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The Mount Ayr Community school board covered a wide range of topics at their regular meeting Monday, May 13.
“The weather caught up with us.”
That was the prognosis from district superintendent Joe Drake as he briefed the board on delayed completion of improvements at the baseball and softball fields.
Improvements to the softball field are nearly complete, he said, with the dugouts and watering system yet to be finished.
The baseball field is another matter. Drake said concrete work, a retaining wall and installation of bleachers are yet to be completed.
Weather permitting, Drake said “we’re not that far away,” but he advised the first home game May 21 will likely need to be moved to East Mills. The next home game comes May 28 against Lenox. Moving that game to Lenox is not a problem considering Mount Ayr and Lenox play a home-and-away schedule.
The board voted to spend $3,000 to begin the process of obtaining a green card (permanent work permit) for Spanish teacher Gilberto Castreje, a Spanish national who has taught the language in Mount Ayr since 2012.
Drake explained federal law requires the initial steps in the process to obtain the green card must be initiated by the employer. After that, the employee and employer can work out any additional expenses for a formal petition and final adjustment of status.
Drake reported the Spanish program at Mount Ayr is quite strong and continues to grow in numbers. But Castreje’s temporary work permit expires at the conclusion of the 2019-2020 school year. Without permanent status, Castreje will be forced to leave the country.
He added that since Castreje’s position has stopped being shared with Bedford, enrollment in Bedford’s Spanish program has dropped to only three students.
Considering Spanish teachers, especially good ones, are so hard to find, he recommended the board invest in the attempt to secure permanent status for Castreje.
The board approved the resignation of high school social studies teacher Emily DeCook, whose husband has taken a position out of the area.
The board also approved of hiring to fill three open positions.
Kiley Sellars has been hired as a middle school special education teacher. She replaces Tess Rinehart, who has moved into the position of high school guidance counselor.
MAC alum Morgan Quick has been hired as the vocational agriculture teacher and FFA sponsor.
The board also approved the hiring of Zach Zollman as a custodian.
Board president Brandi Shay reported she and board vice president Kim Lutrick had met with their counterparts from the Bedford district to open discussion about the search for a new superintendent.
Current superintendent Joe Drake has announced his intention to retire at the conclusion of the 2019-2020 school year. He has served in a shared position between Bedford and Mount Ayr for the past nine years.
Shay said both boards are on the same page as far as continuing to share a superintendent.
She asked for board approval to allow the presidents and vice presidents of both boards to interview firms to conduct the search for a superintendent.
A recommendation to contract with the chosen search firm would be presented at the July meetings of both boards.
In other business the board:
• approved a contract with Aaron Riley for summer drivers’ education. Riley will be paid $190 per student.
• approved a quote from Jordan Walston for $7,819.75 to complete concrete work for the bleacher pad on the visitor side at the football field.
The board had received a second quote from Lincoln Lutrick for $11,676.50.
• approved auctioning off the FFA’s Allis-Chalmers WD project tractor on the Auction Time online auction service. The board had failed to receive any bids in two prior notices to sell the tractor.
• approved the selling of the old visitor bleachers from the football field and the old bleachers from the baseball and softball fields to the Ringgold County Fair Board for $1. The school district’s legal counsel has recommended the board publish a public notice specifying the terms of the sale as well as signing a bill of sale with the fair board stating the bleachers are sold “as is” with no warranties.
• heard a report from school nurse Stacy Andresen on the goals recommended by the district Wellness Committee.
• heard a report from district social worker Bailey Drake on her first few months in that newly-created position and goals for the next school year. Drake’s duties are shared between the Mount Ayr and Diagonal school district. She spends three days in Mount Ayr, one day in Diagonal, and one day in private practice. She said she has worked with approximately 45 students in Mount Ayr and another 16 in Diagonal.
• learned that Mount Ayr will host next year’s district speech contest in February.
• approved the list of graduates for the Class of 2019 in preparation for commencement exercises Sunday, Many 19.