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Transparency and test scores topped the discussion at the June 8 regular meeting of the Mount Ayr Community Schools board of directors.
Near the beginning of Wednesday’s meeting, the topic of transparency in board decisions was brought up.
Director Russell Schuitema said he was concerned he could not answer patron questions about recent hiring decisions, especially those dealing with compensation.
Director PJ West echoed Schuitema’s concerns and stated she wanted more of the financial details of employment contracts before acting upon them at monthly board meetings.
To that end, beginning this month published board minutes will now include compensation and benefit details for newly issued contracts.
Both elementary principal Chris Elwood and secondary principal Bill Huntington presented results from the most recent Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP) in their respective buildings.
Elwood presented the following scores at the elementary:
74 percent proficient (3 students rated as advanced)
84 percent proficient (12 advanced)
65 percent proficient (1 advanced)
62 percent proficient (0 advanced)
66 percent proficient (0 advanced)
81 percent proficient (3 advanced)
53 percent proficient (0 advanced)
88 percent proficient (1 advanced)
74 percent proficient (14 advanced)
Overall, Elwood reported proficiency percentages had slipped in both English and math in grades 3-6.
Last year, 82 percent of students tested in English were rated proficient as compared to 75 percent in the most recent tests.
The same decrease came in math where 87 percent of students rated as proficient last year compared to 82 percent this year.
While he said he was still pleased with the high proficiency percentages, Elwood could not put his finger on why those percentages had dipped slightly this year.
Huntington provided a similar breakdown of ISASP scores for 7-11 grade students by cohort (meaning the scores from the same group of students are compared from year to year):
89 percent proficient (88 percent in 2021)
67 percent proficient (95 percent in 2021)
(Huntington conjectured the drop-off in math proficiency in this class was possibly due to the fact that last year the students took the ISASP with pencil and paper while in the secondary building the tests are administered online.)
85 percent proficient (77 percent in 2021)
91 percent proficient (60 percent in 2021)
82 percent proficient (78 percent in 2021)
77 percent proficient (82 percent in 2021)
92 percent proficient (74 percent in 2021)
95 percent proficient (69 percent in 2021)
92 percent proficient (88 percent in 2021)
85 percent proficient (76 percent in 2021)
In addition, Huntington presented results for the ISASP in science in 8th and 10th grade. These results, however, compare proficiency ratings for last year’s 8th and 10th graders to this year’s 8th and 10th graders.
8th grade Science
67 percent proficient in 2022
60 percent proficient in 2021
10 grade Science
82 percent proficient in 2022
64 percent proficient in 2021
Huntington said he was extremely pleased with the improvement of scores across the board. He thanked the 7-12 staff for their efforts in preparing their students to reach the higher percentages of proficiency.
In a side note, the June 8 board meeting was the final one for both Elwood and Huntington as both have resigned their positions effective at the conclusion of the 2021-2022 school year.
The board accepted resignations from Abby Schafer as associate and golf coach, Heidi Kistler as high school art teacher, and the FFA chapter as concession stand operators.
The board approved the following list of new hires:
• Nial Belzer as bus driver/mechanic at a salary of $36,858. • Michael Moran as K-12 Dean of Students at a salary of $65,000 and as Junior Raider youth sports sponsor at a salary of $2,500.
• Amy Bautista as Junior Raider youth sports sponsor at a salary of $2,500.
• Julie Rivera to add librarian to her contracted duties as a classroom teacher. The added duties will be compensated at an additional one-eighth to her current salary, or $5,968.
• Victoria Victor as football cheerleader co-coach at $678.
• Amanda Waske as football cheerleader co-coach at $873. The difference in salaries reflects Waske’s experience in the position.
(Further details concerning employment contracts can be found in the school board minutes found on page 14 in today’s Record-News.)
In addition, the board approved $40 per hour compensation for retiring district business manager Jeanette Campbell on a as-needed basis to assist with state reporting, fiscal audit, and any other information that would be helpful during the transition period.
In other business the board:
• renewed the contract with Grant Wood AEA for use of the PowerSchool student information system at a cost of $6,421.94.
• signed a memo of understanding with Community Health Centers of Southern Iowa and Infinity Health to provide services for students who are voluntarily seeking behavioral health services.
• approved the use of the Raider logo by organizers of a proposed Ringgold Community Center in a flier they are creating for support of local projects.
• approved the Elementary and Secondary handbooks as presented by the building principals.