Waterloo school board approves free eye exam program funds

Waterloo school board approves free eye exam program funds

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  • January 10, 2023
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WATERLOO — Students will continue to literally see changes in Waterloo Community Schools’ classrooms.

The Board of Education Monday unanimously approved $25,000 in federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding for Vision to Learn, which will be used for vision care during this academic year.

Vision to Learn is a program that provides free eye exams and glasses to students who need them. The organization has partnered with Waterloo Schools since 2017, examining the eyes of 1,625 students and prescribing glasses for 1,393.

Corrine Kroger, the Iowa regional director for Vision to Learn, said the nonprofit has raised $76,000 philanthropically, but the ESSER funding provided by the district will help provide care to about 135 more students than otherwise could be served this year.

She said the goal of the program is to reduce barriers to families and students who need vision care.

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“It’s very humbling because our kiddos don’t know they can’t see clearly, so they can’t articulate,” Kroger said to the school board. “Some of the older students know how much glasses cost. … It’s such important work.”

She said first children get screened to see whether they need an exam or not. Then any student who requires that next step of an exam would receive communication to their home and be provided with options. Options include using local care or using the Vision to Learn resources.

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A mobile clinic then comes to the school with optometric equipment, a licensed Iowa optometrist and a selection of over 200 glasses frames.

Two weeks later, the mobile clinic comes back and every student is fit with their new glasses. The students get two pairs – one for home and one for school. One of the pairs has a one year warranty.

This year, six schools are currently being screened. The schools rotate on a yearly basis. If a child needs screening and isn’t in one of the schools, arrangements can be set up for the child to visit the other school.

Vision to Learn started as a national nonprofit in 2012. A Dubuque chapter opened in 2016 and provides care to 13 counties.

Central students move to new career center space during middle school renovations

The board also gave approval for West High School’s dance team to travel to a national competition in Orlando, Florida.

Fourteen students will compete in the Dance Team Union Dance Team Nationals Feb. 9-13.

Dance team coach Miranda Koch said after the team competed at state, a representative from DTU came up to her and complimented the team on its enthusiasm and positivity. The representative then said the organization wanted to support Koch financially and provided the dance team with a $20,000 scholarship to go to nationals.

“These kids are trained to think they don’t have opportunities available to them and I think it will shift gears,” Koch said. “I think being exposed to the highest level of competition is going to change the game for them.”

The scholarship will pay for flights and competition registration. About $5,000 will come out of the dance team’s budget for bus transportation to and from the airport.

The school board also approved:

  • The purchase and installation of playground equipment for Kingsley Elementary School at a cost of $156,100. The playground is expected to be installed in the fall. It is being paid for with money from the physical plant and equipment levy.
  • A contract with H2I Group in the amount of $58,900 for removing the old swimming pool bleachers at Central Middle School and installing new ones. The 60-foot long by six-foot wide bleachers will seat about 180 people in five rows. They can mechanically retract when not in use.
  • A $2,500 donation from Scheels to benefit athletic programs at East High.

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