ACSD Board of Directors hears variety of updates on projects and from departments as first quarter comes to an end, finalizes goals for school year

by Brianne Eilers

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors held its regular monthly meeting Monday evening, October 21. Under personnel matters on the consent agenda, the board members approved staff for after school programs, volunteers for the fall musical, the hiring of West Elementary/ELL paraprofessional Mariah Fogt, and John Papp as volunteer boys basketball coach. The board also approved increasing paraprofessional Toni Pearson’s hours from 5.75 per day to seven hours per day and providing benefits.

Sunday usage requests and out-of-state field trips approved included NICC Career Learning Link fall field trips, FBLA, Waukon Wrestling Club camp and Waukon Volleyball Club. The board also approved an ISU Cooperative teaching agreement and special education contracts. One open enrollment request was approved as well.

During the time for communications, the board heard a presentation regarding Chromebook computers for use in the East Elementary School. The board also heard from Superintendent Jay Mathis regarding the district’s financial health report; he noted the ACSD has a strong overall financial position. Certified enrollment is at 1096.05 students, which shows almost no change from the prior two years.

Under administrative reports, Mathis noted that the first quarter of the current school year has ended. He also noted that November 5 the public will vote on funding measures that include the Revenue Purpose Statement for Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) and extension of the existing Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL). He also explained that he would like to hold off on an open house for the remodeling project at East Elementary until the gym is completely finished.

Waukon High School Principal Jennifer Garin reported that the FY20 Innovative Project (house project) paperwork was submitted to Keystone Area Education Agency (AEA). The FY20 Northeast Iowa Career and Technical Education (CTE) Partnership Expenditure plan has been submitted and consists of professional development/training opportunities for the CTE staff. Principal Garin said the Industrial Technology class has been asked to make custom design trash receptacles for the City of Waukon. The FFA National Convention will be October 29 through November 2 and 13 students are planning to attend. Parent-Teacher Conferences will be October 28 and October 29 in the ACSD.

Waukon High School Assistant Principal and Activities Director Brian Hilsabeck reported that Homecoming went very well again this year. Four students will be attending a leadership conference in Strawberry Point.

Waukon Middle School Principal Luke Steege reported that middle school volleyball and football had successful seasons. He also said the first middle school dance raised over $1,000 to be used towards the student trip to Des Moines, and the 10th hour program continues to help middle school students with homework.

East and West Elementary Principal Joe Griffith reported on the Youth Frontiers program that helps students develop character and learn anti-bullying techniques. They are also working with the National Resilience Institute to implement a THRIVE (Trusted adults - High expectations - Resilience building - Involvement - Vision - Enrichment) philosophy to help students develop resilience. During Fire Safety Week, West Elementary students visited the fire station in Waukon.

ACSD Buildings and Grounds Director Bill Hennessy reported that they are preparing for the winter season. Construction at East Elementary continues, and he has also been meeting with architects regarding the West Elementary project. In his technology report, Technology Director Shawn Gordon noted that East Elementary technology is being moved back in as rooms are completed, and the new high school and middle school laptops are “working great.”

ACSD Food Service Director Julie Magner reported that October is National Farm to School Month. She said the Allamakee County Cattlemen grilled out at the high school for October 4 lunches. Cheese for the burgers came from WW Homestead Dairy in Waukon and they are serving other local foods all month as well.

In the Transportation Report, Andrew Eberling reported that they are asking for bids for diesel and propane buses this year. He also noted that Thomas Bus out of Des Moines has stopped selling Thomas School buses and Omaha Truck Center is partnering with Truck Center companies out of Council Bluffs to be the new dealer for Thomas buses.

Under old business, the board certified the annual, special education and transportation reports.

Under new business, the board approved bus specifications for both diesel and propane school buses. Board member Erik Helgerson raised the question of the new seat belt requirement on school buses. He asked how that affected buses already in service and how long they can be used. Eberling explained that the older buses are grandfathered in and as long as they pass inspection, it is acceptable for the district to continue to use them.

The board also approved a request for proposal for 245 Chromebook computers. An agreement with Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waukon for ambulance services at athletic events was also approved.

An agreement with NICC for fall Driver Education was approved, and the cost would be $349, unless students qualify for free and reduced status, then the cost would be $209.40. A flex benefit plan with Midwest Group Benefits was also approved.

The board then approved the district, board and superintendent goals for 2019-2020. The district goals include staff engaging in professional development utilizing professional development communities, expanding on community partnerships to provide students with learning opportunities to become “career and college” ready, and that ACSD students will receive instruction on problem solving and questioning skills and technology infusion.

The board goals were approved as follows: supporting the scope of the ACSD curriculum and professional development, supporting efforts to maintain a healthy spending authority and solvency ratio through responsible expenditures and addressing facility needs. The superintendent goals are to organize presentations to the board to facilitate understanding of initiatives and student learning, providing leadership to determine facility needs and funds for those needs, providing leadership for maintaining the general fund spending authority and solvency ratio at healthy levels and expanding support for students with mental health issues.

A change authorization request for the East Elementary HVAC and remodeling project dealing with issues that pertain to the fire code were approved. The board also approved a bid from McDonnell & Company International in the amount of $8,640 for sound shells used primarily by the school district’s music and drama departments. Mathis noted the current sound shells are cumbersome to move and set up and pose safety risks. He also asked that the current sound shells be disposed of, as they do pose a safety risk and shouldn’t be sold or reused.

The final item before adjournment was the approval of the first reading of several board policies, including the following: 202.4 - Vacancies; 210.5 - Meeting Notice; 210.6 - Quorum; 210.9 - Consent Agendas; 211 - Open Meetings; 216.2 - Board of Directors’ Member Development and Training; 404.R1 - Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics Regulation; 711.7 - School Bus Safety Instruction; 711.15 - School Bus Passenger Restraints; 100 - Legal Status of the School District; 200.1 - Organization of the Board of Directors; 206.3 - Secretary; 206.4 - Treasurer; and 215 - Board of Directors’ Records.

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