Rick Fromm
Rick Fromm

Education is an ever-evolving process that requires a school district to constantly analyze and evaluate how to best serve the needs of its students. With major changes occurring on a continual basis, if a district and its educators are not open to suggestions and constructive criticism, then it is the students, parents, the community and the nation who ultimately suffer the consequences of stagnation.

Appropriately, the state of Iowa requires a school district to participate in a needs assessment survey every five years. According to the Iowa Code, “The board shall adopt a policy for conducting ongoing and long-range needs assessment processes.” 

A needs assessment identifies actions needed to make significant student achievement improvement.

Decorah Community Schools recently completed the required survey and the results are available online at decorah.k12.ia.us/UserFiles/Servers/Server_3164137/File/2016-2017/School%20Improvement%20Needs%20Assessment.pdf.

School Board members, parents, community members, administrators, teaches and students all participated in the needs-assessment process.

The survey asked questions about beliefs related to student learning. The results will be used to assess district strengths and areas of needed improvement. The responses are kept strictly confidential (but are available? Help), and the survey methods have been created so it will not be possible to identify individual responses with individual people.

  The areas of primary concern to the respondents include: facilities, bullying, math (the Carnegie method and use of computer teaching), communication (parents, students, teachers and administrators), teacher collaboration, emphasis on standardized test scores, the late start on Wednesdays, extra curricular activities (too much emphasis on sports?), teaching life skills, Core standards and the focus on grades rather than learning. There were several other subjects mentioned, but these were the primary ones that came to the fore throughout the survey.

In an effort to communicate directly with district residents, Superintendent Mike Haluska will be discussing these pertinent subjects in a series of articles to be published on this page over the course of the next several months.

Haluska is to be commended for sharing his thoughts and insights about the needs of the Decorah District, and it is hoped his observations and explanations will facilitate a broader discussion of the topics. We look forward to sharing the views of this experienced educator with our readers.

I’m writing in Aaron


It seems impossible to believe the best two candidates we can come up with for president are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Am I dreaming? Out of the hundreds of millions of Americans is this really what we have to settle for?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the comment: “I don’t like either of them – at all. I’ll probably vote for the one I hate the least (whatever that means).”

Great, just when our country needs a strong, thoughtful, intelligent leader who can guide us through these troubled times, we instead have to settle for Tweedledum or Tweedledee.  It ain’t so.

Do I have a better suggestion? You can bet your sweet bip8ptpy I do. At the least it’s not any worse than the Donald and Ms. Hillary.

I think we should elect Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers as our commander-in-chief. Quit laughing and think about it for a minute.

As a University of California at Berkley graduate, he’s extremely well educated, dependable, responds amazingly under pressure, works well with others, is a natural-born leader and, not to be overlooked, blew the competition away on celebrity Jeopardy.

The only questionable decision I can recall him making is his decision to no longer eat cheese. Not a popular move if you live in Wisconsin.

But regardless of his cheese thing, he’s got my vote. Get rid of Trump and Clinton and put Aaron in the White House. What have we got to lose?