appropriate license. Bus route pay rates vary by the length of the trip, and the compensation for other bussing needs is $16.75 per hour. Interested individuals should visit the district website or call 563-382-4208 for more information about joining the Decorah Schools transportation team.

DCSD Winter Weather-related Communication

Every year the District experiences the need to cancel, delay, or dismiss school due to weather-related issues. District employees approach the decision to cancel, delay, or dismiss school with great caution, care, and concern.

Each weather-related situation is unique, and predicted weather conditions can improve or deteriorate quickly. In most cases, the District will make the decision to delay or cancel in the early morning based on real-time weather conditions, communicating a single decision to families and staff rather than one the night before and then needing to change the decision the following morning. The goal is to inform families by 6:00 amfor cancellations or morning delays and by 11:00 amfor early dismissals.

When school is delayed, families will be notified directly via email and text, an alert on the district website, a post on the district Twitter account, and communication with media outlets.

Bus Routes: When a 2-hour weather delay occurs, buses will pick up students 2 hours later than their normal pick-up time. When a 2-hour early dismissal occurs, buses will pick up students from school 2 hours earlier than their regular dismissal time and will drop off students 2 hours earlier than their normal drop-off time.

Sources for School-Related Closure Information

Decorah Schools Television Radio Internet
District Website- www.decorah.k12.ia.us   SchoolMessenger-  Direct messaging through email and text   Those NOT receiving text messages from DCSD should send a new text message to 67587 with the message: Yes KCRG Channel 9  Cedar Rapids   KWWL Channel 7  Waterloo   KTTC Channel 10 Rochester Decorah Stations KDHK 100.5 FM KVIK 104.7 FM KNEI 103.5 FM KMRV 99.1 FM/1160 AM KDEC 1240 AM   Rochester Stations KROC 106.9 FM KYOB 105.3 FM KDOC 103.9 FM KDCZ 107.7 FM KWWK 96.5 FM www.decorahnews.com

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DCSD Reports Active COVID Cases, Information about PK-6 Mask Mandate

December 3, 2021

Monday, November 29, the DCSD Board of Directors met to discuss the local availability of COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 to 11. Based on information from local public health and community healthcare providers, the board set the date when the current PK-6 mask mandate will end: December 27, 2021.

When staff and students return from break Monday, January 3, 2022, mask wearing will be a personal choice for all staff and students. The District continues to encourage vaccination for all eligible staff and students, appropriate mask-wearing aligned to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidance for K-12 Schools, good hand-hygiene and respiratory etiquette, and staying home when sick.

District COVID-19 Active Positive Cases

  • Total number of students and staff in isolation (currently positive) for COVID-19: fourteen (14)
  • Current district facilities with known positive cases: John Cline Elementary, Carrie Lee Elementary, Decorah Middle School, Decorah High School

Cumulative Total Positive Student COVID-19 Case Comparative Data

November 29, 2020 – 27 Total Cases

  • WSECC – < 6
  • JCE – < 6
  • CLE – < 6
  • DMS – < 6
  • DHS – 20

November 29, 2021– 78 Total Cases

  • WSECC – 0
  • JCE – 19
  • CLE – 14
  • DMS – 31
  • DHS – 14

DCSD reports COVID-19 data in alignment with the direction of the Iowa Department of Public Health. The full guidance can be found at the link below.

IDPH Information Sharing Guidance for Schools and Local Public Health

Bus Drivers Needed

Decorah Schools has an immediate need for school bus route drivers, activities drivers, and substitute drivers. Drivers need to have an appropriate CDL license or a willingness to obtain the appropriate license. Bus route pay rates vary by the length of the trip, and the compensation for other bussing needs is $16.75 per hour. Those interested can visit the district website or call 563-382-4208 for more information about joining the Decorah Schools transportation team.

In his weekly message to families, Superintendent Mark Lane spoke of the upcoming winter months.  Lane shared, “We continue to have wonderful weather, but we know we are entering the time of year when inclement weather occurs. Please make sure you and your student(s) know your family plans if we experience a delay, early dismissal, or closure due to weather. Hopefully, the need for weather-related adjustments is minimal this year, but it is good to be prepared.”

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DCSD Stakeholder Survey Invitation 

 Decorah Community School District 

Stakeholder Survey Invitation 

DCSD LOGO

Link: https://tinyurl.com/DecorahSupterintendentSurvey 

The Decorah School Board has recently hired Grundmeyer Leader Services to support the search for a new district superintendent. The search will begin immediately and conclude with the hire of a new successful leader. Your feedback regarding what “desired qualifications” are most important for this position will ensure the new hire is a good fit for both the school district and communities. 

Please use the link provided to share narrative insights and rank personal and professional priorities for the new superintendent. The search team will produce a general report based on the information gathered in this survey. The report will be shared with the board to advise them on what priorities the district and community stakeholders are looking for in a new leader. 

This survey is anonymous unless you provide your name voluntarily. Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey and provide direction for this important leadership position before Dec. 12th. 

Superintendent hiring timeline: 

Dec. 2-12 Stakeholder survey open 

Dec. 1-Jan. 2 Application period 

Week of Jan. 10 Board reviews candidate pool 

Week of Jan. 24 Board screens candidates 

Week of Feb. 7 Formal interviews with finalists 

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