ACSD Board of Directors turns down offer to join Upper Iowa Conference, adds Marketing class to high school business curriculum

by Brianne Grimstad

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors met in a pair of sessions within the past several weeks, including a special meeting Friday, May 27 to discuss a few personnel matters. Board member Brent Beyer was absent at that special meeting. The board approved the following recommendations to hire: Kim Kraus as middle school secretary; Stacie Cooper as Social Emotional Learning PLC leader; increase para hours for Liz Fish; Nancy Snitker, elementary paraprofessional; Katie Martin, elementary paraprofessional; Aubrie Monroe, elementary paraprofessional; Jenna Shogren, elementary paraprofessional; and Stephanie Radloff, high school paraprofessional. The board also accepted the resignation of Bethany Noble from her Title I teaching position.

The board also met for its regular monthly meeting Monday night, June 20. Board member Erik Helgerson was absent and board member Beth Shafer was in attendance via phone. Under the consent agenda, the board approved the following personnel: Tyler Wedeking and Joleen Reeg as paraprofessionals and transfers of Marcia Hesse to Title I teacher and Jessica Colsch to preschool teacher.

The board also approved out-of-state trip requests for the FFA and FBLA for Leadership Conferences in Washington D.C. and Chicago, IL, respectively. Sunday requests and an out-of-state trip request to attend the Chanhassen Dinner Theater were approved for the Music Department. One open enrollment in and four open enrollments out of the district were approved. The board also approved the Upper Iowa University Student Teacher Agreement, as well as renewing State Association Memberships for the Iowa Association of School Boards and Rural School Advocates of Iowa.

In his Superintendent’s report, Jay Mathis noted that Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced a project between the Department of Public Safety, Emergency Management and the Iowa Department of Education to help schools with emergency planning. Mathis noted that there are funds for vulnerability assessments, improvement funds, radios for schools and law enforcement to communicate, among other things. He stated that the district will also continue to focus on mental health and prevention.

Mathis also reported that some students are taking advantage of the summer tutoring available. The summer feeding program has had good attendance. Summer cleaning projects are underway, and the custodians are making progress on the floor waxing. Mathis also expressed concerns about not having someone to build for yet for the construction house project. Later in the meeting, the board discussed and chose an option for the HVAC project for the high school and middle school.

Waukon High School Principal Jennifer Garin reported that the CTE report for 2021-2022 has been submitted. Theresa Jacobs is working with students on credit recovery during the month of June. Garin also noted that changes were made to the student handbook regarding the restroom policy, cell phone policy, attendance policy and Good Conduct. Dates were updated in the Allamakee Learning Center Policies and Contract 2022-2023 and Faculty Manual 2022-2023.

In his report, Waukon High School Assistant Principal/Activities Director Brian Hilsabeck reported there have been updates to the coaches’ manuals as well, including Good Conduct, timeline of reporting and clarification on three-plus offenses. The Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) and Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) are partnering with schools for a “family week” from July 24-31. During this time, there will not be practices, open gyms or contact between schools and students, so families can plan for vacations or events without worrying about missing school sponsored activities.

Free physicals will be offered July 6 and 13 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Hospital Clinic. Hilsabeck thanked Dr. David Schwartz and all staff in advance for volunteering their time to help out area families. Students from Allamakee Community School District, Eastern Allamakee Community School District, Postville and MFL/Mar Mac Districts are invited to attend. Activities schedules for the 2022-2023 school year will be released the first week of August.

Waukon Middle School Principal Luke Steege reported that looking back on last year, there was a drop in the number of student discipline referrals and an increase in their Iowa test scores. They have also been making changes to their student handbook by updating the retention policy and grading policy.

East and West Elementary Schools Principal Samantha Thornton reported Meet the Teacher night will be August 18 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at East and West Elementary. Staff is also starting on Into Reading Curriculum Training. Next year, every grade will implement Zones of Regulation in classrooms, a framework and language to talk about how students are feeling and how to support them. There will be a collaboration with St. Patrick’s School and Growing Bear Daycare for Early Childhood Education.

Summer School and Extended School Year are in full swing at both elementary schools. East is serving 30 students and West is serving 41 for summer tutoring. Extended School Year for 13 students from East and West will be held for two weeks in June and two weeks in August. Thornton also noted that she has been working on grant writing and continuing to pursue options and information regarding the new playground project. Once they have a final drawing, she will be sharing more information with the public.

Buildings and Grounds Department Head Bill Hennessy reported that non-functioning baseball and softball stadium lights have been replaced. He and his staff are also working on waxing the floors of the buildings. Fire alarm checks will be coming up soon as well.

Technology Director Andy Reichard reported that work on the wiring for the East Projector Project has begun. The projectors should arrive in July. Reichard and his staff are working through their summer to-do list. All laptops are back from Sterling, and they are running diagnostic software on them. Reichard also noted that he and a team will be putting together specifications on the next set of laptops and Chromebooks for the district. He noted that they need to start early because of anticipated product shortages.

Food Service Department Head Jessica Keenan thanked her staff and the administrative staff for their help and support through her first year in her new position. Food Service staff did a lot of extra cleaning to wrap up their year, and Keenan noted that the summer feeding program is successful, with many regular families coming and more coming each day.

Transportation Director Andrew Eberling reported that they have been busy with sporting events and looking forward to things being a bit slower in July, when they can work on cleaning and repairs. They have been working on correcting things found during the most recent inspection, which went well overall. Eberling also noted in his report that he is looking at bus routes to see if they can be made more efficient, especially with rising fuel costs.

Under new business, the board discussed an invitation sent to ACSD in February to join the Upper Iowa Conference (UIC). The deadline to make a decision was extended from June 1 to July 1. Ultimately, while ACSD is appreciative of the offer to join the UIC, the decision was made to decline the offer at this time and see what happens in the current Northeast Iowa Conference. Superintendent Mathis noted that several schools have expressed interest in joining the Northeast Iowa Conference. Board members Al Rissman and Scott Melcher felt the right thing to do would be to stay in the current Northeast Iowa Conference and see how things progress.

The board then approved changes to the student handbooks, as well as changes to the 2022-2023 Work Rules and Certified Staff handbooks. The board also approved the 2022-2023 Fundraising Calendar. Principal Garin noted that there are fewer events on that calendar compared to last year and that they are making an effort to not have an overkill of fundraising events. The board approved a transfer of $8,356.85 from the General Fund for protective equipment for athletes, like helmets, head gear and catcher’s equipment.

Discussion then moved to the addition of a Marketing class to the curriculum at the high school. Garin noted that a Marketing class is something that is missing from the business curriculum, and it would be beneficial to students interested in that to be able to have that class. With the help of business teacher Laurel Keenan, who put the outline for the class together, they were able to come up with a Principles of Marketing course that can also be expanded upon. The hopes are to possibly have a school store run by the FBLA, and Garin noted that they will talk with other organizations and groups so that the store isn’t competing with those organizations. The course would begin being offered second semester of next year. The board approved the course.

The board then approved an option for the high school/middle school HVAC project, Option 4. This option would include a ductless mini-split heat pump system with a rooftop DOAS unit. The total project cost, including alternates and soft costs is $2,349,004. Funding for the project is proposed as follows: ESSER II & III Funds, $1,446,144; SAVE $700,000; and PPEL $202,860. No funds would come from the General Fund. The board then approved a bid from Waukon Feed Ranch for $1.79 per gallon for 10,000 gallons of LP for the 2022-2023 school year.

The board also approved the first reading of the following board policies: 200.3 - Responsibilities of the Board of Directors; 710.1E1 - School Nutrition Program Notices of Nondiscrimination; 710.1E2 - Child Nutrition Programs Civil Rights Complaint Form; 710.1R1 - School Nutrition Program Civil Rights Complaints Procedure; 802.4 - Capital Assets. Prior to going into a closed session for personnel matters, the board approved paying bills through June 30, 2022, with the board president’s approval.