Spencer board approves 2010-11 staff changes, continues bargaining

Thursday, April 29, 2010

With very little discussion Tuesday night, Spencer school board members approved several certified staff and programming changes for the 2010-11 school year.

Besides the early-retirement requests already approved for teachers Pat Burke, Linda Gaston, Carol Hanthorne, Jan Homan, Jan Lindstrom, Diana Mingus, Scott Van Houten, Dale Witt, Kathy Rettey, Duane Davis, Connie Drake and Larry Untiet, Superintendent Greg Ebeling informed board members that district librarian Arla Kintigh intends to take early retirement and work a partial contract next year.

The board also authorized the hirings of several teachers for 2010-11. These included Tracy Cordova as an early childhood special education teacher, Lindsey McGill as a middle school language arts instructor, Matthew Ruden as a Spencer Middle School math teacher, Megan McCabe as a SMS language arts instructor, Mollie O'Mara as a Spencer High School language arts teacher, Kory Petzenhauser as a SHS science teacher and head boys basketball coach, Katie Balk as a SHS special education teacher, Bryna Eckard as a K-12 teacher-librarian, and Molly Vander Linden as a SHS special education teacher.

Board members approved the resignation of Fairview Elementary sixth grade teacher Rachel Hodges, who intends to relocate to the Indianapolis area following the conclusion of this school year in order to be closer to her family and friends. They also authorized the transfers of Tori Storm, Stevie Shively, Brenda Miller and Katie Van Voorst.

"Our goal going into the process was to try to get between $300,000 and $350,000 in savings for the upcoming fiscal year. We were able to achieve that goal based upon our people that took early retirement and people that we're not replacing," Ebeling said.

Following the Tuesday night work session on staffing and programming for next school year, Spencer board members entered a closed session to discuss bargaining.

While certified staff with the Spencer Education Association initially proposed a 4.96 percent, or $489,634 increase, for next school year, district representatives offered a multiyear contract proposal. Ebeling initially outlined a total package worth $175,613, or a 1.78 percent increase, for 2010-11. District representatives proposed a 2.25 percent total package increase for the following year, with negotiations to re-open if the insurance increase is greater than 15 percent. They also offered a 2.75 percent total package increase for 2012-13, with negotiations to re-open again if the insurance increase is greater than 15 percent.

SEA and district representatives are scheduled to enter mediation, the step before arbitration, today.

In other board action and discussion:

* Connie Goeken, the Spencer Community Theatre executive director, thanked the board and district representatives for allowing SCT actors and actresses to rehearse this past season in the former SMS building's gymnasium.

* The board formally approved partnering with Spencer Hospital on offering a Health Occupations vocational strand of classes for the 2010-11 school year. SHS Principal Joe Mueting reported that the hospital has agreed to pay for the hiring of a half-time Iowa Lakes Community College teacher to instruct the six courses slated to be offered. He also indicated 98 students, mainly freshmen and sophomores, have enrolled in these classes.

* Board members were informed that a grant application has been submitted to install solar panels on the middle school. If the Spencer school district is awarded one of five competitive grants available courtesy a nearly $94,000 state energy grant, it would serve as a data collection center and curriculum resource for the Sun4Schools project. Paul Rekow was instrumental in providing information for this educational possibility.

* Technology director Jim Kerns presented several requests for the 2010-11 year. They included the addition of 15 interactive whiteboards in the elementary schools, Read 180 software for the elementary buildings and middle school, a new server, one of two alternatives for updating the elementary computer labs, the installation of wireless access points at Fairview and Lincoln, replacement of the district's special education teacher laptops and desktop computers, a new netbook lab in each elementary building, an additional mobile wireless lab in the middle school and high school and the replacement of 36 SHS Technical Education building LCD monitors.

"The total cost for these projects would be $360,262," Kerns told board members. "South Clay would like to purchase 21 computers (total $13,650) for the district. If I use the N-Computing virtual desktop solution in the elementary labs, after Microsoft settlement funds, South Clay contributions and (a $15,000) contribution from the middle school, district funds needed would be approximately $167,850."

Board members agreed to pay for the recommended purchases with PPEL funds beginning July 1.

* The board also authorized adding to Spencer's current 31-vehicle fleet by purchasing three of the four buses currently owned by South Clay and selling two of the district's oldest buses.

"This would increase our bus fleet from 15 buses to 16 buses," Julie Nemmers told them, "which can be justified because of the additional preschool route that will be added next year -- changing our current route number status from 10 to 11. We will, however, not need to hire an extra driver due to the fact that our current Dickens route will be combined with our southeast rural route that will be enlarged due to South Clay's closing."

Once board approval of her request was granted, Nemmers added, "The fleet would be in the best condition that it has for a long time."

* Board members approved participation in the Iowa School Cash Anticipation Program, which will allow the district to borrow money at a low rate for needed cash-flow purposes. Ebeling also indicated district representatives will look at local banks for short-term loans.

"We're definitely going to need this in the coming year," the superintendent said of both financing options.

* Board members learned that SHS seniors are scheduled to participate in a Senior Activity Day event Friday at East Leach Park. They were also informed that a Senior Recognition Night ceremony is scheduled to commence at 5 p.m. May 9, with a baccalaureate service to follow at 7 p.m.

* They then approved a list of 135 potential SHS graduates and 10 Central Academy graduates for 2010. SHS graduation plans include a 2:30 p.m. ceremony on May 16; Central Academy seniors will graduate at 7 p.m. May 20 in Conference Room B of the district's central administrative office building.

2010-11 Certified Staff Changes

* SHS Language Arts -- Replace retiring Larry Untiet with Mollie O'Mara

* SHS Science -- Replace retiring Dale Witt with Kory Petzenhauser

* SHS Self-Contained Special Education (Level III) -- Replace retiring Diana Mingus with Molly Vander Linden

* SHS Transition/SCI Special Education (Level II) -- Replace retiring Duane Davis with Katie Balk

* SHS Health Occupations Teacher -- Half-time position to be funded by Spencer Hospital

* SMS/SHS Language Arts -- Full-time teacher Mary Frank has volunteered for a part-time contract

* SMS Language Arts -- Replace retiring Jan Homan with Lindsey McGill

* SMS Language Arts/Spanish Teacher -- Replace retiring teacher for Language Arts. Exploratory Spanish taught to 7th graders will be taught to 8th graders in 2011-12.

* SMS 7th Grade Math -- Replace retiring Scott Van Houten with Matthew Ruden

* SMS Self-Contained Special Education (Level III) -- Stevie Shively has volunteered to transfer into this program to address a growing need in this area. A new elementary self-contained teacher will be hired.

* SMS Special Education Transition Teacher -- Tori Storm will be transferred into this position and the elementary transition program will be covered by an existing teacher.

* Third Grade Teacher -- Replace retiring Connie Drake

* Second Grade Teacher -- Replace retiring Carol Hanthorne. Increase to six sections.

* Elementary Art -- Replace retiring Jan Lindstrom (1 1/2 art teachers) with one full-time person, Katie Van Voorst. Students will still have the same amount of art time as this year, but will not receive an elementary art grade on their report cards.

* Early Childhood Special Education Teacher -- Replace retiring Linda Gaston with Tracy Cordova

* Preschool Teacher -- This position will be paid for with a state preschool grant.

* Preschool Social Worker -- The position of retiring Pat Burke will not be replaced. Coordination of the preschool will be covered by current teaching staff and administration.

* District Teacher-Librarian -- Replace retiring Arla Kintigh with Bryna Eckard. This position will be shared 20 percent with Ruthven-Ayrshire.

* TAG Instructor -- Current TAG teacher Kae Roti will be shared 20 percent with Ruthven-Ayrshire and elementary TAG will be covered by one teacher instead of 1 1/2 teachers.

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