ESSER in Action in Iowa: Dial M for Marshalltown

November 09, 2023

AASA, The School Superintendents Association, is launching a series, ESSER in Action, highlighting how COVID-19 relief funds are making an impact across the country. This initiative is providing AASA members with an opportunity to share their good news stories about school improvement projects underway in their respective communities, through Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, that are enhancing their school districts.

Dial M for Marshalltown 

Marshalltown Community School District
The Marshalltown Community School District (MCSD) sits about an hour’s drive northeast of Des Moines, Iowa, the state capital, and is home to about 5,300 students. Employing nearly 900 people, the district prides itself on its commitment to student success, academic excellence and community involvement. 

A city of nearly 28,000, Marshalltown was named an All-American City by the National Civic League in 2012. In addition to the school system, a major employer in the area includes the Marshalltown Company, one of the country’s premier construction tool manufacturers. Other area employers include JBS, Emerson Process Management Fisher Division, Iowa Veterans Home and Lennox Manufacturing, Inc. 

Through the American Rescue Plan, MCSD received more than $10 million in ESSER relief funds. To best determine how these funds were going to be allocated, district leadership met regularly dating back to March 2021. 

“Our teachers and other school district employees cannot be thanked enough,” said Theron Schutte, superintendent, MCSD, a former member of the AASA Executive Committee and Governing Board, and a past president of the School Administrators of Iowa. “Throughout the pandemic, these individuals took an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach to do whatever it took to keep school functioning on a daily basis.”

“We worked very hard to take a balanced approach to how we spent our ESSER dollars, placing a premium on direct support for our students, staff and families,” added Schutte. One priority with respect to ARP funding went toward improving the district’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and other related construction projects. Up until now, Marshalltown High School, which was built in 1964, never had air conditioning. Some of the district’s older elementary schools were also in need of HVAC improvements. 

Technology was also a major area of focus. ARP funding helped supply every student with a device along with connectivity through a partnership with a local internet provider. “For the first time, we were able to ensure that every child had internet access other than the use of their phones,” said Schutte.

Other significant expenditures through ARP funding included:

  • Professional protective equipment (PPE), cleaning and sanitizing
  • Instructional supplies
  • Professional Development
  • Food service
“Giving our staff high-quality professional development through ARP funding was very gratifying,” said Schutte. “Most of all, taking a balanced approach as to the allocation of these funds is what we’re most proud of to ensure teaching and learning continues in our schools.”

For more information about how the Marshalltown Community School District is implementing ESSER funds to enhance its school community, contact Kat Sturdevant, AASA advocacy & governance coordinator, at