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Staff action taken at BC board meeting


VAN HORNE – There was a lot of staff action on the board’s agenda. The following staff action was taken.

Resignations were accepted from the following.

- Jeff Furler and Jared Pirkl, student council advisors at the Norway Center.

- Tonya Schanbacher, fifth grade teacher at Norway Center.

- Eric Townsley, high school math, 10th grade boys’ basketball, and assistant varsity football coach. He will be the middle school principal at South Tama next fall.

- Morgan Mitchell, assistant varsity ninth grade volleyball coach.

- Trisha Little, head seventh grade volleyball coach.

The following recommendations were accepted:

- Kara Mitchell, Title I and Reading Recovery, Norway Center.

- Larry Carlson, Ron Donald and Kal Goodchild, summer driver education.

- Emily Schulte, high school language arts teacher.

- Denise Moeller, Life Skills Special Education teacher, Norway Center.

- Beth Anderson, elementary special education at Norway Center.

- Travis Dirks, elementary special education at Norway Center.

- Sara Hartman, second grade teacher at Atkins Center.

- Kris Scheer, kitchen manager at Atkins Center.

- Trisha Little, assistant varsity volleyball coach.

- Clint Geater, assistant varsity football coach.

- Katie Allman, volunteer softball coach.

An early retirement incentive request was denied for Jill Olson, high school art teacher, based on the recommendation from legal counsel.

Employee contracts were also approved.

The board approved the tentative agreement with the Benton Community Education Association. It calls for a total package increase of 2.02 percent, and combined base salary of $34,150. Changes in language came in employee hours and duties, extended contracts and name changes for categories.

The agreement with educational associates was approved, with a total increase of 3.24 percent.

The contracts with building secretaries were approved with a salary increase of $360.

The work agreement with the transportation staff was approved, with route rates increasing by $1.60 per day, bus stop supervisors receiving an increase of 30 cents per hour, and special education drivers getting an increase of 15 cents per hour.

Hourly employees will receive an hourly increase of 20 cents, and other salaried employees will receive an increase of $600. Increases were also approved for the district technology director at $500, and 25 cents per hour for medical practitioners.

A 15-cent per hour increase was approved for the maintenance and food service staff.

The following administrative two-year continuing contracts were approved:

- James Bieschke, $85,250, high school principal, career and tech education

- Doug Embray, $88,900, associate superintendent, building and grounds

- Kal Goodchild, $71,000, associate principal, activities director

- Liz Strempke, $75,000, Norway Center principal, K-6 curriculum director

- Ryan Junge, $69,500, Keystone/Van Horne principal, special education director

- Jo Prusha, $73,000, middle school principal, 7-12 curriculum director

- Jason West, $70,500, Atkins Center principal, preschool director

- A continuing three-year contract was approved for Superintendent Gary Zittergruen at $115,900, with the additional duties of human resources and transportation.

Board member Brenda Schanbacher was concerned about a three-year contract if the state goes to one superintendent per county. She suggested staying with a two-year contract until they know what the state will recommend. She voted against the recommendation on a roll call vote.

Board member Jack Barnes was opposed, citing concerns about consistency of the contracts, though he stressed the administration deserved the full support of the board and he was in favor of the recommended salaries.

Atkins update

An update was given on the Atkins Elementary Center project. Chris DeGroot of Neumann Monson said the next month would be critical. They hope to move furniture out of existing classrooms in June and begin renovation of those classrooms. He explained the 49 change order requests so far. The proposed substantial completion date for remodeling is Aug. 1. This does not include the addition. He expected the east addition to be done Sept. 28.

Administrative reports

Benton’s administration team gave reports to the board.

Strempke commended the music program, led by Cindy Nelson, for the music provided at the VIP event at the Norway Center.

Bieschke reported the last day of school is May 28, with 1 p.m. dismissal.

Goodchild told of spring updates and the start of summer activities, as well as fine arts events.

Junge reported on Camp Wapsie, at which sixth graders from Norway and Keystone stay overnight.

Prusha said the Iowa Core final meeting for the school year is June 10.

Zittergruen updated the board on the district advisory committee meeting. They worked on district needs assessment. He said he will have a summary at the June meeting, as well as a report on Iowa Test of Basic Skills scores.

Other business

Board policies were reviewed on child abuse reporting, physical examinations, classified employee special leave, substitute for support personnel and physical examination for support personnel. Schanbacher asked about training for child abuse reporting. Zittergruen said new employees are trained through an area education agency program, and other employees are trained every five years. She asked about policies on e-mailing, texting and Facebook. Zittergruen said he would look into it and look for a model policy.

A student teaching agreement was approved with Iowa Wesleyan College and the University of Dubuque.

The graduation list was approved for the May 23 commencement.

The show choir trip to Washington, D.C. and New York City was approved for next year.

A hearing was set for June 16 at 7 p.m. at the middle-senior high school media center, Van Horne, for early start calendar for Benton and Central Lutheran.

A school improvement report was given on reading recovery, which is an intervention program, which helps the lowest-achieving first graders with reading.

A list of projects was approved to be paid from the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy fund. They plan $400,000 of projects per year. Work will begin in June.

PPEL projects are approved

A list of over $334,691 in projects was approved Wednesday, May 19, by the Benton Community Board of Directors at their meeting in Van Horne.

The projects will be paid out of the district’s regular and voted Physical Plant and Equipment Levies (PPEL). Benton is in the final year for the voted PPEL levy. Infrastructure needs can now also be met with the School Infrastructure Local Option (SILO) tax.

The following is a summary of the list presented by Business Manager Doug Embray and approved by the board.


One new school bus


Building remodel, heating, cooling, additions (using sales revenue bonds)


Carpet classrooms in east wing, tile hallway, paint kitchen area, tile lunchroom

Middle-senior high school

Electrical work in auditorium/stage area, cooling tower replacement, sound system for cafeteria, industrial tech lab lighting, gymnasium curtains, power venting in two classrooms, carpet print shop area, electrical addition to Classroom 214


Window remodeling, air conditioning units

Van Horne elementary

Replace carpet           


Food service refrigeration replacement, miscellaneous repair district-wide, 15 percent contingency

Total, estimated and actual costs, $334,691




















UPDATED May 21, 2010 11:13 AM

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