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In their regular monthly meeting Monday, May 11, the Mount Ayr Community Schools board of directors made a number of significant decisions related to COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
The board approved the recommendation of high school principal Bill Huntington to reschedule graduation for Sunday, July 19 at 1 p.m. in the high school gymnasium.
The new date, of course, is dependent upon the level of social distancing restrictions in place at that time.
If those restrictions prevent a traditional indoor graduation, Huntington said the ceremony could be moved to the football field where social distancing would be less of a challenge.
In a related item, Huntington said the annual Senior Awards Day would be held Friday, May 22 via a Zoom teleconference during which he will read each senior’s awards and recognitions.
School start date
While they took no formal action, the board learned of a new proposal for the start of the 2020-2021 school year.
Superintendent Joe Drake offers a start date of Monday, August 17 for teachers and Tuesday, August 18 for students.
The original calendar called for students to report August 25 for the first day of classes. Under the new proposal, normal beginning-of-the-year professional development days (May 18-24) would be replaced with classroom instruction.
Drake explained teacher contracts for 190 days of service are already officially on file, and any change to those contracts would require a memorandum of understanding along with an addendum to the contracts to reflect addition days with additional pay.
He said the start date on those contracts is already August 17 so the new proposal would not require any paperwork or additional compensation.
Teacher professional development days scheduled throughout the calendar would remain in place but be devoted to enhancing online teaching skills and best practices.
Drake added additional compensation for school support staff who normally do not report to duty until students are present would likely be required with the earlier August 18 start date.
Drake said he would have a formal proposal for a revised calendar ready for approval prior to the June board meeting.
In personnel matters, the board:
• accepted the resignations of long-time girls track coaches Deb and John Larsen.
• added five days to the contract of industrial technology instructor Dustin Larsen.
• approved a $2,500 stipend for guidance counselor Tess Rinehart for work on reports required by the Iowa Department of Education.
• approved the adding of special education director duties to the contracts of Amy Levine and Melissa Shields at the elementary and middle/high school, respectively.
In other business the board:
• approved a contract with Southwest Iowa Drivers Education of Creston to provide that instruction to Mount Ayr students on a year-to-year contract.
Instruction this summer will begin on Thursday, May 28, with classroom instruction via Zoom teleconference. All behind-the-wheel experience will still take place locally.
It is hoped drivers’ education classes can be scheduled multiple times during the school year.
• learned that middle/high school teachers are already working to become Google certified to enhance their online teaching and classroom management skills in the event a another wave of school shutdowns occur again in the future.
• approved extending the completion date for the athletic complex lighting complex to May 31.
• learned meal delivery to students will continue through June 30.
• learned of the installation of touchless water faucets at the elementary building. Installation of similar faucets at the 7-12 building is under consideration.
• learned virtual classroom instruction for the current school year will end Friday, May 22.