EACSD Board of Directors hears variety of updates on student activities and other school matters

by Susan Cantine-Maxson

The Eastern Allamakee Community School District (EACSD) Board of Directors met Monday, November 20 with board member Bobbi Goetzinger and board president Heather Schulte the only members present initially, in addition to Superintendent Dr.  Dale Crozier, New Albin Elementary School Principal Chad Steckel, Kee High School Principal Mary Hogan and board secretary Marian Verdon. Absent, initially, were board members Bruce Palmborg, Kelli Mudderman and Melanie Mauss.

Because one board member would be arriving later, the board members present chose to hear the presentations by Allamakee County Emergency Management Director Corey Snitker, teacher Debra Masek on the fourth, fifth and sixth grade social studies curriculum and the Kee High School FFA chapter before officially starting the business portion of the meeting.

Snitker, from Emergency Management for Allamakee County, explained that there are six cities plus unincorporated areas included in the multi-hazardous report being prepared for Allamakee County. He said all of the school districts in the county need to be brought up to date on the Hazard Mitigation Plan so that they are aware of plans which would be implemented in case of a disaster. These plans are required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) every five years.

After the reports have been approved by the State and FEMA, the implementation process may assist schools with grant application in areas which have been affected by a disaster or a potential disaster. This may include building tornado safe rooms for schools or repairing roads damaged in a disaster, such as flooding. Some grants are only available after an area has been declared a disaster site.

The next presentation was by Deb Masek, a teacher at New Albin Elementary. She gave the board an overview of the fourth, fifth and sixth grade social studies curriculum. Masek and others attended Keystone’s workshop on social studies core curriculum, which she said is very student-centered. Masek said the fourth grade year concentrates on the regions of the United States, including Iowa History. The fourth graders have been involved in a project entitled “Washed Ashore” which ties in with the environment and other creative areas to look at trash with new eyes.

The fifth grade veterans’ program was the focus of the fifth grade curriculum so far this year. Masek said the students planned and participated in all aspects of the school's Veterans Day celebration. She said the sixth graders study ancient Egypt, China and India. The entire curriculum is focused on inquiry-based learning where the students ask questions and search for answers. Students are asked to connect ancient civilizations with solutions for today’s problems. The curriculum is very strong in critical thinking and cross curricular learning, Masek described.

Finally, the board received audience comments from members of the Kee High School FFA chapter which journeyed to Indianapolis, IN for the National FFA Convention. FFA Advisor Ray Rankin and five students traveled with several area schools on two charter buses with 110 people to Indianapolis IN.

Lelah Ali, the daughter of Mohammed Ali, was the keynote speaker at this year's event and the theme of this year’s convention was “I Can. We Will.”

The group attended the concert of Run Away June and Rascal Flats. All agreed that this was an exceptional concert experience. Also during the convention, students attended numerous workshops and participated in the career fair and expo where there were many opportunities for hands-on activities.

Several colleges and businesses had displays at the expo.

On the way home, the group stopped at Indianapolis Speedway, Corner Prairie Farms, which was a living history farms attraction, and Fair Oaks, which is a 30,000 dairy cow operation. The dairy portion of the farm milks 2,500 cows per milking in a carousel set up, milking 72 cows at a time. They milk three times a day. They also toured the crop and pork operations. The students agreed that this was a tremendous learning opportunity.

At 7:47 p.m., the board was officially called to order with the arrival of board member Kelli Mudderman. The agenda was approved with revisions. The usual and customary authorizations were approved. Other items approved included the minutes of the October meeting, bills for November, Secretary’s Financial Statement, Activity and Food Service Report.

New business included the approval of a SBRC application for MSA for open enrollment not on prior year’s count and the approval of the purchase of two copy machines. After several rounds of negotiations, Marco was chosen as the vendor for the copy machines. The cost was $14,291 for two copiers with five years of service.

Under Administrative Reports, Principal Steckel explained that ITBS tests will be taking place next week. Students are looking forward to an upcoming field trip to Brownsville, MN to see the trumpeter swans. Steckel said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will meet the students there to give them information about the swan migration. In addition, teachers have been discussing school safety meeting and reviewing ALICE training for drills and practices.

Principal Hogan had several reports based on recent data collection but decided to wait until more board members were present. She reported that teachers have been working in groups focusing on critical thinking and peer presentations. During the second trimester, professional development will focus on personal goals and research. The NICC advisory board continues to meet to set up work with mentors in the communities.

Superintendent Crozier reported that new speakers will be set up in the New Albin Elementary School. He received a thank you from the De Soto, WI district for allowing them to use the football field this past season following flood damage to the De Soto field.

He also shared a recent report that shows data from 2009 until now, with one reflection noting that the open enrollment remains fairly constant from year to year but the home schooling numbers are rising. Dr. Crozier said Booster Club money will be used to purchase an outside sign which will be programmable and changeable.

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