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Iowa Assessment scores for Atlantic School District


April 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Administrators with the Atlantic Community School District, Monday, presented the results of the 2014 Iowa Assessment of basic skills before the Board of Education. The results, summarized by Superintendent Dr. Michael Amstein, showed the work teachers and administrators did this past summer with regard to curriculum, made a difference in how the scores improved, in this, the second year of the Iowa Assessments, which replaced the Iowa Test of Basic Skills as a means of gauging student learning and achievement.

Amstein said “The toughest nut to crack here in our district…it’s gotta be the Middle School students, because they have so many things going on.” He says regardless of which test form is used, going up 20-points in a subject such as math, is attributed to the kids being better prepared in order to do that well. Amstein said “The good news is (The students) did well this year. The challenge is to maintain, and do better next year, and I think we have the capabilities to do that.”

Curriculum Director and Schuler Elementary School Principal James Northwick was excited at the trends, which showed Reading scores in grades three through 11 overall, were 79-percent, which was an increase of 10-percent over last year. Math was up 7-percent, to 83-percent overall. Science was up three-percent from last year to 81-percent. Middle School Principal Josh Rasmussen said his teachers and staff were “Very excited about the scores” they got back, because those students demonstrated the most improvement.

At the High School, Principal Heather McKay said the Junior-level Class of 2015, which she says has been their “Class of concern,” has made the least amount of growth in Reading, “But they still had growth.”  She said there’s more than can be done to improve the reading scores and that they’re anxious to see how some of what is currently happening in the elementary grade levels as far as improved reading skills will translate into scores once those students reach high school.

The district’s overall proficiency improved in all areas. In the Green Hills AEA survey, preliminary data indicates Atlantic will rank at least in the top third of schools tested in the AEA’s coverage area. The district will continue to strive for 85-percent proficiency.

7AM Newscast 04-29-2014

News, Podcasts

April 29th, 2014 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson


House vote of 79-16 sends greyhound deal to governor


April 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa House has given final legislative approval to a bill that will end greyhound racing at “Bluffs Run” in Council Bluffs and shift management of the Dubuque Greyhound Park from the casino in Dubuque to the Iowa Greyhound Association. The deal was negotiated by the dog owners and representatives of the two casinos who complained they’ve been spending 13-million dollars a year to subsidize a dying industry. Representative Mary Ann Hanusa is from Council Bluffs, where the Horseshoe Casino and community leaders have complained the property where the track sits now is needed for other development.

“This is a bill which represents joint agreement between the casinos and those representing the dog interests,” Hanusa said. Representative Vicki Lensing of Iowa City was the only other House member who spoke when the bill came up for a vote. “Over the years this has been something that we’ve worked on and in the last few months all of the parties have come together and agreed to the bill we now have before us, so it’s been an amazing journey,” Lensing said.

The deal will see the Council Bluffs casino pay 65 million dollars over the next seven years and the Dubuque casino will pay a million dollars a year. Half of that money will go into a retirement fund for greyhound owners and breeders who plan to get out of the business. The rest can be used by those who remain in the industry to run the Dubuque Greyhound Park.

The bill passed the House on a 79 to 16 vote and goes to Governor Branstad for his review. Lawmakers spent a great deal of Monday afternoon and early evening at the statehouse in private meetings, trying to come up with final agreements on key legislation so the work of the 2014 session can be concluded this week.

(Radio Iowa)

Legislature votes to create new tax credit for adoptive parents


April 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The legislature has voted to establish a new tax credit for Iowa parents who adopt a child. If the governor signs the bill into law, Iowans could claim a credit of up to 25-hundred dollars per child for adoption-related expenses. Representative Chip Baltimore and his wife adopted a daughter and he urged his colleagues to pass the bill.

“I can personally attest due to the situation in my own family that adoption expenses can be very, very high,” Baltimore says. “We spend a lot of time in this chamber talking about human services and providing for families. We spend a lot of time in this chamber talking about the rights of unborn children and I think it behooves all of us as we sit here and we talk about all these other areas to rally behind this bill, to make sure that those children that are born under circumstances which may be less than favorable in a biological or birth family, that we do all we can to provide them with a loving, caring home.”

The bill would allow the credit for expenses like legal fees and the medical bills for the birth mother. “And home studies and all the other things that are out there that we try to do to make sure that children are placed into safe, loving homes — it is oftentimes a very expensive proposition,” Representative Baltimore says. Baltimore’s wife, Diana, was adopted and she founded the National Center for Adoption, a non-profit organization that promotes adoption and helps parents navigate the adoption process. The Baltimore family lives in Boone.

The Iowa Senate voted 48-to-zero on Monday afternoon to approve the new 25-hundred-dollar income tax credit for adoptive parents. The Iowa House approved the bill on a 95-to-one vote on April 15th.

(Radio Iowa)

Atlantic School Board approves teacher recommendations


April 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Community School District’s Board of Education Monday evening, approved recommendations from the District’s Principals for the hiring of new teachers. Superintendent Dr. Mike Amstein presented the names for approval to the board. First up was recommendations from Washington Elementary Principal Stacey Hornung.

She recommended, and the Board approved, the hiring of Jessica Larsen, who currently serves as a teacher for the Exira-EHK Schools, Ellie Hirschner, and Macy Silliman, of Winterset, a Drake University graduate with endorsements in Reading and Elementary Special Education. Hornung said they have not decided where those teachers will be placed within the district until the hiring process is complete. She did says those candidates were told it will be somewhere within the 2nd through 4th grades.

In addition, the Board approved a short list of teacher transfers to different positions within the district. The transfers include: Sheryl Hinzemann, Title I Math; Lisa Krogman, Small Group K-1/ Literacy; Steffani Tarrell, Title I Reading/ K-1; Stacy Johnson, second grade, and Lindsey Benning, third grade.

Atlantic High School Principal Heather McKay recommended, and the Board approved, Morgan Peterman as a new high school teacher. Peterman is a graduate of Northwest Missouri State University. They also approved Brielle Cerven as freshman ELL Support for Student Summer School. She currently serves as ESL Coordinator for the Atlantic School District.

There are still a handful of positions left to fill in the district, which is looking to replace a dozen educators who took advantage of an early retirement incentive designed to save the district nearly $1.8 million over the next five years, with a $385,000 saving the first year alone.

3 Atlantic H.S. Seniors to receive award from ACLU


April 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa say three Atlantic High School seniors will share the Robert Mannheimer Student Advocacy Award, for taking a courageous stand, editorializing logically and eloquently in the on-line student newspaper about the district’s lack of transparency after an Atlantic teacher tweeted an inappropriate photo of a hand over a breast.

2014 Mannheimer winners

2014 Mannheimer winners

Allison Berryhill, A-H-S English Teacher and Journalism Advisor, nominated Meghan Plambeck, Lillie Zablocki, and Sierra Smith for the award. The trio, who write for the Atlantic school’s online newspaper, the AHSNeedle.com, “Were called on to use their writing skill and thinking power to research and write an editorial about a tense situation” in the school district,” according to Berryhill, who said “The topic was a volatile one: A questionable Tweet had been posted from a beloved teacher’s account. The students and community wanted explanation. The administration was tight-lipped.”

The ACLU says the students rightly called out the administration, saying that it was holding students and teachers to different standards in sharing and using questionable social media. In a jointly authored editorial last September, they wrote, “It is important that authorities maintain transparency in how they are addressing the situation, especially in a case where the issue is widespread public knowledge.”

Berryhill said in her nomination that “the maturity of the writing and clarity of purpose resulted in an editorial that was praised by the community, including teachers and even school board members. As local and state news outlets picked up the story, the district superintendent ultimately provided the community with at least acknowledgement of the situation and assurance that the matter had been addressed.”

A copy of the student’s editorial can be found by going to www.aclu-ia.org. ACLU of Iowa Executive Director Ben Stone said he was pleased that the award recognizes three young journalists upholding basic First Amendment principles of free speech and expression. The ability to question authority is a cornerstone of democracy. Stone said it’s especially appropriate that the ACLU of Iowa give the award to students since it has a long history of defending student First Amendment rights, including the landmark “black armband” case of Tinker v. the Des Moines Schools in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The three students will be formally named the winners of the Mannheimer Award at the ACLU of Iowa’s annual dinner in Iowa City on Saturday, May 3.

IA Republican Congressional Candidate Forum this Sat. in Red Oak


April 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Montgomery County Republican Party say candidates seeking the Republican nomination for United States House of Representatives, Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, will gather in Red Oak at the Red Oak High School Auditorium this Saturday, May 3, 2014 at 6:00 p.m., to answer questions in a forum setting. While there is no charge for admission to the Forum, non-perishable food items will be accepted for food pantries.

A reception to meet the candidates will precede the Forum at 5:00 pm in the High School Cafeteria; light refreshments will be served with free-will donations gratefully accepted.

Six Republican candidates are seeking the Congressional seat being vacated by Congressman Tom Latham; the nominee will be decided in the Primary Election on June 3, 2014. The candidates are: Matt Schultz, Brad Zaun, Robert Cramer, Monte Shaw, David Young, and Joe Grandanette. The Republican Nominee will face the Democratic challenger in the General Election on November 4, 2014.

The Forum and Reception will give voters from Southwest Iowa an opportunity to meet the Candidates and listen to them answer a variety of questions with importance and interest to people in the southwestern part of the state.

The event is sponsored by the Republican Party Central Committees from: Adams, Fremont, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Pottawattamie, and Taylor Counties, plus the Montgomery County Republican Women. The sponsoring counties are among those Western Iowa County Republican Parties in the network, iGOP. More information on iGOP can be found at www.igop-ia.com.

Council Bluffs police charge man with arson


April 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) – Council Bluffs police have charged a man in connection with a deliberately set fire that destroyed his mother’s house. Police Sgt. Chad Meyers says officer arrested 29-year-old Daniel Kennedy, of Council Bluffs, on Saturday on a warrant for suspicion of second-degree arson in connection with the Jan. 28 fire. The Daily Nonpareil reports the home, which was vacant, was owned by Kennedy’s mother, Susan Graves Kennedy.

Officers arrested Kennedy after responding to a report of a disturbance and finding him yelling at his mother. They checked his name for warrants and then made the arrest. The January fire destroyed the house. Crews demolished it a few days later.

Daniel Kennedy was held in the Pottawattamie County Jail on $12,000 bond.

Iowa early News Headlines: Tue., April 29th 2014


April 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press…

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The floor manager of school anti-bullying bill in the Iowa Senate says the bill is unlikely to make it through this legislative session. Democratic Sen. Rob Hogg says changes made in the Republican-led House on parental notification are unacceptable. Hogg says one of the primary changes made would remove the ability of school administrators to handle incidents of bullying off school grounds.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A bill meant to support veterans already in Iowa and attract others to the state has won the final approval of the Iowa House. The bill headed to Gov. Terry Branstad would exempt military pensions from state income tax, and surviving spouses are included in the exemption. It allows companies to give preference to veterans in hiring decisions and offers credit to veterans with occupational licensing.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) – Council Bluffs police have charged a man in connection with a deliberately set fire that destroyed his mother’s house. Twenty-nine-year-old Daniel Kennedy, of Council Bluffs, was arrested Saturday on a warrant for suspicion of second-degree arson in connection with the Jan. 28 fire. The home, which was vacant, was owned by Kennedy’s mother.

ROCKWELL CITY, Iowa (AP) – A 115-year-old railroad freight house has been moved from a farm back to its original location adjacent to the Rockwell City depot. The freight house was moved about 20 years ago to a nearby farm. It was donated back to a group that oversees the Rockwell City Depot in October 2013. The group Landmark Depot Preservation raised $4,000 to move the freight house.

Seizure causes single-vehicle accident on I-29


April 28th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A woman who experienced a medical condition crashed her vehicle Sunday morning in Harrison County. The Iowa State Patrol says 35-year old Athena Clayborne was traveling north on Interstate 29 at around 10:07-a.m., Sunday, when she experienced an epileptic seizure. The woman lost control of her vehicle, which entered the median and struck a cable guard rail on the east side of I-29 southbound.

Clayborne was transported by Mondamin Rescue to Burgess Hospital in Onawa. She told authorities that she had forgotten to take her epileptic medication prior to getting behind the wheel.