November 26, 2022

O-M superintendent gives progress update after first quarter of school year

Shawn Holloway, the shared superintendent between Panorama and Orient-Macksburg, said Friday that most of all, it’s a team effort that keeps a school district of any size operating successfully.

He is one quarter of the school year into the sharing agreement, which finds him about focusing about 70% of his time on Panorama affairs and about 30% on O-M.

“From my seat, it’s going well. I have a routine for my week. I’m typically at Orient-Macksburg on Tuesdays, then I try to get there every other week on a random day,” Holloway said. “I think we have a good line of communication. With technology what it is, it isn’t like Tuesdays are the only days I am communicating with people at O-M. All that has been good.”

At the November school board meeting, Holloway reports he told members that they should begin now in reviewing what the superintendent sharing agreement looks like and if it is working.

“I told them they should go and try to get some information from other employees in the district to see if it’s working for them. That’s obviously an important piece of it as well, to make sure I’m providing enough support for key individuals in the district,” Holloway explained.

One of the biggest items Holloway said he always thinks about is stability, both how to achieve it and how to maintain it. Staff changes and “systematic changes” coming into this school year has put challenges on the district, however Holloway praised the school’s principal, Dan Grandfield, for his leadership in influencing stability.

In the future, Holloway hopes to be able to create class schedules at the high school level with Nodaway Valley are even more efficient so that learning isn’t lost by excessive time of riding a bus between. The districts have been in a tuition sharing since the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.

Another aspect of that is being more proactive rather than reactive, realizing what is best for students. One such example is that Nodaway Valley will welcome O-M student-athletes for boys basketball this winter, as after they had a few practices, the Bulldogs did not have enough players to field a team.

Certified enrollment at Orient-Macksburg is also down. The number of students the district serves is 134, down four from a year ago.

“This isn’t the case, but let’s say our certified enrollment goes up 10 kids but we’re serving five less and 15 more are open-enrolled out. Yes, we get more state funding, but then that state funding is paid to a different district that is educating those kids,” Holloway said. “If your certified enrollment goes up but your actual enrollment goes down, that means more kids are leaving your district to go somewhere else.”

Generally speaking, Holloway said he’s speaking to early elementary-level teachers and they are still seeing the effects of the pandemic and time lost then from the classroom.

“It’s probably from the number of social interactions that our kids either had or missed during that time. You don’t think about kids not being potty-trained before they come to school, but that’s a thing with those young kids,” Holloway said. “It’s really evident with preschool, kindergarten and first grade. I think we’re going back to the fact that we need to educate our kids where they’re at versus what a first grade standard says.”

Holloway said that from his perspective, the sharing arrangement he currently has is working well. He hopes that continues to go smoothly. He often mirrors his work, so that if he’s doing a state-required report for one district, he does it for the other too.

“From my stand point I think it’s going really well, but I also think it’s important for the board to consider day-to-day operations. If those are going well, that’s a reflection of Dan being a good building principal and a good leader, and that’s his wheelhouse,” Holloway said. “You want to make sure the system is getting what it needs, and that’s what I told the board.”

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson

Caleb Nelson has served as News Editor of the Adair County Free Press and Fontanelle Observer since Oct. 2017. He and his wife Kilee live in Greenfield. In Greenfield and the greater Adair County area, he values the opportunity to tell peoples' stories, enjoys playing guitar, following all levels of sports, and being a part of his local church.