Mt. Pleasant Community School district accepts lot donation in Salem
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
Mt. Pleasant Community schools enlarged its Salem campus Monday night, accepting the donation of a residential lot just west of the Salem Elementary School.
James and Roma Dean of Salem, owners of the land, made the donation, which was accepted during the Aug. 12 school board meeting.
Mike Wells, Mt. Pleasant Superintendent of Schools, said the donors put no restrictions on the use of the lot. He said the district has no plans for the lot at this point.
“We could use it for a parking lot, expansion of the school building to accommodate a preschool or leave it vacant,” Wells said.
Directors accepted the recommendations from the School Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC).
The committee makes annual recommendations to the school board regarding progress achieved with annual improvement goals fro the state indicators that address reading, mathematics and science.
Following are the committee’s recommendations.
• The SIAC recommends that the board of education examine current reading and writing programs to measure the effectiveness.
• The SIAC recommends that the board of education offer summer school programs for children who need such programming.
• The SIAC recommends that the board of education examine the current math program for effectiveness.
• The SIAC recommends that the board of education continue expanding Project Lead the Way.
• The SIAC recommends that the board of education explore a vocational agricultural program.
• The SIAC recommends that the board of education explore ways to communicate better with parents.
Mt. Pleasant’s property and casualty insurance premium will be increasing by $23,285 to $230,359. The school has its insurance through the EMC pool with Gamrath-Doyle-Vens serving as the local agent.
A sharp increase in the workers compensation portion of the premium accounts for nearly half the increase. The line item shows a $10,000 increase to $127,887.
Gamrath-Doyle-Vens several factors figure into the substantial workers compensation increase. First of all, the National Council on Compensation Insurance has raised rates in Iowa for most classifications anywhere from 9-20 percent.
In addition, EMC has removed all schedule credit from their Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB) workers comp policies where there have been serious losses and has debited accounts where recent experience has been poor. For Mt. Pleasant, that equated to losing the six percent schedule credit that was on the policy last year. The insurance carrier also warned the school district that Mt. Pleasant’s workers comp premium “will likely jump quite a bit next year due to the poor experience the past year.”
The district was also told that EMC updated the replacement cost estimates for many of the buildings this year. If a particular building was underinsured, EMC automatically brought the coverage limit to 100 percent of the replacement cost value. In Mt. Pleasant, the carrier increased the value of buildings from $51.56 million to $54.21 million.
Finally, four school buses and two new vans were added to the policy. Gamrath-Doyle-Vens said that auto insurance rates have increased across the board for liability and physical damage to autos. Overall, the increase is at 14 percent comparatively.
Wells discussed IASB legislative priorities with the board.
He said he adamantly supports the state funding transportation costs, saying that because the states does not fund those costs, it is a disadvantage to rural school districts.
“We receive $6,120 (per student in state aid) to educate kids and have to take transportation costs from that. So, actually rural districts get less money,” Wells said. “State funding of transportation would help all rural school districts, not just Mt. Pleasant.”
Wells said he has discussed the matter with State Rep. Dave Heaton, R-Mt. Pleasant, and the veteran legislator said that if a bill is not introduced during the next legislative session for state funding of education transportation costs, he will help write a bill for such funding.
The superintendent also noted that the federal government’s reduction of promised aid for special education has hampered all school districts. The federal government at one time to pay 40 percent of the special education costs and now only pays 18 percent.
Another priority receiving support was that the state provide adequate funding to ensure all four-year-old students have access to a high quality public school preschool program. In addition, the resolution states that the state allow all four-year-olds to continue to be included in the enrollment count.
A third priority supported was continued support of sufficient incentives and assistance to encourage sharing, reorganization or regional high schools to expand academic learning opportunities for students and to improve student achievement.
Wells and the board also supports returning to three-year school board terms (terms were increased to four years a couple of years ago) with less than a majority of the school board elected in any one year. “It really scares a superintendent when over one-half of the school board is up for re-election,” Wells noted.
Personnel matters saw the school board approve the following contracts: Kristine Jeffrey, Lincoln Elementary para-professional; Elizabeth Sturgeon, .5 E.L.L. instructor/.5 E.L.L. para-professional; Casidi Klopfenstein, high school one-on-one para-professional; Elisabeth Pomeroy, high school math; Caleb Akey, seventh-grade boys’ basketball; Nichole Ellington, middle school one-on-one para-professional.
Resignations were accepted from Connie Engberg, high school one-on-one para-professional; Renee Faul, middle school one-on-one para-professional; Angie Rodgers, head varsity softball coach; Michelle Wade, assistance varsity softball coach; Sheryal Bailey, Lincoln Elementary para-educator; Dustin Gieselman, assistant varsity wrestling coach.
School board members meet again in regular session Monday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m. at the high school media center.