ACSD Board of Directors holds annual organizational meeting, rejects bus bids

by Brianne Eilers

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors met for its regular monthly meeting Monday night, November 15, which included an organizational meeting. Board President Al Rissman opened the meeting with a moment of silence for ACSD Success Coordinator DJ Scholtes, who passed away last week.

During the Communications time of the meeting, a Fine Arts presentation was given. Teachers involved in visual arts, choral music and band explained to the board and those present what kind of curriculum they use and some of the activities that students participate in. Students were also surveyed to find out how they feel about the arts and what they think their level of being an artist or musician is.

Superintendent Jay Mathis presented a Needs Assessment Review to the board. This survey was taken by staff, administration, board members, parents, community members and students and is something that is required by the district to conduct every five years. Overall strengths of the ACSD include the fact that parents and teachers believe parents need to be partners in education. Parents and staff believe the local school board can have a positive impact on education, and a high percentage of staff and parents believe the district has effective leadership teams.

The survey found some areas that could use improvement, such as effective instruction and rigor of Iowa Core Standards, staff and parents need to know virtually all students can learn at high levels, and the local assessment system should align with content and rigor of Iowa Core Standards.
In his report, Mathis noted that the fall musical was a successful event. He also congratulated the football team for making it to the semifinals. The State of Iowa will no longer be paying for the School Alerts system, so ACSD will be switching to a different alert system called School Messenger. Mathis will be serving on the interview team to select a replacement for Pat Heiderscheit as Chief AEA Administrator.

Mathis also reported that there have been some parent complaints about some of the Middle School and High School health curriculum, particularly sexual education materials. He explained that changes are being made and some of the material may have “gone too far” and he apologized for that, saying that was never the intent. He also noted that parents may choose to have their students opt out of some or all of the health curriculum without it affecting their grade. Mathis also noted that they are watching to see what happens with the OSHA vaccine requirements for employers of over 100 staff members.

Waukon High School Principal Jennifer Garin reported that she and Career Technical Education (CTE) instructors will be meeting with representatives from Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) and the Area Education Agency (AEA) on the CTE program, local needs assessment and project. The Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) held a canned/boxed item food drive. Principal Garin updated the board on parent/teacher conference attendance numbers, the Youth Frontiers retreats coming up, and professional development days. Upcoming grade checks will be November 19 and December 22. The high school also held a visitation for students Monday so they could say their own good-byes to Mr. Scholtes.

Waukon High School Assistant Principal/Activities Director Brian Hilsabeck congratulated the football team for making it to the semifinals. He also congratulated the cheerleading team for its awards at competitions and State, boys cross country for its State Meet qualification and junior Katerina Kovarik for qualifying for State swimming with Decorah’s program. He also congratulated the musical cast and crew for successful performances. Upcoming concerts include the Middle School band and vocal December 6 at 7 p.m. and the Middle School/High School band and vocal concert set for December 13 at 7 p.m. Winter sports have started. A Pride Scrimmage for girls basketball is scheduled for November 16 at 5 p.m., with a food drive for admission.

Waukon Middle School Principal Luke Steege reported that the second quarter is starting off positive for the Middle School staff. They are focusing on ways to help students improve academically and socially. They hosted motivational speaker Brian Williams in October and seventh grade students attended the Courage retreat the first week of November. Middle School winter sports are also up and running. Steege also updated the board on parent/teacher conference participation. He thanked custodians Arnie Onsager and Jesse Peterson for their work on getting the school and facilities ready for events.
Elementary Principal Samantha Thornton congratulated Alice Jones, fifth grade alto 1 and Ms. Owen (PK-5 music teacher) on Jones’ selection to the Opus Honor Choir. In the last month, West Elementary students have been focusing on Being Kind and East Elementary students have been focusing on Positivity, and this month West will focus on Being Safe and East will focus on Respect. The fifth grade class attended a Kindness retreat and speaker Brian Williams.

West has introduced the Indian All-Stars, where students who display positive behavior or social interactions are given a ticket each week that is entered into a drawing. Students also have their picture put on the wall. East Elementary students have been receiving PRIDE Proud Awards. East Elementary hosted speakers for Veterans Day and West students wrote to veterans thanking them for their service. Thornton updated the board on parent/teacher conference attendance. The third-fifth grade chorus and band concert will be held December 2.

Curriculum Director Eliza Philpott updated the board on professional development. They had a team attend the Iowa BEST conference, focusing on Social Emotional Learning. Instructional coaches are attending the Teacher Learning Academy through Keystone AEA. There was also a team that attended the Midwest Tech Conference.

Buildings and Grounds Director Bill Hennessy thanked his staff for all their work in getting the school in good shape as there have been many extra activities going on. The staff has also been working on getting things winterized.

Technology Director Andy Reichard reported that Phase 2 of the E-Rate funded project is complete. There was a demonstration of the BenQ Interactive Display Panels for administrators to decide if this is something practical for ACSD. Projectors are wearing out and this could be a possible replacement. Laptop sleeves have been purchased for high school student laptops.

Foodservice Director Jess Keenan reported that things are going well in her department, despite supply chain issues. Staff continues to work around these problems and will continue to feed the students.

Transportation Director Andrew Eberling noted that they did receive bus quotes and quotes from RW Pladsen and Torkelson Motors for vehicles. Later in the meeting, these items were decided on. The fueling station is waiting on parts before it can be shipped. Three drivers are currently out with medical issues, and they continue to recruit drivers. Eberling also noted that they were recently notified that the Mulgrew station would be closing and are looking into alternatives for getting gasoline.

Under old business, the board approved the second reading of the following board policies: 105 - Assistance Animals; 200.1 - Organization of the Board of Directors; 210.8 - Board Meeting Agenda; 212 - Closed Sessions; 21.1 - Exempt Meetings; 307 - Communication Channels; 401.4 - Employee Complaints; 502.4 - Student Complaints and Grievances; 606.6 - Insufficient Classroom Space.

The board then adjourned from the regular meeting and reconvened with its annual organizational meeting. Board Secretary Jaime Curtin took over the meeting and called for nominations for board president and vice president. Al Rissman remained board president and Erik Helgerson remained vice president. Both members took oaths. Rissman administered the oath to board secretary Jaime Curtin.

Official date and time of meetings is to be the third Monday of each month at 5:30 p.m. The following depository banks were named: Waukon State Bank, $11,000,000; FreedomBank, $3,000,000; and ISJIT, $1,000,000. The Standard newspaper was named as the official publication. The following appointments to various board committees were also made: School Improvement Advisory Committee, Beth Shafer; Negotiations, Allan Rissman and Erik Helgerson; County Compensation, Scott Melcher; Wellness Committee, Brent Beyer; Technology Committee, Allan Rissman and Erik Helgerson; and Curriculum and Technical Advisory Committee, Scott Melcher. The board also voted to elect Dr. Bill Withers as Keystone AEA Board Member to Director District 3.

The board approved quotes from RW Pladsen for a new suburban and Torkelson Motors for two mini vans, totaling $108,728. Three bids were received for buses from Truck Center Companies, School Bus Sales and Hoglund Bus Sales. While School Bus Sales met all of the specifications, Mathis felt their quote was higher than they have been in the past. Hoglund Bus Sales did not meet all of the specifications and neither did Truck Center Companies, who also did not submit their bid in a sealed envelope as specified. The board opted to reject all bids and ask the companies to re-submit their bids. There was also discussion of whether or not it might be more beneficial for the district to out-right sell old school buses instead of trading them in.

The board then moved on to approve the following SBRC Requests: Open Enrollment Out ($68,365.60), LEP Instruction Beyond 5 Years ($3,057). Eight students were approved for early graduation, pending meeting all requirements.

The board approved a revised quote for the purchase of 20 iPads in the amount of $8,980.00. The original quote included a model that was no longer available, so the revised quote needed board approval. The board also approved replacing some of the old security cameras at West Elementary with Verkada cameras. Mathis explained that this can be covered by ESSER funds. The board also approved the purchase of a trailer for CTE programs in the amount of $14,300. Garin explained that it will be paid for with CTE funds and can be used for CTE groups to haul equipment and projects to contests or events.

Under the consent agenda, the following personnel were approved: after school programming staff; wrestling volunteers Dave Hansmeier, Danielle Bucknell and Wade Bucknell. The following appointments were made: Level I Investigators for Child Abuse Reporting - Jay Mathis and Karen Burke; Level II Investigator for Child Abuse Reporting - Bill Shafer; Equity Coordinator - Luke Steege; Title IX Officer - Jennifer Garin; Truancy Officer - Jennifer Garin; Section 504 Coordinator - Luke Steege; Homeless Liaison - Brian Hilsabeck; Secondary Guidance Counselor - Amy Wasson; and Elementary Guidance Counselor - Stacie Cooper.

A Sunday request for members of the Waukon High School Band to perform in a Brass Quintet December 12 was approved. One open enrollment out was also approved prior to the meeting being adjourned.