Administrative reports dominated the Northeast Hamilton School Board meeting on Thursday night as the district prepares for the coming school year.
NEH Supt. Mike Sherwood and School Principal Mike Kruger delivered a series of reports to the board on upcoming staff professional development activities, Iowa School Board conferences and administrative training conferences.
Both Sherwood and Kruger are new to the NEH school district this year and both reported meeting with staff and district patrons since taking over on July 1.
"I have invited the board and teachers to come in to visit so as to learn about the district," Kruger told the Board.
The variety of meetings have included topics concerning Special Education staffing, transportation issues including clement weather notifications and bus routes, a bus barn update, sewer line completion and procedures for recording district reports.
Sherwood updated the Board on the purchase of a walk-in freezer for the school cafeteria. He told the Board that the district would be best served to determine equipment needs next year after the school makes the transition to whole grade sharing.
Sherwood announced the lunch schedule with elementary school students being served at 11 a.m., high school students at noon and middle school students at 12:10 p.m.
Also, the administration will conduct a whole building tour during the week of July 28, Sherwood reported.
"We are on pace to be ready," said Kruger.
Kruger reported two meetings with staff to determine office management needs. In addition to the part-time staffing with employees from the Webster City CSD business office, the NEH office will employ one full time and three part-time office staff, said Kruger.
In new business, Kruger told the Board that his goal is to use professional development work sessions as true learning days. The first session is scheduled on Aug. 18 at 12:30 p.m.
Kruger reported that the district will switch to FAST assessment and that teachers have attended a training session on July 8-9. The training was funded by the State of Iowa, reported Sherwood.
The Board approved the $350 annual membership renewal for the Iowa School Finance and Information Services. The ISFIS is a valuable tool for district budget management, said Sherwood.
In a brief analysis of the district's finances, Sherwood reported that NEH has managed its finances well.
"The trend lines are in the right direction," he told the Board. "Up to this point, you have done everything right".
But he cautioned that enrollment is the driving authority in district solvency.
Sherwood plans to meet with representatives from the investment banking firm PiperJafferay in regards to the district's accelerated payback on the elementary school building and he will report his findings to the Board.
Sherwood proposed that the Board consider conducting its work sessions following regular Board meetings. The meetings will be learning sessions without any board action taken. The meetings will be open to the public and will last approximately 45 minutes to one hour, he said. Topics will concern academics, transportation and financial issues.
The Board also needs to review its policies as required by state law every five years, said Sherwood. He proposed that the Board engage a lawyer to review the current policy at a cost of $750.
"Your board policy needs to be up-to-date for the site visit," he reminded the board.
Sherwood told the Board that changes in policy are needed due to the school restructuring for partial day sharing and in anticipation of whole grade sharing. The district's transportation policy is another area that will need revision also, he said.
Sherwood requested that NEH Board meetings be moved to the third Thursday of the month. The change would ease work assignments for the shared office staff as the Webster City CSD School Board meets on the second and fourth Mondays of the month.
The Board also voted to move the meeting time to 6 p.m.
Kruger reported that student packets will be mailed beginning July 28 and that registration will be held on Aug. 12 from 1-7 p.m. in the school office.
High school students will receive their iPads during registration, he reported.
Kruger asked the Board on a clarification of school fundraising policy.
Board members voiced confidence in the administration's ability to oversee any class or organization fundraising but asked to be notified of any fund drive.
"It would be nice to be informed," said Board member Marlin Pruismann. "Just keep us in the loop".
Sherwood asked the Board about its open enrollment policy due to an recent request.
Three students requested to open enroll to South Hamilton CSD, reported Sherwood. Two of those students are in Kindergarten so they are eligible to open enroll before the school year begins. But an older student has missed the March 1 deadline.
Pruismann and Eric Patterson regretted that the vote meant the family would have to make the decision to place the children in two different school districts, but the Board as a whole was concerned about setting a precedent.
Sherwood informed the Board that the family was considering a move into the South Hamilton district within the next couple of months and the open enrollment question would no longer be an issue.
On that basis, the Board voted to approve the open enrollment of the two Kindergarten students and deny the request for the middle school student.
Board President Roxanne Anderson raised the question of status for NEH students currently open enrolled to Webster City once whole grade sharing begins next year.
At the root of the issue is transportation, said Sherwood. A student from the NEH district who wishes to remain an open enrolled student to Webster City must provide his or her own transportation to school and activities while a student who reverts back to a NEH district resident will
be afforded transportation services.
Sherwood told the Board that prior to the whole grade sharing agreement taking effect next year, he will contact all open enrolled students to determine their choice.
In personnel, the Board approved contracts for six Special Education associates - Peggy Wilson, Kim Cavanaugh, Paige Moberly, Julie Keller Huisman, Deb Siders and Lisa Brim.
The Board accepted the cafeteria staff resignation of Stephanie Rapp with Board member Mike Rapp abstaining.
The Board adjourned at 7:45 p.m.