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Superintendent News - May 23, 2016

News from Dr. Pam Ewell, Van Buren Community School District Superintendent
Elementary Principal

I am pleased to announce our new elementary principal  -  Mrs. Mary Dawn Schuck!  Mrs. Schuck is very excited to begin and is already spending time at the elementary with Mr. Moews and the staff as we begin the transition.  Mrs. Schuck will officially begin July 1 and very soon she will share some of her ideas for the upcoming school year.  As many of you know, Mrs. Schuck is not a stranger to Van Buren.  She is from VB, went to school and graduated from VB, has taught at Van Buren High School since 2003 and her own children also graduated from VB.  Needless-to-say, Mrs. Schuck is invested in VBCSD !

I look forward to working closely with Mrs. Schuck and helping to make the upcoming year exceptional for the staff and students at the elementary.  Mrs. Schuck will continue as Curriculum Director combined with the elementary principal position.  Mr. Banks will be involved to support curriculum development at the secondary building. 

Last Few Days

School will dismiss at 1:00 p.m. on June 1; our last day of the 2015-16 school year!  As students pack up their things and walk out of our doors on the 1st, we encourage you to find ways to help your student continue learning throughout the summer.  Parents are the best first teachers of their children making sure they keep their minds and bodies active during summertime.  Students who are not active and continue their learning over the summer risk falling prey to the “summer learning loss”  --- a slide in academic skills and knowledge during summer vacation.

There are so many ways to make the summer months a learning experience using simple materials at home or the outdoors.  Kids love using cell phones so have them create a picture journal of their experiences and then write a story to narrate what took place.  All students will benefit from reading books together with mom and dad during the summer months.  I recall setting monthly goals for with my own children over the summer.  We celebrated reaching their goals by buying new books!  Look for valuable ideas on the web:  Edutopia, National Reading Association, National PTA, Wallace Foundation, Education World, Scholastic, PBS Parents, and Kathy Schrock’s website page. 

The National PTA organization website lists parent-student learning sets for each grade level at the following website:  http://tinyurl.com/dyjjadz


Summer Lunch Program -  Gayle Hervey, our Food Service Director and some of our kitchen staff will be providing the lunch program again this summer.  Changes to the summer lunch program include how the meals will be provided.  Gayle and her staff will be taking the lunches to the communities and she has ordered new equipment to provide hot meals!   We are super excited to provide summer meals to students in the Milton, Stockport, Birmingham, Keosauqua, Cantril and Douds communities.  We will distribute summer lunches to the communities following this schedule:


Dates:  June 6-July 29, 2016 (closed July 4)


Douds Park, Douds, IA  11:30-11:50 AM

Milton Park, Milton, IA  12-12:30 PM

Stockport Church, Stockport, IA  12:15-12:45 PM

Riverview Club, Keosauqua, IA  12:15-12:45 PM

Birmingham Park, Birmingham, IA  11:30-12:00 Noon

Cantril City Park, Cantril, IA 12:40-1:10 PM


2016-2017 School Calendar

The 2016-17 school calendar is now complete and we are already planning for another exciting year of school.  A lot of thought and organizing went into developing the 2016-17 school calendar with the advent of whole-grade sharing, parent-teacher conferences, Professional Learning Communities (PLC’s), and finishing the construction project at our high school. 

Harmony Community School District will follow the same school calendar as we transition this fall with whole-grade sharing for grades 7th – 12th

School calendar details:

  • September 6th – school begins for students on September 6.  It is necessary to begin late again this year as we needed to maximize as many days as possible during the summer for construction at the High School.  After the 2016-17 school year, we plan to move back a school start date in late August (state law now requires a start date of no earlier than August 23rd with students).
  • Professional development -  shown on designated Wednesday’s of each month, school dismisses at 2:30 for faculty professional development and professional learning communities.  A few full days of professional development are also scheduled and school will be closed on these dates.
  • Spring break - Another change that you will see on the 2016-17 calendar is a scheduled spring break during the week of March 13 – 17.  The teaching staff are compensated for professional development during this time and by scheduling a specific week of a break; we expect to reduce the need for students and staff to be absent from school from January to the end of the school year.  We hope that families can enjoy time together and maybe take a much needed break from work and school! 
  • 1,080 hours of school --- the state allows schools to follow 1,080 hours of instruction for students or 180 days.  We are “on” the 1,080 hours of school instruction.  We built in a few additional hours for late-starts or early out’s due to inclement weather.  However, if we miss more hours than what we have built in or miss a full day of school; we will make-up the hours or days.