ACSD Board of Directors hears variety of updates, plans for next school year

by Brianne Eilers

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors met for its regular monthly meeting Monday, April 19.

Under the consent agenda, the board approved the following personnel matters: Amy Love was hired as an elementary teacher ($61,722), and Brenda Good was hired as a bus driver. The board also accepted the resignation of Joan Schwartz from her teaching position and as Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) advisor, due to retirement, and Jerry Keenan from his varsity bowling coach position.

The board approved Sunday usage of the football field for varsity football. The board also approved usage of the football field October 6 for the Fields of Faith event. The 2021-2022 AEA Purchasing and Luther College Student Teaching agreements were also approved under the consent agenda.

Several members of the Special Services Professional Learning Community (PLC) Teacher group gave a short presentation to the board about some of the things they are working on with helping students learn how to regulate self-behavior and the tools and strategies students can use. This is a pilot program for ACSD and the goal is to be able to help students learn how to appropriately identify and cope with their feelings and situations.

In his report, ACSD Transportation Director Andrew Eberling said that they have had all the bus drivers staying healthy. He also noted that they are still looking for people to join their department. He further stated that if anyone was interested, they would like to get training done prior to February 2022, as anyone wishing to obtain a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) after February 2022 will have to get training done at a college before taking their CDL test. He also said that he was hoping to receive an update soon on when the new school buses will arrive.

Food Service Director Julie Magner reported that the Allamakee County Cattlemen grilled over 1,000 burgers for ACSD students and faculty. She noted that this is an event that staff and students look forward to every year. Technology Director Shawn Gordon reported that the district has been approved for ERATE categories 1 and 2. ISASP testing has begun and has been going well.

Buildings and Grounds Director Bill Hennessy noted that they are beginning annual maintenance on the rooftop air conditioning units over the high school. They are also cleaning and servicing winter equipment before putting it away for the season. The softball and baseball fields are being prepared for the upcoming seasons. Hennessy also reported that the new floor machines have arrived and they are working well and saving time for his staff.

Curriculum Director Eliza Philpott reported that she and her staff are continuing to work on the focus for 2021-2022 professional development. She explained in her report that they are discussing topics that will align with the district’s mission to increase student achievement by strengthening relationships between adults and the students. They have also met with teacher leaders to make sure they understand the long-term goal for professional development, as well as what PLCs will be doing. She also reported that the math PLC has decided they would like to update the math curriculum to enVision 2020 Common Core edition for middle school, and the high school to Integrated 1, 2 and 3 as a partial update for 2021-2022 and also add Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2 the following year.

Waukon High School Activities Director/Assistant Principal Brian Hilsabeck reported that spring activities are underway. The musical was successful. There are three students who will be competing in the Drake Relays this Thursday. Prom will be happening this Saturday, April 24. The FBLA students and their sponsors had a successful virtual Regional Leadership Conference.

East and West Elementary School Principal Samantha Thornton reported that the Pre-Kindergarten enrollment is at 30 students and that Kindergarten enrollment is at 60 students. The elementary schools have several field trips planned, as well as spring concerts. ISASP testing is underway. Thornton also thanked her support staff for all the work they do during the school year.

Waukon Middle School Principal Luke Steege reported that they are also underway with ISASP testing. The middle school held a semi-formal dance March 25 that was successful. The middle school will also be hosting four track meets this season. They are working on developing summer educational opportunities for this coming summer as well.

Waukon High School Principal Jennifer Garin reported that the Construction class house project is very close to being on schedule. The interior painting is done and the hard surface flooring is almost complete. The class is installing doors and hanging trim inside the home. Prom is April 24 and Senior Awards Night is May 8. ISASP testing is moving along. Garin also noted that informational letters regarding the Conditions For Learning survey have gone out and students will take the survey May 5. Parents and families, as well as staff members, will also have an opportunity to take the survey and information will be coming available on that.

ACSD Superintendent Jay Mathis reported that quotes were in on summer projects, and they were approved later in the meeting. ISASP testing and make-up testing are going well. The school will be hosting a tractor ride July 22-24 in the high school parking lot. He noted that is also the week of the Allamakee County Fair so the fairgrounds were not available. Staff is working on summer enrichment programs for students using ESSER funds. Mathis also said it was “great” to hear that classes are doing field trips, and to see the school be able to have the musical and hold Prom and graduation. He said it allows the students to have a little bit of normalcy in their lives.

Under old business, the board approved the second reading of numerous board policies. Those policies dealt mainly with curriculum and educational structure.

Under the new business items, the board approved the following sharing agreements: Director of Transportation and Director of Maintenance and Grounds with Eastern Allamakee Community School District; Human Resource Director with Postville Community School District; Curriculum Director with MFL/MarMac Community School District; and Social Worker with Keystone AEA. The board also approved the specifications for the 2021-2022 milk requests for proposal.

The board accepted the following bids for summer projects: Kelly Concrete for concrete replacement, $31,045; Strub Blacktopping for asphalt sealing/repair/painting, $32,900; and Beneke Construction for replacement of the press box steps, $8,500. The board also approved a list of 2021 high school graduates, pending that they meet all requirements.

The board also listened to brief discussion and approved staffing needs for the 2021-2022 school year. There will be one Transitional Kindergarten (TK) classroom and four Kindergarten classrooms. At the elementary level, there will also be four sections of each grade in grades first through fifth. The board was also presented with anticipated class sizes for the secondary education level.

Superintendent Mathis also noted that with the retirement of Joan Schwartz, he was recommending that the district advertise to replace her with a full-time business education teacher. Mathis noted that not a lot of schools offer business education programming. Principal Garin also provided a handout to board members for plans if they can’t find a qualified business education teacher. The district also needs to fill the half-time Spanish position that was vacated last fall and also needs to find a half-time English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher.

The final item approved, before adjourning the meeting, was the first reading of numerous board policies. Those policies mainly involved school finances, transportation and security.

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