Sigourney School Board Speaks with County Childcare Network Representative

Casey Jarmes
The News-Review

SIGOURNEY – During the May 8 meeting of the Sigourney School Board, the board met with Gary Iosbaker of KCED, who spoke about the need for childcare in Keokuk County. Iosbaker explained that Keokuk County is a “childcare desert” and showed the results of a November 2022 survey that revealed that there were 726 children from families that wanted to use regulated childcare, but only 12 open seats in the county at the time. Iosbaker explained that the median income for families with children in the county was $77,769 and the average family size was 2.96. However, childcare assistance is only available for families of three that earn less than $33,393. This is an issue for families that make too much to receive government assistance but too little to afford childcare otherwise. Iosbaker explained the newly created Keokuk County Childcare Network plans to fix this problem by establishing daycare centers in Sigourney, Keota and Richland, which will be part of a network alongside home providers.

The network will ideally help daycare providers with navigating regulations and management. It will also in theory allow daycare employees to help out other daycares when they get sick or go on vacation. Iosbaker, Sigourney School Board member Amy Wilcox and Sigourney Superintendent Kevin Hatfield are all currently members of the childcare network board. Iosbaker explained that, along with the ongoing daycare projects in Keota and Richland, the group was looking into purchasing a daycare building in Sigourney, at the old Indian Hills building next to H&M and the BP Gas Station. Iosbaker stated it was important for the daycares to offer good pay to attract professional workers.

“The whole idea here is to try and provide an educational, nurturing, safe, highly professional environment for the kids...We want to see childcare viewed as a professional service, a high-quality professional service,” said Iosbaker.

Also at the Wednesday meeting, Hatfield suggested continuing to give the school district’s flow-through dollars for media services and educational services to the AEA for the coming year. Previously, 100% of this money went to the Great Prairie Area Education Agency; however, recent changes in legislation have made it so only 60% of the money will go to the district to be spent as the school board sees fit, with the remaining 40% going to the AEA. Hatfield explained that it will take time to figure out how best to use this money. The board approved sticking with the AEA.

Hatfield brought up recent bills allowing schools to let staff carry firearms and mandating that larger schools hire school resource officers. Hatfield stated he had reservations about the idea of teachers carrying guns and would prefer to have a well-trained school resource officer instead. Hatfield brought up the recent report that revealed the Iowa Department of Education had been miscalculating and reporting graduation rates at a higher rate for at least ten years. Statewide, this error resulted in the reported graduation rate being 2.5% higher than reality. Hatfield informed the board of Sigourney High School’s actual 2023 graduation rates of 93.18% after four years and 97.96% after five years.



The News-Review

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