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School Fees, Personnel Earn Board Approvals

By Staff | Jul 26, 2016

Hot lunches in the Emmetsburg Community School district will rise ten cents for the coming school year, following action by the Emmetsburg Community School Board Thursday morning. The board also adopted fee schedules for the coming school year, accepted milk bids, and approved several personnel hires.

Few changes were made to the fee structure for textbooks and activities for the coming school year by the board, but an increase of 10 cents for student lunches and five-cents for student breakfasts was approved by the board.

Explaining that the hot lunch fund balance was below $1,000, district Business Manager Lisa Chapman noted that the ideal situation was to have at least a month to three months’ expenses on hand in the fund in case reimbursements were delayed.

“There have been instances in the past where our lunch rate was lower than what the federal government recommended,” Superintendent Amanda Schmidt noted. “We were told we needed to charge what the federal government recommended so we follow what they tell us.”

Additionally, adult lunches will rise by five-cents, and breakfasts by 10-cents to follow the recommendations, which received unanimous approval from the board members present at the meeting.

In a related item, the board reviewed milk bids for the nutrition program. Bids were received from Anderson-Erickson Dairy of Des Moines, Hiland Dairy of Des Moines and Dean Foods of LeMars.

“Cost-wise, Dean Foods was actually about a penny cheaper, but Anderson-Erickson has been our supplier for the past few years,” Schmidt noted. “Anderson-Erickson also provides the coolers used to store the milk, and they provide plastic bottles for the elementary students, which is a request from our elementary staff. Even though they are just a bit higher, I would recommend we stay with Anderson-Erickson.”

The board agreed with Schmidt’s recommendation and approved the bid from Anderson-Erickson.

However, baked goods for the district’s nutrition program were another matter.

“We only received one bread bid, from Okoboji Bakery,” noted Lisa Chapman. “The firm we’ve dealt with for years never responded. I don’t know if they didn’t receive our letter or what.”

Noting that in West Bend, bread and milk were obtained through a local grocery store, Schmidt offered to investigate and see if a second bread bid could be obtained from the vendor after board members expressed interest in the idea.

The board elected to table the bread bid, with the possibility of making an award during a special session.

The board turned its attention to personnel matters, and accepted the resignations of Jayne Lange as an elementary para-educator and Tyler Bjustrom as Eighth Grade Assistant Football Coach.

Schmidt presented a list of new hires ,including Rachel Bleuer and Dawn Beving as elementary para-educators, along with Elizabeth Schany as a Middle School para-educator and Halie Cody and Deidre Hoffman as High School para-educators.

Jodi Shirk was approved as a Pre-school teacher and Marcia Morse was approved as a half-time high school Spanish teacher.

Jarod Joynt, Bruce Nelson and Nick Adams were approved as Volunteer Football Coaches, while Tyler Bjustrom was approved as Seventh Grade Football Coach and Tyler Johnson was approved as Middle School Assistant Football coach.

Kelly Hough was issued a contract as Seventh Grade Volleyball Coach for one year, and Tyler Johnson was approved as Middle School Show Choir instructor after an explanation from Schmidt.

“Mr. Johnson, our cowboy boot-wearing, bull rider is actually a show choir guy,” Schmidt informed the board. “Mr. Miller recommended him for the position and he and Mrs. Gustafson will be assisting him.”

However, the district is still in search of a vocational agriculture instructor.

“I interviewed an individual for the position but it would not be a good fit for the district,” Schmidt told the board. “I’ve spoken to an retired individual who said they would fill the position for the first semester for a set fee.”

According to Schmidt, there are currently 12 vacancies in the state of Iowa for vocational ag instructors, including Emmetsburg’s vacancy. “A lot of the people who are qualified coming out of college are finding they can make more money in the private sector rather than teaching. I just talked with the Superintendent at Newell-Fonda yesterday and he’s having trouble finding elementary teachers. There’s just a teacher shortage in this area of the state.”

The board discussed options, including the possibility of contacting two other retired Ag instructors in area.

In a final item of business, the board set in motion the process of renewing the Instructional Support Levy for a five-year period. The levy, which raises $378,338 per year, is used to purchase classroom items and instructional materials for teachers.

“There are several ways to fund the Instructional Support Levy,” Schmidt explained, “we use a combination of property tax and income tax surcharge funds here, which is pretty standard.”

According to Schmidt, the income tax surcharge provides roughly $300,000 per year to the fund.

“This levy actually comes out of what is already taxed for,” Board President Tammy Naig noted. “It is not a new tax.”

“I don’t think we’ve ever not authorized this levy,” agreed Board Member Scott Kibbie.

“If we don’t renew it, it would significantly hurt our budget,” Schmidt agreed.

With the board in agreement to continue the levy, the next step will be to conduct a public hearing, which was set for 5 p.m. on Wednesday, August 24, to approve the levy for an additional five years.