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The Mount Ayr School Board of Directors met in regular session last Wednesday, June 14. Board member Russell Schuitema shared that several parents and community members have expressed concern about overlapping sports schedules and wearing kids out as they don’t have much down time.
High school principal Josh Vanderflught noted he has already addressed the concerns at a recent coaches meeting. The schedules are now coordinated and nothing is overlapping. With the exception of baseball and softball, everyone else will be taking June off next year. “It’s a real conversation,” stated Vanderflught, noting it was a challenge to keep us competitive and not burn students out at the same time. “I don’t want to overwork our kids,” stated Schuitema.
On a positive note, the board learned that approximately 100 students are being served free breakfast and lunch through the summer meal program, and 65 kids are attending summer school at the elementary. Board president, P.J. West, noted it would be great if they could offer free meals all summer, as other schools do. Superintendent Shaffer acknowledged that it would be nice to offer free meals all summer, but he also sees value in providing a break for school staff. He noted they could add Friday meals by serving a packaged sack lunch, and that may be something they look at next year.
High school principal Josh Vanderflught gave an update on the transition to online school registration. He has been working with Tess Rinehart to prepare for fall registration. Rinehart has been through the training, and is helping lead the transition.
Vanderflught also proposed adding 50 hours of community service to the graduation requirement, noting HELP service day hours would be counted towards the total. He has seen this work well at other schools, and suggested implementing at different hourly requirements for each grade until the program reaches the 4th year.
Additionally, Vanderflught discussed slight changes for the Leader in Me program noting that next year he is planning to have 9 teams, with 4-9 students per team, focused on a single area. During the 22-23 school year, the students involved in the Leader in Me program worked on all 9 areas at once, and Vanderflught stated it was not as effective as he had hoped.
Principal Vanderflught also shared they will not be moving forward with the Bound ticketing system. The agreement required the school to have two fundraising events per year, with Bound taking 20% of the proceeds. Plus, 75 cents from each ticket sold through the ticketing system would also go to Bound, which would increase the cost for spectators. However, they still plan to use Bound for other things like athletic scheduling, Vanderflught noted.
The board voted, unanimously, to approve the Power School agreement, renewing the contract for the student information system. The agreement has a per student cost, which totals roughly $12,000 on an annual basis.
The board also unanimously approved revisions to the Employee Handbook, the Secondary Handbooks, and Secondary Professional Development Plan.
Additionally, the board approved an out of state travel request for an FFA officer retreat, and a fundraiser request for the Sparks drill team.
The school board accepted resignations from two employees; Caitlyn Larsen, elementary special education teacher, and Darla Sobotka, who served as the part-time Title I Teacher.
They also approved new hires Nicole Thomas, who will run concessions in the amount of $2,999 per year, and Sara Winemiller, who will take over as the middle school softball coach for the current season. The board learned that Winemiller had essentially performed the duties for the majority of the season, while negotiating whether to pro-rate the salary for the position. The board approved paying Winemiller $1,938, the full amount of the middle school coaching contract, with board member Craig Winemiller abstaining from the vote.
In other discussion, superintendent Schaffer stated they may look at changing the bus routes to drop from the seven current routes down to five or six, since they have not yet replaced long-time bus driver Faye Stull. They have increased pay to $25 for bus drivers to help attract and retain current drivers.
They have had a couple of applicants for the Jr. Raider Director position. No decision has currently been made as superintendent Schaffer is waiting for Mr. Ellwood to start in July so he can review the applications.
In a final discussion, superintendent Schaffer recommended the board review their district revenue purpose statement for the Statewide Penny tax.
In order to continue using the 1% tax, the board would need to approve the statement at their next meeting in July.
Schaffer noted the current balance was “pretty substantial,” as they have close to a $1 million balance.