Saturday, January 13, 2024

AHSTW CSD Supports Iowa's AEA System

Hello everyone,


I write this letter in response to Governor Reynold’s State of the State speech earlier this week.  During her message, she provided her insights to upcoming priorities in the area of education.  Those priorities drew a varied response across the State, as she packaged her points in a way that many would find hard to disagree with.  However, after removing the packaging and analyzing the House Study Bills there are concerns with her educational platform.


At this time, I would like to focus on the Governor’s priority centered around “Narrowing and Closing the Achievement Gap”.  Most certainly there is No One in Iowa, including ALL Iowa educators, who can disagree with this priority, as we ALL want what is best for ALL students.  However, I disagree with Governor Reynold’s method of solving the problem, as her solution involves removing dollars from a system that is designed to assist school districts when districts are unable to provide the services ourselves due to an inability to hire certified professionals to serve a number of students.


I hope the following scenarios provide some insight into our experiences, as the discussed services would be eliminated from many Iowa schools if House Study Bill 542 passes both houses of the Iowa Legislature.


·      In past years, AHSTW CSD has partnered with Greenhills AEA to provide our students access to a certified social worker.  Our shared employee meets with students weekly to help students identify areas of concern and develop stronger coping skills to move forward in a healthy manner.  It is important to note with the advent of social media and the lack of controls, our students are facing many issues that we as adults never had to face as children, and we need the assistance of the AEA to provide those supports to our students and other Iowa students, as well.


·      With the teacher shortage, AHSTW CSD has struggled to hire a teacher with the appropriate licensure to best serve between 8-10 students in our English Language program.  Don’t get me wrong, we have found a wonderful teacher to support our students in the short-term, but our solution may not be long-term.  With that said, we have reached out to our AEA to look for assistance in hiring an ELL instructor to not only serve AHSTW, but multiple districts in our area who in a similar situation.


·      Professional Learning is also an area of support provided by our AEA. In fact, Greenhills AEA has provided training to many districts in our area on the instructional practices of LETRS, the research-based literacy practice recently adopted by the Iowa Department of Education to impact Governor Reynold’s literacy initiative.  This training was in person and supported by the AEA staff, while the training provided by LETRS and the Iowa Department of Education will be on-line.



o   Training in the area of TAG, ELL, Math, Science and more are also provided by our AEA partners.


·      Technology supports in Greenhills AEA are also very important for all districts, as Mr. David Fringer has worked diligently to assist in the development of Cyber-Security plans and infrastructure to assist us in protecting our data in our most vulnerable points.


·      Recently, AHSTW Community School District was in need of a school librarian, as our staff member left her position.  During our search Greenhills AEA was able to provide a teacher-librarian to serve us in this role.  At the same time, the same person was serving at least two other districts all while serving as a technology integration specialist, too.


I hope the above scenarios demonstrate just how important AEAs are and if reduced Iowa schools would be hard pressed to replicate those services.  Now I understand that larger districts in our AEA may be able to fill those positions as they have more dollars due to enrollment, but smaller districts would be hard pressed to do so, as we do not have the capacity to hire full time staff members in these areas and services hired through a private company would be at an increased cost and not affordable, thus reducing services to Iowa students, families, and staff.


I hope you consider my points and evaluate our circumstances in rural Iowa, as the AEA can truly help balance educational opportunities in all areas of the state all while supporting Senator Charles Grassley’s vision for supporting Iowa School Districts.


 “I’ve always had a passion for helping the next generation of leaders succeed. I led the charge to create AEAs when I served in the Iowa legislature, and I’ve enjoyed watching the success and profound impact these agencies have had on education in our state. It’s an honor to work on behalf of Iowa students in the Senate, and I’ll continue doing my part to ensure that they have the resources needed to reach their full potential,” Senator Charles Grassley.


Thank you and I would enjoy talking with you on these topics if you have time, as my goal is to help you develop an understanding of our position and needs.





Mr. Darin Jones


AHSTW Community School District

Friday, December 29, 2023


 Continued Development of AHSTW P.R.I.D.E


It is evident that members of our AHSTW Community have a tremendous amount of pride in all of our communities and school district.  With that said, in the early 2000’s an emphasis on PRIDE values – Positivity, Respect, Integrity, and Dependability was created to foster Excellence in self, academics, and activities.  This commitment to character and positive behavior is essential as we strive to develop Excellence each day!


Recently, we dedicated ourselves to defining each value to remind us of how we all hope to contribute to our community on a daily basis while in our communities, throughout the course of the academic day, or as we represent AHSTW at events across the State of Iowa, as these skills will help our students become leaders not only in our school, but also as they continually engage in their community and careers long after graduation.


We feel the following definitions are wonderful reminders and benchmarks to strive for!



·       Encouraging positivity creates a nurturing environment designed to lift one another up by offering support, listening to each other, while sharing new ideas and perspectives.  


·       Emphasizing respect creates an environment, in which, we accept each other’s differences, honors each other’s time, perspectives, and experiences as we create a safe and supporting environment to promote belonging and community.


·       Acting with integrity builds a sense of trust and credibility and is based on the idea of doing what is right even when no one is watching.  The daily goal is to model positive behavior, ensure confidentiality, build trust with others and continually develop a stronger culture of ethical conduct.


·       Very simply put, “You Can Count on Me!  Our actions demonstrate our commitment to each other as we strive to follow through on our responsibilities to ourselves, team members, classmates, and others in our community!


·       By implementing POSITIVITY, RESPECT, INTEGRITY, and DEPENDABILITY, we will have no other option than to EXCEL!


By emphasizing these values and encouraging each individual person to lead by example, AHSTW Community School District will continually promote Excellence in all facets of our school community and individual members.  At this time, we want to thank everyone for your support of AHSTW and invite you to discuss and model the above-mentioned traits with your students, as we all strive to help them reach their full potential where success is not only measured by achievements, but also by the positive impact we make on the lives of others!




Mr. Darin Jones

AHSTW CSD Superintendent

Friday, August 4, 2023

Welcome Back & Personal Device Update

 AHSTW Families,

I hope everyone is having a great summer and this letter finds you relaxed and re-energized for an exciting year.  Personally, I know the summer has gone by quickly but it has certainly been packed with action and enjoyment.

As you will see upon your return there have been changes made to our building, and I have listed them below!

  • Mrs. Calhoon’s classroom now has a bathroom in it!

  • LED lighting has been installed in the southern half of our building.  What a change, as the light is whiter and brighter.  The dimming components will be added next summer.

  • The HS mechanical room’s outside doors have been closed in.

  • The HS music room as you know it is gone.  The room has been turned into an elementary music room along with a storage room, and an additional classroom.

  • The fire suppression system has been installed in all rooms south of the weight room and elementary / JH gym.  The system is not operational, but all of the piping has been installed.

We also want to share that our AHSTW Community School District staff has  worked throughout the past school year to develop  guidelines relating to the use of electronic devices during the school day and we must be thoughtful in identifying which devices are allowed and in which situations.  With that said, we understand the use of electronic devices can be beneficial to students’ learning as society continues to become more digital than ever before and in order to promote learning and access to information, AHSTW Community School District provides one-to-one computers for all students to use as a learning tool.


However, we know technology can have a negative impact on a student’s mental health due to the increased access to cell phones [smart phones] and the influence of social media on students.  In fact, results from a 2019 nationwide survey by the National Center for Education Statistics indicated that 16% of students in grades 9-12 have experienced cyber-bullying. With that said, our goal in creating our new electronic device guidelines is to continually strive to lessen distraction over the course of the school day while creating a safer environment.


AHSTW High School Expectations: [Grades 9-12]


·  Students are allowed to have their personal electronic devices while at school, however all personal devices do need to be turned off and put away during all instructional periods.

·  Students are allowed to use personal devices during non-academic times, such as before and after school, during passing periods, and during lunch.

·  Students needing to use technology to monitor health conditions [ex: diabetes] will be allowed to do so based on individually written health plans.

·  Students will be required to put their devices in a designated location during the academic period.

·  Personal devices such as iPads, personal laptops, smartwatches, .mp3 devices, earphones are not allowed.

·  If a student uses a personal electronic device during an instructional period the following sequence of actions will be initiated :

o   Step 1:  The device is held in the HS Office until after 3:30 PM, at which time the student can pick it up.  Parents will be notified of the violation.

o   Step 2:  A discipline referral is submitted with a 30 minute detention assigned, and the device is held in the HS Office until a parent can pick it up after that school day (arrangements need to be made with school administration and/or HS Office).

o   Step 3:  An additional discipline referral is submitted with an additional 30 minute detention assigned, and the device is held in the HS Office for a parent or guardian to pick the device up. 

§  A 3rd offense will also require the student to check in his/her device at the beginning of each day prior to 1st period for the remainder of the semester (or a minimum of 30 days).  Access to the student's device will not be granted until the school day ends.

·  Parents are asked to contact the school office with any immediate information for their student and a message will be shared with the student.

·  As in past years, the school assumes no responsibility or liability for any student-owned personal electronic device brought into the school building or onto school property.



AHSTW Intermediate School Expectations: [Grades 4-8]

·   CELL PHONES: Cell phones must remain in the student’s backpack, cubby (gr. 4-6) or locker (gr. 7-8) during the school day (8:00 AM to 3:30 PM). If a student needs to contact a family member, they will be directed to use the classroom or office phone. If a family member needs to contact a student, please call Mrs. Kiesel (grades 4-6) or Mrs. Stamp (grades 7-8).

·   SMART WATCHES: Wrist devices that connect to cellular phones must have the cellular feature turned off during the school day.

·   MP3/AUDIO DEVICES/CHROMEBOOKS: digital devices for the purpose of listening to music are not to be used during the school day (8:30 AM to 3:30 PM). The use of such a device may result in disciplinary action.

o   Teachers may allow use of MP3/Audio Devices for instructional purposes only.

·   HEADPHONES: Headphones, including earbuds, are not to be worn at any time throughout the school day (8:30 AM to 3:30 PM).

o   Teachers may allow use of headphones for instructional purposes only.

·   CHROMEBOOKS: Since we are a 1:1 Chromebook school, we believe that the Chromebook issued to the student should be the primary piece of technology needed throughout the day.

·   Any other electronic device will need administrative approval to be used throughout the school day. The use of any unapproved device or choosing to disregard any of the above policies will result in disciplinary action.

·   Students bringing their own electronic devices to school do so at their own risk and assume all responsibility and liability for their devices. Student-owned devices can be confiscated by school employees if disrupting the educational environment.

AHSTW Primary School Expectations:  [Grade PK-3]

o   As in years past, our recommendation is that all electronic devices remain at home as the school is not responsible for the loss of any personal items.  In the event a device is brought to school it is the expectation that the device remains powered off in the students backpack during the school day.

o   We ask that you please contact Mrs. Kiesel in the event you need to contact a student and the message will be shared.

We can’t wait to see everyone on August 23!


Darin Jones


AHSTW Community School District

Thursday, July 20, 2023

AHSTW Activities & Ticket Costs

 Hello everyone,


I hope everyone is enjoying their summer before things are back in motion next month!  


This year AHSTW Community School District along with all Western Iowa Conference Schools will be increasing ticket prices for the 2023-2024 school year to $7.00 per event for attendees school-age through adult.  This is a necessary change due to increasing costs associated with hosting extra-curricular activities.


To assist in your understanding as to how districts support activities, I share the following three pronged approach:

·      AHSTW CSD’s General Fund:  This fund is used to pay coaches’ salaries, transportation costs to and from events, repairs and general upkeep to gym floors, fields, facilities, field paint, chalk, etc.…

·      Activities Fund:  The activities fund is funded by admission fees, team fundraising, and donations.  The purpose of this account is to:

o   Pay for all official fees for Varsity, JV, and JH events. 

§  [We do not collect admission at any event at the JV and JH levels when separate from varsity competitions.]


Referee/Umpire/Judge Costs Associated with Hosting Varsity Level Competitions: [Per event]

Varsity Football




Varsity and JV Volleyball


Varsity B/G Soccer

$400 + mileage

Cross Country 

·      [No Gate Fee]


Varsity and JV Baseball


Varsity Basketball


Varsity and JV Softball


Varsity Wrestling Quad


·      Similar Costs are associated with each JH or JV Activity although at a slightly lower amount.


o   Pay for all team entry fees for tournaments and meets

o   Pay for the base package for HUDL and Track Wrestling, which are services required by the State High School Associations to share film and scouting materials for specific high school sponsored sports.

o   Pay for equipment needs including balls, training equipment, uniforms and supplies, etc.

·      AHSTW Booster Club:  We are very thankful for our booster club and all they do as they help tremendously in providing some basic needs of our sports teams [Ex. Uniforms, balls, and more], but also enhancements to our activities, as well.  


With that said, due to the increase in associated costs and fees, it is necessary for AHSTW CSD and other WIC schools to raise the price of admission beginning with the 2023-2024 school year.  With the increase in ticketing costs, AHSTW will also increase the cost of student, adult, and family passes, which are demonstrated on page three.


Online Ticketing – Bound


In addition to increasing the cost of admission AHSTW CSD and all Western Iowa Conference schools will begin the transition to cashless payment for admission to games, much like what we have been doing for postseason tournaments the past few years.  Spectators will have a few different options to purchase event tickets. 

o   Tickets can be purchased in advance using a link on the school’s Bound site:

o   You may need to use your email address to log into the site where you can download a QR code to your phone or print the ticket with the QR code to be scanned at the admission site. 

o   You can also use a debit/credit card at the event site to purchase a ticket. 

o   Jr. High events in the Western Iowa Conference will remain to be free. When our teams travel to play other schools outside of our conference, they may have different payment methods and admission prices and we will try to keep you informed of other payment situations. 

o   AHSTW will still offer the sale of activity passes which will work at AHSTW home events.  The price of event passes are included in this letter, but you will also be able to view pricing on our school website or by contacting the school.

Bound Activity Calendars:


Starting in August, AHSTW CSD will also transition to using Bound as our activities information hub. You can find our school’s page using the link It is on this site you will be able to see upcoming games and activities, access our activities calendar, purchase tickets to school events, and use various other tools as we start to implement those items. Bound also has an app that can be downloaded on your phone.



AHSTW CSD & Western Iowa Conference


2023-2024 Admission Prices

All varsity events including District Football: 

Adults &  Students - $7.00

All tickets will be digital. Tickets can be purchased in advance through Bound or purchased at the gate with a card.


AHSTW Community School District Activity Passes 2023- 2024


Student Activity Pass

[A $50 pass pays for itself after attending 7.1 events.]


Good for all home regular season events for specified student

Adult Activity Pass

[A $100 pass  pays for itself after attending 14.3 events.]


Good for all home regular season events for specified adult

Family Activity Pass

[A family pass pays for itself after a family of 4 attends 42.8 events or 10.7 events per person.]


Good for all home regular season events for immediate family under 18 in one household

** AHSTW hosts roughly 50 home events per year.

** The cost of a family pass is based on a family of 4.  [A family of 4 could pay for roughly 200 gate fees, if all events were attended.]

** AHSTW extra-curricular passes are not valid for postseason activities.









Mr. Darin Jones


AHSTW Community School District

AHSTW CSD Supports Iowa's AEA System

Hello everyone,   I write this letter in response to Governor Reynold’s State of the State speech earlier this week.  During her message, sh...