EACSD School Board organizes for the 2015-2016 school year

by Susan Cantine-Maxson

The regular monthly Eastern Allamakee Community School District (EACSD) Board of Directors meeting was held Monday, September 21 at 7 p.m. 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, Principals Chad Steckel and Mary Hogan, and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dale Crozier.
Authorizations were approved which included the usual bills. The Board approved the Certified Annual Report, the Special Education Supplemental Report and the Annual Transportation Report. The Certified Annual Report contains all revenue and expenses, as well as data about long-term debt, assets and cash. The Special Education Report includes all revenue, expenses and data about the number of students in the program. The Annual Transportation Report showed that the cost per mile went down from $2.79 to $2.41 for the district. This was in part due to depreciation costs and a decline in fuel costs. The costs per student were approximately the same as last year. Rural schools have this additional cost to pay out of their general fund. All the reports were filed with the State.
New teachers to the district introduced themselves to the Board. New employees included Elizabeth Peregrine, band director; Elizabeth Hill, math instructor; and Ray Rankin, agriculture classes, industrial technology and Project Lead the Way. Sandra Darling, who was not present, was also hired as a half-time associate at New Albin Elementary School. Kee High School Principal Hogan expressed satisfaction with the mentoring process which assists new teachers with becoming familiar with the district. Teachers expressed that the district had been very welcoming.
The regular meeting was then adjourned so that the organizational meeting for the 2015-16 school year could be conducted.
EACSD 2014-15 Board President Heather Schulte called the organizational meeting to order. District Business Manager Marian Verdon reported the canvass of the school board election which was recently conducted. Goetzinger received 47 votes; Palmborg received 42 votes and Mudderman received 46 votes. All three incumbents were re-elected to four-year terms. The election of officers resulted in Heather Schulte being elected to a third term as Board President; Bobbie Goetzinger was elected Vice President. Goetzinger was selected as the Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB) Delegate and Legislative Action Network Representative. Schulte  was selected as the Allamakee County Assessor’s Board Representative. Schulte and Palmborg will continue as the authorized check signers.
After the election of officers, the Board approved the bills for September, the secretary’s financial statement, and the activity and food service reports. A half-time contract was approved for Sandra Darling as a Teacher Aide in New Albin. Early Literacy Intervention purchases were tabled until October when teachers can present information about the program.
Discussion about the costs of school fees and supplies ensued. Some board members expressed the viewpoint that the school district could buy some items such as markers and card stock in bulk, which might alleviate some of the costs for parents. They did not expect teachers to pay for these supplies but would like the district to explore the financial implications of the district’s purchase of more of the necessary supplies.
Principal Hogan reported that the comprehensive school improvement plan has been filed with the State. This plan outlines how the district will cover the Iowa core and how professional development will be implemented. The professional development plan for the district has been submitted. This plan includes the development of the teacher leadership team, the identification of the essential skills for mastery and re-teaching and the alignment of curriculum to core components. The district is working with Keystone Area Education Agency (AEA) on personalized professional development for the staff. This is a web-based, online instructional program differentiated for the individual teacher. Enrollment files have been uploaded to the Department of Education.
In addition to all the required State reports, the administration has been working with staff, articulating all of the business classes to transfer credits with NICC. The mentoring/job shadowing program currently has two  students, but Hogan hopes to have up to four more students involved during the year. Hogan also distributed data from the ITED and ITBS tests which showed a three-year span of scores in Reading, Science and Math. The statistics will be included in the school’s district newsletter.
Homecoming will be October 2. This year homerooms will be decorating sections of the hallways. The Homecoming Court will be announced this week.
New Albin Elementary School Principal Chad Steckel announced that a $1,650 grant for math had been received. This money will allow the purchase of 30 licenses for computer-based programs to help lower-achieving math students.
Iowa State Education Association President Tammy Wawro visited New Albin Elementary Monday. She met with teachers to discuss  the early literacy program. She also visited other area schools, collecting observations about the early literacy programs for the governor’s advisory board.
Principal Steckel reported that the New Albin Improvement League 5K Run was very successful, raising almost $1,000 for school supplies. The district appreciates the support from the Improvement League and the event participants.
The elementary school is going through positive behavior intervention and support. Training began last year with implementation this school year. Everyone is involved in teaching students behavioral expectations. For example, the bus monitor may discuss appropriate bus behavior. Everyone participates in monitoring and supervising. A data tracking system allows the administration to track behavioral referrals, which helps to identify specific problem areas, times of day or other pertinent data. One device, the Yakker tracker, measures noise volume in the lunchroom. It is similar to a stop light. When the noise level increases, the yellow light goes on and if it increases too much, the red light appears. Steckel said the students are paying attention to the light and decrease the noise level if they see the light change from green. Additionally, students receive tickets for positive behaviors. If a class reaches 25 tickets, those students get a prize such as an extra recess. Overall, the culture of the school is improved by improving the behavioral expectations for the students.
Participants of the summer school program seemed to enjoy the experience. In general, the attendance was good. The administration is searching for a different assessment tool to assist with measuring the effectiveness of student participation on learning and retention.
Superintendent Crozier informed the Board that the district will need to explore boiler (New Albin building) and roof maintenance and repair during the year. These expenses would come out of the physical plant budget and not out of the general fund. Another expense will be the purchase of a used Suburban, which is needed for smaller group transportation. Suburbans are more economical in miles per gallon than larger buses or mini-buses. Crozier said that the district will receive approximately $17,000 in additional money from the State from an increase in sales tax revenue.