The Decorah School Board had the opportunity to share the district's concerns and desires for the upcoming legislative year with Representative Michael Bergan and Senator Mike Klimesh on Monday evening.
The meeting started with both Bergan and Klimesh introducing themselves. Bergan began, saying, "Today was the initial day at capitol with the swearing in process. Bill work will begin tomorrow." He then explained his 24-year investment in childcare initiatives and his motivation to improve mental health in the state, saying he will spend a considerable amount of time on the issue.
Klemish took the Zoom floor next, saying he reiterates what Bergan said. Klimesh then said, "Mental health and child care will be my top priorities. I'm not on any education boards or education subcommittees, but I want to be informed about the issues that are important to the schools in NE Iowa." He said he had an exciting first day and is excited to get to work.
Decorah Schools Superintendent Mark Lane and the rest of the school board then had a chance to weigh in. School Board President Ron Fadness and Lane both commented positively on the past transportation funding. Lane said the district has benefited greatly from past legislation that helps lower transportation costs per pupil. Fadness said, "Transportation funding has been a godsend!"
The Board also had a list of things they'd like to see addressed at the legislative level. These included things like the district having the ability to compete with the private sector to retain employees, inserting language into legislation to cover how to keep adults in the classroom, mental health of students, long-term impacts of the pandemic, and getting school employees the COVID-19 vaccine.
As the meeting was near completion, Director Krista Vanden Brink said, "I know you have you have a lot on your plate. I wish you best of the luck just like we're going to need it here. We need connectedness and collaboration."
The forum concluded with Bergan and Klimesh encouraging to stay in touch. Klimesh said, "The more informed I am the better I can make decisions down here in Des Moines." Bergan said, "I appreciate the work you all have been doing and understand the actions you've done. We can learn from each other as we move forward."