School bells to ring early next term in MP districtBoard okays Aug. 12 start for 2014-15 school year
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
The first bell will ring early next school term in the Mt. Pleasant Community School District.
School directors, Monday night, approved the 2014-15 calendar which has the first day of classes set for Aug. 12. The last day of the term will be May 14, 2015, and graduation is slated May 17, 2015.
Other highlights of the calendar call for early dismissal (1:30 p.m.) Aug. 12-27; the first semester ends on Dec. 19; winter break is from Dec. 22-Jan. 2; there will be no school on President’s Day (Feb. 16); Easter break is from April 3-6; and the last day for seniors will be May 7.
Mt. Pleasant Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mike Wells said the school year is being pushed up for several reasons — to end the first semester before winter break (currently the first semester extends beyond winter break) and to air condition the elementary schools.
He said there will be 180 days of school and 1,200 hours of instructional time. State law mandates at least 1,080 hours of class time. During the days of early dismissal in August, instructors will be having professional development from 2-3:30 p.m., at one of the two district attendance centers (middle and high school) that has air conditioning, Wells said.
Snow or make-up days will be added to the end of the calendar.
“We need 14 weeks to do the geothermal (at the elementary schools) and by ending May 14, we could do it by Labor Day,” Wells noted. He said the district will also be lenient for students and staff members needing to be at the Iowa State Fair.
“Any students going to the State Fair will have excused absences,” Well promised. “Staff members who have kids exhibiting at the fair will receive an excused absence and a personal day. We want to be fair to the staff.”
School fees for 2014-15 were approved. School breakfast and hot-lunch prices will each increase by a nickel and the instrument rental fee will increase by $10.
A month ago, Wells had suggested waiving book rental fees because of all the other expenses incurred by parents during school registration. Waiving book rental fees would cost the district about $50,000-$60,000 annually in revenue, district officials said.
At Monday’s board meeting, Wells backed off his suggestion, saying, “I would recommend keeping book fees where they are at and study them more closely for next year.”
Next year’s book rental fees are as follows: elementary school (grades K-5) — $42; middle school (grades 6-8) — $47; and high school (grades 9-12) — $53. Reduced book rental fees (student must be eligible for free and reduced lunches) are: elementary school — $17; middle school — $19; high school — $21.
In his report, Wells told the board that over 150 preschoolers (ages 4 and 5) have registered for next year and when three-year-olds are included, the number swells to 168. He also noted that a recent team leadership state grant the district received ($607,000 spread over three years) will fund five instructional coaches throughout the district and one teacher leader at Salem.
Director of Finance Ed Chabal briefed the board on the fiscal 2014-15 budget and school board members approved publication of the notice of public hearing for the budget. The public hearing will be Monday, April 14, at 7:15 p.m. in the high school media center. The budget must be certified by April 15
Next year’s budget calls for a 1.5 cent drop in the tax rate per $1,000 taxable valuation. The published tax rate is $13.857 per $1,000 taxable valuation compared to $13.87 for the current fiscal year.
The fiscal 2014-15 budget calls for $32,477,370 in expenditures, compared to the current year’s $30,544,594.
Directors will also host a public hearing April 14 on amending the current budget to reflect additional expenses (and revenue) due to receipt of several grants.
“We have to have a public hearing because state law requires a public hearing whenever you increase your expenditures,” explained Chabal.
In personnel matters, the following contracts: Vicki Brammer and Amelisa Conrad, Lincoln Elementary one-on-one para-profressionals; Hayleigh Cowan, junior varsity softball coach; Laura Wood, assistant girls’ soccer coach; Tracy Jarrett, Van Allen fifth-grade teacher; Tessa Adcock, food service director; Karen Smith, middle school one-on-one para-professional; Rocco Russo, WisdonQuest instructor; Jessica Garchik, teacher librarian.
The following resignations were accepted: Elizabeth Graber, Lincoln Elementary third-grade instructor; Tyler Rodgers, junior varsity boys’ basketball; Kim Anderson, ninth-grade/junior varsity softball; Pam Smith, central receiving; Ann Brotherson, food service director; Amber Scott, WisdomQuest teacher; Paulette Shappell, Van Allen third-grade teacher; Katelyn Hunt, middle school one-on-one para-professional; Tim Taylor, eighth-grade football; Jean Holtgrewe, Van Allen fourth-grade teacher; Jamy Ball, ninth-grade football.
Volunteer coaches receiving board approval included: Lyle Murray, 7-12 boys’ track; Jeff Fedler, 9-12 boys’ track; Sydni Reynolds, 9-12 girls’ golf; Joe Mougin, 9-12 boys’ tennis.
Directors meet again in regular session Monday, April 14, at 7 p.m. in the high school media center.