State of the District
Students and Staff:
The students and staff of Indianola CSD continue to achieve great things! Our 1st – 3rd grade students scored so well that they made us one of only three school districts in the Des Moines metro area to grow by over 10% from the previous year on the state’s early literacy test, FAST. This is especially impressive because 82% of Indianola elementary students are already reading at grade level. Whittier Elementary was also one of just five state schools (three elementary schools) to be honored as a National Blue Ribbon School. The honor was based on students’ scores on math and reading assessments. Indianola High School continues to receive recognition from the AP Index, which measures the number of AP tests taken and the level of achievement, and IHS students took 592 classes for college credit this year!
District staff continues to work very hard to meet student needs in a variety of ways: a comprehensive special education continuum of services, many advanced course options, a wide variety of activities and clubs that are well supported by booster groups and other fans; staff professional development on reading interventions, standards-based grading, new science and social studies standards, a new student information system and learning management system, and more done within a Professional Learning Communities Collaboration Cycle; a new partnership with Integrative Counseling Systems to support mental health needs, food pantries at Indianola High School and Emerson Elementary, and many more great things that happen every day in our classrooms, on our bus routes, and in our community.
Budget and Infrastructure:
The school district continues to work to be fiscally responsible and is in a sound position although a small enrollment decline this fall and uncertainty about State Supplemental Aid (school funding) continue to be concerns. Please consider advocating for adequate and timely funding for our schools. District leadership and the school board are constantly making decisions about how to effectively allocate resources and move our district forward. These decisions include staffing levels, curriculum and technology purchases, facilities improvements and maintenance, and more. The district enjoys strong support from its PTOs and advisories as we work to do the best we can for students.
Current projects include a new district office that will be done sometime next November (with the current facility becoming an online learning center), a replacement of the old steam heating system at Irving Elementary, and a new playground area at Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary. These large projects are in addition to ongoing roof maintenance, needed concrete replacement, and other future projects. SAVE (Secure an Advanced Vision for Education) funds, otherwise known as the statewide penny sales tax, and PPEL (Physical Plant and Equipment Levy) tax dollars that are voter and board approved are what allow the district to do this work, in addition to making technology purchases and maintaining a safe bus fleet. Currently SAVE and PPEL are both set to expire in 2029. Please consider contacting legislators about the importance of SAVE fund to our district as they consider whether to remove the 2029 sunset this legislative session.
I often make the statement, “Indianola is a great place to be,” and that is true for a variety of reasons. We have a wonderful community in which to live and raise a family. There are many caring people and organizations, like the Indianola Community Youth Foundation, HOPE Foundation, Helping Hand, and Ministerial Association to name just a few. We have tremendous public servants in our various city departments. Simpson College is a great partner and asset to the community. A forward-looking Chamber of Commerce and Warren County Economic Development Association support our local business owners. From a school standpoint I don’t think there is another district just like Indianola: a 4A school in a small town setting, where we celebrate proud traditions while pursuing unlimited possibilities.
It certainly is not an easy time to be a teenager. There are challenges in education. Parenting in a fast-paced electronic age is tough. However, being in a special place like Indianola, with all of the opportunities and supports we have, helps everyone tackle challenges in positive ways and grow to become the best versions of themselves. Thank you for your contributions to our schools and community. Indianola—and Indianola Community School District—is a great place to be!