EACSD Board of Directors hears updates regarding Governor’s decision to close schools for remainder of this school year

by Susan Cantine-Maxson

The regular monthly meeting of the Board of Directors of the Eastern Allamakee Community School District (EACSD) was held at Kee High School in Lansing Monday, April 20. The meeting was called to order by Heather Schulte, Board President. Upon roll call the following board members responded, namely: Tony Becker, Bobbie Goetzinger via Zoom, Melanie Mauss via Zoom, Kelly Mudderman and Heather Schulte. Also present at the meeting were EACSD Superintendent Dr. Dale Crozier, Board Secretary Janet Heiderscheit, Kee High School/Middle School Principal Mary Hogan via Zoom and New Albin Elementary School Lead Teacher Donna Thomas via Zoom.

After the agenda was approved, the usual and customary authorizations were approved. Dr. Crozier was appointed as  the Level I Investigator and the Affirmative Action Coordinator.

Approval of the graduation candidates for Kee High School’s Class of 2020 was given. Upon recommendation of the Superintendent and the faculty, the following 38 students will be graduating,  upon completion of all requirements of the Board of Education:

Peter Paul Boland
Laura Anne Colsch
Kyle James Conway
Kristina Marie Dibert
Allison Ann Donley
Skyler Joseph Fahey
Brayden Paul Gavin
Ethan Scott Hawes
Nell Margaret Hogan
Austin James Kubitz
Evan Reid Lenz
Theron Wyatt Maddox
Madison Grace Mathis
Cameron Donovan Olson
Makayla Emma Peters
Dylan James Peterson
Makena Karlene Peterson
Carly Mae Rask
Cade William Rasque
Payson Thomas Rea
Jenna Ann Rethwisch
Elena Louise Rolfs
Kinley Starr Schobert
Ryan Jonathan Schulte
Ashlyn Rebecca Seitz
Dallas Michael Sickles
Dawson James Sires
Joseph Snitker-Derespina
Brooke Ryann Stanley
Charles Frederick Stendel
Ella Catherine Strong
Benjermen Francis Troendle
Gracie Rose Vinson
Rachel Ann Walleser
Matteson Marie Weymiller
Tyler Jeffrey Wild
Matthew Blake Wilson
Nathanial Owen Winters.

The board approved the Joint Sharing Agreements for Transportation and Building & Grounds Directors with the Allamakee Community School District and the Joint Sharing Agreement for the duties of Superintendent with the MFL/MarMac School District.

Additional approvals included the contracts for  the Certified and the Non-Certified personnel for the 2020-2021 school year. Additional personnel contracts included accepting the resignation of Felicity Ewards from her position of Vocal Music Director and Dave Mooney from his position of Junior High Boys Track Coach. A contract was approved for Andrew Boddicker for the position of Vocal Music Director.

The board approved the Technology Services Contract Agreement with Keystone Area Education Agency (AEA) 1 for the 2020-2021 school year. In addition, the board approved the purchase  of additional security cameras in both buildings at an approximate cost of $6000-$7000 per building and new LED lighting at an approximate cost of $20,000. The new lighting will have a cost payback period of three years with the energy it will save.

The board approved a resolution regarding COVID-19. This resolution states that all public school districts are to remain closed until and including April 30, 2020 as per the Governor of Iowa (now it has been extended until the end of the current school year); employees will not be able to regularly report to work; it is in the best interest of the District to pay the employees while temporarily closed; continuity of learning and/or District operations during the temporary closure may require employees to work either onsite and/or from a remote location; the local school boards are authorized to govern their districts; the Department of Education is providing written guidance to Iowa districts on issues related to COVID 19.

The Department of Education is working within the guidelines of federal legislation to meet requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) and the mandate for a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE); the board realizes barriers to required education; the Superintendent is authorized to place employees on an approved paid leave during the period of temporary closure and they shall receive their customary and regular pay; the board hereby suspends provisions of its board policies, as identified by the Superintendent, in order to implement guidance from the state or federal agencies relating to COVID 19 for the duration of the school closure; and the District hereby adopts the Iowa Department of Education’s option of Voluntary Education Enrichment Opportunities to include contact with district teachers as practical for the duration of the closure.

Principal Hogan advised that the Iowa Department of Transportation is temporarily allowing driver education classroom studies to continue via remote access. The classroom and behind-the-wheel hours will not be waived and instructors are urged to take extra precautions with Behind-the-Wheel driving lessons and work with each student and their parents individually. The district has halted the behind-the-wheel driving for the current time period.

Principal Hogan was scheduled to have a staff Zoom meeting to go over the end of the school year plans. Graduation most likely will be a virtual ceremony with the seniors’ names being read, a senior video, and the recognition of high honors, National Honor Society, and Quill & Scroll. There will not be an Empty Nesters recognition. A more traditional in-person graduation ceremony is still being considered for later during the summer months if that option becomes available due to the relaxing of current social distancing guidelines by the State of Iowa.

Donna Thomas, New Albin Elementary Lead Teacher, reported that the elementary staff is providing learning opportunities for their students either online (for older students) or through paper packets (for pre-kindergarten through first grades). Staff have conducted virtual scavenger hunts which the students have enjoyed. Also, the students and their parents will be able to pick up their personal belongings at a time to be determined later.

Dr. Crozier updated the board on the types of learnings being done across the state. Most are doing voluntary enrichment, a few are doing required learning, and a few are doing a mix of the two types. He was scheduled to be meeting with the staff via Zoom the Tuesday following the regular meeting. He advised that principal interviews were scheduled to be completed this past week to fill both the open elementary and high school/middle school principal positions within the district.

The Grab-n-Go Lunch program has seen a significant increase in its usage. The Lansing center is serving about 60 meals a day while the New Albin center is serving around 40 per day. The FFA spring flower fundraiser will be in early May, and the FFA members will practice social distancing while the sale takes place. The meeting adjourned.

Dr. Crozier stated in a follow-up email after the meeting, “Many people are doing many things for our school district. Both our classified staff and our certified staff are doing what we need to do at this time; as we are feeding people and still providing educational opportunities while staying safe ourselves. Our educational enrichment has been as good as it can be, and it must continue. I have heard only positive feedback on this effort. No one likes the situation we are in, but we have to make the most lemonade we can with the lemons we have. The general public may not have a grip on how much time it takes to produce online educational enrichment.  It is also true that many people in our community do not have children in school and may not be connected to the process of educational enrichment... we need them.  They may not know it, but they also need us, as the school and community need to be one and sync together.”

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