ACSD Board of Directors approves variety of projects, hears updates in preparation for the new school year

by Brianne Grimstad

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors met for its regular monthly meeting Monday, June 19 in the Waukon High School cafeteria. Board member Brent Beyer was absent.

Under the Consent Agenda, the board approved the following personnel: Tim Bulman, volunteer middle school football coach; Kate-Leigh Wilson, volunteer cheer coach; Edwin Frick, assistant varsity boys basketball coach; Steve Welper, bus driver; Sofia Acosta and Dallas Howe as elementary paraprofessionals; an increase in hours for elementary paraprofessionals Carrie Etten, Amanda Willoughby and Stephanie Iverson; and Katrina Collins, Kindergarten teacher. The board accepted the following resignations: Paul Farley, bus driver; Ed Wikan, bus driver; and Clint Miller, SPED route driver.

There were six open enrollments into the district and one open enrollment out of the district. The membership to the Rural School Advocates of Iowa was renewed, with membership dues being $750. Three Youth Frontiers retreats were approved: Kindness Retreat in October ($3,600), Courage Retreat in November ($4,050) and Respect Retreat in November ($4,050). The 2023-2024 Special Education Contract was also approved.

During his report, ACSD Superintendent Jay Mathis  updated the board on the Middle School HVAC and window replacement project. He noted that he will soon be submitting the application for the School Safety Grant, which is a federal grant for school safety upgrades. He also updated the board on legislation that has been passed.

Board member Beth Shafer asked about the virtual snow day bill. Mathis responded by saying he felt the system used in the high school and middle school at ACSD could be a model for other districts to follow, but he was unsure if the system used for elementary students will suffice. He also noted that he is not anticipating any “major changes” with the way ACSD handles virtual days now. Virtual learning days will count as school days now.

Waukon High School Principal Jennifer Garin submitted a report to the board, and highlighted CTE developments. Nineteen students are working with Student Success Coordinator Dillon Daniel for credit recovery. She also touched on updates to the student handbook and mentioned updates to Allamakee Learning Center Policies and Contract 2023-2024, as well as the 2023-2024 Faculty Manual. She also noted the high school results from the 2023 ISASP testing.

Waukon High School Activities Director/Assistant Principal Brian Hilsabeck reported that No Contact Week for high school/middle school sports is July 23-30. Free sports physicals will be offered July 12 and July 19 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. The 2023-2024 Activity Schedules will be released the first week in August.

Waukon Middle School Principal Luke Steege reported that the 2022-2023 school year was successful in the Middle School. He noted that they saw growth in ISASP scores. They are planning for the 2023-2024 school year, including the addition of sixth grade students from St. Pat’s School. He thanked the teachers, support staff, custodians and central office staff for making a great year at the Middle School.

Elementary Principal Samantha Thornton submitted a report, noting that August 21 will be Meet the Teacher Night. She thanked the families who pre-registered for preschool, TK and Kindergarten. The staff of the elementary schools is busy with summer learning to prepare for the 2023-2024 school year. Fifteen students are attending West Elementary for a variety of days throughout the summer for assistance with goals geared toward special education. She thanked Jess Keenan and staff for working with them to make sure the kids get breakfast and lunch.

ACSD Curriculum Director Kelli Olson noted in her report that they have been preparing and planning for the upcoming school year. There are many summer learning opportunities that teachers are taking advantage of through various entities. Staff is also taking part in training for STEM Carts this summer, as the district was awarded a STEM Scale Up grant. The district also received a Computer Science Curriculum and Professional Development grant from the Iowa Department of Education. The Our Portrait of an ACSD Graduate is completed.

Special Education Director Carissa Otto noted in her report that all but one IEP has been finalized in ACHIEVE for ACSD. All senior exits have been finalized. They continue to work on quality IEP conversations and have been discussing what collaboration with families and school staff looks like. She thanked the special education staff for being flexible and working through using two systems this past year. She also thanked parents for being collaborative partners.

Buildings and Grounds Director Bill Hennessy reported that the summer cleaning is going well at all the buildings. The HVAC and window project is coming along and most of the equipment is here.

Technology Director Andy Reichard advised in his report that he would not be present at the board meeting due to a conference to improve upon the ACSD website. The new laptops are in and are being set up. They are also working on the middle school Chromebooks. He thanked the board for allowing them to hire Sara Retallick as extra help and noted that she has been willing to take on any task they have asked of her. They have also been recycling equipment rapidly with Retallick’s help and are getting ready to repurpose the equipment that is four years old. Reichard is also in the process of making the Google Applications require multi-factor authentication for higher security.

Food Service Director Jess Keenan reported that the Summer Feeding Program is off to a great start. They have had a lot of positive feedback on the non-congregate breakfast program. Keenan noted that kids are excited to come for lunch and grab breakfast for the next day and parents appreciate the convenience this offers. She said the numbers are good and it’s great to see the families and kids every day. Keenan also thanked her staff for their work every day to make this program successful.

New ACSD Transportation Director Justin Piggott introduced himself at his first board meeting. He noted that they are working to fill spots that have become vacant due to retirements and have been busy with summer sports and activities. Drivers will have their three-hour refresher course in August.

They are also looking at routes for next year to see if they can do anything to help with the driver shortage. Piggott has been working with outgoing director Andrew Eberling and noted that Eberling brought lots of experience  and knowledge to the transportation department that they will miss.

Under old business, the board approved the second reading of numerous board policies pertaining to board member development and interaction, financial aspects, student counseling, and employee and other school district records. The first reading of numerous other board policies also took place and revolved around such matters as student behavior, identity and health care considerations, employee professional development, and instructional and library materials.

Under new business, the board approved student handbook changes, as well as the 2023-2024 Work Rules and Certified Staff Handbook. The low bid from Mulgrew Oil of $1.332 per gallon at 12,000 gallons of LP was accepted. The 2023-2024 Fundraising Calendar was approved, with Hilsabeck noting that they do take into consideration how many of these things go on through the year and try not to exhaust the community with the fundraisers. He keeps track of the ones that are successful and cuts the ones that are not.

The board approved a resolution transferring $6,374.27 from the General Fund to the Activity Fund to pay for protective gear for football, baseball and softball. The board also approved a resolution to transfer $387,841.90 from the ESSER Fund to the Capital Projects Fund for the HVAC project. The board approved renewal of the Johnson Controls Service Agreement, with a cost of $7,200. Two change orders for the HVAC project were approved.

Several summer projects were approved, including: painting of the MS hallways (Tom’s Painting, $9,460); rock chips for West Elementary playground (Sommer Excavating, $18,268); Wrestling Mats (Dollamur Sport Surfaces, $16,691.40- to be reimbursed by Wrestling Boosters); and Hudl Camera System ($9,600 split between club/fundraising accounts and Hermeier donations).

Prior to moving to a Closed Session, the board approved paying bills through June 30, 2023.