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BC school board sets hearing, OKs reduction plan


VAN HORNE – Several Benton Community staffers took advantage of the school’s early retirement plan, as part of the school’s effort to reduce its budget next year.

The retirements, as well as resignations by several coaches, were approved at the board’s meeting March 17 in Van Horne.

The budget reduction plan was approved, with the following measures:

Professional staff

 - 1.0 FTE reduction (attrition due to early retirement)

- 0.5 FTE (contract modification)

- Reduce extended day contract modification from 50 to 30 days

- District secretary, 1.0 FTE, (attrition due to early retirement)

- Maintenance, 1.0 FTE (attrition to due to early retirement)

- Transportation, special education car driver, 1.0 FTE (attrition due to early retirement)

The following staff members took advantage of early retirement.

- Elaine Conrad, language arts at middle/senior high (29 years of service)

- Doris Markwitz, third grade teacher at Atkins (36 years of service)

- Bonnie Allers, kindergarten teacher at Van Horne (30 years of service)

- Jim Nottger, eighth grade science (31 years of service)

- Amy Becker, Title I teacher at Van Horne Center (33 years of service)

- Nancy Kupka, maintenance at Keystone Center (22 years of service)

- Barb Sonka, food service manager at Atkins (22 years of service)

- Donna Niebuhr, special education car driver (22 years of service)

- Donna Waterbury, maintenance at middle-senior high school, bus driver (33 years)

- Mary Becker, part-time educational associate at Norway (20 years of service)

The board also accepted the following resignations:

- Clint Czizek, fifth grade teacher at Norway.

- Deidre Jo Carney, assistant seventh grade volleyball and assistant junior high girls’ track coach.

- Alex Olson, assistant varsity baseball for 2011, assistant seventh grade boys’ basketball coach

- Stella Wolter, 10th grade volleyball coach

- Trisha Little, 7-8 assistant boys’ track coach

- Michael Embretson, building technology support

- TJ Murphy, assistant seventh grade football coach

- Anita Baldwin, maintenance at Norway Center

- Brandi Viter, assistant seventh grade girls’ basketball coach

- Jared Pirkl, assistant varsity boys’ basketball coach

- Calvin Wolter, assistant eighth grade volleyball coach

Joan Stien also had her contract modified from 1.0 to 0.5 FTE.

Superintendent Gary Zittergruen said savings would come through attrition and reassignment.

Newhall director Brenda Schanbacher had concerns about the reduction of contract days for one staff member from 50 to 30 days. Zittergruen said research had shown 50 extended days are a lot of days, on top of 190 contract days already, making it a 240-day working contract. The average amount of extended days for this position among WaMaC schools is 35 to 40 extended days. If needed, the school can look a supplemental support for the program, as opposed to more contract days. Schanbacher said she was concerned this staffer would be discouraged by the cut, as kids in the program are doing wonderful things. The board and administration did not mention the name of the program or the staff member.

In other staff action, the board hired Andrea Ceranic as head girls’ soccer coach. She is employed by Mercy Medical Center and Mount Mercy College, and has coached at Mount Mercy for two years and at Cedar Rapids Kennedy.

Budget work

The board heard budget information for 2010-2011, setting the hearing for Wednesday, April 14 at 7 p.m.

Also related to the budget, the board set the rate for the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) income surtax at 3 percent, which is expected to generate $272,377. Property taxes will raise $100,551 (20 cents per $1,000 of valuation), for a total levy of $372,928.

The instructional support levy was set at 4 percent for the income surtax, raising $363,169. The property tax asking is $342,750, which is 72 cents per $1,000. They are also counting on $40,754 in state aid, for a total of $746,673.

The published budget went with a cash reserve levy of $600,000, which calculates out to 62 cents per $1,000. Business Manager Doug Embray said this would help counter declining enrollment and the state taking away $1 million over the past three years.

The budget calls for $21.6 million in revenues and $21.7 in spending. More on the budget will be in a later issue.

Open forum

Former board member Tricia Schutterle spoke at open forum, commending Newhall director and former board president Brenda Schanbacher. Schutterle said she obtained public records from the Iowa Board of Education Examiners that a former staffer had surrendered his teaching and coaching license. Voss stopped Schutterle, stressing her speech violated Iowa law and is a personnel issue. Schutterle countered she had not mentioned the teacher’s name and nobody knew who she was talking about.

Schutterle continued that as a parent of two daughters, she thanked Schanbacher for “spending the past two years diligently working towards holding the person accountable for his actions, when those who were charged with that duty failed miserably and pathetically.”

Schutterle said Schanbacher “stood tall” when others attacked her, as she uncovered the “lies and deceit” that happened after the incident in 2006. She told Schanbacher, “You were simply trying to hold everyone involved accountable for their actions.” She added, “You should hold your head with pride for what you have accomplished and those who schemed against you should hold theirs in shame.”

Administration reports

In administrative reports, Liz Strempke, Norway principal, reported on the PTO family fun night, and kindergarten registration with 26 students so far. Ryan Junge, high school assistant principal, reported on training for terrorism in schools, and the special education change of venue. Jo Prusha, middle school principal, said they are working on the schedule for next year on professional development. She also gave an update on testing. They are awaiting results on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. High School Principal James Bieschke reported on the National Honor Society banquet, spring play, art show, Fill The Gym, prom, after-prom, and Steve Allman, who was honored with a teacher of excellence award. Zittergruen commended the robotics team. They hope to have two teams next year. The FFA chapter has received a gold rating, one of 23 chapters in the state to receive the honor.

Other business

The board approved modifying the school calendar, due to school being closed Wednesday March 10. They looked at June 1 or April 2, and approved April 2 with a dismissal of 1 p.m.

Budget amendment hearing will also be held April 14 on current budget, to allow for a change in interest payment to banks.

Early graduation requests were approved for Jessica Waln and Melissa Andrews, at the end of the third term.

Personnel policies were reviewed and approved.

The board discussed the floor project at the Atkins Elementary School. They hoped to have a floor in a classroom ready for viewing by Monday. The board was concerned about the quality of the finished floors. Voss said there are a lot of decisions to be made in the next weeks. A revised schedule was reviewed. They still hope to have the north and south wings done by the opening of school. The contracted date of completion was Aug. 1. It has moved to Sept. 28. The latest delay has been caused by floor polishing and getting it to be an acceptable product.

The board and audience enjoyed a presentation by All-State speech performers A.J. Wenndt and Mandey Lund. They were both named outstanding performers at the all-state competition.

Malea Schulte was presented the Prudential Spirit of Community Medallion for her volunteer work, related the Iowa Baseball Museum in Norway. She is one of two students in Iowa to receive the honor and will be recognized in national competition in Washington, D.C.

Also as part of student recognition, the board saw robots used by the Benton robotics team in competition in Minnesota.

UPDATED March 24, 2010 11:52 AM

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