EACSD Board of Directors holds delayed regular session

by Susan Cantine-Maxson

The regular monthly Eastern Allamakee School District Board of Directors meeting was held Wednesday, February 17 at Kee High School in Lansing, a couple days later than its usual Monday meeting day. Board members Bruce Palmborg, Bobbie Goetzinger, Kelli Mudderman, Melanie Mauss and Board President Heather Schulte were present along with Board Secretary Janet Heiderscheit, Kee High School and Middle School Principal Mary Hogan, Ne Albin Elementary Principal Chad Steckel and Superintendent Dr. Dale Crozier.
Prior to the usual business meeting, the Board and administration met with the Chauffeurs and Teamsters Union representatives to hear their initial proposal for the master contract for the 2016-2017 school year. The union represents bus drivers, associates, secretaries, cooks and custodians. Dan Macdonald, Union representative for the area, presented the proposal. Eastern Allamakee employees Tom and Karla Garrett represented the non-certified staff.
Among other more specific items, the proposal included an hourly rate increase of 75 cents for all employees, as well as an $18 employer contribution to dental insurance. Additional specifics regarding the Union's initial proposal can be found in the meeting minutes published in the Public Notices section of this week's issue of The Standard. The Board has ten days to respond to the proposal to establish negotiations on the contract.
At 6 p.m. the regular meeting was called to order by President Schulte. After the adoption of the agenda, the Board went into a work session discussing items such as enrollment, philosophy, marketing, finance and long-term goals. Superintendent Crozier briefly reviewed the strategic plan for the district. He presented information about plans that Nebraska and South Dakota have established to help small districts. Iowa’s only option is to utilize the Rural School Association advocacy group to promote legislation to assist small school districts.
Crozier said State Representative Patti Ruff is an advocate for rural school districts. The Eastern Allamakee district has a strong property tax base because of the Alliant Energy plant. This helps the district to stay on a strong financial pathway. Crozier suggested that Larry Segal, who was previously with the Iowa Association of School Boards and Iowa School Finance and who now runs a private consulting firm, would be a good person to discuss the long-term financial outlook with.
Two identified issues are the lack of affordable housing for young families and the need for more employment opportunities. Projected enrollment through 2020 does not fluctuate greatly. The goal is to promote the district’s ability to provide a nurturing environment in a small school setting as well as offer challenging and extended learning opportunities. Online classes and NICC offerings assist in those goals. More may need to be done in the future.
Tammy Manning, English teacher and speech coach, and several students presented information about large group speech contest, showing an example of their entry in the Short Film category which received straight I ratings at the State contest. The film, “Taking a Step Forward,” was written, produced and performed by the high school students.
In addition, middle school students demonstrated several programs on the iPad to illustrate how these are used in the classroom. The students told the Board that they prefer the virtual textbooks to the physical text books because they are more interactive for students.
The Board approved the February consent items, the minutes of January meeting bills for February, Secretary’s Financial Statement, Activity and Food Service report.  Additional authorizations included approving the following:
• Sunday performance for the school play on April 10.
• 2016-17 Certified Budget Levy Rates
• budget Guarantee Resolution for 2016-17
• Modified Allowable Growth/Drop Out Prevention Application
• Early Separation Request from George Lee, bus driver
• Public Hearing Date for 2016-17 Budget set for Monday, March 21, 2016.

Principal Hogan reported that she is working on the 2016-2017 calendar with a start date of August 23, which would have the school year conclude approximately May 23. The Site Team meeting is coming up, and discussion will center on sustainability, marketing, technology, career technology, and career and teacher leadership. Hogan met with the teachers participating in the teacher leadership program; all seem to have a very positive attitude and are utilizing the program well. The third trimester was schedule to begin February 21.
Principal Hogan also shared a letter from an 84-year-old Guttenberg grandma who commended the Eastern Allamakee students on their behavior at a recent basketball game.
Principal Steckel informed the Board that the informational meeting for  preschool for new three- and four-year-olds will be held  March 2. Elementary teachers will work with middle and high school teachers on curriculum alignment at the next work session. Kindergarten and first graders will attend a show at Luther College. Tournament play has begun and spring sports will soon be starting.