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Mount Ayr board of education members welcomed Samantha Jo Elliott to her first unofficial meeting, while Brandi Shay made her final appearance as a representative of the board, at their regular meeting Monday, November 14.
Sixth grade move
During the secondary principal board report, superintendent Jason Shaffer reported that they have developed a schedule and classroom plans that would work for the sixth graders moving to the MS.
Both of the current sixth grade teachers are open to moving up to the middle school/high school building.
Students would spend the majority of the day with the sixth grade teachers for core classes, but would also have access to numerous electives and the whole MS would have an intervention period to start the day.
Sixth grade would be in three sections due to the size of the class if the board approved the move to the middle school.
Prior to vacating her position as Director at Large, Shay motioned to approve moving 6th Grade Students to the Middle School, supported by Russell Schuitema seconding her recommendation.
Board members unanimously agreed, noting it “makes sense,” since the curriculum is created for 6, 7, and 8th grade students, and they already have teachers that can teach 6th grade.
Increased substitute pay
In miscellaneous business, superintendent Shaffer shared a comparison of substitute pay rates from several school districts within the Pride of Iowa (POI) conference.
Mount Ayr currently offers substitute teachers $135/day, while the POI average is $138/day.
Central Decatur, East Union, Clark, Creston, and Martensdale St. Mary’s all pay $150/day for substitute teachers.
Elementary principal Chris Elwood noted they have been pulling any and all available people to serve as substitutes at times, including himself, Michael Moran, and even elementary secretary Sarah Schafer.
After a lengthy discussion regarding the difficulty in finding substitute teachers, and the need to stay competitive, Russell Schuitema made a motion to bump up the daily rate.
“I like $160,” said Schuitema, “It puts us above everyone else.”
Board member Craig Winemiller seconded the motion, while Shay expressed concern regarding the increase within the budget.
“Are you ok with that?” Shay asked board secretary Stephanie Newton.
Newton replied, “Financially, we’ll be able to cover that.”
The board unanimously agreed to raise the substitute daily rate to $160/day effectively November 14, 2023. The board is prepared to start looking at removing obstacles if this increase doesn’t work.
In other business, the board tabled middle school girls coaching contracts, and approved:
- Early graduation requests,
- An SBRC allowable growth request increase of .10 FTE as certified enrollment went from 598.30 the previous year, to 598.40 for the 23-24 school year.
- Election of Green Hills AEA Board Member for Director District 1
- IASB Policies
401.01 – Equal Employment Opportunity
503.01 – Student Conduct
503.01R1 – Student Suspension
503.02 – Expulsion
503.08R1 – Student Threats of Violence and Incidents of Violence Regulation
605.3R1 – Reconsideration of Instructional and Library Materials Regulation
701.05R1 – Financial Metrics
- Various fundraising requests,
- Personnel contracts:
Nial Belzer – Contract Addendum of $20.06 per hour with a new total salary of $41,725
Lisa Stull – Elementary Associate ($13,199)
Anna Neathery – Elementary School Counselour ($27,533 and Teacher Quality of $3,692.49)
Colt Thompson – HS Co-Head Baseball ($2,990)
Josh Heidtman – HS Co-Head Baseball ($2,990)
Dayton Little – MS Baseball ($3,015)
Sara Winemiller – HS Head Softball ($3,686)
Nathan Nickle – Assistant Softball ($2,697)
Volunteer coaches pending certification/re-certification:
Trae Ehlen – Wrestling Volunteer
Debra Reed – Bowling Volunteer
A financial health review was shared by superintendent Shaffer, which included an in depth look at certified enrollment and how that impacts district finances.
Shaffer discussed how Mount Ayr stands in Solvency Ratio (Percent of unobligated funds) versus Unspent Authorized Budget (UAB), which is the percent of remaining spending authority.
The Iowa Association of School Boards recommends that both ratios be within a range of 5-15%, and should not to exceed 25%.
Currently, Mount Ayr is noted to be within a “good,” range, however, the district solvency ratio is potentially excessive according to IASB recommendations.
Next month, the board plans to review and discuss the district early retirement policy.