EACSD Board holds regular session

by Susan Cantine-Maxson

The regular monthly meeting for the Eastern Allamakee School District (EACSD) Board of Directors was held Monday, December 18. Board member Melanie Mauss was absent due to jury duty in Cedar Rapids. Audience comments included presentations from Tammy Manning, director of the Kee High School Speech program, and Jana Troendle, preschool teacher.

Manning explained that Kee High School will be hosting the Upper Iowa Conference Large Group Speech contest for the first time January 13, with nine other conference schools attending. This is a trial run before District Large Group to be held at MFL/MarMac High School January 20. Judges will give presenting groups ratings of I, II, III or disqualification, similar to ratings used in the Iowa High School Speech Association contents. The ratings received at this conference contest do not exclude anyone from District Contest participation but are meant as a way to help students prepare for District Contest.

The Conference Contest is considered a trial run where students will have an opportunity to receive oral comments as well as written critiques on what to work on before District Contest. The Conference Contest will run from approximately 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A suggested donation of $3 at the door will help to cover costs of running the event.

Manning hopes to have parents, teachers and staff to help run the contest as announcers,  timers, room chairs, hall monitors, office staff, food providers and concession workers, plus many more jobs. She said many volunteers are needed and that there are two time slots available: 8:30 a.m.-12 noon and 12-4 p.m., but people volunteering for portions of time is also helpful. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Manning at Kee HighSchool by phone at 563-538-4201or by email at tmanning@kee.k12.ia.us.

Manning encouraged the board to attend and volunteer, if possible. Approximately 80 performances from 10 schools will include ensemble acting, mime, musical theatre, choral reading, readers theater, radio broadcasting, short film and more. After Manning’s presentation, a large group mime consisting of students Michelle Walleser, Neve Goetzinger, Rachel Walleser and Kinley Schobert performed a mime entitled “Persecution.” This group was an Outstanding Performance mime group last year. Those in attendance were moved by the dramatic content of the mime and commended the girls for their performance.

Troendle, the four-year-old preschool teacher at New Albin Elementary School, described in-service training at  two institutes at Keystone which were extremely beneficial for both new and experienced teachers. She described her  personal professional development,  which is concentrating on improving the curriculum by establishing learning centers which students rotate among. These activity centers concentrate on small groups of students working on academics as well as motor skills. So far the incorporation of these centers has been very successful.

After the presentations, board members discussed the sessions they attended at the Iowa School Board Convention. All agreed that the keynote and break-out sessions were very good. The Presidents’ workshop Friday morning had approximately 100 in attendance and concentrated on dealing with difficult situations at board meetings using examples that many districts have to deal with. Both Board President Heather Schulte and EACSD Superintendent Dr. Dale Crozier commented that they were thankful that the EACSD board meetings are calm and reasonable.

Under New Business, the board reviewed the report of  Attendance Center and course enrollment data to include disaggregated categories, as well as an overview of district test scores. There was a 94% attendance rate at the elementary and middle school and a 96% attendance rate at the high school for last year.

Bullying and harassment data was also presented. There were 20 incidents reported with five meeting the criteria established by the State. The elementary building continues to implement the PBIS program: Problem Behavior Intervention System. The Middle School is in its third year of implementing Olweus, an anti-bullying program and curriculum. Year-end surveys had an 85% rate of students who reported feeling safe and supported at school if they have a problem with bullying.

The drop-out rate in the district decreased from two students in 2015-2016 to one student in 2016-2017. Graduation rate for the Class of 2016 was 93% with 25 out of 27 students graduating. The graduation rate for the Class of 2017 was 98% with 40 out of 41 students graduating.

Iowa Basic Skills and Iowa Tests of Education Development scores are back. In grades 3-12, the average rate of proficiency in reading was 86.4%, in math it was 86.4% and in science it was  89.2%, all considerably higher than the state average. Measurements for Early Literacy Data indicate that 79% of students in grades second through sixth were at or above the Star benchmark in reading assessment. In the spring of 2017, 61% of students in grades K-5 were at or above the proficiency level on the Fast assessment. The district has set a goal to increase that percentage to 70% by the spring of 2018.

The board also approved contracts for Elizabeth Peregrine for vocal music for second semester and as Music Director of Elementary and Middle School Programs for second semester. The board denied an open enrollment application submitted because the request did not meet the deadlines and criteria for consideration.

During Administrative Reports, Kee High School Principal Mary Hogan had previously reported on the results of tests in the meeting. She said the second trimester is halfway done.

New Albin Elementary School Principal Chad Steckel praised MaryLu  and Jon Baker, local retirees with backgrounds in education who have been volunteering at New Albin Elementary to include art into the curriculum. Jon has been instrumental in raising money for art supplies and MaryLu has taught numerous art classes to the students, both a big benefit to the elementary students. Parents have commented positively about  the art projects that the students are bringing home. Steckel said parents should note that there will be an early dismissal December 22 before the holiday break.

Superintendent Crozier read portions of a letter from the De Soto school district  thanking the Eastern Allamakee district for using the football field last fall, noting this was a very positive exchange between the two schools. He and President Schulte attended a meeting in Decorah on effective Boardsmanship which focused on eight traits of effective boards.

Crozier said he will send an email about how area schools handle make-up days. With the 1,080-hour requirement, there are not a specified number of days required now and hours are determined by shortest days in the district, so the attendance center used is New Albin. The board may want to consider options for make-up days if the district will not have enough hours to meet state requirements, noting that late starts also eat into the accumulated number of hours.

Crozier said the booster club is purchasing a new sign for the front of the high school building, and that he has been approached about having wrestling. He noted that if there is a cost involved, there would not be an advantage, explaining this would be a possible sharing program with another district in the future but it would have to be at no cost involved.

Dr. Crozier submitted a professional development plan to the board for himself. In the sharing agreement, the EACSD board members have input into evaluation so if they want to include input into his job evaluation, which is formally done by MFL/MarMac School District, they may do so.

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