Allamakee Community School District Board of Directors approves summer projects, sets fees for next school year

by Brianne Grimstad

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors met Monday, May 15 for its regular monthly board meeting. Under the consent agenda, the following personnel items were approved: substitute bus drivers; Caleb Ferring as Skills USA advisor; Sara Retallick as summer technology assistant; John O’Neill as varsity girls basketball coach; and Justin Piggott as transportation director.

The board also accepted the following resignations: Jon Fretham from his Social Studies teaching position and John O’Neill from his 10th grade boys basketball coach position. Approval was also given to an out-of-state field trip for the music department scheduled for November 8 of this year to the Chanhassen Dinner Theater for a performance of “Jersey Boys.”

The board also approved one open enrollment out and two open enrollments in. A preschool partnership agreement with St. Patrick’s School Preschool Center was approved, as was a preschool partnership agreement with Growing Bear Daycare Center. The board approved use of the high school facilities for the annual Fields of Faith event, set to take place October 4 of this year. The board also approved the Allamakee Community School Wellness Policy. The district renewed its membership in the Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB). The board also approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Luther College regarding student teachers.

During the Communications time, the members of the school board were recognized for their service to the school district. The board also heard a presentation from the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter. Members James VanderVelden, who serves as the local chapter president, and Isaac Ericson, who serves as District 1 Vice President, explained to those present what the FBLA does throughout the school year, the different events they attend and fundraisers they do.

Also during the Communications time, Joel Courtney of Decorah Auto Center addressed the board regarding the two vans that were ordered last year. He noted that production times on all vans has been very slow, though he did not know exactly why. One of the vans is scheduled for production in mid to late May and the second van is in the pre-production phase. He also noted that Decorah Auto is going to be starting up a mobile unit that will come to the vehicles they sell that need servicing so the district won’t have to take the vans back to Decorah for things like recalls.

During his report, ACSD Superintendent Jay Mathis noted that May is School Board Appreciation Month. He also updated the board on some of the summer projects taking place, including the High School/Middle School HVAC and window replacement and the playground equipment replacement at West Elementary. Mathis also noted that he has been working on a School Safety Grant from the Governor’s office. The district can request up to $50,000 per building, and the source of the funds is federal dollars. Mathis said the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP) preliminary results are looking good.

Waukon High School Principal Jennifer Garin reported that the Construction class has the flooring and trim nearly completed in its house project, as well as the deck. They are working on installing cabinetry and hope to have the driveway poured soon. The welding class is partnering with Gemini, Inc. in Decorah. Gemini donated $10,000 to the Skills USA student organization, which will begin next year.

The Introduction to Engineering class is partnering with Waukon Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to make brochures on the topics of recycling and composting. FBLA students are working to develop digital citizenship skills and will be voting for officers for the 2023-2024 school year. The FFA members attended the 95th Iowa Leadership Conference in April and the student council held a blood drive May 4. The last day of school for seniors is this Wednesday, May 17, with graduation practice being this Friday, May 19. Graduation will be Sunday, May 21 at 2 p.m. There will be Credit Recovery June1-June 28.

Waukon High School Assistant Principal/Activities Director Brian Hilsabeck noted in his report that Senior Awards Night is Tuesday, May 16 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium. He updated the board on baseball and softball participation numbers. No Contact Week will be July 23-July 30 this year. The school is also working with Dr. Dave Schwartz and his team to be able to offer free physicals for student-athletes again this summer. More details will be released when known.

Waukon Middle School Principal Luke Steege reported the track teams have finished their seasons. The ISASP scores for the Middle School are looking good, with the sixth grade students showing the most growth on the ISASP. Steege thanked all of the staff at the Middle School for a great school year. He also specially thanked the kitchen staff for the work that they do and the positive way they interact with students and staff.

East and West Elementary Schools Principal Samantha Thornton reported that they will be sending ISASP test scores home with student report cards at the end of the year. The spell-a-thon raised approximately $15,500 between East and West. Funds will go towards things like field trips, classroom materials, additional technology, etc. Transitional Planning with fifth grade students is in the works, and they held parent information nights for incoming students. Thornton noted that they are also planning for Extended School Year learning at West Elementary this year.

ACSD Curriculum Director Kelli Olson noted in her report that they are focusing on a strong finish to this school year, while looking ahead to the next school year. Her department has been working with their Keystone Navigator colleagues to look back at this year’s professional learning and determine what the next steps are. She also discussed the flex day learning for teachers. The PK-12 curriculum meetings are finished for the year. They are also working on analyzing ISASP data.

Special Education Director Carissa Otto reported her department is busy working on senior exit plans. They are also wrapping up IEP meetings. Otto also thanked the general education teachers for their work and collaboration with the special education teachers during the school year, and for their support of the students.

Buildings and Grounds Director Bill Hennessy noted in his report that they are getting ready for summer and will be checking irrigation areas. They are also preparing for rooms to be cleared out and stored in different areas for the upcoming HVAC and window project. During the first part of June, they will be taking out the playground equipment at West to make room for the new equipment.

Technology Director Andy Reichard stated in his report to the board that ISASP testing was a success, and the district had no reported performance issues. The new laptops could begin arriving as early as next week, which will give lots of time to get them ready for the 2023-2024 school year. Reichard is also working on a Cyber Security Response Plan, which will detail the steps taken to mitigate an incident. He expects to have that ready soon for board approval.

Food Service Director Jess Keenan noted that they are getting excited about the Summer Feeding Program. New this year, there will be regular lunch from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., during which time kids can eat lunch and then take a non-congregate (grab and go) breakfast for the next morning. Keenan noted that the change in protocol stems partly from the fact that the breakfast numbers have always been about half of the lunch numbers.

Summer Feeding Program director Stephanie Dross noted that in rural communities, many families do make multiple trips to town every day and tend to come over the lunch hour. The hope is that by providing the non-congregate breakfast, more kids will be able to have a healthy breakfast option as well.

Transportation Director Andrew Eberling reported that they are busy with end of the year activities like field trips and other activities. Drivers will have a three-hour refresher class August 11. They have also begun looking at routes for next year to see if they can make any changes to help with their driver shortage. He also thanked the substitute bus drivers for stepping up when needed at the last minute over the past school year. He noted that they have “a great group of people at the bus garage.” Eberling thanked all the drivers for taking care of the students during the school year.

Under new business, the board approved the milk bid from Anderson Ericson (the lowest bidder) for $74,735. The board also approved the bread bid from Pan-O-Gold (the only bid received) for $9,612.08.

Discussion then moved on to the fee schedule for the 2023-2024 school year. Textbooks fees were approved as follows: Elementary (PK-5), $60 (reduced rate $24); Middle school (grades 6-8), $85 ($34); and High School (grades 9-12), $95 ($38). The student activity pass will be $40; a senior activity pass will be $25; and an adult activity pass will be $100. Preschool tuition will be $1,550.

Event admissions will be as follows: High School Athletics $4 for students in grades K-12 and $6 for adults. Middle School Athletics will be $1 for students in grades K-12, $2 for an adult and $5 per family. Food Service Fees will be as follows: Student Lunch (PK-12), $2.30 (reduced rate $0.40); Adult, Guest and Second Student Lunch, $4.85; Student Breakfast $1.10 ($0.30); Adult and Guest Breakfast $2.00; and Milk - Extra Serving/Break $0.35. Families are reminded to fill out the application for free/reduced lunches to see if they qualify.

The board then approved the list of Waukon High School graduates for 2023. The board also approved absence maintenance software from Frontline Education in the amount of $4,998.43. This software will help with the substitute management process, and can be used to text, email or make calls for substitutes. It will also be tied in with the leave request program so it will be able to automatically put in a notice for a substitute teacher. Next on the agenda, the board approved the certified sub rate for 2023-2024 at $150 per day for a teacher sub pay and $150 per day for teacher long-term sub pay.

The board approved several summer projects: the bus barn parking lot from Bruening Rock Products at $8,740; roof repairs to the Middle School and East Elementary from Moss Roofing & Insulation, Inc. for $2,000; repair of the roof of the upper gym at the middle school $6,800; and carpeting at East Elementary from Floors Plus at $7,101.87. The board also approved the purchase of a new football sled, as requested by the Football Club account in the amount of $6,645.

The final item of business was the first reading of several board policies: 216.02 - Board of Directors’ Member Development and Training, 607.01 - Student Guidance and Counseling Program, 701.05 – Fiscal Management, 701.05R1 - Financial Metrics, 705.01 - Purchasing-Bidding, 705.01R2 – Using Federal Funds in Procurement Contracts, 804.07R1 - Radon Mitigation Regulation, 200.04 - Board Member Social Media Engagement, 210.05 - Meeting Notice, 401.05R1 – Employee Records Regulation, 401.10 - Credit and Procurement Cards, 407.02 - Licensed Employee Contract Release, 501.02 - Nonresident Students, 604.06 - Instruction at a Post-Secondary Educational Institution, 701.02 - Transfer of Funds, 708 - Care, Maintenance and Disposal of School District Records. The first reading was approved, after which the meeting was adjourned.