ACSD Board of Directors votes unanimously during regular monthly session to close Waterville Elementary School at the end of the current school year

ASCD Board of Directors votes unanimously to close Waterville Elementary ... Waterville Elementary School will close at the completion of this current 2017-2018 school year following a decision made by the Allamakee Community School District Board of Directors at its regular monthly session Monday, December 18. On a unanimous vote of all five board members, the board opted to close the school at the end of the current school year, which will come to completion in May 2018. For additional details on the school board meeting where the decision was made, see the accompanying article that begins at left. Photo by Sara Aleckson-Melcher.

by Brianne Eilers

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors met on a couple occasions this past week, including a work session Tuesday, December 12 and the board’s regular monthly meeting Monday, December 18.

A majority of the larger than normal crowd at the board’s December 18 regular session was there for the board’s first agenda item under New Business, making a decision on the future of Waterville Elementary. Without further discussion or presentation, the roll-call vote on the matter was unanimous that Waterville Elementary will be closing at the end of the 2017-2018 school year. ACSD Superintendent Dave Herold said the next step in the process for closure of the school will be for the administration, staff and school board to begin planning for the transition and that it would be important to keep everyone up to date and involved in the process. No other discussion or comment took place on the matter and many of those in attendance then filed out of the meeting.

Prior to that December 18 regular session, the December 12 work session was held to hear presentations from an architectural company regarding the switchgear project and two executive search firms regarding the superintendent search to find replacement candidates for retiring Superintendent Herold, effective at the end of this school year. Craig Schwerdtfeger was there to represent Struxture Engineering and to discuss the switchgear project. Dave Else of Else Leadership Group presented his proposal for the superintendent search. Trent Grundmeyer and Kevin Fiene of Grundmeyer Leader Search also gave a proposal for the superintendent search. All the information gathered at the work session was to be used in making decisions on those items in the near future, and no action was taken on either matter at the work session.

During the December 18 regular meeting, Superintendent Herold reported on the roof project, explaining that the district would be making a payment of $451,588 to Schwickert for the work they have done, but will be retaining $186,801 until the vents on the roof are redone. Herold noted that he and Buildings and Grounds Director Bill Hennessy were both in agreement that the vents need to be redone. He also said they notified Shive Hattery and they also agreed, but the project will have to wait until spring.

Herold also reported that the needs assessment had a “great response” from staff, students, parents and community members. District leadership is going through the responses now and will be discussing that with the board at its January meeting, along with the school report card.

During the Principals' Reports, Waterville Elementary Principal Julie Askelson thanked Mrs. Shacherer and Mr. Knoll for the great winter concert recently held. She also noted that Waterville students had set a goal to raise 281 pounds of food and household goods, but that the students surpassed that goal by raising 406 pounds and 12 ounces of food and household items to donate. She also noted that they are looking forward to Family STEAM Night at East Elementary Tuesday, December 19.

East and West Elementary Principal Joe Griffith said that they have wrapped up winter concerts at both schools. He said that attendance has been very good for the concerts. Third grade students went to the Good Samaritan Center to visit, presenting Reader's Theater and playing Bingo with residents.

They were also treated to cupcakes baked by third grade parents. Griffith said they got a very positive response and would like to try and make this an annual event, if not a few times a year.

Waukon Middle School Principal Jennifer Garin noted that the girls basketball and the wrestling seasons have wrapped up at the middle school level. Boys basketball will have its first game January 9. She also thanked Mrs. Shacherer, Mr. Knoll and Mrs. Palmer for the successful winter concert, also noting that Mr. Knoll will be taking band students on a care center tour this week.

Brian Hilsabeck, Activities Director/Assistant Principal for Waukon High School reported to the board that Principal Dr. Mike Hardy plans to be back to work January 2 after an ailment earlier in December. Hilsabeck noted that they have made a tentative plan for bad weather during the upcoming semester test schedule. He said that 287 students are participating in winter activities in the high school, including 34 in girls basketball, 51 in boys basketball, 21 in wrestling, 22 in boys and girls bowling, 16 in cheer, 49 in band, 55 in choir and 36 in large group speech.

Curriculum Director Gretchen DeVore noted that her department is busy going through the first semester data. She hopes to propose to the board several new classes to offer in the next school year. Assessments will begin again in January for some of the younger students. She also mentioned that the Family STEAM Night would be held at East Elementary School December 19.

Buildings and Grounds Director Bill Hennessy said that a new stove has been ordered for East Elementary and they are looking at making some changes in the kitchen at East. Over the Christmas break, the custodians will be busy cleaning the floors and waxing them. Technology Director Shawn Gordon noted that they will be doing some small maintenance projects over the break. Transportation Director Randy Nordheim said that the district’s two new Suburbans have been received and are already being put to use.

Under Personnel matters, the board approved staff for the 21st Century After School Program. Sally Waterworth was hired as a Middle School paraprofessional. The board accepted the resignations of Randy Nordheim from his head varsity volleyball coach position and Emily Rocksvold from her paraprofessional position. Kendra Reburn was hired as a high school paraprofessional. The board also approved increasing custodian Earl Zezulka’s hourly pay from $15.11 to $15.36. Herold explained that Zezulka had obtained his asbestos certification and that this is a standard procedure for the pay increase.

The board then discussed the Early Retirement Incentive for district staff. Herold noted that they do not offer this on an annual basis, and to qualify for early retirement, staff members must be 55 years old and have 10 consecutive years with the ACSD. Approval is guaranteed to the first 10 applicants and on a case-by-case basis after that. Those accepted for the retirement package would receive $24,000 over four years ($6,000/year). Herold noted that by offering the Early Retirement Incentive, it could save the district over $400,000. The board approved the package.

The board also approved the modified supplemental amount of $213,618 for At-Risk/Drop Out Prevention. Herold noted that in the past these funds have been used for Alternative School, summer programming, the intervention position and learner advocates. He noted that these funds could also be used for afterschool programming to benefit West Elementary and, if they do not receive a new grant, East Elementary. Herold noted that this would be a one-year fix for funding afterschool programming, and that the money would also carry forward. He also noted that the district will continue to apply for grants for the afterschool program. The board then approved the line item budget as a working document.

Discussion then moved to the approval of the lease with Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC), noting that instead of a 10-year lease, the new lease would be a five-year lease. Another change would be that the ACSD would provide the custodial service and supplies to wax the floors in all seven rooms and the hallway at the NICC Center. Herold explained that they currently supply custodians for an hour of work and also wax the floors, but charge NICC for the supplies. He said with the new arrangement the custodians would wax the floors in the summer and not charge NICC for supplies, and it should work out to be about the same. The board approved the agreement for the lease. The board also approved NICC Career Learning Link field trips to Gundersen Health Systems Job Shadow Morning and Gundersen Health Systems “Pathway to a Healthcare Career Event", both in La Crosse, WI.

The board approved a contract with Iowa Communications Network (ICN) as internet service provider. Technology Director Shawn Gordon explained that they had received a bid from Mediacom as well, but he said he had concerns about Mediacom not following through with reliable service. Gordon noted that this has been an issue when they've used them in the past. He also noted that there could be missing fees from the Mediacom bid.

The board then approved hiring Grundmeyer Leadership Search as the firm to be used to help with the superintendent search. The board also approved hiring Struxture Architects/KCL Engineering for the switchgear project. A bid from Casper was approved for the industrial arts area ventilation system. Prior to adjournment, the board also approved final payment to L.J. Roth for the roof top HVAC unit and replacement of the curtains in the auditorium.

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