ACSD Board addresses variety of issues in final meeting before 2014-2015 school year

by Brianne Eilers

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors met for its regular monthly meeting Monday night, July 21. During the secretary’s financial report, Board Secretary Janice Rea informed the Board that the administration offices are getting year-end reports finished up and submitted. She also noted that “cash flow is good” for the district.
Superintendent Dave Herold discussed planning for the house building project for the construction class in the upcoming school year. He noted that they are working on a contract for the project. He also presented the Board members with the preliminary Annual Progress Report, and noted that he would discuss it in more detail in August.
During her report, East and West Elementary Principal Ann Hart noted that she and other staff members had attended a conference in Dubuque to learn about using a universal screener as a tool to evaluate reading levels. Hart noted that it is similar to the evaluation process they are already using, which is done three times a year. Results will be entered into a statewide data base three times a year. She also noted they are looking into a similar tool to evaluate math skills.
Activities Director and Waukon High School Assistant Principal Jennifer Garin noted that the 2013/2014 activity schedule has finally come to a close. “This was a bad year for rescheduling,” she noted. She noted that sports camps will be coming up, and looking ahead to the 2014/2015 activity schedule, WSH will host the varsity conference volleyball tournament, as well as the same for girls golf.
Waukon High School Principal Dan Diercks noted that the second session of credit recovery will begin next week. “We are excited for the upcoming school year,” Diercks also noted. Curriculum Director Gretchen DeVore explained to the Board the many conferences and sessions she has attended during the summer school break to stay abreast of the latest technology tools, activities and resources that are available to enhance curriculum.
Food Service Director Julie Magner noted that the second two weeks of the Summer Feeding Program are set to begin. During the first part of the program an average of 185-200 students took advantage of the program for lunches, and 75-100 students ate breakfast. She also noted that June 24 the State reviewed the ACSD Summer Feeding Program and complimented the district on “an excellent program.”
Transportation Director Randy Nordheim noted that the district received two new buses, but the salesman inadvertently left the air-ride feature off the order, so the buses were sent back to be equipped with that. Board members also examined a copy of the building usage report.
In personnel matters, the Board accepted Todd Neal’s resignation from his Industrial Technology position, with the approval of a Sharing Agreement with Postville High School for Industrial Technology, with Postville now able to hold Neal's contract. Kody Begnaud and Lexie Bieber were approved as volunteer cheer assistants, pending a background check, as with all hiring. The Board also re-approved Brenda Schmalzried as a substitute bus driver, pending a background check. Herold explained that she had been approved previously, but had not been a substitute for the district.
The Board also approved the resignation of Bob Wasson from his position as head softball coach, pending finding a suitable replacement. Staff was also approved for the 21st Century program. Mason Berns was transferred from assistant Junior High volleyball coach to assistant Junior High football coach. Michael Shupe was approved as a volunteer girls cross country coach.
Donna May was hired as a 5.75 hour per day associate. The Board also approved increases in hours for Food Service Employees due to non-replacement of a retiring staff member. The Board approved hiring Jarod Dahlstrom as a volunteer football coach. Madison Reiser was hired as a 5.75 per hour day associate at the high school. The Board also accepted the resignation of Mark Schmadeke from his varsity assistant football coaching position, pending finding a suitable replacement.
In other new business, Staff Policies and the Administrative Rules Handbook for 2014-2015 were approved. Herold noted that any changes were mainly minor changes, such as grammatical changes. DeVore is now listed as the Equity Coordinator, and the Student Computer Usage Agreement was also approved. There are some changes to the policy regarding breakage and damage insurance. This coming year, there will be no coverage for accidental damage. The school will repair accidental damage for the first two occurrences to a student’s computer at no cost to the student, but if a third occurrence of accidental damage occurs, the student will be responsible to pay a $100 deductible, and for each occurrence after that, the student will be required to pay the actual damage to the computer. As for computers that are damaged as a result of intentional damage, students will pay for the replacement of the computer.
The Board approved joining the ISFIS (Iowa School Finance Informational Services), which will help keep the district in the know about legislation and possible avenues for funding. A Joint Sharing Agreement for the 2014-2015 school year between Postville CSD and ACSD for an Industrial Arts Instructor was approved, with 50% for Postville CSD and 50% for ACSD, and Postville being the contract holder. The Board also approved LAU/ELL Plan, the Nutrition Handbook, and the School Breakfast/Lunch Free & Reduced Policy. Bids for milk from Swiss  Valley and for bread from Pan-O-Gold were approved as well. The Board also approved to continue the Back Pack Program. The ACSD partners with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank to provide “kid-friendly, non-perishable food” for students in need to ensure they have something to eat over weekends or during breaks when school meals are not available to them. Food is distributed to students at the end of the school day each Friday.
Changes to the Alternative School Program were approved. For the 2013-2014 school year, 15.00 credits were needed to graduate. For the 2014-2015 school year, 16.00 credits will be required, in 2015-2016, 17.00 credits will be required, and in 2016-2017, 18.00 credits will be required.
The Board approved the Legislative Priorities for the upcoming year. They include, supporting a mechanism for funding school districts’ transportation costs that does not directly or indirectly impact funding for the educational program. The Board supports the inclusion of drop-out prevention and funding for at-risk students in the foundation formula and the inclusion of socio-economic stats as a factor in determining a student’s at-risk status, as well as supporting increased flexibility in the use of drop-out prevention and at-risk funding. The Board also supports setting supplemental state aid (replaces the term allowable growth) by the date specified in the Iowa Code at a rate that encourages continuous school improvement and reflects actual cost increases experienced by districts and AEAs. The priority is to increase the state cost per pupil and the spending authority associated with it to build a strong base for future education resources. The Board also supports the repeal of the mandatory school start date. The Board opposes and seeks to repeal unfunded mandates, as well as supporting a state commitment of $2 million for the AEA system to reach the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council’s top priority of increasing student interest and achievement in STEM related fields.
The Board approved requests to hold the ninth grade orientation and the East and West Elementary Meet the Teacher Nights all Wednesday, August 13. The Board also approved the first readings of several Board Policies, including 601.1 School Calendar, 601.2 School Day, 803.1 Disposition of Obsolete Equipment, and 502.10 Use of Motor Vehicles.
Prior to adjournment, Dr. Bill Withers, Keystone AEA Board Member, updated those present on the AEA and funding. He also presented the Board with copies of an article that was published in The Wall Street Journal July 8, written by Margaret Spelling, a former Secretary of Education, entitled “Get Ready for An a` la Carte Education.” Dr. Withers noted that the article touches on subjects like flipped classrooms, distance learning, off-campus learning and technology. When Dr. Withers finished, Superintendent Herold asked Dr. Withers to thank the AEA for everything they have done, acknowledging that AEAs are being required to do more and  more with less funding due to cuts.