South Central Calhoun: Academic success, looking to improve facilities

Leader hopes PPEL will pass when district voters go to the polls

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
South Central Calhoun High School science intstructor Becky Davis feeds one of the classroom snakes a mouse recently.

LAKE CITY — South Central Calhoun School District Superintendent Jeff Kruse is hoping that the voters in the district will approve a Physical Plant and Equipment Levy when they go to the polls on April 3.

“We’re asking $1.34 per thousand of assessment,” he said. “If it’s approved it will provide about $560,000 annually. We are going to use it to improve the district.”

Some of those improvements include several projects at the elementary school.

“They include areas for student services, nursing service and the guidance counselors as well as our special needs students,” he said. “It would also include a new gym and parking.”

The current gym at the school is a multiuse facility. Physical education classes have to be worked in around lunch and breakfast shifts.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
South Central Calhoun School District superintendent Jeff Kruse stands in the high school’s locker room. If voters approve a Physical Plant Expansion Levy in April, new locker rooms will be one of the projects undertaken with the funds. Both sides of the room share a common shower.

At the high school, locker room renovations are high on the list. Currently, a common shower separates each half of the locker rooms. During home games, the visiting team and the home team have to share the space. A new facility would let each team have its own locker room and shower.

“It’s an old and obsolete facility,” Kruse said.

The renovations in the girls’ locker room also includes more private showers for the student athletes.

The levy has the potential to raise more than $5 million during its 10-year span.

Kruse has held meetings in the district to answer questions about the levy and the needs of the district. He said the feedback has been positive.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
South Central Calhoun High School art instructor Deanna Daiker loads the kiln with student clay projects recently. The art room was one of the areas renovated after a tornado tore the roof from the building in 2015.

He is very proud of the students and staff in the district.

They are doing well academically and the test results show it.

“During the last few years we’ve had very strong ACT data,” he said. “It’s about two to three points above the state average.”

According to Kruse, during the 2016-17 school year, 37 of the students who took the test exceeded the state average.

Their composite score in all subjects 24.1. The state average was 22.9.

Students are tested in English, mathematics, reading and science during the ACT test which is used to gauge readiness for college.

Forty-one percent of the South Central Calhoun students exceeded the benchmark scores. The state average was 30 percent.

“We’re extremely proud of our test data,” he said.

State assessment testing in the elementary school has also exceeded the state average, particularly in math and reading.

Kruse attributes that to a variety of factors.

“We have good teachers, good students and good supportive families that take pride in school.”

He also credits the district offering several college level classes to their students in several subjects. During the current school year, the district has worked to upgrade the science curriculum to meet new state standards.

The district serves about 900 students with 160 staff members. The middle school and elementary school are located in Rockwell City. The high school is in Lake City.

He’s impressed with a recent effort on the part of students to help a fellow student’s family with medical expenses.

“We had a student battling a life-and-death illness,” Kruse said. “The students organized a penny drive and raised over $2,000. It’s neat to think that a bunch of middle school students could raise over $2,000 in a penny drive.”

The students of the South Central Calhoun School District are in good hands.

“We’re pretty proud of our K-12 system and what we’re able to provide to our students and communities,” Kruse said.