The subject of school safety came up during Monday night’s Sioux City School Board meeting. Superintendent Dr. Rod Earleywine says the Woodbury County Sheriff sent letters to districts in the area after the deadly shooting in Nashville earlier in the day. Sheriff Chad Sheehan told school leaders, buildings need to be locked and even teachers should lock their classroom doors during instruction.
Iowa Wesleyan University plans to close its doors in May. University officials said in a news release that the institution's trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to close at the end of the academic year because of financial challenges. The private university in Mount Pleasant opened in 1842. The trustees cited increased operating costs, enrollment trends and a major drop in philanthropic giving. They also noted Gov. Kim Reynolds' denial of a request for federal COVID funding to help the school stay afloat. The nearly 850 students will be able to complete their programs under agreements with William Penn University, Upper Iowa University, University of Dubuque and Culver-Stockton College.
A bill advancing in the Iowa Senate would make clear that K-12 schools can use sales tax funding to build up their cybersecurity.
The so-called SAVE funds are earmarked for infrastructure, which includes information technology.
The bill (HF 632) already passed in the House and now goes to the Senate Technology Committee.
In January, Des Moines schools canceled classes for two days after a cyberattack forced a shutdown of the district’s networks. Last year, Cedar Rapids schools paid an undisclosed ransom in response to a security breach that canceled several days of summer school.
Nebraska’s 2023 Teacher of the Year says she is being bullied on social media by a member of the State Board of Education. For more on the story check out the Sioux City Journal.
Iowa Wesleyan University says it will close at the end of the academic year, after 181 years. This follows a unanimous vote by the board of trustees, which cites years of financial challenges. These range from inflationary pressures, low enrollment trends, smaller philanthropic giving – and Governor Kim Reynolds decision to withhold federal COVID funding.
A news release from the Mount Pleasant school says a 2021 partnership with Southeastern Community College to improve enrollment and retention was not enough to reach financial stability.
The University has arranged agreements with other institutions so its 850 students can complete their programs on time and for comparable cost.
The school has asked Governor Reynolds $12 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds but was denied. The schools claims enrollment was trending in the right direction. But without ARPA funding it didn’t have the time it needed to keep doors open.
Republicans in the Iowa House voted today (Tuesday) to put a 5-million-dollar cap on non-economic damages awarded when a person is severely injured or killed by a commercial vehicle like a semi-truck.
The bill would also shield trucking companies from liability for direct negligence in hiring a driver who caused a crash. But unlike earlier versions of the bill, companies would still be liable for negligent training and supervision.
Democrats and a few Republicans opposed the bill. They say it takes away Iowans’ right to have a jury decide how much they should be compensated for severe injury or death. It’s not clear if the Senate—which passed a 2-million-dollar damage cap—would support this bill.
Governor Kim Reynolds has appointed Mary Mosiman as the new director of the Iowa Department of Revenue.
She’s currently the department’s deputy director and will move into the top spot on Wednesday. Mosiman also served as state auditor before losing her re-election bid in 2018.
The Iowa Department of Revenue is responsible for collecting state taxes. Under Reynolds’ government reorganization plan, the department will soon absorb the state lottery and alcoholic beverage control operations.
Mosiman replaces Kraig Paulsen as director. Paulsen has also been serving as director of the Iowa Department of Management, and Reynolds’ office says he’ll continue in that role.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration announced that electricity generated from renewables surpassed coal electricity production in the United States for the first time in 2022. The growth of wind and solar significantly drove the increase in renewable energy and experts say these two resources will be the “backbone” of clean energy growth in the U.S. because of their reliability and affordability. Renewables passed nuclear electricity production for the first time in 2012 and continued to outpace it.
Submitted news releases:
Gov. Reynolds Statement on the Closure of Iowa Wesleyan University
DES MOINES – Gov. Reynolds released the following statement in response to the announced closure of Iowa Wesleyan University:
“Today, my thoughts are with the students, faculty, and staff who are stunned by this announcement, and the people of Mount Pleasant who have long revered the university as a pillar of their community. The state is committed to supporting them during this time of transition. I have directed the Iowa Economic Development Authority and Iowa Workforce Development to reach out to community and business leaders, and work together to keep the local economy strong.
“It wasn’t until February 3, 2023, that my office received a request from the university for $12 million for ongoing operating costs. As I’ve said many times, we endeavor not to spend one-time federal dollars on ongoing expenses. To better understand their request and the financial health of the university, my office engaged an independent, third-party accounting firm to conduct due diligence. The firm reported that Iowa Wesleyan had a $26.1 million loan from the USDA, using their campus as collateral, that could be recalled in full as early as November 2023. Additionally, Iowa Wesleyan’s auditor cited ongoing concerns about the university’s fiscal health, stating “significant operating losses and reduced liquidity raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern.” The firm also highlighted that that while enrollment at Iowa Wesleyan has grown over the past three years, their financial health has continued to deteriorate over the same period.
“Based on this and other factors, the independent accounting firm determined that providing one-time, federal funds would not solve the systemic financial issues plaguing the university. If the state would have provided the federal funding as requested and it was used to finance debt or other impermissible uses according to US Treasury guidelines, the state and taxpayers could have been liable for potential repayment to the federal government. Moreover, the state has separately received $122 million in requests from other universities and community colleges across the state.
“With this information, I made the difficult decision to not pursue the university’s funding request.”
Gov. Reynolds Signs SF 75 and SF 262 into Law
DES MOINES – Today, Gov. Reynolds signed the following bills into law:
HF 75: A bill for an act relating to certain health facilities including ambulatory surgical centers and rural emergency hospitals, including licensing requirements and fees, providing penalties and making penalties applicable, providing emergency rulemaking authority, and including applicability and effective date provisions.
“This is part of our unwavering commitment to ensuring all Iowans, no matter where they live, receive the quality medical care they need and deserve,” said Gov. Reynolds. “This bill is an impactful step in that direction, and it’s a pleasure to sign it into law.”
SF 262: A bill for an act relating to consumer data protection, providing civil penalties, and including effective date provisions.
“In our digital age, it’s never been more important to state, clearly and unmistakably, that consumers deserve a reasonable level of transparency and control over their personal data,” said Gov. Reynolds. “That’s exactly what this bill does, making Iowa just the sixth state to provide this kind of comprehensive protection.”
Community Action Agency of Siouxland is excited to announce the “Week of the Young Child”, April 1-7. During this time, we highlight the importance of learning and development for children in their earliest years.
Each day has a theme. Music Monday is a day dedicated to celebrating how children learn through song and dance and the importance of being active. Tuesday is Tasty Tuesday. Cooking with young children promotes family bonding, while also supporting math and science skills. Work Together Wednesday is up next. Teaching children about the importance of teamwork. When children play, explore, and build with each other, they develop their social and emotional skills. On Artsy Thursday, we promote open-ended art activities to encourage creativity and imagination while developing fine motor skills. We round out the week with Family Friday. Parents and families are children’s first teachers, and engaging families is at the heart of supporting our youngest learners!
“We are honored to celebrate our children, families, and staff during this fun week,” said Rachael Ostermyer, Early Childhood Director. “Early learning is vital for a child’s future. During this week, we get an opportunity to promote what children have been learning all year in our classrooms and at home. We are also excited to involve our community in this annual event.” The City of Sioux City has proclaimed April 1-7, 2023 as “WEEK OF THE YOUNG CHILD” and during the month of April, the children’s artwork will be on display at the LaunchPAD Museum.
Community Action Agency has 29 Early Head Start and Head Start classrooms across Sioux City. There is also an Early Head Start Home Visitation program available to families. Each year more than 600 children are served through these programs. Early Head Start and Head Start is available at no-cost to families who are income-eligible. Applications are already being taken for next school year for prenatal mothers and children six weeks up to Kindergarten entry.
To learn more about these two programs, visit our website at www.caasiouxland.org or by calling 712-274-1610