by Brianne Grimstad
The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors met for its regular monthly meeting Monday night, November 21. Board member Scott Melcher was absent.
Under the consent agenda, the following personnel were approved: After School Program Staff; Jon Snitker as eighth grade girls track coach; Cole Carolan as the Spring Play Director; Louise Wild as Spring Play Volunteer; and Karrie Zidlicky as a bus driver. The following staff appointments were also made: Jay Mathis and Kirby Jones as Level I Investigators for Child Abuse Reporting; Bill Shafer as Level II Child Abuse Reporting; Luke Steege as Equity Coordinator; Jennifer Garin as Title IX Officer; Luke Steege as Truancy Officer; Brian Hilsabeck as Homeless Liaison; Amy Wasson as Migrant Student Point of Contact; and Stacie Cooper as Foster Care Point of Contact.
The board also accepted resignations from Michelle Grangaard from her bus driver position and Luke Zezulka from his custodian position. One student was approved for open enrollment out. The board then approved special education contracts and a Cooperative Wrestling agreement between ACSD and Eastern Allamakee Community School District.
During the Communications time of the meeting, the board heard a presentation from the Social Emotional Learning PLC.
During his report, ACSD Superintendent Jay Mathis congratulated the high school drama and music departments on their recent production of “The Wizard of Oz”. He also discussed the school’s website and that they have been looking into a new website host. The one they currently use is free, but also very limiting and not user friendly. Mathis asked Technology Director Andy Reichard to research options, and his recommendation was presented later in the meeting. Mathis also reported that winter sports are in full swing and holiday concerts will be happening soon. He also commented that he has been impressed with the professional learning that happens daily in the district.
Waukon High School Principal Jennifer Garin reported that construction has begun on the house project. The welding and electricity classes are collaborating to create a light bar for the track timing system, with assistance from Kenny Kerr and Benjegerdes Machine. FBLA/Business/Computer Science/Careers classes have been focusing on public speaking, building resumes and cover letters and asking for references. FBLA students competed at the State Fall Leadership Contest November 13, and 55 students volunteered to rakes yards on a recent day off from school.
FFA and Ag students harvested corn and FFA students traveled to Indiana at the end of October to attend the National Convention. Garin also discussed the 2022 Iowa School Performance Profile results. ACSD had an overall rating of high performing, with WSH receiving a score of 60.93, compared to the state average of 54.65.
Marlan Mincks spoke to students November 14 during a presentation on Social Emotional Mental Health. An Alumni panel will be held Wednesday, November 23. Twelve alumni will make up the panel, giving advice and answering student questions.
Waukon High School Activities Director/Assistant Principal Brian Hilsabeck congratulated the fall activities for successful seasons and events. The FBLA partnered with the ACSD staff to make a generous donation to the local food shelf. He also congratulated the musical staff on successful performances. The middle school band and vocal concert will be December 5 at 7 p.m. and the high school band and vocal concert will be December 12 at 7 p.m.
Winter sports are off to a good start with girls basketball, girls wrestling and girls and boys bowling having their first practices in early November. Boys basketball and wrestling practices have also started. Hilsabeck also noted that with the rising costs of officials, the NEIC will be raising admission prices to $6 for adults and $4 for students. The shot clocks have been upgraded and are up and working at this time. There was a “shot clock scrimmage” to help with getting workers experience using them.
Waukon Middle School Principal Luke Steege noted in his report that the year is moving along quickly. He said that the middle school students who participated in “The Wizard of Oz” did a great job. The middle school is also continuing to host intramural sports during homeroom time once a week. He noted that teachers and students are enjoying this. They switch activities about every four weeks and are currently playing noodle hockey. He also thanked his staff for making the first three months of school successful.
Elementary Principal Samantha Thornton reported that Lena Rausch, Connor Buhl and PK-5 Elementary Music Teacher Ms. Owen traveled to participate in the Opus Honor Choir. Fifth grade students participated in the Youth Frontiers Kindness Retreat. She thanked all who donated to the 50’s Day Food Drive at West Elementary. Students at East and West enjoyed a visit from Officer Kolsrud from the Allamakee Sheriff’s Department and K-9 Officer Tyr during Red Ribbon Week.
Thornton also thanked Sergeant Ed Frick and his wife, Karen, for speaking at East Elementary on Veterans Day. Students from East and West also wrote letters to local veterans to thank them for their service. Computer Science night will be held December 1 from 4-6 p.m. at East. The East Elementary music concert will be December 2 at 6 p.m. for grades 3-5 chorus and fifth grade band. There will also be art created by students on display.
ACSD Curriculum Director Kelli Olson reported that they are continuing with professional learning with four quadrants: district focus on engagement, PLC goal work, personal professional growth and building specific time. Teachers are continuing to host labs each month and instructional coaches are working with teachers to record parts of classroom instruction for the first virtual learning lab. Mentors and mentees continue to meet monthly.
ACSD Special Education Director Carissa Otto noted that teachers are in and working between the ACHIEVE and Legacy systems for IEPs and progress monitoring. They are also working on quality IEP Plans and will be working on updating the District Developed Service Delivery Plan. She complimented the special education staff on being flexible and understanding during the transition to the new IEP system, ACHIEVE. She also thanked the AEA staff for their support.
Buildings and Grounds Director Bill Hennessy noted that his department is getting equipment ready to deal with snow. The boilers have been inspected and everything was good. Hennessy also reported that he is working on identifying any areas that contain asbestos that needs to be removed. The project will have to be bid out. Hennessy anticipates the abatement to be minimal.
Technology Director Andy Reichard noted that they have checked records with Sterling on service repairs from the start of school to October 31. He noted that last year during that period they had 37 repairs, and this year there have had 90 repairs so far. They are also looking at laptop specs. They plan to put a request for proposals together for approval in December and be able to bring that to the board in January. They are also working on a Risk Management document regarding cyber security to bring to the board for review.
Reichard also addressed the board regarding the web hosting item on the agenda, which was ultimately approved. He explained that he felt the district needed a new website hosting program in order to be able to showcase and highlight the many positive things going on in the school. He said he felt that ACSD is a brand that should be shared with the world, and with a new site host, they would be able to do much more with the district’s website than is possible now. With the new website hosting system, there will also be an app that can be downloaded.
Food Service Director Jess Keenan reported that they have completed their formal review with the Department of Education and passed. The next review will be in five years. Meal numbers are steady for both breakfast and lunch. Information was sent to families regarding free and reduced meals.
Transportation Director Andrew Eberling noted that they have bus inspections coming up Tuesday, November 22. The new 12-passenger van has been put into service and the feedback is positive. Eberling also noted that they have a good pool of substitute bus drivers that they are drawing from.
In old business, the board approved the second reading of the several board policies: 401.14 – Employee Expression, 402.2 – Child Abuse Reporting, 408.1 – Licensed Employee Professional Development, 601.2 – School Day, 602.1 – Curriculum Development, 602.2 – Curriculum Implementation, 602.3 – Curriculum Evaluation, 605.1 – Instructional Materials Selection, 605.1R1 – Selection of Instruction Materials, 605.2 – Instructional and Library Materials Inspection and Display, 605.3 – Objection to Instructional and Library Materials, 605.1R3 – Reconsideration of Instructional and Library Materials Regulation, 605.3E1 – Instructions to Reconsideration Committee, 605.3E2 – Reconsideration of Instructional and Library Materials Request Form, 605.3E3 – Sample Letter to Individual Challenging Instructional Materials, 605.3E4 – Request to Prohibit a Student from Checking Out Specific Library Materials, 605.4 – Technology and Instructional Materials, 605.5 – School Library.
Board Secretary Jaime Curtin then took over the meeting as the board began its reorganizational meeting. Al Rissman remained board president and Erik Helgerson remained vice president. Both members took their oaths. Rissman administered the oath to board secretary Jaime Curtin. Official date and time of meetings is to be the third Monday of each month at 5:30 p.m. The meetings in January, February and March will be as follows: January 17, 2023 at 5:30 p.m., February 21, 2023 at 5:30 p.m. and March 16, 2023 at 5:30 p.m. The meetings were moved due to the fact that on the Mondays they would meet that month there is either no school or scheduling conflicts.
The following depository banks were named: Waukon State Bank, $11,000,000; FreedomBank, $3,000,000; and ISJIT, $1,000,000. The Standard newspaper was named as the official publication. The designated legal counsel is Ahlers and Cooney PC of Des Moines, Iowa. The following appointments to various board committees were also made: School Improvement Advisory Committee, Beth Shafer; Negotiations, Allan Rissman and Erik Helgerson; County Compensation, Scott Melcher; Wellness Committee, Brent Beyer; Technology Committee, Allan Rissman and Erik Helgerson; and Curriculum and Technical Advisory Committee, Scott Melcher.
The board then accepted a bid from School Bus Sales in the amount of $133,239 for a 71-passenger Blue Bird propane school bus. The board also approved of the sale of a 28-passenger school bus being retired from the district fleet. Eberling explained that while they normally trade them in when purchasing a new bus, he felt that by accepting bids, the district could get more out of the vehicle than what trade-in value might be. He noted that the smaller buses are more popular and that people buy them to use for a lot of things. The bids will be taken until 1 p.m. December 13 and should be to the Board Secretary by that time. Bids should be submitted in sealed envelopes marked “School Bus Bid.”
The board approved the following SBRC requests: LEP Allowable Cost $23,771.23, Increased Enrollment $288,702 and LEP Instruction Beyond 5 Years $3,133. Five students were approved for early graduation, pending their meeting all the requirements. The board also approved the 2022-2023 early retirement incentive plan. The plan is the same as last year, which only had four of the five spots taken. Since they had budgeted for ten spots in two years, Mathis proposed that this year they allow for six staff to take advantage of this. The board approved.
A quote from Gabbart Communications in the amount of $6,403.95 for annual costs and $5,958.62 in one-time fees was approved for the website hosting bid. The board also approved the purchase of a Glowforge from Glowforge, Inc, in the amount of $8,800. In her information for the board, Ag instructor Jessica O’Connor explained that the Glowforge can be used to engrave, cut and score. Students will be able to use it for things like engraving plaques and customizing products for school and community groups. The Glowforge will be paid for out of Perkins and NEIRCTEP (Northeast Iowa Regional Career & Education Partnership) funding.
The final item of business was discussion on an additional special education position and title position, with placement at St. Patrick School. Currently, there are 11 special education students form St. Pat’s being served by five teachers and 30 Title I students being served by one teacher. Students at all levels are bused to ACSD from the St. Pat’s schools daily, with total minutes throughout the day spent in transit being around 162 minutes.
By adding a staff member with a dual-role of Special Education Teacher and Title I Teacher at St. Pat’s, it would cut down on travel time as well as save the district costs in fuel and resources. The dual role would be 60% Title I and 40% Special Education. Thornton also noted that the public school would then be able to establish a schedule utilizing WIN (What I Need) time for all students using the three Title I teachers, TAG teacher and general education teachers at each level. Mathis commented that the district often under-spends its Title budget so there would be funds for the position. The board approved.
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by Brianne Grimstad