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Following the Monday, February 14 meeting of the Mount Ayr Community board of directors, it’s apparent the district has its work cut out for it from a personnel standpoint.
At Monday’s meeting the board approved the retirement of several long-time employees: Sally Young, middle school math; Mark Budach, high school business; Janette Campbell, district business manager/board secretary; and Ron Sickels, bus driver and mechanic.
The board also accepted resignations from elementary principal Chris Elwood, elementary instructional coach Jill Weehler, middle school special education instructor Kylie Sellars, head wrestling coach Eric Ehlen, and elementary custodian Josh Hanawalt.
Each of those individuals submitted paperwork prior to the deadline for an early resignation incentive stipend of $500.
As of Tuesday morning, a total of 17 open positions for Mount Ayr school personnel appear on Teach Iowa, the state’s database for schools seeking employees.
One open position, however, may be filled relatively quickly.
From a pool of 14 applicants, four candidates for the position of elementary principal have been chosen to attend a series of formal interviews Friday, February 15.
The candidates will rotate through four different 45 minute interview sessions with panels consisting of teachers, parents/community members, supervisory personnel, and the district superintendent and human resources director.
Each panel will fill out rubrics on each candidate which will then be compiled to determine how to proceed with the hiring process.
The candidates will also be given a tour of the elementary building and the community.
Other than the elementary principal’s position, filling other positions may present more of a challenge.
Elwood shared that an elementary teacher had announced months ago her plans not to renew her contract for the next school year. After publicizing that opening on Teach Iowa for several weeks, Elwood said he had received only one qualified application. Moreover, Elwood estimated the district may need to fill up to three elementary classroom positions for the 2022-2023 school year.
At Monday’s meeting, the board approved the hiring to fill a number of open coaching positions. These include Bill Huntington as co-head varsity baseball coach, Thad Streit and Dayton Little as middle school baseball coaches, and Victoria Victor and Amanda Waske as football cheerleader co-coaches.
The board also approved the hiring of custodian Brayden Brook at the elementary.
In other business related to personnel, the board approved a recommendation from superintendent Jason Shaffer to add $2.50 per hour to the salaries of teacher associates who have been serving as substitute teachers. Shaffer explained that the compensation for substitutes was actually less than that for associates, so those associates who had been asked to serve as substitutes had taken a pay cut to do so. Shaffer said the added compensation would make that situation more fair.
The board also approved a recommendation from Shaffer to offer a “retention bonus” to full-time district staff of not less than $1,000 each. Those funds would be paid from left-over federal CARES Act money the district received during the pandemic.
The one-time stipends would be paid in the fall.
The board approved the district calendar for the 2022-2023 school year.
Students will report to the first day of school on Tuesday, August 23.
The last day of classes is scheduled for Tuesday, May 23.
Students will be in class for 177 days or 1,108.5 hours, more than the state mandated minimum of 1,080 hours. The extra hours built into the calendar compensate for weather-related late starts or early outs and other non-scheduled dismissals.
A total of seven days have been set aside for professional development for teachers, including five before classes begin in the fall and one after students leave for summer.
The first of those five days, Monday, August 15, has been designated as a virtual professional development day when teachers can complete their state-required online trainings from a location of their choice.
Another 14 early dismissals are included for professional development.
Thanksgiving break begins with an early dismissal on Wednesday, November 23.
Christmas break will run from an early dismissal on Wednesday, December 22 through Tuesday, January 3. Teachers return Wednesday, January 4 for professional development with students returning Thursday, January 5.
Spring break begins with an early dismissal for parent-teacher conferences Thursday, March 9 through Friday, March 17.
Elementary principal Chris Elwood presented the results of the CBM-r and aReading testing in his building.
The CBM-r (Curriculum-Based Measurement for Reading) is an evidence-based, one-minute assessment used for universal screening in English or Spanish (Grades 1-8), and for frequent progress monitoring. CBM-r is an index of word reading efficiency, which is an important ability that facilitates reading comprehension. Students who read a grade-level passage with efficiency are better able to use their cognitive resources to comprehend while reading.
MAC elementary students take three rounds of the CBMr tests – fall, winter, summer. Results from the winter tests reveal students at all grade levels 2-6 achieved higher scores than their scores from the fall. (See graph on front page.)
Elwood explained that the CBMr sets higher target proficiency goals in each round.
aReading (Adaptive Reading) is a computer-administered adaptive measure of broad reading that is individualized for each student but may be individually or group administered in about 15-30 minutes. Items tap a variety of skills including concepts of print, phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension, and vocabulary.
Results from the aReading tests reveal grade levels 3, 4, and 6 declined slightly from fall to winter. Second and fifth grade above their scores from the fall. (See graph on front page).
In other business, the board:
• approved an out-of-state trip to Kansas City, MO for art students.
• approved the MOU Stop School Violence grant in partnership with Green Hills AEA. The grant will provide training to key individual staff and pay for substitute teachers for those days when training takes place.
• heard from 7-12 principal Bill Huntington about the visit from mental health expert Jeff Yalden on Wednesday, February 23. Huntington credited the Trent Stewart Memorial Fund for sponsoring the appearance. (See details in story on front page.)