Board hears report on start of school

Webster City Community School District is now a g-mail district

Dr. Mandy Ross, Webster City Schools superintendent, briefed the school board Monday about the workshop week for the school district staff, which consisted of meeting with teachers from each building and getting to walk through all of the school buildings.

The week began with a complimentary back-to-school breakfast for teachers on Tuesday. Teachers were able to take Wednesday off to recooperate for the first day of classes on Thursday. Ross observed the school bus scramble in action at the Webster City Middle School Thursday morning and was impressed with how smooth the transition was.

“It ran like clockwork,” she said.

While at the middle school, she was able to help some of the new students with locker combinations. Ross referred to past studies that showed how stressful lockers could be for students transitioning from elementary to middle school. She was then able to attend the Webster City High School back-to-school assembly, where teachers introduced expectations and consequences for the school year.

Ross said she was able to observe Sunset Heights Elementary taking red carpet pictures of all students and viewed Pleasant View Elementary school on a walk-through with the teachers. Professional development days followed after scheduled early dismissal days for both Thursday and Friday at all school buildings.

Technical issues with e-mail had arisen over the past month and teachers came to work to find their e-mail wasn’t working again last week. In past years, the district had used an exchange server for e-mail, but are now able to bypass this step and go directly to G-mail. As a precaution, Ross told the board the importance of purchasing some type of equipment breakdown insurance, which could prevent these types of technical issues from arising again in the future.

“Being a service organization, I feel strongly that this is something that needs to be attended to and we need to have a more stable platform for our technology,” said Ross. “We are going to need to make the investment and get things turned around, maybe get some consultants perhaps to help support our thinking and move forward with that.”

A heat day was put into effect for Monday, based on the projected high temperatures. An early dismissal sent students home two hours early. Since email was down, protocols were discussed with each school’s principal and there will be further discussions about how best to proceed in the future. The only real hiccup that Ross ran into was that the first day of Pre-School was scheduled for Monday.

The board approved the continuation of last year’s loan to the food service department to cover costs that had incurred for multiple reasons, such as non-payment of meals provided by food service. Renewal for last year’s loan reauthorization was for the amount of $75,000.

The board also authorized additional funds of $25,000 to food service, in order to get them through the summer and beginning of the school year, and is expected to be paid back by Oct.1st, 2019 if possible with interest set at the rate of 2.65 percent.

The interest for last year’s approved food service loan, in the amount of $1,087.50, which had an interest rate of 1.45 percent, was approved to be paid back out of the general fund.

Concerns were raised by board member Michelle Walters and Rich Stroner about the continual budget costs for food service each year. Ross and Cathi Hildebrand, board secretary, both explained this was due to food costs being high, participation lower, and salaries and benefits coming out of the same fund. There have been more food restrictions on what food can be served, which in turn can contribute to the higher priced foods that are not in high demand, said Ross. Until the food service department can become more self-sustaining, the loan will more than likely need to be renewed on a yearly basis.

The school board approved four new contracts for the 2018-2019 academic year. Jeromy Brown was hired as a teacher at Hamilton High and Sarah Valdivia was hired on as a high school paraeducator. Monica Trujillo will serve as the new assistant eighth grade volleyball coach and Lisa Stansfield was hired on as the High School prom supervisor.

A resignation was accepted from Steph Kliegl in the high school food service department.