Van Buren schools ponder sharing superintendent
KEOSAUQUA – The Van Buren Community School Board spent much of its regular meeting March 20 with facilities planning and the search for a new superintendent.
Van Buren Community School superintendent Lisa Beames is resigning effective June 30 to take a similar position at the Anamosa Community School District.
The Van Buren school district has a number of decisions to make, including whether to share the position with a neighboring district. Harmony Community School District superintendent and principal Dennis Phelps, who was a finalist along with Beames for the Anamosa job, turned in his resignation at Harmony to accept the superintendent’s position at Pekin.
Some Harmony board members expressed support to enter in to discussions with Van Buren about the possibility of sharing a superintendent.
At the February board meeting, most Van Buren school board members said they would be willing to discuss sharing with Harmony or another neighboring district. During a work session afterward, the board members considered questions they need to ask with regards to sharing programs or personnel.
The board performed a number of “housekeeping” tasks related to the superintendent search at its meeting.
The board reviewed the application that the prospective superintendent will fill out and also the superintendent search survey results. The board also approved a prospectus for interested applicants which describes the district, its buildings, staff and infrastructure.
The salary will be in the range of $128,000, “plus an excellent comprehensive benefits package,” according to the application. The final salary will be negotiated and determined based upon proven experience, qualifications and meeting board criteria. Van Buren has hired Ray & Associates Inc., of Cedar Rapids to assist in the search.
The board accepted the resignation of Andy Daugherty, junior high baseball coach. The new hires the board approved were Wes Atwood, secondary science teacher, Tonya Putnam, football cheerleading and Andy Meek, junior high softball coach. Tonya Putnam transferred from basketball cheerleading to wrestling cheerleading and Mary Thomas transferred from wrestling cheerleading to basketball cheerleading.
Open enrollments were approved for Nolan Oliver, third grade and Toban Oliver, fifth grade, both of whom are coming from Fairfield.
Laney Weimerskirch, kindergarten and Katie Wilson, 10th grade, are transferring to Davis County Community School.
Board Secretary Robyn Nolting updated the board on revenue purpose statements of the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) and School Infrastructure Local Option (SILO) taxes, which will have to go before voters in the next year. SILO expires in 2014, as will the PPEL.
The board will have to consider the language that will be on the ballot. The PPEL is used to guarantee the Qualified Zone Academy Bonds that were approved in 2002. The QZAB will be paid off in 2016. She explained some of the confusion when Van Buren and Fox Valley merged more than a decade ago and how that applied to the PPEL of both districts.
Nolting also discussed an auditor’s recommendation on the school board’s early retirement policy. The recommendation was to remove the cash option.
The board approved using “Envisions Math” as the new math series for K-6 during the 2013 school year. “Current materials, from two series, are at least eight years old,” according to Beames, “and are not aligned to the common core curriculum. Meeting the expectations of this programming and of our students is very, very challenging.”
The staff has been reviewing Envisions Math and Everyday Math during the course of the last two months.
“Due to weather related issues pertaining to site visits, we have not completed our full review at this time as we had hoped,” Beames said. “We would like to complete these visits before a final recommendation is made, but finding time is an issue if we wait until next month for approval.
In terms of the smoothest transition possible, it will be best if materials can be ordered and received and subsequent professional development is made available yet this year.”
Staff had recommended using Envisions Math.
Board member Bob Steingreaber said he believed Envisions Math would be better than Everyday Math.
The cost of the new series is up to $45,000. The board approved purchasing the new series.
Lydia Heald was recognized for advancing to the International Science Fair in Phoenix this May. The 7-12 grade Science Club will participate in the State Science and Engineering Fair Thursday and April 5 in Ames. Approximately 55 students and 10 adults will attend, according to Chuck Banks, secondary principal.
The board approved a modified agreement between the school and its bus drivers. According to Beames, the changes address the auditor’s concerns related to the Fair Labor Standards. Highlights include the removal of additional payment for cleanliness of the bus and perfect attendance as well as a year of service payment. It provides six paid holidays and a daily three-hour minimum for all routes.
On a 6-1 vote, on which Steingreaber voted no, the board purchased a new utility vehicle. In February, the board tabled a proposal until it got more information on the cost of used utility vehicles. According to Beames, the price of a used one would be nearly the same as the new.
The board voted to go with the 2013 Kubota RTV900 at a cost of $14,248 from Wiss and Wiss. Other bids were a 2012 Kawasaki KAF9505CF from Duke’s Cycle Sales, Inc., at a cost of $14,239 and a 2013 John Deere 855D from Bloomfield Tractor at $18,523.
According to the secondary principal’s report, attendance is at 95.76 percent from the first day of school to March 20, compared to 94.34 percent last year.
Prom will be April 20.
Elementary report was given. Biscuits and gravy for dads will be April 12. Camp Courageous trip is from April 24-26.
Activities director Greg Jones reported that Van Buren won its 39th annual quiz bowl March 15, defeating Pekin, Cardinal and WACO. Van Buren was fourth in the conference tournament, which had 11 schools participating. He also reported that the weight room is in serious need of repair and new equipment.
“Funding is needed to fix damaged equipment, replace broken weights and get mat flooring, locking cabinet for cleaning supplies, shelving, mirrors, fix windows and paint,” he said. “It’s hard to promote Warrior Pride working in and under these conditions.”
He invited the board to view the weight room “and discover what conditions we place our students in.”
The school board approved the chess club as a voluntary club.
Homeland Security visited Van Buren schools and so far, the district is pleased with their response.