School Talk 7 'Xtra: Sumner and Fredericksburg superintendent - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

School Talk 7 'Xtra: Sumner and Fredericksburg superintendent Rick Pederson

This week in School Talk's 7 'Xtra, we feature Gladbrook-Reinbeck Superintendent Rick Pederson. This week in School Talk's 7 'Xtra, we feature Gladbrook-Reinbeck Superintendent Rick Pederson.

This week in School Talk's 7 'Xtra, we feature Sumner and Fredericksburg Superintendent Rick Pederson. Pederson spoke with Today in Iowa's Jason Carter about the impact the legislature is having on school districts across the state by not setting allowable growth in a reasonable time frame. He also outlines the challenges and benefits of merging small school districts.

Jason Carter: Why is this year different in regards to allowable growth? Why is education reform tied to this budgetary bill nearly a year and a half after it was supposed to be set?

Rick Pederson: I believe the main reason this year (and last year) are different from past years regarding allowable growth is that the Governor has tied school funding to his education reform package. With legislators polarized political views on the reform bill, funding for schools has been held hostage. Hopefully, the conference committee can make enough progress to provide us with a substantial portion of the funding necessary to at least maintain our current educational programs.

Jason Carter: Do you think any school district will lose teachers because of the legislature's inaction?

Rick Pederson: I know several school districts have given notice to terminate some teacher contracts and will have to follow through with those terminations unless the legislature takes action soon to increase school funding. If we have to endure another year at zero percent allowable growth, I believe a number of teachers will be terminated.

Jason Carter: What are the advantages/disadvantages of a merged school district?

Rick Pederson: The biggest advantage to merging school districts, in my opinion, is that more educational opportunities can be provided to students and done so more economically. The disadvantages that I am aware of do not deal with students, but with the community's perception of loss when merges occur.

Jason Carter: Do you believe more school districts will be forced to merge in the future for financial reasons?

Rick Pederson: I have believed for years that the legislature or Department of Education do not want to dictate mergers of districts, so instead (they) have legislated and directed districts to meet more stringent accreditation standards in order to be an accredited district without providing corresponding funding. This has caused, and will continue to cause, districts to look for partnerships or mergers in order provide those valuable services to students.

Jason Carter: What role is technology playing in Sumner-Fredericksburg?

Rick Pederson: Technology continues to play a more important part in education here at Sumner-Fredericksburg, just as it does in today's society. Our school boards are anticipating going to a 1:1 initiative this coming fall that will provide all high school students with an iPad. 

Jason Carter: What would you do, if politics and money weren't an obstacle, to reform education tomorrow?

Rick Pederson: If money and politics were not an issue, it would be interesting to develop a school where students could actually experience learning with more hands-on problem solving, collaboration, and assessments that truly provide feedback on what has been learned.

Jason Carter: What exciting things are happening in your district in the final month?

Rick Pederson: As this school year comes to an end, we are looking forward to the transition next year from being two separate districts to becoming one district in July of 2014. 

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