ACSD Board of Directors holds trio of meetings during month of April

by Brianne Eilers

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors met for two special meetings earlier in April, as well as this past Monday evening, April 20 for its regular meeting.
During the April 6 special meeting, there was a public hearing on the proposed budget for the 2015-2016 school year, with no written or oral comments made. During this meeting, the Board also approved the proposed budget for the upcoming school year as presented. The Board also approved several summer projects, including Junior and Senior High School white boards, hall light fixtures at East Elementary School, a vacuum pump system at East Elementary, parking lot crack filling, asphalt repairs, press box electrical work, handicap walkway and partial fence replacement. The Athletic Booster Club will pay $9,000 towards the handicap walkway.

During the April 14 meeting, the Board approved ratification of the Master Contract for 2015-2016 with the Allamakee Community Education Association. There will be a base increase of $815 for a total compensation package increase of 3.97%. The Board also approved the recommendation to hire Michelle Finnegan as a Junior High School Special Education teacher.
The Board then entered a closed session to discuss the purchase of real estate, prior to adjournment.

During the regular monthly meeting, ACSD Superintendent Dave Herold noted that State legislators have not yet agreed on the amount of Supplemental State Aid that schools will be receiving. However, he did note that Iowa Governor Terry Branstad said it would be at least 1.25%. He also noted that the last day of school for students this school year is May 20, and for the staff it is May 21.
The Alternative School graduation ceremony will be held Friday, May 15, and the Waukon High School commencement will be Sunday, May 17. He also noted that the district has received the State Fire Marshall’s report, and Herold said there were “no major issues.”
During the Principals’ Reports, East and West Elementary School Principal Ann Hart noted that students and staff have many field trips coming up this time of the year. She also said that the spell-a-thon has wrapped up. Teacher Appreciation Week will be May 4-8. Muffins with Mom will be held this Friday at West Elementary.  East Elementary will have its Spring Concert Monday, May 4.
Waterville Elementary and Junior High School Principal Joe Griffith noted that the Waterville Spring Concert will be Tuesday, May 5, and the Junior High will have its concert Monday, May 11. He also said that eight Junior High students were selected to go to the Oelwein Honor Choir. Waterville Elementary held its annual Wax Museum event this past Friday, and Griffith said it was a success.
Waukon High School Activities Director and Assistant Principal Jennifer Garin noted that the Waukon girls track 4x100 relay team qualified for the Drake Relays in Des Moines and will compete this Friday. She also noted that the high school play was held this past weekend. The last high school vocal and band concert of the year will be April 30. Senior Awards Night will be May 12. Garin also informed the Board that she will be presenting a list of fundraisers for the upcoming school year at the next regular meeting, for the Board’s approval.
High School Principal Dan Diercks reminded everyone that Prom is this coming Saturday. He also wanted to be sure and acknowledge the Post Prom committee. “They give the kids a safe, fun evening,” he noted. The Grand march will be at 8 p.m. Saturday, and the Prom King and Queen will be crowned at 8:30 p.m. The high school will also be hosting an entertainer this Thursday to talk to students about making good choices. “This is a good week for this,” Diercks noted, with the entertainer event coinciding with Prom. There are only 17 days of school left for seniors. Semester tests will be held May 18 and 19.
Food Service Director Julie Magner informed the Board that the district has received a grant from the Allamakee County Community Foundation. The grant will used to cover costs of processing four beef cows, which will allow the school to serve more local beef. Magner noted that the first of the four cows has been processed into hamburger patties, and to celebrate May Beef Month, local members of the Allamakee County Cattlemen's Association will be grilling for the junior high and high school students.
During the communications time of the meeting, Superintendent Herold updated those present about the results of the Iowa Assessments testing. Herold showed comparisons by grade and also tracking the same class, over a three- to four-year period of testing.
Linda Groe also updated the board members on the SIAC (School Improvement Advisory Committee) goals. She noted that they are the same as last year, which were continuing to develop 21st Century learners through digital education, addressing common Core Curriculum needs, and fostering a safe and positive learning environment.
Under old business, the Board approved the second reading of the following Board Policies: 406.5-Licensed Employee Group Benefits and 412.3-Classified Employee Group Benefits.
In new business personnel matters, the Board approved recommendations for personnel for the 21st Century After School Program. The Board also approved hiring Daneshia Snitker, Ted Snitker and John Papp as volunteer softball coaches, as well as hiring Dave Schoeberlein as a volunteer girls golf coach in the brief absence of head coach Kathy McMillan.
The Board accepted the resignation of Sarah Schacherer from her position as head musical director. The Board also approved hiring Ethan Adams as grades 7-12 vocal music director, musical director and for other supplemental music events.
The Board approved the designation of the school calendar in 180 days, instead of hours, as was done the previous year. Herold noted that going by days makes it easier to account for instruction time. The 2015-2016 school year will begin August 24, with the Board also approving the 2015-2016 school calendar. The Board also approved the district’s participation in the IAEP cooperative purchasing for the food program, as it has done in past years. The Summer Feeding Program was also approved and will be held June 1-26 at the Junior High in Waukon and the Harpers Ferry Community Center, and also from August 3-14 at the Junior High and at Waterville Elementary School. The Board approved the office lease agreement with Keystone AEA, another agreement that has been going on for many years.
Out-of-state field trips for the junior high and senior high 21st Century program were approved to Prairie du Chien, WI to visit Fort Crawford, the Villa Louis and Mississippi Explorer River Cruise. A trip to Wabasha, MN to visit the National Eagle Center was also approved, as was a trip to the National Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque and a trip to Chicago, IL to visit the Field Museum, Millennium Park and the Museum of Science and Industry.
A date of May 18 has been set for a public hearing on amending the 2014-2015 budget. The hearing will be held during the regular school board meeting. The Board approved the list of high school graduates, pending those students meeting all requirements for graduation.
The Board also approved a Summer School Stem camp with Northeast Iowa Community College. Technology Director Shawn Gordon addressed the Board on the proposal to purchase Smartboards, which will help integrate technology into the elementary libraries. The Board approved a bid from Tierney Brothers, an Iowa company with an office in Des Moines, for $7,644. The purchase will include three Smartboards, mounts, projectors and 15-foot cables. The Board also approved the district’s Technology Plan.
Prior to adjournment, the Board approved the band and vocal trip to New York. The trip, which was previously done every four years, will now be done every two years, and only junior and senior class members who participate in vocal music and band will be eligible to go. The reason behind the changes is that band director Jo Ann Knipfer Sherman and vocal director Adrienne Gerst felt the trip should be intended as reward for students who have shown commitment to the music program. Students who will participate in the trip will now have five or six years to raise funds for the trip, instead of just the three or four years they previously had.
Also, by reducing the amount of students that go, the group will also be able to cut transportation needs down to just one bus instead of two. On past trips, there have been issues with the buses getting separated, and as the music directors noted, if the buses get separated in New York City, it can take hours for them to get caught back up. They also said they felt that the junior and senior students had more awareness of the historical, cultural and musical experiences that they participate in on these trips, and they feel the older students can learn more from the experiences.

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