ACSD Board of Directors hears about final preparations for new school year

by Brianne Eilers

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors met for its regular monthly meeting Tuesday, August 18, a day later than its typical Monday night meeting date. Prior to the meeting, there was a welcome reception for new staff members in the school district.

Under the consent agenda, the board approved after school programming staff as well as Brody Baxter as seventh and eighth grade football assistant coach; paraprofessionals Sue Kiesau, Cathy Krupa and Sophia Krupa; and bus drivers Michelle Grangaard and Jim Hennessy. The board also accepted the following resignations: Teresa Condon, Spanish teacher; Teralee Lidsay, paraprofessional; Ben Lange, seventh and eighth grade football coach; Denise Tysland, cook; Mary Berns, cook; Jim McCormick, bus driver; Lorri Pladsen, paraprofessional; and Carlyn Lechtenberg, grades 6-12 art teacher. Caleb Ferring was transferred from assistant to seventh and eighth grade football coach.

The board approved several open enrollment requests and also approved the 2020-2021 NICC Concurrent Enrollment and Health Occupations Consortium Contracts. The board also approved the annual Treasurer’s Report, a school vehicle special request and an agreement with Chileda Institute, Inc. in La Crosse, WI.

During the communications time of the meeting, Kris Rausch, a parent with children in ACSD, was present to ask the board to support the use of masks for students and staff when social distancing is not possible. Rausch provided board members with research she had compiled on how other districts in the area are handling the issue of face masks in schools.

During his report, ACSD Superintendent Jay Mathis noted that the West Elementary project is moving along, and teachers were in classrooms getting ready for the first day of school August 24. He also gave an update on personal protective equipment (PPE) that the district was able to get through the State Department of Education. Items included masks, face shields, gloves, disinfectant and other items.

He also noted that head custodian Bill Hennessy has been working with building administrators to be sure that there is adequate PPE for all buildings. The district has also received donations of masks and equipment. A resounding point during all of the administrators’ reports was thanking the custodial staff for all the work they have done to keep the buildings clean and disinfected during the spring and summer and keeping the grounds looking great.

Waukon High School Principal Jennifer Garin reported that online enrollment was impacted by the derecho storm. She also noted that there are approximately 12 students who will be taking advantage of the virtual learning option this year. Her report to the board also detailed the mitigation efforts being taken in the high school to keep students and staff safe. She thanked the kitchen staff for their work during the shutdown this spring and Summer Feeding program. Garin noted that teachers had been working on professional development and are excited to be back, although there may be a bit of anxiety.

Assistant High School Principal and Activities Director Brian Hillsabeck noted in his report that fall activities are happening. Coaches are following protocols and procedures set in place. He thanked Dr. Dave Schwartz and his team for offering free physicals to students in July. The track is resurfaced and is expected to be painted in the next couple weeks.

Waukon Middle School Principal Luke Steege reported that the middle school staff has been preparing for multiple scenarios as the 2020-2021 school year begins. TLC coaches have been working with staff on professional development. Approximately nine middle school students will be taking part in the virtual learning option.

East and West Elementary Principal Samantha Thornton reported that there will be approximately 17 students from East and West Elementary schools doing online learning. The elementary schools have communicated with families and compiled a document addressing arrival and dismissal procedures; recess, lunch and specials class (example: art) changes; intervention changes (special education, TAG, etc.) and cleaning routines; health and safety procedures and more.

Buildings and Grounds Director Bill Hennessy noted that they are continuing with the ongoing maintenance of the rooftop units at the high school. He thanked his staff for their continued hard work on making the buildings look good and keeping them sanitized. The fire alarm system has been tested and “went very well in all centers.” There were a few small issues, but they have already been corrected.

Technology Director Shawn Gordon noted that the internet upgrade has been completed. He stated that the theme for the Technology Department has been “adapt and overcome.” He also noted that there are going to be stations available to clean computers and other devices.

Food Service Director Julie Magner noted that her department’s theme has been “flexibility and teamwork.” There will be an opportunity for students to wash and sanitize hands prior to meals, and tables will be disinfected and sanitized before students arrive in the cafeteria and between lunch mods. The first two weeks of school, meals will be Grab N’ Go sack breakfasts and lunches, and they will reassess after the first two week. Students will be encouraged to wear masks or face shields during serving.

Transportation Director Andrew Eberling noted that ACSD has finally received its DERA Grant money. He also noted that drivers were stopping in prior to the beginning of school and were excited to be back driving. Routes were also coming along well, with one area where a temporary road closure would cause detours for a few weeks.

Under old business, the board approved the second reading of a number of board policies. Under new business, the board approved a contract with Waukon Feed Ranch for propane fuel at the price of $0.89 per gallon. Waukon Feed Ranch will also assist the district in obtaining the gallons used for the 2020-2021 school year for the government tax credit. The board then approved several West Elementary HVAC project change authorization requests and then adjourned.

The ACSD board members met for a special meeting Friday, August 21. Under personnel matters, the board approved the following recommendations: Jo Ann Knipfer Sherman as Fine Arts PLC Teacher Leader, and staff for Kids Club. The board accepted the resignations of Peyton Lapel from her K-12 TAG teaching position and Pat Snitker from her paraprofessional position. Sarah Ferguson was transferred from Elementary Art to grades 6-12 Art Teacher and Tammy Troendle was transferred from part-time cook to East Elementary Center Head Cook.

The board also approved a quote from Decorah Mobile Glass for $8,200.00 to install plexiglass barriers throughout the district in all office areas, lunch lines and ticket booths.

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