Oct 02

Iowa Falls, Alden set 10-year sharing agreement

More than a year after Iowa Falls exerted pressure on Alden to end its current grade-sharing arrangements, Iowa Falls got what it wanted. (Story: KLMJ)

The deal, which will last until 2028 (PDF), matches up with the previous arrangement except that Iowa Falls sixth-graders will not go to Alden. That little change turns it into a one-way sharing agreement, since all Alden junior high and high school students go to Iowa Falls. (Alden sixth-graders will remain at the elementary there.)

That means the longest existing two-way whole-grade sharing agreement is South Hardin (Eldora-New Providence and Hubbard-Radcliffe), which started in 2008 and earlier this year was extended to 2024.

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Sep 28

ISU football’s longtime, bigtime, primetime drought

Weeknight college football games, in a word, suck. Tonight against Texas is one of them. But without them, Iowa State would be even worse off for exposure.

It has been years since an Iowa State football game was not available on TV or streaming, at least at some package level. But being on TV and being a highlighted game are far different things.

A review of network and start-time assignments since 2004 shows that in 13 years, Iowa State football has been on ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2 on a Saturday night precisely twice. (Why 2004? A few reasons: A kindergartner in fall 2004 is a college freshman today; that far back, only half the games were on TV at all; and that’s where the lsufootball.net archive stops.) There are plenty of other night slots, but the best Big 12 games have gone to those three. This is changing somewhat following contract negotiations that gave “Big Fox” more Big 12 games and, now, more Big Ten games as well.

ISU’s highest-profile Saturday appearances on prime-time TV in those 13 years are 2006 Nebraska (a loss), 7 PM on ABC; 2014 Baylor (a blowout loss), 7:20 PM on Fox; and 2015 TCU (another blowout loss), 6 PM on ESPN2. The two most recent ISU wins on ABC are 2002 Nebraska* — with Brent Musberger making the call — and 2005 Iowa. Both were 2:30 kickoffs.

When ISU has been on ESPN or ESPN2 at night otherwise, it’s been on a weeknight: 2005 Army, 2011 UConn, and 2011 Oklahoma State** were all Fridays (the last moved from ESPN2 because of the NBA lockout); 2013 Texas*** and 2016 Oklahoma were Thursdays. The even-year games at Texas appear consigned to the Longhorn Network until either it or the Big 12 Conference die — technically the “ESPN family of networks”, but come on. (ISU is cool with this because the game goes to cyclones.tv, and then Kansas does the equivalent for its games at Texas on odd years.)

It would be nice if times and networks didn’t matter as much as they do, but you have to factor in ESPN’s tendency to ignore anything that isn’t either on a flavor of ESPN or the CBS SEC Game of the Week. As far as “GameDay” and halftime highlights are concerned, 11 AM on FS1 barely counts as being on TV at all.

The last 1 PM kickoff at Jack Trice Stadium was 2010 Kansas, and ISU’s last 1 PM kickoff ever was 2011 Missouri in Columbia. The former was the last game that was neither televised nor streamed, and the latter the last that was online-only. I prefer afternoon games, but the spotlight is in the night light, and the Cyclones just haven’t been winning enough to get into that position.

* The viewer will note that the song played in the stadium at the end was “Celebration” and very much NOT “Sweet Caroline.” See also this remembrance of Pete Taylor.
** As of this morning, that’s the second-to-last time ISU has won a game on any ESPN-related network. The only one later, of 17 games overall, is 2014 Iowa (ESPN), thanks to Kirk Ferentz’s “Ice Ice Maybe” routine.
*** [indiscriminate primal screaming]

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Sep 27

20th anniversary of North Tama school addition

NTAddition97C
September 27 and 28, 1997: Video stills of the north side of North Tama school, the weekend of a dedication ceremony for the addition with a multipurpose room (above), Iowa Communications Network room, and kindergarten.

The first of two substantial additions to the North Tama school complex since the baby boom was dedicated 20 years ago today.

In the mid-1990s, save for a new shop on the southeast corner, a recently constructed elevator, sloping roofs, and a change around the gym doors, the exterior looked nearly the same as it had since the mid-1960s. (The only giveaway to substantial renovations inside was a spot of slightly different colored bricks.) That changed in 1997, when a new multipurpose room and kindergarten were added on the north side.

NTAddition97D

A graduation-sized crowd turned out on Homecoming weekend for band and vocal performances along with a dedication ceremony in the MPR. The new entrance (tan overhang) and the green space in front, though, would only last about another decade.

NTAddition97B

All of the exterior you see in the frames above, except the side of the MPR abutting the parking strip, has been obscured from view by a giant addition to the front in 2009-10 that added a junior high commons, central office, varsity locker rooms, concession space, and vaulted ceilings (bleah). Speaking from experience, a sure-fire way to make you feel old is to have such a major change done to your school after you graduate.

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Sep 25

Longest K-6 districts highest in per-pupil funding

Here’s an interesting data point that has emerged in the discussion of inequity in per-pupil funding among school districts in Iowa: The two districts with the longest one-way whole-grade-sharing arrangements are also maxed out in funding. Delwood has sent grades 7-12 to Maquoketa and Stratford has sent 7-12 to Webster City since 1987, and both are among the districts with the highest level of per-pupil funding.

As reported by the Gazette, when the Iowa Legislature set a funding formula in the 1970s, schools spending more than that were allowed to continue spending more. Today, that can be up to $175 per student, and when you multiply that by the entire enrollment it can make a difference. For example, 400 students at Hudson (another maxed-out district) earn the district $70,000 more than 400 students at North Tama (a state-minimum district).

The comparatively higher funding can’t do everything. Those districts weren’t able to hold on to their high school, but they have been able to continue existing. There’s a bundle of other districts also at or near the top funding level that more recently lost their high school or shared high school: Gilmore City-Bradgate, Twin Rivers, Lu Verne and Northeast Hamilton. CAL will join this group next year. The differential may enable them to continue going on independently longer than they otherwise would have. (But still, each decline in the student body means a drop in state money.)

A bill that would have equalized per-pupil funding across every district in Iowa passed the Senate unanimously last session but died in the House.

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Sep 22

Grand Junction school to be demolished


July 5, 2013: Grand Junction school.

In less than a decade, the East Greene school district will go from a full K-12 community to nearly erased from the face of the earth.

The entire complex in Grand Junction, with a 1915 building at its core, will be demolished after the city council determined it could not maintain it. The small town doesn’t need a community center, because a smaller one was built not too long ago. (I suspect, but cannot prove, that “school closes within 5-10 years of a community center being built” has happened a few times in Iowa.) According to the Jefferson Herald, a $1.5 million renovation was done in 2012 but the facility needs upgrades to the heating system.

This decision follows East Greene’s consolidation with Jefferson-Scranton and closure of this building (as Greene County Intermediate) last school year, with an addition built at Jefferson instead. The only piece of East Greene that will be left is the gym in Rippey, after the main building there was torn down.

It is an absolute crying shame that this building is going to be lost, but there’s no way of getting around it.

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Sep 21

Urbana intersection meeting Sept. 26

I thought the decision to turn the curve for IA 150 west of Urbana (the end of old IA 363) into an intersection was a done deal, but I guess I was wrong. There’s going to be a meeting Sept. 26 in Urbana with two options for construction next year. One is the regular intersection with through traffic going east-west (since it’s a cutoff from Vinton to I-380), but the other is … the devil’s circle.

Yuck. Please, please do not put a roundabout there.

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Sep 20

Schedule locks Iowa with PSU, minimizes OSU

The Big Ten released its 2020 and 2021 conference football schedules last week, and a significant pattern emerged that takes the edge off for Iowa.

A quick check of Iowa’s opponents reveals that the 2019-20-21 crossovers are the exact home/away flip side of the 2016-17-18 crossovers. Despite the Big Ten claiming in the 2016-17 and 2018-19 schedules that the only protected division crossover game is Indiana-Purdue, Penn State is on Iowa’s schedule every year. A Wisconsin fan on Reddit noticed the non-protected “parity” crossovers a while ago, before the most recent release.

This means the Hawkeyes play the rest of the teams in the Big Ten East once every three years — and never play Michigan and Ohio State in the same season. This is a big change from when both were on the schedule every year 2003 to 2006 and then 2009-10-13. As it is, the 2013 season will be the last time Michigan and Ohio State are on Iowa’s schedule in the same year until at least 2022.

Iowa’s last win in Columbus was 1991 (an emotional game after the Gang Lu shooting); its next game there is in 2020. That will be Iowa’s eighth appearance in the Horseshoe in the 30 years following the end of the Soviet Union. In the same time frame, Indiana will have played in Columbus 13 times.

There is one upside to Chairman Jim’s Greater Rutgers Co-Prosperity Sphere: Nebraska’s “parity crossover” is Ohio State. This is what you wanted, Husker fans. This is what you wanted.

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Sep 19

I-35 ramp to EB US 30 closes

March 25, 2010: I-35 at US 30, with one of the few pull-through signs in Iowa. Exit 111A is closed starting today.

The exit from from northbound I-35 to eastbound US 30 closed earlier today for a month and a half of construction, the Iowa DOT said in a news release. The closure is necessary to build a new ramp farther out to accommodate a flyover from NB 35 to WB 30.

This affects traffic to Nevada, not Ames, so it’s not as bad as it could be during football season (but then, there’s only one game in Ames for the next month, the Texas game).

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Sep 18

Directions to Baxter, Collins-Maxwell

The eighth-ranked North Tama volleyball team goes to Baxter tomorrow night for the first meetup of the Redhawks and the Bolts. This, of course, is because Baxter broke off its athletics relationship with Collins-Maxwell. Both schools then joined the Iowa Star Conference.

One week after that, the NT volleyball team hosts the CAL Cadets. This is CAL’s last year as a high school. Every Iowa Star school that plays both this year will have a combination of opponents that’s never been seen before and will never be seen again.

To follow up with the directions booklet I’ve maintained to the schools North Tama travels to, I’ve made a supplement page with both Baxter and Collins-Maxwell. Football, meanwhile, has North Tama in the same district with Colfax-Mingo, creating a lovely little spot of confusion.

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Sep 16

Zipping along

Sept. 30, 2013: InfoCision Stadium in Akron, Ohio.

Iowa State football’s occasional tour of the Mid-American Conference (NOT as an audition for membership, God willing) adds a never-before-visited location: Akron, Ohio. This is the tenth current MAC school ISU will play against, and the nice thing is it’s not Ohio or Kent State again. If ISU is going to do home-and-homes like this, it’s good to go to other places.

ISU’s last appearance in the Buckeye State (4-2 all time) ended in an overtime loss through a missed field goal at Toledo in 2015. ISU and Toledo both beat two power-conference teams that year — Toledo beat ISU and Arkansas, ISU beat Kansas and Texas. It was the beginning of the end for Paul Rhoads.

At the end of that season, in at least the second case of “if you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em” among power-conference teams this decade (Jerry Kill), ISU hired Toledo coach Matt Campbell.

Saturday’s game is also the first for ISU football on CBS Sports Network.

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