A-W to attempt third bond vote

Posted July 19, 2018 at 5:00 am

By Julie Ann Madden

With Akron-Westfield School District’s voters failing to pass two bond votes, the school board has hired a bond fiscal agent in hopes of getting a bond passed this December.

At their July 9 meeting, the board members unanimously approved a contract with D.A. Davidson, which has offices in Des Moines and Omaha, Neb.

The board had interviewed two fiscal agent companies and felt this one best met their needs for marketing the bond project to the voters, according to Board President Nick Schoenfelder and Board Member Nick Mathistad, who serve on the board’s Facilities Committee.

Board Member Jodi Thompson made the motion, and Board Member Pam Von Hagel seconded it. The vote was 5-0.

In addition, the board unanimously approved Cannon, Moss, Brygger Architects (CMBA) of Sioux City to design this bond project. Board Member Deb Jordt made the motion and Von Hagel seconded it.

Preschool Staffing

A-W Preschool-Grades 6 Principal Cathy Bobier reported she is advertising for a Preschool Certified para educator (aide) to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Early Childhood Special Education teacher Camden Kuchel.

Current Four-Year-Old Preschool Teacher Annie Solberg is studying for the Early Childhood Special Education license so she will be able to qualify to teach both the ECSE and Preschool positions — meeting the state’s requirement to have a certified Preschool teacher.

Bobier wanted the board to understand that some may question why there are so many Preschool staff. It’s to meet the state Preschool regulations.

In addition to Solberg, there are two Special Education aides but they work 1:1 with specific students so they cannot be counted as part of the 1 teacher per 10 students (1:10) staffing requirement.

Both the morning and afternoon preschool classes are full, said Bobier, explaining A-W has to meet the 1:10 teaching ratio. Therefore, she needs another adult besides Solberg and the 1:1 aides in the classroom.

This new para educator (aide) will have to meet Preschool certification requirements.

“We did kind of have the ‘cadillac’ of Preschools when we had two certified teachers but most preschools don’t have that,” said Bobier. “We will still be one of the top ranked Preschools (without two certified Preschool teachers).”

Librarian’s License

The board unanimously approved a “Librarian of Record” sharing agreement with West Sioux Community School District.

Shared Superintendent Randy Collins stressed that this doesn’t mean that Akron-Westfield has a certified librarian on staff. It just means that the district “buys” usage of the West Sioux librarian’s license to comply with state library education laws. This is the second year A-W has done this.

“It meets the letter of the law but not the spirit,” said Collins, adding several school districts are doing this. “I don’t want to pretend we have a librarian.”

Some board members were concerned that no certified librarian was overseeing library operations.

Board Member Deb Jordt suggested for the $500 A-W was paying, West Sioux’s certified librarian could spend one day each semester at A-W working with the library aides.

For A-W to have its own certified librarian, it would cost the district about $50,000 in salary and benefits, said Collins, adding he and the principals will review the library procedures and management.

Human Resources

Director

The board unanimously approved a new Human Resource Director Sharing Agreement with West Sioux School District.

A-W’s Human Resource Director Cari Brogden is now shared by five school districts: A-W, West Sioux, Kingsley-Pierson, Woodbury Central and Whiting. She provides Human Resources, primarily payroll duties, to all five districts.

A-W “sells” Brogden’s time. Last year, the district sold 70 percent of her time to other districts.

With this agreement, West Sioux will buy 20 percent of her time so A-W is selling 80 percent of the Human Resources Director position. Collins explained although Brogden’s salary is estimated at $80,000, the district’s final cost is just $16,000 by selling her time.

Collins told The Akron Hometowner A-W had lost four Business Office managers in five years, especially after the part-time Business Office assistant position was eliminated several years ago. By creating this shared position, it sets up the Business Office manager for success and hopefully has stopped the high turnover rate of this position.

Board Member Cory Tucker made the motion to approve this sharing agreement and Board Member Nick Mathistad seconded it.

In other business, the Board:

• Unanimously approved a Wireless Upgrade Project with Riverside Technologies for $56,472.83.

• Unanimously approving hiring Jessen Wood, Wrestling cheerleading sponsor; Carrie Thonstad, 0.28 of Full-Time Middle School Reading teacher filling the Nancy Tindall vacancy; Kim Hansen, Middle School Special Education aide filling resignation; and Angela Ericson, High School Special Education aide, filling retiree Edie Coon’s vacancy.

• Unanimously approved the A-W Athletic Handbook without any changes.

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