ACSD Board of Directors addresses numerous items in final regular meeting before new school year

by Brianne Eilers

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors met for a special meeting Thursday, July 30 to discuss several personnel matters, as well as a bid for window coverings for Waterville Elementary School. Resignations were accepted from Rose Blake, from her associate position, and Ron Herman, from his custodian position. The Board approved hiring Connie Kromer and Linda Schulte as 5.75 hour per day Middle School associates. The Board also approved hiring Jessica Strittmater and Lori Cahoon as 5.75 hour per day Elementary associates, and Sandy Darling as a 5.75 hour per day High School associate. Prior to adjournment, the Board accepted a bid from Lowery McDonnell Company for new window coverings at Waterville Elementary, for $4,806.88, as per the Fire Marshall’s report.

The Board met for its regular monthly meeting Monday, August 17. Prior to the meeting, there was a tour of the summer projects and a welcome reception for new teachers and administrators.
A public hearing was held on changing the 2015-2016 School Calendar from 180 days to 1,080 hours. There were no written or oral objections, and the public hearing was closed. Later on in the meeting, the change was approved.
During the Superintendent’s Report, ACSD Superintendent Dave Herold noted that the Annual Progress Reports will be going out in the mail to constituents in the ACSD in the next week or two. He also informed board members that a special meeting would have to be held in early September to hire some additional personnel to fill vacancies. The board members decided to hold the special meeting September 1. Herold also touched on some the legislative policies that will be shaping the upcoming school year. He noted that At-Risk Dropout funding will be easier to access. The school start date is August 24. He also noted that Epi Pens will be allowed for use in schools, but they can only be administered by trained staff in the buildings. Child Labor Laws have changed so that the school administrators no longer have to sign off on the amount of hours students work.
The Supplemental State Aid was set at 1.25%, and Herold also explained that Iowa Governor Terry Branstad vetoed $55 million in one-time money for schools, of which the ACSD had been planning to use its portion to purchase library books and textbooks. Herold also noted that 2,160 credits were earned by high school students at the NICC-Waukon Center. Of the 96 students in the 2015 graduating class, 24% (23 students) will attend NICC for post-secondary education.
The new press box, which was paid for by a donation from the Dave and Nancy Einck family in memory of their son, Mitch Einck, will be dedicated at the September 18 football game.
During the principals reports, Joe Griffith of East and West Elementary schools noted that “meet the teacher” night will be this Thursday, August 20, beginning at 5 p.m. Julie Askelson of Waterville Elementary noted that 25 backpacks have been donated to the school, and filled with supplies. The backpacks were distributed to first and second graders during registration. Jennifer Garin, Waukon Middle School Principal, noted that sixth and seventh grade orientation will be held Tuesday, August 18 at 7 p.m. She noted that during this past weekend’s Waukon Corn Days, seven adults and two students took advantage of the building tour at the High School and Middle School.
Waukon High School Activities Director Brian Hilsabeck noted that students are already at work with the fall sporting events. In grades 9-12, 52 students are participating in football, 50 in volleyball, and 27 in cross country. The sports drink scrimmage will be held this Friday, August 21 at 4:30 p.m. Hilsabeck also noted that Homecoming will be October 2 this year. Waukon Senior High School Principal Dr. Mike Hardy noted during the regular business in the meeting that the Board would be addressing his request to not require payment for student parking passes. Dr. Hardy also informed the Board that ninth grade orientation will be Thursday, August 20 at 7 p.m.
In personnel matters, the Board accepted the resignation of Vernon Shogren from his crossing guard position. Board President Al Rissman noted that Shogren has been working as a crossing guard for the district for at least 10 years. The Board also accepted the resignation of Shelly Grangaard from her cook position and the resignation of Sandy Darling from her associate position. Staff was approved for the 21st Century After School Program. The Board approved moving Nancy Reiser from a 5.75 hour per day cook to a 7 hour per day cook. The Board approved hiring Michelle Daer as a special needs associate and approved hiring Bryce Bahr as a substitute bus driver, pending meeting all requirements.
Moving on to other business, the Board approved the Treasurers Annual Report. The Board also approved bus routes for the 2015-2016 school year. Transportation Director Randy Nordheim noted that the routes are nearly the same as they were last year, with very minimal changes.
The Teacher Quality/Professional Development Administrative Team of Dave Herold, Mike Hardy, Brian Hilsabeck, Jen Garin, Joe Griffith and Julie Askelson was approved. Superintendent Herold noted that the teachers would also choose six members to be on their Teacher Quality/Professional Development team. The Board approved Gruhn Law Firm as the school district’s attorney. A German foreign exchange student was also given approval for attendance.
Hilsabeck and Dr. Hardy explained the Orange Chord Program to the Board and those present. The Orange Chord Program is an opportunity to recognize students who volunteer in the community during their high school years. Any student may participate in this program, and they will be required to complete 40 hours of volunteer service each year of high school, beginning in ninth grade, which would be a total of 160 hours in the four years. Students can accumulate the hours at any point to achieve the required hours by graduation. Since this is the first year of this program, the hours will be “pro-rated” for seniors, juniors and sophomores. Hilsabeck explained that this year’s seniors would have to complete 40 hours. A committee of teachers and administrators will approve or disapprove the hours each student accumulates. Students who are interested in participating can get ideas
for where to volunteer if they cannot find a place that meets the criteria, and their hours will be kept track of on forms, which will have to be signed off on by a supervising adult (who is not a parent of the participating child). Students who meet the goals for hours will be recognized at end of the year Awards Ceremonies. Graduating seniors will receive an orange chord at the graduation ceremony, but the chord would be returned after the ceremony. Board Member Thomas Baxter asked if there were any plans to allow students to keep the orange chords they receive, and Hilsabeck noted that they could look into that option.
The Board approved changes to the High School student handbook. Students will still be required to register their vehicles, but there will not be a charge this year for parking passes. When exiting the parking lot, vehicles will be required to exit from the southwest exit past the Wellness Center and straight on to Old Stage Road. Dr. Hardy noted this will help ease some of the congestion with other traffic, such as buses and parents picking up elementary and middle school students.
The Board also approved the purchase of elementary school textbooks, from Reading Street and My Sidewalks K-5, in the amount of $137,568.68. Herold noted that the purchase is expensive, but textbooks are important to the foundation of learning.
The Board also approved holding its regular meeting in September at Waterville Elementary, as it has done annually for the past several years. Prior to adjournment, the Board approved the participation of band students in the Decorah Drum Line Clinic September 20 and the UNI All-State Workshop September 27.