4 things to know from South Tama School Board, March 7 | News, Sports, Jobs

South Tama County Board of Education, bottom row photo (lr): Beth Wiese, Elizabeth Dolezal; top row: Mandy Lekin, Clint Werner and Penny Tyynismaa. – Photo of the news chronicle file

1. In January, Governor Kim Reynolds announced during her statehood address that Iowa teachers would receive a $1,000 retention bonus paid through the Schools Emergency Relief Fund. Elementary and Secondary Schools (ESSER) of the State.

However, once details emerged on how the scheme would be rolled out, it became clear that not all certified staff would be included in receiving the bounty.

“Once the governor’s proclamation was passed, it really wasn’t as fair as it was presented,” said South Tama Chief Financial Officer Randy Denham. “It was really only certain teachers who qualified. Our nurses, counselors and teaching leaders were unqualified and of course the classified staff were left a bit behind in this area.

South Tama has joined several Iowa districts in providing additional funding so that every school employee in good standing who has worked during the COVID-19 pandemic can receive a retention bonus, whether qualified or not for direct government funding.

Following unanimous approval from the South Tama Board of Education, the district will allocate $1,000 for each staff member who has not been included in the state’s retention bonus. In addition, all school personnel will receive two days of hazard pay from the district to accompany the $1,000 bonus.

South Tama will use its own ESSER fund to pay for the wage benefits, which will cost approximately $256,000 in total. After staff salary benefits are spent, the district will have approximately $1.5 million in its ESSER fund that was provided through federal assistance over the past year.

The school is required to use $500,000 of the fund to address learning loss resulting from the pandemic. Last year, an after-school program was established with ESSER funds that may be expanded, along with summer school initiatives, in the coming year.

The district has until the 2023-24 fiscal year to spend pandemic relief funds.

Additional options for the fund that were discussed are hiring additional behavior interventionist positions and addressing the HVAC system in high school.

2. Following voter approval in the March 1 special school election, the school board has taken steps to begin the process of obtaining funding for the next middle school project.

At the March 7 meeting, the Board of Directors approved a March 21 public hearing for the proposed issuance of State Sales Tax Bonds (SAVE).

A total of $16.5 million of SAVE bonds will be issued. Of that total, $10 million will go to the Middle School Project, $5.5 million will be used to call 2017 high school renovation bonds, and $1 million will be set aside in a reserve fund.

The board also approved the Piper Sandler Company to act as fiscal agent on behalf of the school district as it seeks bids for the recently approved general bond and SAVE bonds.

3. The board approved a proposal from college principal, Ben Adams, requesting that the current shared position that manages writing for grades 7 and 8 as well as the college’s TAG program be split into two different positions. Under the plan, an open paraprofessional position will not be filled to help make room for the new writing position.

The board accepted the resignations of Grade 8 boys basketball coach Lon Wilkerson; Heather Keen, Special Ed Para and Matthew Beatty, Elementary ELL teacher, middle school football coach and middle school girls track coach.

The board approved the hiring of Margarita Moreno as an elementary food service employee and the request for a volunteer coach from Nathan Doran who will work with the high school track team.

4. The board approved the school calendar for the 2022-23 school year. The first day of school for students will be August 23. Winter vacation will run from December 22 to January 4, with January 3 and 4 designated as staff professional development days. Parent-teacher conferences will be held the week of October 25 and the week of March 14, 2023. There will again be no spring break offered, but rather a break around the Easter break with students from April 7 2023 (Good Friday) to Tuesday April 11, 2023. The last day of school is scheduled for May 25.

In other cases…

The board will hear a presentation of next year’s budget at its March 21 meeting. The plan will be to hold a public hearing on the budget and vote on passing the budget at the April 4 meeting.

After the close of the application period for the superintendent job search, South Tama administration reports that 18 candidates applied for the opening. This is the same number of applicants the district received in 2018 during the job search that brought in current Superintendent Jared Smith. The school board will meet behind closed doors on March 10 to review applicants with representatives from Grundmeyer Leader Services, the search firm that has been hired by the district to lead the hiring search. The board will select a group of finalist nominees at a second closed meeting on March 22. The names of the candidates will be made public following this meeting. Finalist interviews and potential hiring decision will follow on March 29.

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