ACSD Board meets on first day of school

by Brianne Eilers

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors met for its regular monthly meeting Monday night, August 18, which also coincided with the first day of the new school year. The consensus among administrators and staff was that the first day of school went very well.
During the Superintendent's report, ACSD Superintendent Dave Herold noted that the  Annual Progress Report has been completed, and will be sent out to all constituents in the district in the coming weeks. The unofficial enrollment numbers do show that enrollment is down 34 students for the 2014-2015 school year. However, that number could change either way, as the official count will not be taking place until October. He also updated the Board on the upcoming house project to be built by the Waukon High School Construction class. The house will be located near the Waukon Wellness Center.
Waukon High School Principal Dan Diercks and Construction instructor Jed Hemann were attending the Waukon City Council meeting that same Monday night to ask the Council to waive the building permit fee and also to answer any questions City of Waukon officials might have on the project. Herold also touched on concerns about existing electrical, water and sewage lines that are located in the area where the home is being built, and informed the Board that the City would be removing the old lines as part of infrastructure updating.
Waterville Elementary School and Waukon Junior High School Principal Joe Griffith noted that junior high sports and after school activities would be beginning. He said that the junior high dance held as part of the Corn Days festivities this past weekend had a good attendance, and he expects that attendance to go up in the future, as they will be able to better communicate the date and time with students. West and East Elementary Principal Ann Hart reported that teachers are setting up parent information meetings and that staff members are getting ready for reading assessments.
Waukon High School Assistant Principal and Activities Director Jennifer Garin noted that staff had attended Professional Learning Community (PLC) training last week. The student laptops were also rolled out Monday morning for grades 8-12 as part of the first day of school. "The kids were pretty excited," noted Garin. She also informed the Board that the Sports Drink scrimmage games are scheduled for this Friday for the high school athletic teams, weather permitting. The Allamakee Athletic Booster Club will also hold its membership drive at that time. Homecoming is scheduled for September 26 this year.
During the curriculum report, Gretchen DeVore explained that the PLC training that took place in Decorah was also attended by staff of the Decorah, Charles City, Turkey Valley and North Winneshiek Community School Districts. Dr. Tom Manning of Solution Tree was the speaker. DeVore noted that she had received positive feedback and felt that the training was well-received.
On the buildings and grounds front, the sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers within the district's buildings have all been inspected and passed inspection. Department head Dennis Mahr also reported that West Elementary has two separate water shut-offs now to better control any problems that school might have, instead of shutting off water to the entire building.
Technology Director Shawn Gordon noted that a total of 536 computers were distributed to students this year so far. He also noted that a help desk will be available from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily for students with computer issues.

Superintendent Herold gave a presentation on the Annual Progress Report, which has to be done as a part of the No Child Left Behind Act. Last year, East Elementary was put on the SINA (School In Need of Assistance) list for math, and he reported that the school has now met its math goal for the year, but will still remain on the list as schools have to meet their goal for two consecutive years in order to be removed from the list.
However, West Elementary is now on a watch list for reading, while the junior high is on a list for math and the high school (11th grade, specifically) is on a list for reading. The district will continue to monitor progress in areas of math and reading, as well as using professional development, data analysis and other tools at its disposal to keep students able to meet the goals set at the Federal level. Herold also gave a report on ACT levels, noting that students in the ACSD are either at or just slightly below State levels.
Under old business, the Board approved the second reading of the following board policies: 601.1 School Calendar; 601.2 School Day; 803.1 Disposition of Obsolete Equipment, and 502.10 Use of Motor Vehicles. Under new business, the Board accepted the hiring of Joe O'Neill (head varsity softball coach), Kristi Fletcher (7.5 hours per day associate), Debbie Rissman (5.75 hours per day associate), Jackie Johnson (5.75 hours per day associate), Matt Teslow (substitute bus driver), Brent Beyer (volunteer cross country coach), Dave Schoeberlein (assistant football coach), Scott Ness (volunteer football coach), Ken West (driver education) and 21st Century After School Program personnel. The Board also accepted several resignations, including Julie VanderVelden (associate position at Waterville), MaKenzie Slaght (associate position at West), Mark E. Young (substitute bus driver), Andy Sires (assistant baseball coach), Cassie German Lane (associate), and Ben Rausch (assistant boys' basketball coach).
The Board also approved the purchase of new volleyball equipment, part of which will be paid by the Booster Club, for $5,800. The Booster club will cover $2,510 of the cost, and the equipment will ensure that the district's volleyball nets meet regulation standards. The Treasurer's Annual Report was also approved, as were bus routes for the 2014-2015 school year.
Participation in a drumline clinic Sunday, September 21 was approved. The Iowa State University drumline members will be working with each performing drumline, as well as performing themselves. The event will be hosted by the Decorah High School Band department.
The Teacher Quality/Professional Development Administrative Team of Dave Herold, Dan Diercks, Jen Garin, Gretchen DeVore, Joe Griffith and Ann Hart was approved, and all members are the same as last year. Gruhn Law Firm was approved as the school attorney. The Board also approved a foreign exchange student to attend the ACSD. The final matter before adjournment was the approval to hold the September board meeting at Waterville Elementary School, with a tour of the school prior to the meeting.