BLAIRSBURG - At its first meeting of the new school year on Sept. 13, the Northeast Hamilton School board elected officers, set board goals and approved a
consent agenda policy.
Kim Schaa was reelected as president pro tem with Roxanne Anderson approved as board vice president. board member Mike Rapp arrived at 7:12 p.m.
Other board business included the swearing in of the district's new business manager, Susie Fiscus.
In setting goals for the 2012-2013 school year, the board voted to work for a successful partial-day sharing this year with Webster City CSD, improve student test scores and continue the technology one-to-one initiative.
Superintendent Pat Hocking reported that the partial day sharing with Webster City is proceeding with few problems.
"So far things have been going very well. There have been a few bumps but everyone has dealt with those and things are running very smoothly at the moment," reported Hocking earlier on Thursday.
"The biggest adjustment so far has probably been with the bus routes," he said. "We are starting earlier which takes some adjustments".
This year, the district reduced the number of bus routes from four to three, so buses are dispatched earlier and student travel time is longer.
"However we are working through them and things are working right now," he said. "We will continue to monitor and adapt as required."
At theboard meeting, Hocking reported he would be riding each route with the students in the coming weeks.
In discussing other goals, board member Kathy Pruismann asked Hocking to schedule a student presentation on the new iPads which the district purchased for students in grades 8-12.
While the $90,000 cost of the computers was expensive, they do much more than allow the students to play games, said Pruismann.
"The kids are thrilled," said Hocking, who observed an English class where students were using the iPads for interactive poetry composition.
"It is very, very positive for students," he said.
A student presentation of the computers' capabilities would be instructive for both the board and the community, said Pruismann.
Hocking reported he hopes to conduct community outreach by speaking to the city councils of Williams, Blairsburg and Kamrar about the new technology.
Hocking also told the board that despite the purchase, $240,000 remains in the PPEL fund.
In other business, the board approved a full time contract with Amy Pruismann to serve part-time as a special education associate and part-time as an office secretary.
The board approved 28E agreements. One agreement was to allow students to attend post secondary classes at Iowa Central Community College.The second 28E agreement approved sharing FFA programs and activities with Webster City CSD.
Hocking noted that the current agreement with Webster City is only for sports. In the future, agreements will include all activities.
Hocking addressed the issue of FFA auction funds. The FFA auction funds were earmarked for student scholarships, but the State of Iowa ruled against the district.
According to the State of Iowa, proceeds from the sale of any school equipment must be deposited in a district's general fund.
"We have to back up and put those items in the general fund and then sell them," reported Hocking.
The auction raised $8,700 but with attorney fees and reimbursements to the NEH Foundation, only $7,000 was deposited in the general fund, said Hocking.
Board member Randy Greenfield made a motion that half of the auction proceeds be donated to the Webster City High School FFA fund with the purpose of supporting NEH's FFA students in the future. The other $3,500 from the auction should be deposited in the NEH general fund.
The motion passed unanimously.
"We had all the right intentions," said Hocking about the auction proceeds. "But this is now an opportunity to become a win/win situation for everybody."
The board unanimously approved an amendment to the Master Contract concerning the K-8 vocal music program with board member Greenfield abstaining. Approved was a reduction from an 11 percent stipend to a three percent stipend as negotiated by the teacher's union.
Hocking reported that the district will pursue a rigorous board Policy Review Plan in the coming year in an effort to bring the NEH district in synch with Webster City's school district.
In administrative reports, Hocking reported that the school enrollment was tentatively down by 15 students compared to last year's total of 228 students. The official certified student enrollment is reported to the state on Oct. 1 and determines school funding for the following year.
The board discussed how to better facilitate its own meetings. At the board's professional development session prior to the regular meeting, Jess Tolliver, Eagle Grove CSD superintendent, spoke about conducting more effective and efficient board meetings.
The board then agreed to conduct the October 2012 meeting using a consent agenda. In order to accomplish a consent agenda, all business tasks including budget information would be delivered to board members a week before the meeting. Board members would study the information and could request an explanation during the regular meeting if necessary. But if no questions arise, the board would make one motion to approve all the items.
Hocking noted that although a consent agenda would allow the board to move on to more important issues, all details concerning financials and contracts would be published in the board notes which are published in the newspaper of record.
High School Principal Dennis Barr reported on his initial observations this school year.
"Your students are fantastic," he said, noting students show respect to each other and to their teachers and they help one another.
As NEH's newest administrator, Barr hoped to help the staff work more efficiently in addition to helping Hocking manage and monitor state requirements, guidelines and financial reports.