EACSD Board of Directors hears update from Keystone AEA during regular monthly session

by Susan Cantine-Maxson

The regular monthly meeting of the Eastern Allamakee School District Board of Directors was held Monday, July 20 at Kee High School in Lansing. Board Members Bobbie Goetzinger, Kelli Mudderman, Melanie Mauss and Board President Heather Schulte were present along with Board Secretary/Business Manager Marian Verdon and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dale Crozier.
Authorizations were approved which included the usual bills plus the bids for the 2015-16 school year for milk and bread. Only one bid was received for each commodity. Bimbo Bakery received the bread bid and Prairie Farms received the milk bid. The Board approved the sharing agreement for the Superintendent with the MFL/MarMac district. This will be the fifth year of that agreement.
The Board approved the resignation of Dave Ellefson as Director of Technology so that his contract hours can be purchased from Keystone Area Education Agency (AEA). He will continue his work with the district but will be under contract with the AEA. Next, the Board approved the Information Technology contract agreement with Keystone AEA which will provide Ellefson’s services to the district.
Superintendent Crozier reported that Governor Branstad’s veto of the school funding bill will leave the district about $40,000 short of the revenues it would have received if the bill had been signed. In a rural district such as Eastern Allamakee, the district is continually looking for ways to save funds. With declining enrollment, this ultimately means that fewer full-time positions will be replaced. The district will have to strategically manage its resources.
Superintendent Crozier presented the Board with a letter from Emily Benzing, thanking the Board for choosing her to participate in the Hugh O’Brien Leadership camp. Superintendent Crozier, Principals Chad Steckel  and Mary Hogan and others involved with the Teacher Leadership Grant have been attending Instructional Coach training at Keysone AEA in Elkader.
Kenny Johnson, Transportation Director, is meeting with bus drivers and going over route changes for the upcoming school year. Custodial staff is working on getting the schools ready for their August opening.
Pat Heiderscheit, former Eastern Allamakee Superintendent and current chief administrator of Keystone,  and Keystone board member Dr. Bill Withers, who represents the Eastern Allamakee district as well as several other surrounding school districts, made a short presentation to the Board about Keystone’s services. Keystone provides services for 23 districts and 28 private schools in its AEA. Those services are provided for special needs students as well as curriculum support for early literacy, numeracy, college and career readiness skills and equality in educational opportunities.
Seventy-six percent of Keystone's services provide assistance for students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), which includes approximately 12 percent of the student population served by Keystone AEA. Fifteen percent of the services provide educational services such as technology integration and curriculum, and nine percent of the services are related to media services for the districts. The largest school district in the AEA is Dubuque; Riceville is the smallest.
Approximately $83,490 of Eastern Allamakee’s property taxes help to support the Keystone AEA, but if districts had to provide their own specialized teachers for areas such as audiology and occupational therapy, the districts would end up paying a great deal more for those services, In many rural areas, it would be difficult for districts to find the personnel to fill those needs without a consortium like the AEA, which can hire these professionals to provide services for many districts. In addition, Keystone offers teachers and staff collaborative experiences through providing in-service training, professional growth opportunities and curriculum development.