Concerned parents level complaints at BCLUW board

Robert Maharry
The Grundy Register

CONRAD- A group of four parents spoke before a crowded room and laid out a series of complaints with both the BCLUW school board and the district’s educational standards during Monday night’s regular meeting.


Each of the four—Brent Schipper, Justin Lynch, Nathan Bernard and Alan Donaldson—read prepared statements during the public comment period, and they reported that 43 other parents had signed their petition and endorsed their positions.


Bernard, who spoke first, opined that the board’s frequent rescheduling of meetings between evenings and mornings was designed to keep the public from attending, and he argued that a policy requiring members of the public who wish to speak to submit a request for approval prior to meetings may be unconstitutional.


He asked that the day of the month, time and location of meetings be set as standard, that the agenda be sent out to all parents via JMC or other means and that the public comment portion of the meeting be added without prior approval.


Schipper, who spoke next, told the board that he saw the district trending in “the wrong direction” and questioned the leadership and accountability at BCLUW. He asked that non-learning activities be curtailed, that teachers focus more on improving test scores and that they be held accountable for student performance.


Donaldson pointed to an enrollment decline of 72 students in the last five years as evidence that the district’s leadership is not doing enough to attract students to BCLUW, as some are even open enrolling out. He also urged the hiring of new coaches to improve the sports programs.


“As a group, we feel that if you don’t heed this advice from parents of this community, future meetings will be about dissolving the district or merging with another district,” Donaldson said. “The pride the community takes in its black and gold colors will no longer be if we don’t make a stand and make change happen.”


Lynch, reading on behalf of David Willits, criticized the practice of “reassessments,” which allow students who do poorly on tests to retake them and improve their grades, and argued that they should be limited to two per semester per class and couldn’t raise a grade by more than one letter grade.


“Life does not give you do-overs. For you business owners, how many times are you going to let an employee reassess before firing them?” he asked. “Let’s prepare the students for the real world.”


After they finished, Matt Garber, a fellow parent, BCL-UW alum and former school board member, stepped forward to offer a more positive take on the district, specifically its athletics and academics. He also criticized some other parents—without naming them specifically—for disparaging officials at sporting events.


“There has been a lot of success,” he said. “Some parents think the system is working and is doing a good job.”


At least 15 teachers were in the room during the remarks, and the board members who were present did not directly respond to the comments. After the meeting, Superintendent Ben Petty told The Grundy Register that he had no formal response to the complaints and didn’t plan to address them anytime soon.


The board moved on to discuss fundraising for the middle school basketball court project and gave the leaders of the effort informal permission to seek out quotes from contractors. A budget hearing was scheduled for the next meeting on April 9 at 7:00 a.m., and this year’s projected property tax rate is $10.50553.


The board approved the school fees with $5 increases for books at all levels, a $10 increase for college classes, a .10 increase for student and adult lunches and a .05 increase for student and adult breakfast.


During his comments, Petty remarked on the recent coronavirus outbreak and the resulting closure of Iowa schools, calling it “a very strange couple of weeks.”


“The trickle down effect of this is just going to be huge all across the country and things you can’t even imagine now,” board member LJ Kopsa said.


The district is working to provide distance-learning opportunities and keep students connected through online programs.



·      Accepted the resignation of Anthony Jahr as a teacher and coach and offered a contract to Ashlee Higgins as the assistant high school softball coach.

·      Approved the 2020-2021 school calendar.

·      Approved the purchase of a lift and trailer.

·      Approved the budget guarantee resolution for 2020-2021.

·      Approved the commendations as listed.


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