ACSD discusses West Elementary renovation project scheduled for this summer, approves purchase of new surveillance system for high school and middle school

by Brianne Eilers

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors met Monday evening, January 20 for its regular monthly meeting. Board President Al Rissman was absent.

Items approved under the consent agenda were as follows: staff for after-school programming was approved, as was a request for Sunday practice for the varsity boys basketball team due to postseason play and an out-of-state trip for middle school after-school programming. One open enrollment out was also approved.

During the communications part of the meeting, the board heard from Vic Amoroso of A&J Associates regarding the West Elementary project. Amoroso noted that the project will be very similar to the East Elementary HVAC and window replacement project in many ways, but there are also some differences. With West Elementary being a one-story building, some things will be approached differently. They will be replacing all the flooring, due to asbestos, in the school, except for in the corridors, which have already been done. There will be a need for a company to come in and pack up items and haul them away to storage for this project, also.

The plumbing coming into the building as well as other utilities are being redone in order to get them out of the underground “tunnel” between the high school and elementary school where they are located now. The fire alarm system will also be updated at West. A dry pipe sprinkler system will need to be installed in the attic as there will be equipment going up there. A new boiler room will also be put in. Windows will be replaced and there will be a couple new entries made, among other things.

Amoroso also discussed some alternate projects that could be added on, including new LED lights for the high school and replacing classroom doors at East Elementary. Funding was also discussed. Funding for the project would come from SAVE funds and it could also come out of PPEL funds. Later in the meeting, the board approved the project designs, drawings, specifications and cost estimates for the West Elementary HVAC upgrade and window replacement project.

In his report, ACSD Superintendent Jay Mathis noted that the East Elementary project continues to move forward. Finishing touches on ductwork should be completed and the back-up boilers and new water heaters should be online soon. The new maintenance shed has been constructed and they are waiting for the overhead door, heat and electricity to be finished. The new Toolcat at East Elementary has made snow removal much quicker. Mathis also noted that he has contacted the Department of Transportation (DOT) and they have been processing the paperwork needed to order the LP buses.

Waukon High School Principal Jennifer Garin noted that the house project is moving along. She noted that the welding class has begun its trash receptacle project for the City of Waukon. Accounting classes are moving to the automated side of accounting. General Business students have invested money in the stock market and will watch that through the semester. They will also be touching on areas like checking accounts, debit cards, mobile payment services, insurance, income tax and budgeting. The Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter is preparing for the State Leadership Conference.

Industrial Arts instructor Caleb Ferring applied for and received a $10,000 STEM BEST Grant. The funds will be used for Ferring to pay local industry businesses to attend PLC meetings and collaborate with teachers, as well as be used to purchase new equipment. Cory Greenwood will be speaking to students March 6 in regard to youth mental health and suicide prevention. The Army National Guard Band will perform at the high school January 27 at 9 a.m. Monday was a professional development day, with similar upcoming days being February 12 and March 18.

Waukon High School Assistant Principal/Activities Director Brian Hilsabeck noted that there are groups investing in a more portable wrestling mat. A “wish list” was compiled and approved by the Allamakee Athletic Boosters. A Northeast Iowa Conference meeting was held January 16 in Oelwein for superintendents, principals and activities directors. Senior Parents Night for bowling is January 24, January 30 for wrestling/cheerleading, February 7 for boys basketball and February 11 for girls basketball.

Waukon Middle School Principal Luke Steege reported that boys basketball is underway. He also noted that they are moving away from the Accelerated Reader Program and working as a team to create a reading program to encourage students to free read.

East and West Elementary Principal Joe Griffith provided information on the average class size of each elementary grade level. I Smile will be meeting with second grade students to discuss dental health and hygiene. Chromebooks were rolled out January 13 for East Elementary. FAST assessment winter screening also began the week of January 13. Griffith also noted that they would like to do a parent meeting, as they did last year, instead of the traditional kindergarten round-up. He noted that they would have to coordinate with the Lions Club for vision screening when school starts.

Building and Grounds Director Bill Hennessy noted that the sprinkler system quarterly inspection was done January 6 and everything was good. They are working to ready West Elementary for the summer project. The floors were sanitized and waxed over the Christmas break. The East Elementary project is moving along.

Technology Director Shawn Gordon noted that the Chromebooks were delivered to students at East. They have been working with teachers and principals to finalize the software and subscriptions list. They are looking into a new video surveillance system for the High School/Middle School. They will also be preparing a copier lease renewal request for proposal for next month. The old ICN room is being dismantled in preparation for the new Zoom video conference cart.

In the Food Service report, director Julie Magner noted that there are limited local foods available at this time of the year, but they are still trying to work a few into the menu. Transportation Director Andrew Eberling noted that they have been dealing with the winter conditions and the drivers are doing a good job of adjusting. Bus inspections will be February 4.

There was no old business, so the board moved to the new business, where the board approved second semester contracted and PICC classes. The board then approved the 2020-2021 software and subscriptions budget, which came in at $133,802.57.

The board then approved the purchase of a new surveillance system for the high school and middle school. This new system will feature a ten-year warranty on surveillance hardware. It will also provide the ability to allow first responders and law enforcement to have access to the cameras to be able to see what’s going on inside the school from outside of the school. When concerns regarding accessing the feed were raised, Gordon explained that there will be a two-step verification process in order to access the cameras. The system will be purchased out of PPEL funds. The cost of the system is $74,077.48. This would include the equipment and installation.

The board set Monday, February 17 at 5:30 p.m. as the date and time of a public hearing on the 2020-2021 school calendar. The hearing will be held in the high school library before the regular monthly board meeting. Following that hearing, there will be a public hearing for capital improvements, specifically the West Elementary project.

The board then approved the purchase of new wrestling mats. Purchase of the new mats will make it easier to move mats around to other areas for events such as the middle school tournaments. The new mats will be lighter and easier to move around. The price tag for the new mats comes in at $10,885, with the cost being split equally between the Wrestling Boosters, Allamakee Boosters and the middle and high schools. The board also approved a change authorization request for the East Elementary HVAC project.

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