Skip to main content

What's New at Dubuque Community Schools

Fulton Elementary School Exterior

Fulton Elementary School to Host Open House Celebrating School’s Legacy, May 22

Fulton Elementary School and the Fulton Family Group will host an open house celebrating the legacy of the school on Sunday, May 22, from 3-4:30 p.m. The community is invited to attend. Fulton will close and be decommissioned as a school in the Dubuque Community School District at the conclusion of the school year.

At the open house, school staff and members of the Fulton Family Group will be on hand and self-guided tours will be available. Concessions available for purchase, old Fulton yearbooks, commemorative t-shirts and Fulton memorabilia will be able for purchase (cash only).

There will also be an opportunity for attendees to sign a commemorative item that will be placed in a Fulton time capsule. During the open house, the school’s former technology coach Jeff Dyer will be on hand showing Fulton Films made with Fulton students over the years.

In 1856, the Dubuque Community School District constructed Couler Avenue School on the corner of Couler Avenue and Diagonal Streets in Dubuque. In 1889, the building was renamed Fulton School at a time when the school board elected to name schools after famous Americans. The building is named after Robert Fulton, who was inventor of the steamboat as well as an artist and engineer. In 1891, an addition to the school was added at that original site.

In 1939, the school board called for a special election to build four new district schools to replace existing ones, including Fulton. A new Fulton School, built in its current location at a cost of $212,763.73, was accepted by the board and dedicated in 1941. In 1944, a nursery school and childcare center were opened at Fulton School to supplement the nursery school in operation in other district schools. Today, Fulton serves approximately 240 students in grades PreK-5.

Update on High School Reading List Review

Over the weekend, a media story ran regarding the district’s work to review and update required reading lists at the high school level. The story ran while in the middle of the process, which has and will include feedback from teachers, curriculum staff, administrators, students and the Board.

While no final decision has been reached, we would like to provide additional context given information currently circulating.

Early in the review process concerns from students were raised about three books: “Of Mice and Men,” “Absolutely True Stories of a Part-Time Indian,” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.” In particular, the books contain use of the N-word, and as part of instruction are regularly read aloud in classrooms. Students from all racial groups have expressed disturbing and distressing experiences in classes covering these books. In fact, some students report not attending classes on days the books are read aloud in order to evade the classroom experience that accompanies the text.

Moving forward, additional feedback is being gathered about both texts being used in coursework and the instructional delivery methods by which course content is delivered. The goal is to create a learning environment that is challenging and complex, engaging and thought-provoking, classic and contemporary – all while doing everything in our power to eliminate instances in which students feel that marginalization is occurring, which has been stated in feedback received from students about lessons including these books. This work will continue with those goals in mind.

There has never been a conversation about banning books. Banning books suggests efforts to restrict access to works of literature, which will not happen. Whether or not a book remains in the curriculum, each book in question would remain in school libraries and accessible to students.

News advocacy alert featured image

Advocacy Alert: School Vouchers are Wrong for Iowa

The Iowa Legislature is currently debating proposed legislation that would create a school voucher program in Iowa (being referred to in the bill as Student First Scholarships).

If passed, this fund would siphon dollars from the state’s already underfunded public schools and would further create a system in which the playing field is not level for all PreK-12 educational institutions.

The Dubuque Community School District strongly opposes this legislation and we hope you will consider advocating in opposition to it as well. The School Board also voted in April to pass a resolution opposing the creation of vouchers in the state.

KEY TALKING POINTS

  • Student First Scholarships are the wrong public policy for Iowa and an inappropriate use of public tax dollars.
  • Parents should have the choice to enroll their child in a private or religious school, but not with public taxpayer funds.
  • Use taxpayer dollars for public schools, period. The public’s investment should be used to support public community schools which are open to all students regardless of race, religion, gender, socio-economic status and disability. These same expectations do not exist for private educational institutions in our state.
  • Public funds require public accountability and transparency. Public schools are overseen by a publicly elected citizen governing board, are required to report academic results to the general public, have an annual public financial audit, and are transparent with all expenditures and decision-making. Private and religious schools are not held to that same public standard. Taxpayers have a right to know how their funds are being used, but are left in the dark about the use and impact of voucher funds.
  • A slippery slope toward a costly and expansive voucher program: This voucher program may start small, but as we’ve seen in other states, once a program is established, it is easy to expand. This will pull more resources away from public schools.

CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATOR

The following legislators represent areas served by the Dubuque Community School District. For a complete directory of legislators, view the FIND YOUR LEGISLATOR tool on the Iowa Legislature website.

You can also register your opposition with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.

ISPRA Awards 2022

Dubuque Community School District Receives State Communication Awards

The Dubuque Community School District was recently recognized for its communication efforts in the 2022 Iowa School Public Relations Association (ISPRA) Communication Contest, honoring outstanding school communication throughout the state.

Iowa School Public Relations Association Logo

The district received 13 awards in the contest, with each entry evaluated and scored independently by school communication professionals in other state chapters of the National School Public Relations Association. Based on a scoring rubric, winning entries can receive (from lowest to highest honors) an Award of Merit, an Award of Excellence, or a Blue and Gold Award, given to entries recognized as best in the state for receiving the top overall score of 5 out of 5.

The district was honored with the following:

BLUE AND GOLD AWARDS

AWARD OF EXCELLENCE

“As a district, we believe that having outstanding schools relies on having an engaged, informed community,” said Mike Cyze, chief communication officer. “We work hard to proactively and transparently communicate to those we serve and we are pleased to be recognized for our work in doing so.”

Fulton Elementary School to Close Following the 2021-2022 School Year

At the April 11, 2022, School Board meeting, the Board officially voted to close Fulton Elementary School at the conclusion of this school year.

This is difficult news and the district remains commitment to ensuring a smooth transition for our students, families and staff. The budget realities, however, necessitate this step in order to ensure the district’s financial viability into the future.

Based on the current number of staff openings, and the number of those that typically occur near the end of the school year, every current Fulton staff members will remain employed in the Dubuque Community School District.

School boundary lines have also been redrawn to assign current Fulton students to a school boundary that currently adjoins the Fulton boundary, with the option to also apply for in-district transfer to another school.

FOR THE FULL PRESENTATION ON THE DATA USED TO MAKE THE CLOSING DECISION, WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW (which will automatically begin at the part of the meeting that included discussion about Fulton).

Hawkins Named Dubuque’s Next Superintendent of Schools

Amy Hawkins Photo

Amy Hawkins

The Dubuque Community School District Board of Education voted unanimously today to appoint Amy Hawkins as the district’s new superintendent of schools, effective July 1. Hawkins will succeed Stan Rheingans, who will leave the district at the conclusion of the school year to become the new Chief Administrator of Keystone Area Education Agency.

“The Board is confident that Amy is the right person to continue the positive momentum of the district and to lead it into the future,” said Board President Kate Parks. “Amy is an experienced, well-respected administrator who brings a collaborative leadership style focused on always putting students first. She is deeply rooted in the district and Dubuque community, and has a clear commitment to enhancing the Dubuque educational experience for each student we serve. We are excited for her to assume this role.”

Hawkins is currently the chief human resources officer for the district, a role in which she oversees all human resources operations for the approximately 2,000 employees in the district. This includes district-wide planning and coordination of staff recruitment, retention, budgeting, performance evaluation management, employee relations and personnel management.

“I look forward to collaborating with our staff, families and community as we continue the important, challenging and rewarding work of ensuring success for each and every student we serve,” said Hawkins. “The success of the Dubuque Community School District is deeply personal to me and I couldn’t be more honored to lead the district into the future.”

Prior to her chief human resources officer role, Hawkins served as the district’s director of activities and athletics. In this role, she served on the district’s executive leadership team and oversaw all aspects of the district’s extracurricular programming as well as the development and implementation of wellness/health curriculum and English Language Learners (ELL) programming.

She was responsible for all aspects of these programs, including hiring, evaluating and mentoring of staff, budget planning and oversight, and delivery of professional development. Hawkins was also the district administrator working with the school board’s Activity Council, and she has been instrumental in the design and upgrade of numerous athletic facilities.

Before serving as director of activities and athletics, Hawkins was a district-level teacher on special assignment from 2010-2012. She began her career in the Dubuque Community School District in 1997 as a wellness teacher at Dubuque Senior High School, later becoming department chair at the school. She has also been both an assistant and head coach for the Dubuque Senior High School Girl’s Volleyball Team, and was named Mississippi Valley Coach of the Year in 2005. From 1998-2000, she was head coach of the Clarke University Women’s Volleyball Team.

Hawkins holds a bachelor’s degree from Winona State University and a master of arts degree in education from the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) with Pre-K through 12 principal and Pre-K through 12 special education supervisor certification. She also holds an advanced studies certificate in superintendency from UNI.

Dubuque Community School District Names Superintendent Finalists

Dubuque, Iowa – Since November, the Dubuque Community School District Board of Education has been engaged in the process of selecting the district’s next Superintendent of Schools. The next superintendent will succeed Stan Rheingans, who will leave the district at the conclusion of the school year to become the new Chief Administrator of Keystone Area Education Agency.

The district received 16 applications for the superintendent position, coming from seven states. The Board was very pleased with the high-quality caliber of the candidate pool. Eight candidates had previous superintendent experience, six candidates had central office experience, and all candidates had significant administrative experience.

The Board conducted screening interviews with seven semifinalists and is pleased to announce the three finalists for the position. They are:

Amy Hawkins

Amy Hawkins Photo

Amy Hawkins

Amy Hawkins currently serves as the chief human resources officer for the Dubuque Community School District in Dubuque, Iowa, a role she has held since 2019. Prior to that, she served as the district’s director of activities and athletics from 2012-2019, as well as the district’s wellness and health curriculum coordinator from 2010-2019. In these roles, she also served as the project director of the district’s LEAP Enrichment Program from 2017-2019 and as the English Language Learners (ELL) curriculum coordinator from 2018-2019. Prior to her administrative roles, she was a wellness teacher and coach at Dubuque Senior High School. Hawkins holds a master of arts in education degree from the University of Northern Iowa and a bachelor of science degree in teaching from Winona State University.

Kent Mutchler

Kent Mutchler Photo

Kent Mutchler

Kent Mutchler currently serves as the superintendent of Geneva Community Unit School District 304 in Geneva, Ill., a role he has held since 2006. Prior to that, he served as superintendent at Ankeny Community Schools in Ankeny, Iowa, from 2002-2006 and Oelwein Community Schools I Oelwein, Iowa from 1998-2002. He served as assistant superintendent in the Spencer Community School District in Spencer, Iowa, from 1993-1998 and principal at Guthrie Center Community High School in Guthrie Center, Iowa, from 1989-1993. He was athletic director and social studies teacher at Storm Lake Community High School from 1988-1989 and taught social studies at Clarion Community High School in Clarion, Iowa from 1986-1989. Mutchler holds a bachelor of arts degree from Buena Vista College in Storm Lake, Iowa, a master of arts degree from Iowa State University, master’s degrees in education (Ed.S. and MSE) from Drake University, and a doctor of education degree also from Drake.

R. Chace Ramey

R. Chace Ramey Photo

R. Chace Ramey

R. Chace Ramey currently serves as deputy superintendent for the Iowa City Community School District in Iowa City, Iowa, a role he has held since 2018. Prior to this role, he served as assistant superintendent for human resources for Fairfax County Public Schools in Fairfax, Va., from 2016-2018 and was chief human resources officer for Iowa City Community Schools from 2012-2015. He was chief of staff for the Kansas City Public Schools from 2010-2012, director of student services for University Academic Charter School LEA in Kansas City, Mo., from 2008-2010 was assistant director and director for the Academic Achievement Program for the University of Iowa College of Law. Ramey holds a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Kansas, a juris doctorate from the University of Iowa, and a doctor of philosophy degree from the University of Iowa.

Finalist interviews will be conducted on Monday, Feb. 21 (Mutchler); Tuesday, Feb. 22 (Ramey); and Thursday, Feb. 24 (Hawkins), with each finalist meeting with interview teams comprised of district staff, parents and community partners. Each candidate will conclude their day with an interview with the Board of Education.

###

Contact Tracing Update (January 21, 2022)

On Wednesday, the Dubuque County Board of Health voted to support a proposal from the Dubuque County Public Health Incident Management Team to suspend contact tracing efforts for positive COVID-19 cases.

By Iowa Code, the Dubuque Community School District cannot engage in contact tracing and investigation without the involvement of a public health agency. Currently, the district contact traces as an extension of the Dubuque County Health Department / Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) and, as such, will also suspend contact tracing in schools.

The district’s protocols for those who test positive for COVID-19 or those with symptoms of illness have not changed.

In place of contact-tracing efforts, the Dubuque Incident Management Team will increase promotion of quarantine and isolation guidance as well as the Dubuque County COVID-19 “hotline” for questions and support.

The team’s recommendation follows recent decisions by other Iowa counties to suspend contact tracing, including Linn County and Johnson County, and is based on the increased level of community spread of COVID and the increased difficulty in reaching positive individuals.

Additional reasons cited by the incident management team include:

  • A delay in information sharing and reporting by state public health with local public health which prevents contact during the first 24-48 hours after diagnosis, the most critical period for spread.
  • An increasing percentage of contact tracing calls to residents by Dubuque County Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) staff that go unanswered.
  • New testing options like rapid at-home tests that are reducing the number of positive cases reported to public health, preventing contact tracing with these individuals.

The district, and schools throughout Dubuque County, are also experiencing these issues and support the change.

Updated CDC COVID-19 Isolation Guidance (January 7, 2022)

This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated guidance that reduces the isolation period for someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

The Dubuque County Health Department, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), and the CDC are all in alignment regarding this guidance and beginning Monday, Jan. 10, the guidance allows individuals to return after 5 days as follows:

COVID-19 POSITIVE CASE / ISOLATION GUIDELINES
Based on guidance from the CDC, IDPH and Dubuque County Health Department, individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will be instructed to self-isolate for at least 5 calendar days following the onset of symptoms OR 5 calendar days following the date the positive test was administered if the individual is asymptomatic. (Day 0 is the first day of symptoms or the date the positive test was administered if asymptomatic.)

Individuals may return to school after the 5 calendar days if ALL THREE of the following are true:

  • The individual’s symptoms are resolving or the individual continues to have no symptoms if asymptomatic
  • The individual continues to wear a mask around others for an additional 5 calendar days
  • The individual is fever free for 24 hours (one full day) without fever-reducing medication.

If all three of the requirements above are not met, an individual needs to isolate for the full 10 calendar days.

The guidance above will be provided to individuals who test positive for COVID-19 when they are contacted by the Dubuque County Health Department/Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) for contact tracing.

During the contact tracing process, the VNA will also give guidance for identified unvaccinated, household close contacts that their quarantine period will also be 5 calendar days with wearing a mask around others for an additional 5 calendar days.

Abstract colorful letters

2022-2023 Free Four-Year-Old Preschool Registration Begins Monday, Jan. 10

Registration for free four-year-old preschool in the Dubuque Community School District will begin on Monday, Jan. 10. This includes 12 Dubuque public elementary schools offering preschool through the Statewide Voluntary Free Preschool Program. (Please note that due to space constraints, Hoover Elementary School will not offer preschool programming for the 2022-2023 school year.)

Parents and guardians may register students in person at the selected site, beginning at 7 a.m. on Monday, January 10.

Proof-of-age, preferably a birth certificate, is required to register a student. Other accepted proof-of-age documents include a passport or signed immunization record.

Preschool registration paperwork is available to complete in advance beginning on the district’s preschool webpage or in-person at all elementary schools. You can also find registration details and forms, as well as additional preschool information, online at www.dbqschools.org/preschool.

Read More about “2022-2023 Free Four-Year-Old Preschool Registration Begins Monday, Jan. 10”