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The recent concerns with the school lunch program, several resignations and hirings, and necessary budget expenses were the main topics of the February 13 meeting of the Mount Ayr Community School Board.
Discussion of the school lunch program, stemmed from a report that appeared on KCCI news on January 26. At the time, a mass Facebook post described how students whose lunch accounts were more than $5 overdrawn would receive an alternative lunch, the nature of the lunch being described as a basic sack lunch.
The public expressed a lot of concern, questioning the schools decision.
Superintendent Shaffer and high school principal Vanderflught, explained how this was a miscommunication. It was stated that an office employee thought they were doing what was appropriate sending the Facebook post. The superintendent and principal were not present at the school during this time, and stated that the post was sent in error.
Further discussion elaborated that the lunch in question would not have been a sack lunch. In keeping with the school’s policy as per the anti-lunch shaming act of 2018 and lunch contract, the student would have been given one of the alternative menus listed in their approved school lunch plan.
Superintendent Schaefer emphasized that at no time was there ever consideration of giving any student a unique menu item such as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
The discussion shifted slightly towards the nature of the school’s payment options for the lunch program. Many parents and some teachers have stated that it is not a user friendly program, there is very little transparency, and the system is lacking in communication and feedback. Board president PJ West advised that an exploratory committee should be created to look into the program and make needed modifications as necessary.
The next major topic was the resignation of several teachers. Mabel Trujillo, concessions, Kelly Shaffer, middle school girls basketball, Sara Winemiller, middle school softball, Carly Carrol, high school assistant softball Bret Ruggles, high school head softball, Thomas Kerwin, custodian, Jane Uhlenkamp, Elementary Art, will all be leaving their positions at Mount Ayr Community Schools.
On the other side of personnel, Mount Ayr Community Schools will be acquiring the following new staff: Colt Thompson, co-head baseball, Josh Heidtman, co-head baseball (pending certification), Thad Streit, middle school baseball, Brooklyn Vos, middle school softball (pending certification), Morgan Quick, high school co-head Softball (Pending Re-certification), Sara Winemiller, high school, co-head softball, Thad Streit, high school boys golf, Sabrina Fox, K-12 Music teacher including K-6 Vocal, 7-12 Vocal, and Drama, Barry Schuster, custodian.
Some discussion was had on the approval of accepting $130,000 bid for a new 71 passenger School bus as well as $140,000 for a new bus that is accessible for students with special needs.
A $23,000 bid was accepted from Stull Construction to repair bricks that were crumbling on the south side entrance of the building.
A $39,8803 bid from Cunningham Contracting was accepted and approved to install movable bleachers at the sports complex.
The following agenda items passed with little to no discussion: scheduling updates to the 2023-2024 school calendar, budget guarantee resolution, approval of the 2022 audit report, the approval of 89,632 to install new heat pumps in elementary building, the approval of share superintendent status agreements, the approval of shared legal services for five school districts and Southwestern Community College, the approval of the following board policy updates: board of directors development training, student guidance and counseling program, fiscal management, financial metrics, bidding, use of federal funds and procurement contracts, meal charges, and radon mitigation. Fundraising requests the payment of bills, secretaries treasurer financial reports and the superintendent’s report were all accepted.