ACSD Board of Directors hears variety of updates as school year draws to a close this week; Board member Tom Baxter announces his resignation

by Brianne Eilers

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) school board members met for two meetings Monday, May 21. Board members first met for a special meeting Monday morning for a public hearing on the sale of public school property in Waterville. No written or oral comment was given. The board then opened bids on the LP gas tank located at the Waterville Elementary School property. Three bids were submitted, including one from the City of Waterville for $5,000; one from Distant View Farms for $20,070 and one from Hovey LP Gas, Inc. for $27,500. The board chose to accept the bid from Hovey LP Gas, Inc.

The board then met for its regular monthly meeting Monday night. Prior to the meeting, a tour of the Waukon High School Construction class home was given.

During the Superintendent’s Report, ACSD Superintendent Dave Herold updated the board on items that have passed through Iowa legislation. He noted that there was a one-percent increase in education funding and that operational sharing was extended another five years. The SAVE (Secure an Advanced Vision for Education) account legislation passed the Iowa House, but died in the Senate.

Herold noted that the school transportation equity bill did pass. He also noted that suicide awareness will become part of the licensure and renewal of license process for instructional and administrative staff.

Herold also discussed the Food Shaming bill, which did pass. He explained that food shaming describes a situation where a student may not have money in their lunch account and, depending on the school’s policy, may be denied a meal or have to eat something other than what the other students are served. “It’s not the student’s fault they don’t have money in their account,” he noted. Schools will be required to put policies in place so students are not shamed for not having money in their accounts. A school security bill also passed, requiring schools to practice drills for multiple emergency situations, including an active shooter scenario.

During the Principals’ Reports, Waterville Elementary School Principal Julie Askelson reported that the FAST testing window has closed and that the students at Waterville have continued to show growth. Field trips are wrapping up, with a trip to Waukon Tuesday for the elementary schools’ end-of-the-year field day being the last such field trip. Packing at the Waterville school has “begun in earnest.” Askelson stated that the Waterville teachers are a “very hard-working group.” She also invited board members to the fifth grade graduation and closing ceremony at Waterville Elementary School this Thursday. She also thanked Superintendent Herold and the school board for her opportunity to work in the ACSD, as she will be retiring at the end of the school year.

East and West Elementary Schools Principal Joe Griffith noted that their field trips are also wrapping up, and he mentioned the upcoming field day as well. The schools have had STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) days and Griffith thanked Kathy Hay and Keystone Area Education Agency (AEA), as well as Allamakee County Conservation, for their roles in that program.

Griffith also reported for Waukon Middle School Principal Jennifer Garin, who was unable to attend the meeting. Their field trips are also finished, as well as the spring sports seasons. There will be a Middle School STEAM day May 24, the first ever for the Waukon Middle School. This Friday will be the end-of-the-year ceremony.

Waukon High School Activities Director Brian Hilsabeck noted that the spring sports season has wrapped up, noting that the high school had 15 athletes participate at the State Track Meet this past weekend and that there are many promising athletes coming up. He also noted that there are 35 athletes out for softball and 36 for baseball this summer.

Hilsabeck also explained to the board that two Pixellot cameras for sporting events are being purchased. One camera will be paid for from the Hermeier account and the other by the Allamakee Athletic Booster Club. The cameras can be used to broadcast sporting events and people can subscribe to watch them, such as alumni or family who can’t make it to the event. There are several subscription options. Hilsabeck gave the example that the Prairie du Chien, WI schools have such cameras and for one wrestling event they sold 100 subscriptions. He said revenue from the subscriptions will be split between the Booster Club and Athletic accounts.

Waukon High School Principal Dr. Mike Hardy noted that semester tests will be coming up Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week. He also explained that incoming freshmen will be attending an activity fair so they can learn about what activities will be available for them to participate in at the high school. Dr. Hardy noted that students who participate in extra-curricular activities tend to be more successful.

In other reports, Buildings and Grounds Director Bill Hennessy noted that the electrical project and kitchen project will both be starting May 29 and he will be meeting with KLC to begin discussing the East Elementary heating issues. During the Technology report, Director Shawn Gordon noted that ACSD will receive $18,250.40 from the E-Rate program for the next school year. Gordon stated that this is 70% of the school district’s internet bill.

During the Food Service report, Director Julie Magner said that they had another successful grill-out with the Allamakee County Cattlemen. She also noted that the State kitchen inspections went well and that the Summer Feeding Program begins Tuesday, May 29. Transportation Director Randy Nordheim noted that their State inspection last month went well also. He said that there are currently 70 bus trips lined up so far this summer and he is anticipating around 90 trips that they will be making between summer field trips and sports.

During the Communications portion of the meeting, Superintendent Herold presented board members with a certificate to recognize their service to the district. He thanked them for the job that they do, and he also mentioned the upcoming Employee Recognition Luncheon.

Herold then discussed the SIAC (School Improvement Advisory Committee) goals, which are the same as last year: 1. Continue developing 21st Century Learners Through Digital Education; 2. Address Iowa Core Curriculum Needs through Professional Learning Communities (PLCs); and 3. Foster a Safe and Positive Learning Environment where learners can thrive both during the regular school hours and through the support of the Community Connections extended learning opportunities.

The board then heard from Val Reinke of Allamakee County Economic Development and Ashley Christianson of Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission. They provided information to the board members and those present regarding the Housing Assessment study that was conducted. Reinke explained that the assessment took a year to complete, with results being good for three years. She noted that they are working with city governments and citizens throughout Allamakee County and are also now reaching out to county school districts in order to see what kind of partnerships can be formed to work at affordable housing to help draw people and industry to the area.

Under new business, the board approved staff for the 21st Century After School Program. The board also approved Lexie Bieber as a volunteer cheer coach and accepted the resignation of Laurel Leiran from her custodian position at Waterville Elementary School. Board president Al Rissman noted that Leiran did a “very good job” in Waterville. The board also approved Brent Beyer as a volunteer cross country coach.

A request from the Northeast Iowa Shooting Club that some Waukon High School students participate in was also discussed. In a letter to the district, the Shooting Club is requesting $1,836 for the last season, which Waukon agreed to split with MFL/MarMac High School for expenses. The letter also stated that they are anticipating costs for the Spring 2018 season to be around $2,200 for supplies. There are eight MFL/MarMac students and 11 from Waukon High School participating in the club. Herold noted that this club is “good for our students and good for our school,” and the board approved the agreement.

The board also approved an out-of-state field trip for the 21st Century program to the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, WI, as well as the 2018-2019 fundraising calendar. The board approved the first reading for the following board policies: 201- Board of Directors’ Elections and 202.3 - Term of Office. Herold noted that the change is that elections will be held in the month of November in odd-numbered years.

Prior to adjournment of the meeting, board member Tom Baxter announced that he would be resigning from his position on the board, effective immediately, with this May 21 meeting being his last meeting. “I’m reluctant to walk away, but the time is right,” Baxter said. “This has been a fantastic experience and I have truly enjoyed it.”

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