ACSD Board of Directors approves calendar for 2023-2024 school year, purchases of playground equipment at West and new football uniforms

by Brianne Grimstad

The Allamakee Community School District (ACSD) Board of Directors met Tuesday, February 21 due to the fact that there was no school Monday, February 20 because of the President’s Day holiday. The meeting began with a Public Hearing on the 2023-2024 School Calendar. No written or oral comments were heard.

Under the consent agenda, the following personnel matters were approved: Kids Club staff and hiring Allison Hagensick as West Elementary Special Education Teacher. The following transfers were approved: Mason Berns to At Risk Interventionist/Student Success Coordinator; Quinn Brennan to Sixth Grade Teacher; and Stacy Miner to Middle School Special Education Teacher. Two open enrollments out of the district were approved, as well as one open enrollment into the district. The board also approved a contract for Special Education service with the MFL/MarMac Community School District.

During the Public Comment time, no comments from those in attendance were made. Angie Raddatz, the ACSD social worker, and counselor Carrie Niehaus gave a presentation to the board. They explained the different levels of support offered to students, families and staff, as well as what types of outside resources they can offer to families and students.

They also explained how a student can be recommended for help.

During his Superintendent’s report, Jay Mathis noted that the district is looking at how to use its $50,000 received for threat mitigation. The health insurance premium for the district increased 3.75%. State Supplemental Aide has been set at 3%, and Mathis noted that, coupled with an increase of 24 students, should cause the district to see an increase of $416,000 in its spending authority.

Work on the Middle School HVAC project continues ahead of schedule. Mathis noted that the metal fabricators are working before and after school in the attic to hang duct work. Some of the equipment will also be coming sooner than expected.

Waukon High School Principal Jen Garin reported February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month and she stated that she feels ACSD has some of the “top-notch teachers in the State of Iowa” in those areas. She thanked the community and business partners for their support with the CTE programs. She also congratulated the CTE staff on the job they’ve done.

FFA Week was February 17-24, and senior member Alaina Gebel was selected as one of 67 Iowa students for the Presidential Scholar Program. Junior Olivia Marti placed third in the district competition for the Voice of Democracy contest. Academic Awards night will be held March 14, with the National Honor Society program to follow right after. The district is also gearing for ISASP testing.

Waukon High School Assistant Principal/Activities Director Brian Hilsabeck congratulated all the students/athletes who participated in the various winter activities. He also thanked the winter event workers for their help with events. Football schedules will be coming out in the spring. The All School Band Concert will be held March 7 at 7 p.m. The NEIC Indoor Track Meet will be held at Luther College March 21.

Waukon Middle School Principal Luke Steege thanked the winter coaches for their work and successful seasons. He also thanked the custodians and staff who worked the events. He noted that they are continually looking for ways to improve through the school year.

The Middle School recently held a Kindness Week, where students focused on positive interactions with staff and their peers. The batting cage is closer to installment. Zach Christensen, of Christensen Electric in Waukon, will be donating his time to install the cage.

Waukon Middle School Principal Samantha Thornton noted in her report that the WIN (What I Need) time is starting off great. Title I Reading teachers are working with small groups in grades K-5. She thanked Stacie Cooper, Carrie Niehaus, Angie Raddatz and Amy Wasson for their work and helping students in honor of National School Counselor’s Week.

She also thanked Transportation Director Andrew Eberling and all of the bus drivers for their work in recognition of Bus Driver Appreciation Day (February 22).

Pre-registration for preschool, TK and Kindergarten is up and rolling now through March 3. Registration will be done electronically, but paper forms are available upon request. Bingo for Books will be held March 20. Read Across America Week is February 27-March 3 and Global Play Day will be celebrated March 23.

ACSD Curriculum Director Kelli Olson reported on professional learning and the first virtual lab that they have completed. The district received a STEM Best HD grant, which will be used to purchase two types of microscopes, 3D printers, physical computing devices and calculators. Olson also thanked Board Secretary Jaime Curtin for sitting in on webinars with Olson and her staff and helping fill out paperwork. Another round of curriculum meetings is beginning soon. They will be looking at areas of reading/language arts, science and math.

Special Education Director Carissa Otto noted in her report that they have discussed upcoming Spring transition IEPs, as well as how to prepare before, during and after IEP meetings in order to get the most out of these meetings. She thanked the Transportation Department for its flexibility during the winter and also thanked the paraprofessionals for their work with students.

Buildings and Grounds Director Bill Hennessy reported that they have been replacing seals and bearings on some of the larger pumps in the boiler room. He attended a pre-construction meeting for the upcoming summer Middle School HVAC project. They are also beginning the process of summer buying for cleaning materials and other supplies.

Technology Director Andy Reichard reported that his department has been busy. They are utilizing the help of a student who volunteers their time in the department; however, Reichard noted that school work is a priority and has to be completed before the student can come in and help. He talked a bit about upgrading servers and the program used to scan for student safety issues on Chrome searches and in email.

Food Service Director Jess Keenan noted that they are already looking ahead to next year and she is working on completing the  request from the USDA for commodity foods. Keenan noted that she feels the commodity food they receive is good quality, but sometimes items aren’t available. She tries to keep things stocked as they are available. She thanked her regular and substitute staff for their help during some recent staff shortages, noting that all the staff members are very willing to help wherever needed. Keenan also noted that they are gearing up for the Summer Feeding Program.

Transportation Director Andrew Eberling noted that the drivers have had to face some pretty extreme weather-related road issues, such as snow and ice one day and very muddy roads the next. He noted that the County has been working to fill in “soft spots” with rock and with the road conditions, it can be a struggle to keep the buses clean. Otherwise, he noted things have been fairly quiet for his department.

Under new business, the board approved the 2023-2024 school calendar, with a start date for next school year being August 23, 2023. The district may use five days for virtual learning, but additional missed days will be added to the end of the school year. Graduation Day for the next school year will be scheduled for May 19, 2024 and the tentative end of the year is scheduled for May 23, 2024.

The board then approved a budget guarantee resolution. Superintendent Mathis noted that this is just a formality they do every year in case there are issues with funding and they would need it.

Discussion then moved on to the disposal of school property. A 2007 14’ Haulmark Enclosed trailer and some file cabinets will be sold during an upcoming Consignment Auction at Sweeney’s Auction Service. The trailer was purchased using CTE funds, and Principal Garin explained that whatever price that brings, that money would have to be used for the CTE program. The board approved putting the items up for auction.

The board then approved changes to the 2023-2024 high school student handbook. The changes involved adding or deleting courses in the areas of art, business, math, PE/health and science. One art course was dropped, while two were added. Three business courses were added, and one course was added each in the areas of math, PE/health and science.

The board also approved the purchase of new football uniforms. In a letter to the board, varsity head football coach Chad Beermann noted that he priced uniforms from three major brands and two suppliers. While Nike had the best price, their fabric supply was sold out. Beermann noted he was able to get the bid from Under Armour from supplier BSN Sports down to nearly the same price as the Nike uniforms.

Beermann noted that the football program has an account balance of $39,018.88 and he asked in his letter to be able to spend $22,700 from that account to purchase 60 sets of Under Armour uniforms (60 home jerseys and 60 away jerseys and 60 pair of pants). He noted that the bid also included freight charges. The board approved the purchase of uniforms from BSN Sports for $22,700.

The board also approved the District Career Development plan, which is a State requirement. The plan looks at how to get students prepared for their next step after graduation. Things that were discussed included FAFSA, work-based learning and CTE-NICC and apprenticeships. The board also approved CAR-2 for the Middle School HVAC project to replace eight windows around the administrative offices for a cost not to exceed $7,896.90.

The board also approved the purchase of new playground equipment for West Elementary from GameTime c/o Cunningham Recreation in the amount of $57,616.65. Principal Thornton explained that the playground equipment would have features allowing for any expansion in the future. Funding for the project will come from $21,000 in grants, $15,000 in donations and $22,000 in West Elementary Unallocated funds. The custodians will take care of removal of the current playground in the summer and the new playground will be installed by GameTime by the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year.