ACSD Board of Directors hears update on NICC Levy vote, approves hirings, discusses projects prior to school year

by Brianne Eilers

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors met for a special meeting Friday, June 22 to discuss and approve additional scope on the electrical service project done by Alliant. The board approved changes that would not exceed $43,125. Board President Al Rissman also administered the oath of office to new board member Erik Helgerson.

The board then met Wednesday, July 11 to hold a work session and have discussion with and provide training materials to new board member Erik Helgerson. New ACSD Superintendent Jay Mathis shared a video with the board members regarding school finance and handed out materials from the Iowa School Board Association.

The board then gathered for its regular monthly meeting Monday, July 16. Board member Patty Nordheim was absent. The board heard a presentation from Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) representatives Wendy Mihm-Herold and Erica Nosbisch regarding the upcoming vote to extend the bond to support NICC September 11. It was explained that the extension of the bond would allow for the college to focus on increasing security around the centers, continue to upgrade technology, continue to update infrastructure and be able to enhance and expand programming and services.

It was also noted that the bond and interest levy is currently at 28.8 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation and that rate would not change. The example was given for a homeowner whose home is assessed at a value of $150,000 and an approximate net taxable value of $78,000 currently pays $1.89 a month and less than $23 per year for the levy, and the rate would not change with this vote.

Moving on to reports, Board Secretary Jaime Curtin noted that the district is saving approximately $28,000 over last year on its liability and property insurance. Superintendent Mathis asked Grounds and Maintenance Department Head Bill Hennessy to give an update on the projects going on around the district. Hennessy noted that the electrical project is about 90% complete. The kitchen project at East Elementary is moving a little slower, but the completion date is set for August 8. The painting and lighting projects are also moving along, and Hennessy praised the custodians for their work.

Mathis gave a brief Superintendent report, noting that he is settling into his role and getting ready for the beginning of the school year. He also presented board members with a map from outgoing Transportation Director Randy Nordheim showing the bus routes for the 2018-2019 school year.

Technology Director Shawn Gordon noted that the district will be using E-registration again this year, beginning August 1. A letter will go out to parents regarding help sessions to be held August 7 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and August 8 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. There will also be emails sent out as well as information on the district’s online venues and an ad in The Standard newspaper.

On the 21st Century grant front, Barb Winters-Kelly reported that the district was awarded close to $9,000 worth of carry-over money. August 1 will mark the beginning of summer school for Middle School students.

The board also received the facility and mileage reports from the 2017-2018 school year. Mathis noted that many districts do not have an organized report on facility usage and he said it was nice to see how often the ACSD facilities are being used. The total mileage for the four suburbans, one car and one van for the 2017-2018 school year was 28,141 miles.

In personnel matters, the board approved staff for the After School Program, as well as approving Maria Baker as the West Elementary Site Coordinator and Alyssa Bell as the East Site Coordinator for the After School Program for 2018-2019. Volunteer football coaches Jarod Dahlstrom, Frank Weymiller, Brody Baxter and Caleb Ferring were approved. Kallie Heitland was also approved as a paraprofessional for the high school.

The board accepted the resignation of Amanda Jellings from her first grade teaching position. The board then hired Cindy Wuebker as a first grade teacher. East and West Elementary Schools Principal Joe Griffith was in attendance and board members asked about Wuebker. Griffith noted that she would bring 20-plus years of teaching experience to the first grade teaching team.

The board then moved to discuss the student, teacher and coaches handbook changes. Board member Tim Waters noted that he had some issues with changes regarding the yearbook, assignment completion and detention areas of the handbook. Waters said his concern with the yearbook stemmed from the wording that if there was an error or omission the staff “will not reprint yearbooks for errors.” Waters explained that an incident had occurred where a student was left out of the yearbook, and it was reprinted, but he was not comfortable with the wording like that for the future.

Rissman noted that even though that would be the guideline in place, he felt that they could still make changes and reprint if necessary. Mathis agreed with that, adding that the language could be changed to read “staff may not reprint yearbooks for errors” if that would make the board more comfortable. It was noted that with errors and omissions, it could be looked at on a case by case basis to determine if a reprint would be the best option to fix that situation.

Mathis also noted that with the assignment completion section and detention section the board could approve the changes to the handbooks, but request that there be additional changes to the wording. The board approved the changes to the 2018-2019 handbooks, with the additional wording changes to be made.

The board also approved changes to the staff policies and administrative rules handbook for 2018-2019. The driver’s education instructor per student reimbursement rates were set as follows: 2018-19 at $187.50, 2019-20 at $190.00 and 2020-21 at $192.50. The board approved an increase for the driver education student fee for 2018-2019 from $310 to $325.

The board also approved renewals of membership to the Iowa Association of School Boards and Iowa School Finance Information Services. A bid from Adam Anderson for snow removal was approved for the 2018-19, 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years for $65 per hour per piece of equipment.

The Nutrition Handbook was approved by the board. Student and adult lunch prices were also set for the 2018-2019 school year as follows: paid student lunch at $2.10, reduced student lunch at $0.40, free student lunch at $0.00, adult lunch at $3.65, paid student breakfast at $0.90, reduced student breakfast at $0.30, free student breakfast at $0.00 and adult breakfast at $1.50. These prices remain the same as last year. The board also approved the School Breakfast/Lunch Free and Reduced Policy.

Milk bids were accepted as follows: Prairie Farms Dairy for unflavored 1% milk at $0.2640, unflavored skim milk at $0.2380, chocolate skim milk at $0.2524, and 12 oz. strawberry milk bottles (ala carte) at $0.80, and from WW Homestead Dairy for chocolate 1% 12 oz. bottles (ala carte) at $0.79. Bread bids were accepted as follows: Pan-O-Gold for whole grain white bread at $1.30, whole wheat bread at $1.20, English muffins at $1.94, whole grain English muffins at $1.94, whole grain hamburger buns at $1.30, whole grain coney bun at $1.30 and 2 oz. dinner rolls at $1.35.

The board approved continuation of the Back Pack Program for the ACSD. Board members set their legislative priorities as: preschool funding, at-risk/drop-out funding, supplemental state aid and extension of the SAVE program. The board also approved holding the September meeting, which was traditionally held at Waterville Elementary School, at the Waukon High School Library.

A bid from Shive-Hattery in the total amount of $14,000 was approved to have that firm do a study on the heating and cooling system at East Elementary. Mathis noted that KCL had done a study and put together a list of improvements for the East school and the cost was around $2.5 million. It was decided that the district should consider getting a second opinion. Shive-Hattery will look at the system as well as provide construction cost for a new facility. It was noted that the cost of the new facility would just be something that is solely for informational purposes and would not necessarily mean that the district would have to take that route. There are some issues with the heating system at the school and concerns for safety of the system. The board also approved a contract with Johnson Controls for three years for fire alarm maintenance.

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