ACSD Board of Directors approves renewal of Backpack Program, sets IASB priorities, hears past year reflection from Superintendent Mathis

by Brianne Grimstad

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors met Monday, July 18 for its regular monthly meeting. Preparation for the upcoming school year continued to take place, along with a review of some aspects of the past school year.

Under Personnel matters, the board approved the following recommendations to hire: Dacia Sommer, Kindergarten Teacher (TK Room); Clint Miller, Suburban Driver (La Crosse – Special Education); Teresa Reeg, Kindergarten PLC Leader; and fall volunteer coaches Laurel Keenan (girls cross country), Carley Sweeney (volleyball), and Jarod Dahlstrom, Jon Snitker and Tim Bulman (football). The board also accepted two resignations: Cody Snitker from his seventh grade girls track coach position and Chris Dahlstrom from his ninth grade football coach position.

In other matters under the Consent Agenda, the board approved one open enrollment eligibility waiver. The board also chose to renew the Backpack Program for the 2022-2023 school year. This program allows eligible students to receive a backpack of food at the end of the day Fridays for them to eat at home on the weekends or during a holiday break when they may not have access to adequate food at home.

The board also approved the Free and Reduced School Meals application process. Approval was also given to retreats for the Youth Frontiers Kindness, Courage and Respect retreats.

During the Communications time of the meeting, the board reviewed the Mileage Report compiled annually and listing out the mileage for the district’s four Suburbans, the van and the car in the fleet. The total mileage for the 2021-2022 school year was 24,732 miles. The board also reviewed the Facility Usage Report. The total amount paid into the district for such facility usage this past year totaled $897.80.

In his Superintendent’s report, ACSD Superintendent Jay Mathis gave a summary of the past school year, highlighting some of the changes that have been made, such as hiring a new Food Service Director and Technology Director, working on Return to Learn plans, and how to spend ESSER funds. Meetings at the State level revolved around teacher shortages and the ACSD was down 20 students at Certified Enrollment. The district also dealt with changes in the Northeast Iowa Conference (NEIC) and declined an offer to join the Upper Iowa Conference.

Mathis noted that the State Legislature removed the deadline for open enrollment requests, leading to concerns about students “bouncing” from district to district. The school hosted a large funeral for Waukon native and State Patrol Officer Ted Benda this past year, and also said good-bye to four staff members who passed away: DJ Scholtes, Julie Connor, Jane Miene and Jim McCormick.

Mathis also noted that there is a new Keystone Area Education Agency (AEA) Chief Administrator, three new NEIC Superintendents, two new director positions and a new guidance position within the school district. He also noted that he’s excited for the Waukon High School/Middle School heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) renovation project.

In his report, Technology Director Andy Reichard noted that they are working on network vulnerability scanning with the company that was awarded the AEA contract. He noted that this will go a long way with helping to satisfy the cyber security insurance carrier. His department is also working on its summer “to-do” list. They sent in 40 laptops to Sterling for repairs and they are sending old equipment to be recycled.

Under Old Business, the board approved the second 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.

Under New Business, the board set its Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB) top four priorities. This year the board chose the following four options as the priorities for ACSD: Mental Health; Supplemental State Aid; Teacher Leadership and Development; and Local Accountability and Decision-Making.

The board also approved a total of $7,687 for repairs to High School Cooling Unit AHU-3 from Casper Plumbing and Heating, Inc.

The board then approved a revised bus price for the bus it had approved the purchase of earlier this year. In a letter from Blue Bird Company, it was explained that prices have increased from the initial bids. ACSD is looking at a $3,500 increase, which the board opted to accept.

The board approved the first reading of the following board policies: 203 – Board of Directors’ Conflict of Interest; 402.2 – Child Abuse Reporting; 501.14 – Open Enrollment Transfers – Procedures as a Sending District; 501.15 – Open Enrollment Transfers – Procedures as a Receiving District; 540.5 – Student Fund Raising; 504.5R1 – Student Fund Raising Regulations; 505.5 – Graduation Requirements; 507.2 – Administration of Medication to Students; 507.2E1 – Authorization for Asthma or other Airway Constricting Disease Medication or Epinephrine Auto-Injector Self-Administration Consent Form; 607.2 – Student Health Services; 704.6 – Online Fundraising Campaigns-Crowdfunding; 804.5 – Stock Prescription Medication Supply; 804.7 – Radon Mitigation; 804.7R1 – Radon Mitigation Regulation; 901 – Public Examination of School District Records.

Prior to adjournment, the board briefly discussed financial reports, specifically the School Lunch Fund. Board members Scott Melcher, Beth Shafer and Al Rissman all expressed that they are glad to have the financial reports provided to them. The board members also were able to ask questions and discuss ways to improve the information they received.