Board hears update on elementary construction, OKs new staff handbook

Greene County school superintendent Tim Christensen is hopeful the addition to the elementary school will be finished by the end of September. He said at the regular board of education meeting Aug. 16 he’s “trying to push them hard,” with “them” being Badding Construction, general contractor for the $1.7 million project.

The project was scheduled to be completed for the start the school year. It has been behind schedule from the outset, as the start was delayed partly due to wet weather in March.

Greene County elementary school, Aug. 22 photo

Pre-kindergarten classes will be held at the St Joseph Parish Center until the addition is finished.

Greene County elementary school entrance, Aug. 22

The project includes a new main office with security features. Until the project is done, the main entrance to the building remains closed. Parents have been notified they should use the east entrance as they have since last April. During school hours, parents should be prepared to call school staff at the main office to be admitted to the building.

Meal prices will be 10 cents more than first announced for the new school year, at $2.45 for a student lunch and $3.55 for an adult meal. The increase is mandated by the state, Christensen said.

Also at the Aug. 16 meeting, the board approved a new staff handbook that reflects the changes required by the Iowa legislature’s changes in collective bargaining.
Several items that were previously part of the teacher contract are no longer admissible in a contract. Examples are sick leave, insurance benefits, and work schedules.

Board members Sam Harding and Mark Peters and Christensen and teachers Traci Beger, Heath Telleen and Heather Manken comprised the committee that worked on the new handbook.

Christensen said the committee had “great discussions.”

Teacher Manken agreed. “I think we had good conversation. It was positive and I think we came up with something good. We’ll try it for a year and see how it goes,” she said.

One of the bigger changes in the new handbook is the criteria for a reduction in force. Traditionally, teacher lay-offs were based solely on seniority.

The new handbook calls for a point system to be used, with teachers scoring points for the years they’ve been in the district, their lane on the salary schedule, and the endorsements on their teaching license. A total of 36 points are available in those areas.

Another 32 points are based on administrators’ evaluations of their teaching.

 

This is the first time job performance has been considered in staff reductions.
Another change for the coming school year is in the construction program. At the suggestion of teacher Chad Morman, subcontractors will be selected by a bid process in an effort to control the cost of the house the students build.

The addition of students from Southeast Valley should also reduce the amount of time subcontractors spend on the house, Christensen told the board.

The house the students built during 2016-17 is still on the market. Morman hopes to be able to complete the 2017-18 house at a lower cost to make it easier to sell.

The meeting started with a 45-minute closed session to review confidential records. In open session the board voted to accept an administrator’s recommendation to retain a student.

The board accepted the report of board treasurer Sid Jones for 2016-17, and reappointed him as treasurer and Brenda Muir as board secretary for 2017-18. The board approved Mumma & Pedersen as the board’s legal counsel and depository limits at Peoples Trust & Savings Bank, Home State Bank, Iowa Schools Joint Investment Trust (ISJIT) and Bankers Trust.

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