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CAL Community School District

CAL Community School

"A Small School With Big Ideas" is the motto of CAL Community School in Latimer, Iowa. In a time when bigger is often perceived as better, CAL, with its PreK-12 enrollment of 277 students, challenges that perception by providing outstanding academic and extra-curricular opportunities in a close-knit, caring environment. This mission is to educate all students to think critically, assume responsibility, possess self-confidence, and become productive members of a changing global society.

Located in Franklin County in north central Iowa, CAL Community School includes the towns of Coulter, Alexander, Latimer, and 117 square miles of surrounding agricultural farmland. The districts geographical size places it among the top 25 percent of school districts in the state of Iowa in terms of area and its PreK-12 enrollment places it in the bottom 25 percent of school districts in terms of student population. For the past 35 years, in addition to its regular educational program, the district has supported a public pre-kindergarten program that enrolls nearly 100 percent of its eligible three and four year olds.  Over the past ten years or so, the demographics of CAL Community School have gradually changed.  Ten years ago the Hispanic student population was in single digits and is now 27% of our total student population.  Our Free and Reduced Lunch percentage has also dramatically increased over that period of time and is now approximately 50% of our families.  The growth of our Hispanic population has been very welcomed and has sustained our very existence.

The CAL School, with strong community support, has a long-standing tradition of providing progressive and meaningful educational opportunities to its students. As early as 1979, the CAL School was recognized as a leader in small-scale community based rural education. Researchers from Boston University studied the school and wrote an article on their findings entitled "CAL Community School- Small, Rural, and Good!" that appeared in the April issue of the Phi Delta Kappa. In 1985-86, CAL received the Governor's Partnership in Education Award for working with the public in bringing Iowa's top performing artists to the CAL school through a jointly sponsored Theater and Concert Series. In 1986-87, the CAL High School was one of 256 schools nationwide to receive the United States Department of Education's Secondary Schools Recognition Award. In 1987-88, Secretary of Education William Bennett included the CAL High School as one of seven exemplary high schools in his book, James Madison High School. In 1991-92, the CAL Elementary School was one of 250 schools to receive the United States Department of Education's Elementary Blue Ribbon Schools Award. Therefore, the CAL, Community School system is one of a handful of school systems throughout the nation that has had its entire Pre-kindergarten through Grade 12 program recognized for excellence in education. In 2000-2001 the CAL-Dows High School was once again recognized as a United States Department of Education's Secondary Blue Ribbon School. In May of 2001, TIME Magazine recognized the CAL Community School when it named it Runner Up Elementary School in TIME's "Schools of the Year."

Parental involvement and community support in the district stems back to CAL's beginning and continues to flourish today.  In 1973 the district voters were among the first in Iowa to support a 67-1/2 cents Schoolhouse Levy, and in September 1975, CAL voters were the first in Iowa to pass a local option enrichment tax to provide additional financial resources to support the school's general budget operations. Since their enactment in the district, both of these levies have been extended each time they have come up for renewal, in spite of a declining economy and renewed emphasis on tax reduction. Community support is also evident in an active ministerial association working in conjunction with the school to present a position paper supporting the schools efforts in the area of character education. Finally, parents and community are involved in the School Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC) to collaboratively provide ideas for continued school improvement and Board considerations on specific issues.

The CAL District has been progressive in maintaining and updating our building and facilities.  In the 2005-2006 school year, a successful Harkin Grant provided for a new science classroom, and new art room and the addition of our community run Cub Cadet Childhood Center.  We have also added new playground equipment for the elementary students.  In the summer of 2011, new boilers were installed with new air conditioning units to create a completely air conditioned building.  New classroom doors and hallway ceilings and lighting were installed at that time as well.  In the spring of 2010, the Board of Education took the bold step to approve the one-to-one lap top computer initiative for all students in grades 6-12. The elementary grades also have three mobile lap top computer systems for their classroom use.  The Board is committed to providing the best the district can offer in the way of technology and academic support to our students.

CAL has been successful in delivering good and innovative service to its students and patrons, so one snapshot view might be varied and complex. The best "snapshot", however, would be very simple--a picture of a single child. At CAL, real success is measured by the success of each individual child.

Dwight D. Widen – CAL Superintendent

Fall 2012

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CAL Community School District1441 Gull Ave.Latimer, IA  50452

Phone: 641-579-6087Fax: 641-579-6408

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