The Perry School Board convened Monday for one of the year’s lengthier meetings, with labor contracts among the important issues discussed and decided.
Board President Kyle Baxter, Vice President Linda Andorf and Director Jim Lutmer were present for the meeting. Directors Kenia Alarcon and Casey Baldwin were absent. Administrators present were Superintendent Clark Wicks and Secretary Kent Bultman.
The meeting began with a public hearing on whether the district should continue participating in the Instructional Support Program. No comments were offered by the public, and the board closed the public hearing and voted to approve the resolution.
The board approved a three-year contract agreement between the district and the teachers union, the Perry Educational Association.
“It was very important to us to create some very decent raises,” Wicks said before the vote. “We want to be able to sustain and retain the quality of our staff and this will help us do so as well as attract new talent.”
Lutmer noted the terms offered were a “top-10 offer” compared to other negotiations statewide, although no examples were given.
The total package increase is 3.3 percent with a cost of $349,224, of which $278,353 were salary costs, the result of a salary increase of 3.53 percent. The total benefit package will increase 2.78 percent at a cost of $70,870. The contract for 2019-2020 was approved unanimously.
Also approved was a one-year master contract with the Perry Support Staff Association (PSSA), with the total package providing an increase of 3.94 percent.
Wicks expressed gratitude to the negotiators on all sides for reaching the agreements.
“The battle is never going to be between the teachers and the superintendent or teachers and the board — we are all Bluejays and Jayettes, and we have to work together,” he said.
PEA staff, including extra-curricular, extended contract, TLC and letters-of-agreement contracts were also approved.
“This needed to be done,” Wicks said. “For instance, you look at our needs for bus drivers. We checked around and found we are behind neighboring districts in what we are paying, so this is going to include a $2 an hour raise for our drivers. We want them to know how valuable they are to us, especially considering all they have to go through just to be able to be (bus) drivers.”
PACES support staff had contracts approved, as did the general support staff. Administrative support staff had an increase of 3.31 percent agreed to, with contracts for special services group (193-260 day employees) approved at an increase of 3.56 percent.
The board also gave official consent to several matters involving the issuance of $6.5 million of general obligation bonds.
A resolution setting the terms for the advertisement, electronic bidding process and official statement for the sale of the bonds — which will be used for the voter-approved Industrial Tech and Multi-Purpose room projects at the high school — was passed. Agreements were approved with Piper Jaffray for financial services and as dissemination agent and with Ahlers and Cooney as bond legal counsel.
Perry Elementary School Principal Ned Menke and Director of Teaching and Learning Kevin Vidergar informed the board that Perry Elementary was one of six schools out of 30 applicants that will receive a STEM grant of $50,000 from the state of Iowa to boost computer science competency and use.
Menke said the three-year program will be merged into existing classes.
“Whether it is social science, or math or reading in any class, we will fold the computer science into those lessons,” he explained. “This is based on a program Sioux City elementary schools have piloted, and we will work off of that. This is an exciting announcement for us, and we are excited to put this into work.”
Later in the meeting, Menke asked the board to approve extending the Capturing Kids Hearts program to the elementary school. He said the program has proved popular and is currently in place in the Perry Middle and High schools.
“Everything I have heard tells me this has been very successful,” added Wicks.
Menke said Perry staff visited Newton Elementary to observe the program in action. He said the $22,500 cost to trains 62 staff members would come from the Total Quality Fund and not the General Fund.
The board approved the measure.
Among other items given board approval were various policy adjustments, permission for a middle school band/choir trip for 30 students and six chaperones to Minneapolis, Minn., May 17, and for Industrial Tech instructors Curt Cornelius and Chad Morman and 11 PHS students to attend a June trip to the National SkillsUSA Leadership and Skills Conference in Louisville, Ky. Students have raised all the funding necessary for the trip except the costs of food.
Several personnel matters were addressed, with Timberline Contract hired to handle Medicaid billing for the district from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020.
The board entered a closed session to discuss and adjudicate a student-discipline matter. They then re-entered open session, immediately adjourning.
The Perry School Board meets the second Monday of each month in the Brady Library at Perry High School at 6 p.m. The public is invited to attend.