EACSD school day will have new start/end times beginning with upcoming school year

by Susan Cantine-Maxson

The regular monthly Eastern Allamakee Community School District (EACSD) Board of Directors meeting was held Monday, May 18 at Kee High School in Lansing. Board Members Bruce Palmborg, Bobbie Goetzinger, Kelli Mudderman, Melanie Mauss and Board President Heather Schulte were present along with Board Secretary/Business Manager Marian Verdon, High School and Middle School Principal Mary Hogan, Elementary Principal Chad Steckel and Superintendent Dr. Dale Crozier.
President Schulte called the meeting to order. The initial item on the agenda included approval of the 2014-15 budget amendment which allows the budget to cover additional revenues and expenditures not covered in the original budget. Public comments were called for but none were given. The normal and customary authorizations were approved.
School Nurse Julie Welsh presented the Board with an emergency anaphylaxis procedure which will be used district-wide. Welsh explained that she merged what she had been doing with suggestions from Andy Wagner’s research presented at last month's board meeting to create a new format for use within the district. Wagner previously presented a proposal to the Board explaining the need for such a procedure to be in place. Welsh said the updated procedure should assist other staff to understand the signs, symptoms and procedures to follow if someone is having a severe allergic reaction. The Board  was in agreement that this update was appropriate at this time, particularly in light of recent legislation allowing schools to keep epinephrine on hand for emergency situations.

The business of the Board included:
• Approval of custodial supplies purchase for next year.
• Approval of a language change addition to the master contract with the Eastern Allamakee Education Association (EAEA). This language change clarifies the agreement between the EAEA and the district regarding the Teacher Leadership Compensation agreement which will assist the district in providing money so that the base salary will be $33,500. The language will assist any future boards, association presidents and administration to see how the Teacher Leadership Compensation money was used to adjust the  base salary.
• Approval of the 2013-14 audit.
• Authorization to accept bids for propane.
• Approval of increase in admission costs to athletic events for single ticket holders to $5 for adults and $4 for students. This is in line with other area schools.
• Approval of contracts for Elizabeth Peregrine (grades 5-12 band instructor); Ray Rankin (additional hours for FFA leader); and Donna Hogan lane change from BA+15 to MA.
• Approval of resignation (pending the finding of a suitable replacement) of Patrick Wagner from his position of head varsity boys basketball coach.
• Approval of 3.26% increase for administration and central office contracts for Mary Hogan (high school principal), Chad Steckel (elementary principal), Michele Martin (superintendent’s administrative assistant), Janet Heiderscheit (business manager) and Marian Verdon (business manager).

The meeting concluded with administrative reports from Principals Steckel and Hogan. Principal Hogan outlined a plan that she and Principal Steckel have been working on to revise the daily schedule of classes. The school day would be adjusted so that the middle school and high school would meet from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the elementary would meet from 8:20 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. This revision would add 20 minutes to the New Albin Elementary schedule and shorten the high school and middle school schedule by 15 minutes.
The additional minutes of time would result in approximately 16 to 17 days of instructional time at the elementary school, which would allow for more flexibility in scheduling in many areas. Hogan sited research which shows that more time in curricular areas would be beneficial, particularly at the elementary level. This schedule also allows for better blocks of time with most specials (music, art, etc.) meeting right after lunch. The extra time would also allow some built-in time for snow days or early dismissals and late starts.
At the middle school and high school, students who need to leave early for athletic events would miss less class time, practices would finish earlier and seniors would be able to be done with classes and then take their annual class trip.
In addition, the professional development schedule for the teachers would be adjusted from five two-hour in-services to 10 one-hour in-services. These professional development in-services would assist with the implementation of the teacher leadership mentorships as well as keeping the topics of professional development fresh in teacher’s minds since they would be meeting more often. More details will be presented in the district newsletter, Schoolhouse Scribblings.
Principal Hogan reported that the district had received a grant of $3,600 to fund a two-week summer school for middle school students which will combine academics and adventure. Reading, math, science and technology skills will be emphasized. Students who attend will be chosen by teacher recommendation.
Hogan continued by explaining that new concurrent classes will be offered at the high school next year including Basic Arc Welding and Introduction to Computer Programming. In addition, the high school will be participating in a program with Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) called CT Pathways which will connect students to mentors in potential career paths.
Principal Steckel reported that report cards are being sent home with students this semester rather than mailed. Also, summer school at the elementary level should be well attended. Approximately half of those students invited to attend have responded positively. Others who have not yet responded will be contacted.
In his role as Athletic Director, Steckel reported that there would be two athletes participating in the State Track Meet later this week. The softball field update included news that the awning over the middle section and scorer’s table is almost ready to be positioned. Concrete will be poured around the bleachers.
The district’s newsletter, Schoolhouse Scribblings, will be sent out within a few weeks. Superintendent Crozier commended Steckel on his editorship of the newsletter throughout the year.