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They’ve come a long way in a month.
At the February meeting of the Mount Ayr Community Schools board of directors, it was learned the district was faced with filling 17 administrative, teaching, coaching, and support staff vacancies prior to the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year.
At their meeting Monday, March 7, the board filled several of those open positions.
Topping the list was the hiring of Amy Baustista as the new elementary principal to replace Chris Elwood, who recently announced his resignation.
Bautista currently serves as K-6 principal of Holy Trinity Catholic Elementary School in Cedar Rapids.
Also hired were the following:
• Stephanie Newton as district business manager/board secretary to replace Janette Campbell.
• Jennifer Staback as elementary teacher. She currently teaches in Bolivar, MO.
• Gail Thatcher as high school business teacher. Thatcher currently teaches at East Union.
• Holly Howell as high school math teacher. She currently teaches in Lamoni.
• Sara Winemiller as high school special education teacher. Winemiller was also hired as middle school track coach.
Classroom positions left to be filled include high school social studies and one or two elementary teachers.
The district also has two vacant high school wrestling coaching positions. Superintendent Jason Shaffer said he had received “some” interest in the wrestling positions, but nothing concrete at this time.
Despite filling key instructional positions, the board is now faced with filling additional staff positions following a number of resignations announced at Monday’s meeting:
• Ashton Trullinger as paraprofessional;
• Annie Hosfield as football cheer coach;
• Daniel Showalter as middle school basketball coach;
• Allison Pierce as co-head drill team coach;
• Amanda Waske as football cheer coach.
Superintendent Shaffer updated the board on the recently announced plan from the state to award each full-time teacher a $1,000 retention incentive.
That development comes on the heels of a plan approved at the February board meeting for the Mount Ayr district to award an estimated $1,000 in incentives to all teachers and full-time staff members on a nine-month contract.
Shaffer recommended the district combine the two incentives into one stipend with all teachers and full-time staff receiving $1,500.
Under this arrangement, teachers would receive their $1,000 from the state in their March paychecks.
Then in the fall, the Mount Ayr incentive would award teachers $500 and other full-time staff $1,500.
Elementary principal Chris Elwood outlined the upcoming summer school program.
Due to a staffing shortage, Elwood said summer school be offered Mondays through Thursdays in June from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. No afternoon programming is scheduled at this time.
Breakfast and lunch will be served each day.
Cost of the program is $10 per day.
Superintendent Shaffer informed the board that sixth grade students will remain at the elementary building for the 2022-20223 school year and for the foreseeable future.
Shaffer said a series of concerns over selecting and training staff, providing support to students, and adapting the 7-12 building to absorb another grade level all figured into the decision.
He said the concept of moving the sixth grade to form a true middle school would continue to be studied with no immediate plans to move forward.
In other business the board:
• set the public hearing for the 2022-2023 district budget for the April 11 board meeting. A copy of budget can be found on page 8 of today’s Record-News.
• signed a series of 28E sharing agreements with Southwestern Community College to offer college courses to high school students.