Fairfield Ledger
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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 21, 2018

Van Buren, Harmony talk transportation

By Rusty Ebert, Ledger correspondent | May 25, 2018

KEOSAUQUA — The Van Buren Community School Board met in regular session May 16.

The board discussed bus needs with Pam Fry and Kevin Hervey. They discussed needs for the 2018-19 school year and also for 2019-20, the first year of reorganization.

Hervey asked if the board was still on the plan to get two buses for fiscal year 2019. The board said it was and voted to authorize Hervey to send out requests for proposals for two buses.

Fry updated the board on tentative plans in the Harmony district for next school year on bus purchases. Harmony is looking at purchasing two larger capacity buses to serve its needs as a shuttle bus and to keep up with enrollment needs. Fry also said it is anticipated that there will be efficiencies to be gained when the two districts reorganize in 2019-20. Board president Andrew Lydolph agreed and noted there are routes where Harmony and Van Buren run parallel to each other and almost cross paths.

Lydolph directed Hervey to continue “working together [with Harmony]” on the transition to the newly reorganized district.

• The board met with new football coach and weight room coordinator Lloyd Sisco. He presented plans to refurbish the weight room. Sisco said plans are to purchase new units to replace existing equipment. He said this was similar to what he had done at Washington school district and had great success. The equipment would not only be used by those in sports, but also physical education students.

“Our small [24- by 39-foot] weight room, as it is currently equipped, is totally inadequate for training anything other than small groups. In a weight room that is furnished with several units that will be purchased, we will be capable of completing a 30-to 40-member team workout in less than 55 minutes.

“We will be using a unified strength and conditioning program that is equally beneficial for both girls and boys. All of our student-athletes’ workouts will be computer generated, and totally individualized. After entering the pre-workout scores, the computer uses those scores to determine how much weight each athlete should lift for each set of each workout.”

“What we want is to have a safe and effective facility to carry over year after year. You build success by having students develop their God-given abilities. If you want to be competitive, this is the only way to go.”

Sisco did not have an exact cost, but said it would be around $25,000. Nearly all of the existing equipment “will have to go.”

He said other conference schools have also upgraded their weight room facilities, including WACO and Wapello.

After changes he made at Washington were incorporated, the athletic teams improved their performance, especially the girls basketball and boys track teams, both of which won state titles.

The Van Buren football team has also bought into it, Sisco noted.

“I’ve met with a number of prospective football players and right now we have 36 players. They will be involved in the strength and conditioning program,” Sisco added.

“I told them I wanted them to work out as a team and not individually. By working together, it helps to build team camaraderie,” Sisco said. “They chose to begin their workouts at 6 a.m. during the summer.

“I gave them the option to either work out two or three days a week,” Sisco said. “I was very proud of them when they chose three days. I am very excited about the students and the team.”

Lydolph said he was pleasantly surprised that it wouldn’t cost more and asked the administration and Sisco about funding.

Sisco said it would be his intention to have the school fund a portion, with the rest raised with donations.

Superintendent Pam Ewell said that there is money in the activity fund to pay a portion of the weight equipment. Lydolph said that the sports boosters organization is just starting to build up a fund balance.

“It’s a doable project,” Sisco said, “as long as everybody is on board.”

Board members said they appreciated and supported Sisco’s efforts.

“This is exactly why we hired you, because of your enthusiasm,” said board member Jayne Wells. “We will do it.”

Lydolph directed Sisco to continue to work with the activity director.

• Board discussed verbiage on policy dealing with personal days carry-over.

• The board gave Ewell the go-ahead to continue to pursue a student resource officer.

Lydolph said the board’s interest in an SRO was based more on the needs of the district than just the recent school shootings.

More schools are looking into having a student resource officer, which essentially is a partnership between the school and law enforcement. Central Lee has approved an SRO.

“The student resource officer provides a lot of prevention component,” said Ewell.

An SRO can be involved in DARE teaching, establishing positive relationships, educating students and working with school attendance issues.

Lydolph noted that the district has had to call the sheriff’s office several times, so a sheriff’s deputy has had a presence in the school district. Having an SRO could relieve the sheriff’s office of some of its burden, plus it will allow the deputy to be more proactive, instead of just reactive.

“Much of the work of an SRO is social work,” Lydolph noted.

Ewell has been in contact with the Van Buren Board of Supervisors and sheriff’s office.

“We have had some preliminary discussions,” Ewell told the board.

There are a number of issues that have to be worked through.

On the county side, the sheriff’s department has just hired two deputies and increased its staffing of deputies by one. The county is paying for half of the cost of the extra deputy, while the cities are paying the other half.

The supervisors just spent several months discussing the extra deputy with city councils. The total cost of an extra deputy is about $100,000 annually. This pays for the salary, vehicle and benefits, among other expenses.

On the school side, Harmony and Van Buren will reorganize on July 1, 2019, and will remain essentially two distinct districts until then, although the districts have a whole-grade sharing agreement and have other sharing arrangements for 2018-19.

How the SRO would be funded has yet to be determined, as discussions are in the preliminary stages.

Ewell and Lydolph said the school could use a portion of its at-risk and dropout prevention funding and possibly some grant funds.

The need is there for an SRO, board members say.

Terry Jester, school board member, said the sooner the district could get an SRO, the better it would be for the school.

Elementary principal Mary Dawn Schuck said “an SRO is a great idea, especially in building relationships.”

Board members unanimously approved a motion asking Ewell to continue discussions.

• After receiving the resignation last month of secondary principal Chuck Banks, the board hired Randy Moffitt, former administrator at North Mahaska, to be interim principal. He reported that the “staff and students have made me feel very welcome and I feel there is a good working climate.”

• The board voted to reverse its decision last month granting an open enrollment request for Denise Dick to Fairfield. The board’s decision last week denied the request, which wasn’t filed on a timely basis. The board’s decision was based on additional information and clarification provided.

• The board voted to continue the progress to hire the open positions as listed, except for the “to be determined” positions. The open positions are due to resignations, transfers and the possibility of adding sections in the elementary due to increased enrollment.

The resignations approved last week were:

• Audrey Ekle, NHS sponsor

• Sharon Carr, cook

• Kathleen Humble, student council sponsor

• Keith Barnes, middle school math teacher

• Samantha Garrett, kindergarten teacher

• Courtney Maynard, art and TAG

• At the April 26 special meeting the board hired Alice St. Clair as substitute nurse and Trent Grundmeyer as the search firm for the secondary principal.

New hires:.

• Pam Larson — drama sponsor, $1,675.74

• Lisa Denney — after school Alt Ed service for a student, $25/hour, 2-2.5 hours/day, 13 days

• Mary Sederburg — after school Alt Ed service for a student, $25/hour, 2 hours/day, Monday-Friday, March — May

• Brett Cole, National Honor Society sponsor, $400

• Claudette Bunnell, summer cook/transporter/monitor at site, $10.93/hour

• Nalissa Smithburg, summer monitor at site $10.93/hour

• Shelly Guffey, summer cook/transporter/monitor at site, $13.44/hour

• Jeannie Kisling, summer cook/transporter/monitor at site, $13.31/hour

• Michele Mitchell, summer cook/transporter/monitor at site, $13.44/hour

• Robin Carolan, summer cook/transporter/monitor at site, $13.31/hour

• Lucy Dietzman, summer cook/transporter/monitor at site, $13.94/hour

• Gayle Hervey, director and cook, $18/hour

• Angie Duncan, summer cook/transporter/monitor at site, $10.93/hour

• FTE Increases — Samantha Godwin, Agriculture, increase one period / day, Intro to Ag — additional section needed, $5,958.36 (Salary and FICA/IPERS)

 

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