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Proving that life goes on amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Mount Ayr Community Schools board of directors attended to preparations for the 2020-2021 school year at their regular meeting Monday, April 13.
In keeping with social distancing guidelines, however, the meeting was held via teleconference.
Following a public hearing, the board approved the district budget for the upcoming school year.
The budget carries an overall levy rate of $13.63 cents per thousand valuation, a decrease of over $1 from the 2019-2020 budget.
The lower levy rate, however, will generate over $4.6 million in revenue, $400,000 more than this year’s higher rate.
Superintendent Joe Drake explained that due to reassessment, property values in the county increased by over $50 million so the district could lower its levy without greatly impacting its operational revenue.
The board handled a number of items related to personnel.
The master contract with teachers and the salary schedule for non-certified staff were approved.
Both carried a compensation increase of 3.31 percent.
Drake explained the entire increase for teachers of $1,350 was placed on the base amount on the salary schedule. He said Mount Ayr falls in the middle of the pack of similar schools in salaries, but he said competition to hire teachers is growing.
The board then approved Drake’s recommendation to give elementary principal Chris Elwood and secondary principal Bill Huntington raises of $3,000 per year on a two-year contract.
In other personnel action, the board accepted the resignation of Aaron Riley as secondary art teacher, Stephanie Riley as middle/high school special ed teacher, and Kris Quick as district special education coordinator.
The board approved contracts with Stephanie Weeda as special education teacher with duties split between the elementary and high school, Dustin Larsen as industrial tech/math teacher, Scott Giles as activities coordinator, Kelly Richards as district food director, Allison Wallace as drill team coach, Derek Lambert as middle school basketball coach, and Lori Wilson as director of concessions.
The board approved the district’s Pandemic Response and Emergency Suspension Policy to reflect the extension of the closing of the school through April 30.
Superintendent Drake said Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has stated she will have an announcement Friday related to the resumption or cancellation of the remaining school year.
In their reports to the board, Elwood and Huntington provided updates on their virus-related efforts.
Elwood said his staff has surveyed all elementary students on their home access the Internet and access to online devices. He has offered use of school iPads to those without devices, and those without Internet access have been delivered learning packets.
The resources for elementary students include daily lesson plans with links to activities stressing the core subjects of math and reading along with others in writing, science, and other subjects.
Elwood also praised the food service personnel and staff volunteers who have made delivery of meals to students a success.
Huntington said the state has waived all graduation requirements for seniors, but he added some questions were yet to be answered about that waiver.
He said student participation in the online learning activities has improved over the past couple weeks.