EACSD School Board hears concerns from parents on bullying, addresses variety of other matters

by Susan Cantine-Maxson

The regular monthly Eastern Allamakee Community School District (EACSD) Board of Directors meeting was held Monday, March 21 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 district business manager Marian Verdon, Kee High School and Middle School Principal Mary Hogan, New Albin Elementary Principal Chad Steckel and Superintendent Dr. Dale Crozier.
Public comments included parents who asked the Board to review the policies on bullying and harassment to determine if the various levels of consequences are appropriate. They felt physical abuse should receive out-of-school suspension rather than in-school suspension. Superintendent Crozier said each disciplinary action is decided on a case-by-case basis and judgment is always involved.  Board President Schulte and Superintendent Crozier responded that the policies are part of the student handbook and would be re-examined before the next school year.
Three math teachers presented information about personal learning communities and classroom projects. Danyce Jacobs, Elizabeth Hill and Daniel Love outlined specific projects which have enhanced learning and differentiated instruction to assist students with learning concepts necessary to mastering their subject matter. The teachers explained that using assessment tools to determine mastery of knowledge creates more personalized learning for the students. Flipped classroom methodology allows students to watch videos where the teacher presents content that students watch  on their own time. Students can stop and rewind to watch parts that need more reinforcement. They can also repeat the video as many times as they want.
Classroom time is spent with the teacher assisting the students practicing the exercises. This allows the teacher to work individually with students. Students are encouraged to ask questions and receive personalized help in areas where they need it. The feedback time working with the students is a very positive aspect of using the flipped classroom concept. Additionally, opportunities through personalized professional development have allowed teachers to explore motivational techniques and the vertical articulation of the curriculum.
The Board approved the usual authorizations, including March consent items, minutes of February meetings, bills for March, Secretary’s Financial Statement, Activity and Food Service Report. There was no old business.
New business included the approval of the 2016-17 budget. There were no comments heard or received during the public hearing for the budget.
The Board set the public hearing date for the school calendar for April 18 at 7 p.m. during the next scheduled board meeting. The proposed calendar starts August 23, 2016 and will end May 22, 2017, if there are no snow make-up days.
The Board approved operational sharing agreements with Allamakee Community School District for Transportation Director and Director of Buildings and Grounds. The agreement is the same as last year.
The Board accepted the resignations of Chad Winters and Jennifer Servais as Student Council sponsors. Both have served 13 years as sponsors. Principal Hogan has posted the jobs internally.

In addition, the Board approved Early Separation Agreement Modification for Non-Certified Staff. This agreement is the same as three years ago but dates needed to be changed to be applicable to upcoming years since the current agreements ends at the end of March. This agreement affects classified employees with 25 years or more experience in the district.
Also, an agreement was reached with the Chauffeurs & Teamsters Negotiation unit for the next  three years. This affects classified employees (a group which includes most personnel who are not teachers or administrators). The agreement was reached with one meeting. Union representative Karla Garrett thanked Superintendent Crozier and Board President Schulte for their work on the agreement. All involved agreed that the process went very smoothly. Schulte also thanked Marian Verdon for her input pertaining to knowledge of how all the contracts for the district work together.
The major agreement points increase wages for the first year by 32 cents per hour. The second and third year raises will be for 35 cents each year. Bus shuttle wages were also increased from $10 to $11.50 per hour.
The final action was Board approval of a bus lease agreement, which is a continuation of what the district already has in place.
Elementary Principal and Activities Director Chad Steckel reported that the elementary Read Across America program was wrapping up for the year. They will celebrate with a popcorn and pajama party. The open house for three-year-old preschool had 22 attendees. This number will mean that the district will need two separate classes. The current program of one classroom  is three days a week, and Steckel is working on a schedule which would have two two-day programs.
Steckel publicly thanked the New Albin Improvement League for its continuing support for the elementary school. The group raised money in its fall Fun Run which has resulted in the support of several elementary classroom projects and extra supplies.
Steckel advised that the high school track season has started with an indoor meet at Luther College. Middle school boys and girls track have also started. The baseball field outfield will need reseeding due to sandy soil. The concession stand project for the softball field is still underway.
Middle and High School Principal Hogan reported that registration will begin with informational meetings April 4. She and the guidance counselor are working on next year’s schedule. Keystone’s Jared Bormann did a clarity data survey looking at technology usage. The results will help guide improvements in professional learning and technology.
Principal Hogan will meet April 22 with a committee from Keystone about professional development. She recommended that the district  stay with personalized professional development for the next year because she feels that the teachers have benefited from the individualized learning. The high school office is getting ready for the Teachers Leadership Committee end-of-the-year report by surveying teaching staff on student achievement and assessing whether the program is meeting student and teacher needs.
Hogan reported that several students from vocal, instrumental music and speech had performed for the Main Street Matters’  annual meeting and were very well received. The Perkins Grant recently received will allow several departments to collaborate on a marketing business project where students would build and manufacture clocks with the school district’s logo on them.
Superintendent Crozier thanked those who worked on the committee meeting with the negotiations team to come to the current agreement. He mentioned that there may need to be a special board meeting called if any of the classified employees applies for early retirement before April 1.