Monday’s meeting of the Perry Community School District Board of Education followed a steady progression, with one report and update following another as all eyes turned toward the start of the new school year.
Perry City Administrator Sven Peterson was the first to address the board. He discussed the city’s plans for new tax abatement areas, hoping that this would spur new housing while noting three new homes were set to begin construction this fall. Peterson also informed the board work was advancing on the new Perry Soccer Complex at Pattee Park.
More good news for the district followed as EMC agent Barry Bengston informed the board of a $13,000 drop in the insurance premium for the upcoming year.
“It has been several years since we had a premium decrease, and a big part of this is all the good work you (the district) has done in the area of workman’s compensation,” he said. “Workers comp has been the biggest increase the last few years, but it has started to go down, and that is reflected in the savings we are seeing.”
Bengston noted that several other factors — including increased competition in both the school and commercial insurance markets — have helped lead to the decrease in premium costs.
Several factors figure into the rates a district is charged, with property values, changes in property and replacement values in case of loss are computed in the formulation.
“For instance, you have bought some new buses, but you are covered for the full replacement cost even if something were to happen to one of the older buses,” Bengstom said.
He noted a $27,000 dividend, which is the PCSD share pro-rated over a three-year basis. Also brought to the attention of the board was the need of increased coverage of internet and so-called “cyber issues.”
English Language Learner Director Laura Skeel updated the board on changes and additions to a Corrective Action Plan the district was forced the write. While ELL students in the district had met “Level 6” and the standards for Iowa Assessments they had come up short in year-to-year progression, which Skeel said would now be a focus.
She also reported on a $10,000 grant from Heartland Area Education Agency for a 16-month computer-based program. Described by Skeel as “Interactive and intense learning” the program began in February and will continue through the entire 2016-17 academic year.
Director of Teaching and Learning Kevin Vidergar introduced six of the 16 new teachers who will begin in the district this year. Seven new faces will be at the elementary school, three at the middle school and six at the high school.
He noted the new employees were undergoing some early training and that all staff will report Aug. 22 for “Back To School” workshops and in-service meetings in preparation for the start of classes Aug. 24.
Superintendent Lynn Ubben reported on her attendance at the School Administrators of Iowa conference Aug. 3-4, noting that many of the SAI legislative priorities matched those the PCSD board had voted in favor of at their July meeting.
Several board policies were approved, including a State Supplement Aid request for any Special Education deficit. The board made several commendations, acted on a variety of personnel matters and approved the hiring of Loffredo Produce as the fruit and vegetable supplier for the upcoming school year.
Also approved was a trip to Washington, D.C. to a Leadership Training conference for Skills USA, who will soon begin fundraising for the journey.
In a late item, it was noted several board members had met with Shive-Hattery architects to express their displeasure over the proposals presented to the board regarding additions to the Industrial Technology areas at PHS. The board released a payment of just over $10,000 that had withheld at the July meeting, with it noted Shive-Hattery would return with new presentations that, Board President Kyle Baxter said “Are more in line with what I think we were asking for and are willing to consider” in regards the scope and costs of the project.
The PCSD Board of Education meets at 6 p.m. in the Brady Library at Perry High School on the second Monday of each month. All meetings are open to the public.
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