ACSD Board of Directors hears numerous updates, makes some final approvals prior to the start of the new school year

by Brianne Grimstad

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors met Monday, August 21 for its regular monthly meeting. Board President Al Rissman noted that the representatives of the Keystone Area Education Agency (AEA) would not be present to give their update at the meeting that night.

Under the Consent Agenda, the board approved the following personnel: Kids Club staff; 2023-24 mentors; bus driver Daryl Roe; substitute bus drivers Justin Sommer and Jon Snitker; middle school paraprofessional Jennifer Davis; volunteer middle School volleyball coach Randy Nordheim; and elementary paraprofessional Taylor Day.

The board also approved the resignations of Sue White and Aubrie Monroe from their elementary paraprofessional positions, as well as three open enrollments out and six open enrollments in. The 2023-2024 Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) Concurrent and Health Occupation Consortium contracts were approved, and a student teacher agreement with Upper Iowa University was approved, as was the Annual Treasurer’s Report. The board also approved an Athletic Trainer Agreement with Veterans Memorial Hospital.

During the Communications time of the meeting, Allamakee County Emergency Management Coordinator Corey Snitker addressed the board on the Allamakee County Hazard Mitigation Plan. He explained that the plan is being updated for the County, and that it encompasses the three school districts within Allamakee County.

Snitker discussed briefly how the plan committee determined what are the more common hazards and what he felt they were for Allamakee County, noting that his biggest concern is losing power - specifically a long-term power loss situation. Snitker noted that a draft of the Allamakee County Hazard Mitigation Plan is available for viewing online on the Allamakee County Emergency Management page on the County’s website. Later in the meeting, the board approved a resolution to adopt the Allamakee County Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Carissa Otto and Kelli Olson updated the board on the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP) test scores. They looked over the proficiency and how the students are growing, stating the results are “very encouraging.” There will be more information coming out on the results.

Three areas of interest will be the proficiency numbers, special education students and individual student reports. The other data reports that come back will provide additional information. Superintendent Jay Mathis noted that these tests are “one-day snapshots.”

Under the department head reports, Mathis noted that the HVAC and renovation project at the high school and middle school has gone well and everything is looking great and working well. The West Elementary playground equipment has been installed and the rock chips are in also. The old playground equipment has been installed at Iron Ridge Church.

Kelly Concrete and O’Neill Plumbing have both been working at the school house project site. The basement walls are up, so students can begin work on the project right away. Mathis also praised the custodial staff for their work to get the buildings, especially the high school and middle school, in great shape for the beginning of the school year.

Waukon High School Principal Jennifer Garin reported that the Career and Technical Education (CTE) team is working on taking necessary steps to secure Perkins Grant and Regional Planning Partnerships (RPP) funding for the 2023-2024 school year. It is estimated that they could receive up to $12,000 from RPP funding and up to $15,000 from the Perkins Grant.

Principal Garin also discussed Professional Development, and she also thanked the janitors for their work in getting the building ready and the lunch staff for the Summer Feeding Program. She also reported the staff is excited for another school year to begin.

Waukon High School Assistant Principal/Activities Director Brian Hilsabeck noted that with the forecasted heat wave, practices for the cross country and football teams would be modified to keep the players and coaches safe. He thanked the staff of Veterans Memorial Hospital for providing free sports physicals to students and also commended the custodians on the grounds and buildings looking great.

Waukon Middle School Principal Luke Steege noted in his report to the board that staff is happy to be returning for a new school year. He welcomed Jennifer Davis and Stacy Miner to the staff, and he noted that there were new electives available to eighth graders this fall and a math lab for students needing some help in that area.

East and West Elementary Principal Samantha Thornton reported that they had a successful Meet the Teacher night. The Maker Space carts were also on display for parents and students to see. Principal Thornton also noted that the West Elementary playground equipment looked awesome and that students were already testing it out at the Meet the Teacher night. She also noted that with the predicted hot weather, students might be having modified recesses indoors.

ACSD Curriculum Director Kelli Olson noted that the district had some very successful professional learning days. She thanked the TLC program, IT workers, custodians and cooks for all the work they have been doing. The mentors and mentees met during the new teacher orientation day. Dr. Katie Martin, author of “Evolving Education,” will be joined by staff via Zoom for a kick-off to professional learning.

Special Education Director Carissa Otto reported that they had some good team building activities. She also noted that they are looking at implementation with integrity and what that means to staff. They are also looking at the Continuous Learning Plan. Otto also thanked all of the administrators and board members for their support and the opportunities they provide throughout the year.

Buildings and Grounds Director Bill Hennessy reported that the HVAC project is wrapping up and things are “checking out okay.” He complimented his staff on the work they have done getting things put back together and cleaned up for the first day of school. The fire alarms, ANSUL system and other things have been inspected and are ready for the new school year. The staff has also been working on getting the football field ready for the season.

Technology Director Andy Reichard noted that the new laptops were all set up and ready for students and staff. He also said that with the help of Sara Retallick, the Technology Department is sitting in good shape, and they were able to recycle some equipment and get their workspaces cleaned up and organized for the new year. The elementary Chromebooks are ready, but due to enrollment increase, more units needed to be set up. He also discussed multi-factor authentication.

Food Service Director Jess Keenan told the board that the Summer Feeding Program was a success, with participants being very receptive to the grab-and-go breakfast option during the Summer Feeding Program. The Department of Education did a review on the program, and all was well. Keenan also noted that she attended a conference last week with the AEA and Martin Brothers discussing food prices. Items with the biggest price increases were potatoes (French fries, tater tots, etc.), eggs and condiments. She noted that the prices of paper products were going down, but since ACSD doesn’t use a lot of disposable products, this would not affect the district much.

Transportation Director Justin Piggott reported that they had been busy fielding calls to add students and stops to the bus routes. The summer routes have ended, and he thanked those drivers for their help during the summer months. There are two new bus drivers and a substitute suburban driver that have been added to the staff. The two new seven-passenger vans have been built and are in the process of shipping. They also continue work on maintaining the transportation fleet.

There was no old business, so under new business, the board passed a resolution adopting the Allamakee County Hazard Mitigation Plan. There were several change authorization requests for the HVAC project. The board rejected CAR #5, but approved CAR #s 6 through 9, for a total of $2,244.

The board also approved a SAVE Capital Funds transfer resolution for the HVAC project in the amount of $695,509.04. The Fiscal Year 2022 audit report was approved.

The final item of business was the approval of wall wrestling mats for the East Elementary gym. Hilsabeck explained that the gym is designated for the girls wrestling team practices. The mats will be six-foot wall mats lining the perimeter of the gym, except for the stage area. The mats will be custom fit and attached with Velcro so that they could be removed, if necessary. Cost will be $8,404.44 and they’ll be purchased from Dollamur Sport Surfaces.

It was also noted that the Waukon Wrestling Club purchased a building that would possibly be available for school use during some of the larger meets or when there is overlap between JV and varsity meets. Superintendent Mathis noted that they would have to discuss with the ACSD legal team if any kinds of agreements would need to be in place.