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Grant Wood Area Education Agency

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Mark your calendars!

Aug. 13


GWAEA summer hours end

Aug. 18


GWAEA All-Agency Inservice, The Concert Hall at College Community

Aug. 18, 5:30 p.m.


GWAEA Board meeting

All Agency Meeting Details Are Set

The All Agency meeting is coming up soon. It will be held in the Prairie High School Concert Hall on the College Community School District campus on Wednesday, August 18. (This is the same campus where we have often held our meetings, but it’s a different auditorium.)

Registration and colleague connection time begins at 1 p.m. in the Auditorium foyer, and the meeting starts at 1:30 p.m. It will conclude by no later than 4:30 p.m. Please do not plan on bringing any snacks, beverages or water bottles with you to this meeting. The district has a strict policy of no food or beverages in the hall or in the foyer outside of the facility.

Casual dress is certainly acceptable for this meeting. Our featured speakers at this year’s meeting will be members of the agency’s Organizational Leadership program 2010 graduates.

Food Bank Gifts Accepted
If you would like to share with others who have been less fortunate, we invite you to bring some canned goods to this all agency event. All canned goods received will be donated to the Cedar Rapids food pantry.

Professional Development Update

TQ Professional Development proposals submission dates for the 2010-2011 school year:

September 2, 2010
November 4, 2010
February 10, 2011
April 28, 2011
The proposal templates and directions are on the GWAEA staff portal under the Teacher Quality Committee link.
Information regarding the 2010 - 2011 Professional Development workshops and registration will be distributed at the All Agency Inservice on August 18.  

Our workshops for 2010 - 2011 will include a variety of national and regional presenters addressing topics such as rigorous reading interventions, using data to change instructional practices, working with parents and students with challenging behaviors, tiered interventions at the early childhood level, physical therapy for early childhood, developing communication skills for children with complex communication needs, working with students with brain injury, stuttering diagnosis and treatment, mental health issues in early development and in school age populations, and addressing the needs of students with autism spectrum disorders. Registration information will be available at that time.

For more information, contact Sherry Sines, Professional Development coordinator, Ext. 6517, or


Virtual Reality Showcase planned Aug. 6

Virtual Reality Education Pathfinders
"Students Leading and Learning in 3D"


VREP logo

Students will be the presenters during a Virtual Reality Showcase planned at Grant Wood AEA on Friday, August 6, from 2:30-4:00 p.m. in the conference center.

The showcase will culminate two days of training provided by seven students who range in age from 15 to 19. These students have become proficient in virtual reality programming – much of it self-taught - through an innovative program at East Marshall High School in LeGrand, Iowa.

Approximately 130 students from 21 different schools around the state will participate in the two-day training and showcase. The goal is for the students to return to their schools with the basic knowledge needed to implement VR programming and learning in their schools.

Participating schools include: Anamosa, Central City, Clayton Ridge, College Community, Edgewood-Colesburg, English Valleys, Galva-Holstein, Iowa Falls, Linn-Mar, Lisbon, Manson NW Webster, Marion, MFL MarMac, Midland, Monticello, Mount Vernon, Postville, Springville, Starmont, Valley, and Van Meter.
Trace Pickering, GWAEA Coordinator of Innovation & Organizational Effectiveness, explained that the vision for the project originated six years ago through a partnership of business leaders.

“A project titled Virtual Reality Educational Pathfinders or VREP was established six years ago by Rockwell Collins, John Deere, the Iowa Business Council, and others to begin to provide Virtual Reality programming and learning opportunities to Iowa students,” Pickering said. “VREP is now initiating a ‘scale-up’ based on the incredible student impact results achieved by the founding schools.”

Virtual Reality Education Pathfinders (VREP) provides students the opportunity to lead and learn using three-dimensional (3D) virtual reality education. Student developers lead and facilitate this training with professional support. Students participate as both developers and users of 3D VR environments and applications. Teachers then use student-created applications in the classroom to facilitate learning for all.

For more information about the Virtual Reality Showcase, contact Pickering at Ext. 6550 or

Iowa Receives Waiver from USDE for Temporary Funding Reduction

Recent articles appearing in the news were somewhat confusing about the state’s application to the USDE for a waiver for special education funding. Federal law governing special education funding prohibits the states from reducing the amount of state financial support for special education and related services for children with disabilities.

The law prohibits the states from reducing the amount of financial support for special education compared to the previous year, and it provides for a penalty to the states by reducing the IDEA funding by an equal amount as the state’s reduction.

States can ask for an exemption to this rule if they can show that the reduction in funding occurred due to exceptional or uncontrollable circumstances such as a natural disaster or a precipitous and unforeseen decline in the financial resources of the state. That’s exactly what happened for Iowa.

The state faced a difficult financial situation due to a significant decrease in revenues for fiscal year 2010. The anticipated drop in our state’s General Fund was 8.4 percent from FY 2009 to FY 2010. As a result, Iowa cut its appropriations across all agencies, with an average cut in appropriations of approximately 14.75 percent. Funding for Special Education was cut by 7.25 percent – a reduction of $38 million.

If state funding is reduced, the USDE normally cuts an equal amount from the Federal funding, which would have resulted in an additional reduction of $38 million in Federal dollars. This additional reduction would have resulted in a total $76 million reduction for Special Education.

In reviewing the state’s application for a waiver, the USDE noted that the percentage cuts to special education were less than the average cuts across agencies and less than the percentage reduction in revenues for the state as a whole. As a result, the Secretary determined that it is equitable to grant a waiver under Federal law based on exceptional or uncontrollable circumstances -- the precipitous and unforeseen decline in the financial resources of the state -- permitting Iowa to reduce its amount of state financial support provided for special education and related services for FY 2010 by $38,102,897.

State Director of Education, Judy Jeffrey, told the USDE in her request for this waiver that Iowa’s children would continue to receive a free and appropriate public education. She noted the Iowa DE had informed LEAs and AEAs that budget reductions do not dilute or decrease their obligations to serve children with disabilities. Furthermore, Iowa code allows districts to raise property taxes, if necessary, to continue to provide special education.

Agency's communications/technology bunker, sharing with Heartland AEA featured

The Rebuild Iowa Office website features an article highlighting Grant Wood AEA's commuications/technology bunker as well as upcoming sharing capabilities and backup plans with Heartland AEA in Johnston.

Dave Brousard, GWAEA director of information technology and Arletta Dawson, Heartland AEA director of information technology, were interviewed for the article. Click here to access the full text.

Grant Wood AEA was the first AEA in the state to construct a bunker to protect agency servers. The unit was installed during February 2009. The 69,261 pound precast concrete unit was constructed in Indiana, and transported to Iowa for placement outside of the Sixth St. facility.

The unit provides a secure, protected environment for agency servers, which house our many products and applications that schools throughout the State of Iowa use. Grant Wood AEA provides payroll services for 60 school districts across the state, and student information for approximately 86,000 high school students.

Brousard was also interviewed about the commuications/technology bunker by Radio Iowa. Click here to access text from this interview.

Send-off celebration held July 21

Staff greeted Rob Mitchell during a send-off celebration held in the staff conference room on
Wednesday, July 21.

Rob, one of the lead printers in Creative Services, has been ordered to report for duty for deployment to Afghanistan in early August. His last day before leaving is Friday, July 23.



Rob Mitchell

8th Annual Quota International of Cedar Rapids Charity Golf Tournament

It’s that time of year again and the GWAEA Hearing Dept. is participating in the Quota Club Charity Golf Tournament scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 28. We are actively searching for Team(s) Grant Wood AEA and any interested golfers for the charity tournament. Registration deadline is Aug. 14. Click here for more information.

Free Summer at CRMA!

The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art (CRMA) has free admission for all visitors thanks to the generous support of sponsors Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust and United Fire Group. Free admission will last through Sept. 19, 2010. For more information about the exhibitions, and all that is happening at the CRMA, please visit or call 319-366-7503.

Grant Wood AEA Professional Development opportunities

For more information, contact Sherry Sines, Professional Development coordinator, Ext. 6517.

Grant Wood AEA Webinars

Archives of Grant Wood AEA Webinars and Assistive Technology Webinars.

Grant Wood AEA Online Resources Webinars

Webinars featuring information about the online resources.

Buy, Sell or Trade

For sale: 1999 Toyota Corolla, 85,000 miles, $3800. Call 319-389-5849.

Vacancies, Adobe PDF logo July 23, 2010

The Bulletin Board is published and distributed weekly to all GWAEA staff and Board members. Buy, Sell or Trade items are run for 2 consecutive issues, unless we are notified to remove an item. If you wish to submit items, please do so by Wednesday of the week you wish the item to be posted. Send items via email to George Held in the Communications office (

Please note: The Bulletin Board is also posted on the agency's Web site and is publicly accessible. We recommend you use your office or voice mail phone number instead of your home telephone number for any items listed in this newsletter.

Grant Wood Area Education Agency extends equal opportunities in its employment practices, educational programs and services, and does not discriminate on the basis of color, gender, race, national origin, religion, creed, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, veteran status or as otherwise prohibited by law. If you believe you or your child has been discriminated against or treated unjustly, please contact the Agency's Equity Coordinator, Maria Cashman, at 319-399-6847 or 1-800-332-8488 or TDD 319-399-6766, Grant Wood AEA, 4401 Sixth St SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404.

The Bulletin Board is the official employee information publication of Grant Wood Area Education Agency, 4401 Sixth Street, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52404