Around 25 parents and Manawa community members attended a listening session hosted by Ed Dombrowski, district administrator for the School District of Manawa. The listening session took place on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at the Manawa Elementary School.
Dombrowski opened the listening session by stating the purpose of the session was to “get the pulse of the community.” He also stated everything brought up at the listening session would be given to the school board in an effort to build trust between the community and the school board.
After the opening remarks by Dombrowski, those in attendance were free to ask questions about any topic they felt was important to them.
A parent expressed her concern about communicating with teachers via the school email system. She stated she can’t always get through via email, or responses don’t come back in a timely manner. Another parent expressed concern that the school board minutes are not posted in a timely manner.
On the topic of communication, a discussion ensued in which parents expressed they felt teachers were not updating the grades online in a timely fashion. The concern, as expressed by the parents, was that they use the online system to monitor their child’s grades, and when the grades aren’t entered in a timely manner, it makes it appear their child is receiving bad grades.
Positive comments were expressed regarding the elementary school newsletter.
Several concerns about classes were brought up. One pertained to class size. A parent expressed her concern that there are around 52 students in one high school gym class. Another pertained to not having enough elective classes available for high school students. Weighted grades were also discussed.
There was a consensus among those in attendance that the Manawa School District stay active in providing college prep classes that allow students to receive college credits. Some asked if it was possible for the school district to combine with other districts to offer these classes.
Facilities were also discussed. Positive comments were expressed regarding the new elementary school. Despite the positive comments, some in attendance had an issue with the fact there isn’t a band room at the elementary school. They said it would be safer to have a band room at the elementary school rather than having kids in band go to the high school.
A parent then asked what is being done with the old school, whether it will be sold or demolished.
Two parents expressed concern that some of the Boys bathrooms at the high school do not have doors on the stalls. They said they could see this as being uncomfortable for students, especially the 7th and 8th graders at the high school.
It was asked if it was true other school districts had sent letters to the Manawa School District regarding the poor condition of the football field. An alderman in attendance stated that black dirt will be added to the athletic field this fall and it will be reseeded in the spring. This means that high school baseball games in spring may have to be played at a different field.
A long discussion about school buses took place. Dombrowski was asked why there are so many buses at the elementary school. Concerns were also expressed regarding repairs being done to the buses and who is doing the repairs.
Many expressed concern about student safety at the end of the school day when students are boarding buses. A parent expressed concern with high school students driving behind the high school building when students are also walking in the area.
It was also asked why the elementary school students are picked up first and then the high school students at the end of the day. Many expressed that this change from last year, when the high school students were picked up first, is causing a lot of safety concerns.
At the conclusion of the listening session, Dombrowski asked if the listening session was worthwhile, as well as how he could get the community involved. Most stated that parents need to be motivated to be involved.