ACSD Board of Directors hears update on HVAC project at East Elementary, bid requests for student/staff computers

by Brianne Eilers

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors met for its regular monthly meeting Monday night, February 18. Board member Erik Helgerson was absent.

Items on the consent agenda were approved including the following personnel: staff for After School Programming; Emily Stone as a para professional; Amy Wasson, Mike Shupe, Greg Criswell, Daneshia Snitker and Bridget Dolan as girls track volunteer coaches; Morgan McMillan as girls golf volunteer coach; and the resignation of Katrina McCabe was accepted. Two students were approved for open enrollment.

Two Sunday requests for gym usage were approved. The 2019-2020 software budget was also approved, as was the cooperative swimming agreement between the ACSD and Decorah, Howard-Winneshiek, MFL/Mar-Mac, North Fayette Valley, Postville, South Winneshiek and Turkey Valley school districts.

During the communications portion of the meeting, DJ Scholtes, Success Coordinator for the ACSD, gave a short presentation on the Student Success Program. He noted that he and Toni Pearson have been working on mental health issues and that the district has partnerships with Families First and Healing Arts out of Decorah. He said they would like to do more with the child mentoring program and that they are also in the process of working with the Handle With Care program. He also reported that Theresa Jacobs has been working on the online programs and moving to E2020.

Scholtes noted that the online programs not only benefit the alternative students and credit recovery students, but also can help students study for the ACT testing and have a virtual tutoring option. He said they hope to have the system up and running by summer for the credit recovery program. Scholtes said he is anticipating 10 students this summer for credit recovery.

In his Superintendent’s report, Jay Mathis updated the board on legislative items at the State level. He noted that a transportation/per-pupil equity bill and the School State Aid were acted on in committees last week. He also noted that the SAVE extension has some support behind it. He further noted that the district has been working on its emergency operation plans.

Mathis also updated the board on the situation with the required school hours. He noted that the district has missed 22 hours and will make most of those up. When they made the schedule, there was a built-in cushion of 30 hours. He also discussed with the board how the district would handle early-outs for girls basketball postseason play, with Monday’s State Tournament game resulting in a three-hour early out.

Waukon High School Principal Dr. Mike Hardy updated the board on the success of FFA members at the State contest. He also noted that drywall has been hung on the main floor in the Construction class house project and mudding and taping of that drywall are almost done. The electrical, plumbing and heating work is finished in the basement, so they are preparing to hang drywall there.

Waukon High School Assistant Principal and Activities Director Brian Hilsabeck noted in his report that there has been a lot of scheduling and rescheduling events due to the winter weather. The girls basketball team will play Crestwood in Des Moines at 6:45 p.m. Monday, February 25 in the first round of the Class 3A State Tournament. Three radio and news students from the Waukon High School Speech Department performed at All-State in Ames February 16. There was a send-off for speech and wrestling team members February 13.

Hilsabeck thanked the custodians for their hard work keeping things clear this winter. He also noted that the Pixellot cameras at Waukon High School athletic venues are a positive feature. The school’s first check for $225 was received and that will be split with the booster club.

Waukon Middle School Principal Jennifer Garin noted that the sixth grade students have had FAST assessments. She also noted that three students are attending “Girls in Engineering Day” at Rockwell in Decorah. Teachers are working to prepare for the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress and the middle school play will be March 1. Boys and girls track starts mid-March, and the semi-formal dance is scheduled for March 29.

East and West Elementary Principal Joe Griffith noted that Kindergarten round-up is scheduled for Wednesday, February 20 and he said he is working on a “back-up, back-up plan” if there is inclement weather. The elementary parent organization (PSST) hosted a family movie night February 8 and also held a fundraiser in early February.

In other reports, Grounds and Maintenance Director Bill Hennessy noted that there were a couple small steam leaks at East during the cold weather and they shut the valves off to them and will discontinue use of those units. They also had to do some work to several uni-vent heaters at East, but those are now working. He praised his staff for their work at keeping up with the snow and ice removal and they are working on a list of summer projects.

Technology Director Shawn Gordon noted that they had to postpone a vendor showcase meeting due to weather, but were able to reschedule. Representatives from Sterling Computer, Erb’s Technology and Apple EDU Team were there. The software list for next school year is finalized. They are working with principals to get the Iowa online assessments up and ready for students.

Food Service Director Julie Magner noted that with the missed school days they have had to make a lot of menu changes. Transportation Director Andrew Eberling noted that they had some issues with buses running in the cold weather and discovered it was a combination of filters and fuel. They have switched filters and are checking into different fuel suppliers and tank options.

Under new business, the board approved the high school curriculum handbook. The board also approved a quote from Ken Kerr Electric in the amount of $9,317.89 for electrical work for the welding academy. The board then approved the Budget Guarantee Resolution.

Superintendent Mathis discussed the 2018 audit report. He said this was one of the best, if not the best, audit he has ever seen. He credited the staff in the business office with using good procedures and running things “tightly”. He noted that one of the criticisms in the audit was division of responsibilities and Mathis said that is a common remark on many audits, but he feels the staff of the business office at ACSD do “a phenomenal job.”

A public hearing was set for the March 11 board meeting at 5:30 p.m. for the 2019-2020 school calendar. The board approved a request for proposals for 1:1 laptops and a virtual desktop infrastructure server. Technology Director Shawn Gordon noted that Dell was the main brand bid, aside from Apple. The staff laptop will be similar to the current one they use. Staff requested a lighted keyboard and the ability to have a second computer or other technology able to connect with the laptop. Gordon noted that they will have a docking station to help keep the number of cords used to a minimum. They will be ordering 115 staff laptops and 700 student laptops, all with a three-year warranty. The virtual desktop infrastructure server will replace the 30 laptops in the Project Lead the Way room and will allow for up to 50 students and teachers at a time to connect from anywhere. The request for proposals for the computers will be due March 5 at 1 p.m.

The board then moved on to the project design, drawings, specifications and cost estimate for the East Elementary HVAC and Window project. Vic Amoroso, Jr. from A&J Associates was present via conference call to explain and answer board questions. The estimate for the project is $2,300,000. A substantial amount of the project work is to be completed by October 31, 2019 and all contract work must be complete by November 30, 2019. The project will involve replacing the current steam heating system, adding in air conditioning, electrical system upgrade, new ceilings in some areas, new LED lighting and replacement of windows.

It was noted that the old junior high gym will not have air conditioning and Amoroso explained that they felt it was not used enough to justify the cost and the flooring in the old gym is in excellent condition and has never been air conditioned, so it would be okay. There was also discussion on asbestos abatement and Amoroso noted that they would be helping ACSD get lined up with someone to handle that. There are a couple of areas where that is a concern and it will not be done while the children are in school and the building will not be accessible to staff during the asbestos abatement.

He noted that it was very important for the board to make a decision so they can get things lined up with contractors to make the timeframe schedule of the project. Classrooms will be off limits to construction work during the school year/school day during the project. A public hearing was set for March 11 at 5:30 p.m. regarding the project.

The board then approved engagement letters for SAVE Revenue Bonds with Piper Jaffray as placement agent and Ahlers & Cooney as bond counsel. Superintendent Mathis noted that the district would be taking out loans for the East Elementary project and possibly for a similar West Elementary project that they hope to work on next year. The plan is to pay for the project with SAVE and PPEL money. “We are not asking for any additional levy from our patrons,” Mathis said.

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