ACSD Board of Directors holds pair of public hearings, hears updates on projects and activities

by Brianne Eilers

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors met Monday evening, March 11 for its regular monthly board meeting. That regular meeting was held a weekly earlier than the usual third Monday of the month due to wanting to meet some deadline requirements for upcoming projects.

The meeting began with two public hearings. The first was on the 2019-2020 school calendar, and there were no comments. The second was on proposed public improvement, and again there were no comments. Board President Al Rissman closed the public hearings and the board proceeded to approve the consent agenda.

Under personnel matters, the board approved staff for After School programming as well as Ben Rausch as a boys golf volunteer coach. The board also accepted the resignation of Jack Regan from his Junior High wrestling coach position. There were also some open enrollments approved under the consent agenda, as well as requests for Sunday gym usage for varsity boys basketball and an out of state field trip request for the fifth grade to visit the Villa Louis in Prairie du Chien, WI. The UNI Cooperative Student Teaching Agreement was also approved.

Under Communications, Kelly Liddiard and Traci Byrnes gave a presentation regarding the second grade EET (Expanding Expression Tool) writing project, which helps students with language and writing development.

In the Superintendent’s Report, ACSD Superintendent Jay Mathis congratulated the girls basketball team and coaches on going to the State Tournament. He also noted that the district should be getting a settlement offer coming for the East Elementary kitchen project. He also advised that Wellmark raised health insurance rates nearly 13% and the plan that the district bases the benefit package off of is going up 17%.

In the Principal Reports, Waukon High School Principal Dr. Mike Hardy reported that the student-built house is progressing and that the high school staff is getting ready for the Iowa assessments. He also noted that the Conditions for Learning Survey will be taken in April and May.

Waukon High School Assistant Principal and Activities Director Brian Hilsabeck congratulated students and coaches for a successful winter season. He also said that there are lots of activities coming up for the spring.

Waukon Middle School Principal Jennifer Garin reported that eight graders will have four-year planning coming up and that the Middle School staff is also preparing for Iowa Assessments. There are also lots of activities going on at the Middle School.

Elementary school principal Joe Griffith noted that the end of the quarter has been moved to March 15 due to winter weather days. A parent meeting will be held March 12 for Kindergarten Round-Up. He also noted that in light of some of the recent internet scares, Sara Ferguson will be presenting several sessions at East and West Elementary Schools in the technology class regarding internet safety.

In other reports, ACSD Curriculum Director Gretchen DeVore updated the board on benchmarks reached for FAST testing. She also provided an update on February professional development for staff members.

Buildings and Grounds Director Bill Hennessy noted that the custodians have been moving lots of snow and getting it off the roofs of the school buildings. He noted that he is getting ready for the upcoming East Elementary HVAC and window project, and that the plans for the project have been continually gone over and things that were missed or not included have been added before getting to a change order stage in the project.

In the Technology report, Director Shawn Gordon also noted that the school district is gearing up for the Iowa Assessments. In the Food Service report, Director Julie Magner noted that in February, they only served nine days of breakfast and 14 days of lunch due to all the missed school.

Transportation Director Andrew Eberling noted that there were bus inspections held March 7, and the district had a few minor issues. He also noted that the cold snap earlier in March did cause some issues with a few buses and they are working on a solution for that for the years to come. The new buses should be coming in a couple weeks.

Under new business, the board approved the 2019-2020 school calendar. The contracts for the 1:1 laptops and virtual desktop infrastructure server were awarded to Sterling Computers for a grand total of $756,758.50 ($686,120.00 for 700 student and 115 staff laptops and $70,638.50 for virtual desktop infrastructure solution).

A public hearing was set for April 8, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. for the 2019-2020 budget. A public hearing was also set for April 8, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. to amend the 2018-2019 budget. It should be noted that April 8 will also be the next regular monthly meeting of the ACSD Board of Directors, again moved up from its original third Monday timeframe due to meeting project deadlines.

The contract for the East Elementary HVAC Upgrade and Window Replacement project was awarded to Casper Plumbing and Heating for a total of $2,868,600. There was discussion on how soon the work could begin, and Victor Amoroso, Jr. of A&J Associates noted that there were areas of the school where some work could begin that did not involve the classrooms. It was also noted that if ACSD can continue to keep its last day of school at May 31, the asbestos removal for the necessary areas could begin by June 3, and that would put ACSD at the top of that list. The board also approved a term sheet for School Infrastructure Sales, Services and Used Tax Revenue Bonds.

The board also approved a resolution to update the district’s 403(b) plan. Superintendent Mathis noted that this is something similar to a 401k, and the update would add in some vendors that have been approved by the State of Iowa, should any employees wish to use those vendors to invest.

The board then approved Ahlers & Cooney as the District’s legal counsel. Mathis noted that this does not mean ACSD is getting rid of its previous counsel. He noted that he has worked with this firm in the past and feels that they would bring some valuable expertise to the table, as well as possibly being able to save the district some money in fees.

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