ACSD Board of Directors approves plans for HVAC project at Middle School, will ask City to reconsider two-way traffic on 6th NW

by Brianne Grimstad

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors met for a special meeting Friday, August 26 to address a brief agenda. Under the consent agenda, the following personnel items were approved: Steve Welper as a substitute bus driver and the resignation of Bridget Drain from her position as a paraprofessional at West Elementary School and as West Elementary Kids Club Coordinator.

The board also approved two open enrollments in and two open enrollments out. Under new business, the board set a public hearing on capital improvements for the Middle School HVAC project.

The board met for its regular meeting Monday evening, September 19. There were no written or verbal comments during the public meeting time. Under the consent agenda, the following personnel matters were approved: staff for After School Programming; Shelby Martin as a paraprofessional at West Elementary School; Todd Hills and Bob Wasson as substitute bus drivers; and the resignation of Jeff Johnson from his custodian position.

Several Sunday and Out of State Field trips were also approved, including: seventh grade basketball and baseball (Sundays in September-November), Waukon Wrestling Club (Sundays in October), seventh grade baseball (Sundays March-April), FBLA Unified Fall Conference Sunday, November 13, Cheer Competitions Sunday, October 16 and Sunday, October 23, and the FFA National Convention in Indianapolis, IN October 25-29. One open enrollment in was approved. The board also approved a Tuition Out Contract with Dubuque Community School District.

During the communications time, Superintendent Jay Mathis welcomed this year’s new staff members and had the principals from each building introduce their new staff to the board. In his report to the board, Mathis noted that the construction house project was waiting for ownership of the lot to be transferred from the City of Waukon to the new owner.

Mathis also noted that emergency radios have been ordered through the Governor’s program. A radio with a panic button will be given to each building and will allow for direct contact with the Allamakee County Sheriff’s office and dispatch center, as well as coordinating with the Waukon Police Department. A threat vulnerability assessment of all buildings has been scheduled and there are funds available for any concerns identified. Mathis also served on the Department of Education site visit team to evaluate the Area Education Agency (AEA). He noted that it was “a great experience” and he was able to learn more about the services provided by the AEA.

Waukon High School Principal Jennifer Garin noted that they are busy with Homecoming Week activities this week. In her report, Garin noted that while the class working on the house project has not been able to work on site, they have been building walls for the house at the shop in the school. The NICC Welding Class has 15 students this year and is off to a good start. FBLA has around 110 students participating this year and FFA members have been competing at state competitions. Speaker Jon Pritikin addressed students with an anti-bullying message September 9.

Waukon High School Assistant Principal/Activities Director Brian Hilsabeck updated the board on student participation numbers in fall activities. He also noted that conference activities directors discussed how to sustain athletic budgets after a necessary raise in officials fees. The recommendation was to raise admissions $1 for students and adults by going to $6 for adults and $4 for students starting with conference events this fall.

Waukon Middle School Principal Luke Steege reported that they have seen a decline in the number of students with discipline issues. Staff is working on PLC goals and focus. They are emphasizing literacy/reading. Falls sports are underway and they have good participation numbers. They are also working on promoting positive behavior and student interactions on their campus. The new counselor and social worker are planning events for Red Ribbon week and anti-bullying campaigns.

West and East Elementary Schools Principal Samantha Thornton reported that the elementary students are also participating in Homecoming Week activities. At West, students participated in the BEE Academy to learn expectations on behavior in common areas. Students went through four areas: Playground, Hallway/Bathroom, Cafeteria and Bus. After completing the Bee Academy, students received a badge for their locker. Bee Academy will be re-visited after the winter break, or if the need arises where students may need to revisit certain etiquette. Elementary students also heard Jon Pritikin speak. FAST screening for math and reading for grades K-5 has been completed.

ACSD Curriculum Director Kelli Olson noted that professional development at the beginning of the year was off to a great start. Teacher leaders have monthly meetings and mentors and mentees have been collaborating as well. This month, staff is starting curriculum meetings. They are also working on a K-12 Computer Science plan.

Special Education Coordinator Carissa Otto noted that they have been looking at content with Service PLC and working on a PLC goal. She has also been meeting with teachers and teaching teams to learn more about what they are doing and to get to know the students. She also thanked the special education teachers for their work and dedication every day to provide students with services and activities.

Buildings and Grounds Director Bill Hennessy noted in his report that preventative maintenance will be ongoing for a bit to get the heating system ready for winter. He has also been preparing for the plan review on the Middle School HVAC project. His team is also beginning winter preparations for sports fields as well.

Technology Director Andy Reichard reported the projectors have arrived and are installed at East. They are working on installing them in the High School and Middle School. They are working on specifications for new laptops for next year. Reichard also noted that he will be doing training regarding Phishing and on classroom laptop management software in the near future.

Food Service Director Jess Keenan noted that this Friday, the Allamakee County Cattlemen will be grilling hamburgers for staff and students. Keenan said this is a day that staff and students look forward to every year and thanked the Cattlemen for doing this. Beef was purchased through the Iowa Food Hub, and cheese slices were purchased from WW Homestead Dairy. Breakfast meal counts have been down, but lunch counts have been up, compared to last year. She also updated the board on Free and Reduced meal percentages.

Transportation Director Andrew Eberling reported that drivers have been off to a good start this year and adapting well to changes in routes. Evacuation drills have been completed by drivers and evacuation drills and bus etiquette will also be done at each school, so all students have that experience.

Under new business, the board approved students in PICC (online) and Contracted Classes. The board then heard from Andrew Van Beek of Midwest Engineering Associates. He discussed the proposed Middle School HVAC project, discussing some of the base elements, as well as optional elements.

Superintendent Mathis noted that the project would be paid for with ESSER funds. The project would include heating and air conditioning elements, and items to improve ventilation and air filtration. It would also cover some rooms that are used for high school classrooms. Work would mainly be done during the summer months when students are not in the classrooms, and the goal is to keep the project around or possibly under $500,000. The board approved the project designs, drawings, specifications and cost estimate for the Middle School HVAC upgrade. The next step in the process will be to let bids.

The final matter before adjournment was approval of the draft of a letter that will be sent to the City of Waukon. ACSD is asking the City to reconsider a decision changing the street status in front of East Elementary from a one-way street to a two-way street. ACSD would like to see it returned to a one-way street for student safety purposes and to help reduce traffic congestion and make it easier and safer for buses and cars to be able to drop off and pick up students from school.