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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 19, 2018

No room at the Inn

Second-grade class creates a dilemma at WACO
Sep 19, 2017
Photo by: Brooks Taylor WACO School Board members re-elected their leaders during the board’s organizational meeting Monday night. Amy McLaughlin, left, will again serve as vice president, and Tim Graber, right, retains his position as board president.

By Brooks Taylor, Mt. Pleasant News


WAYLAND — With the 2017-18 school year not even a month old, the WACO Community School District has its first dilemma of the new school term.

The second-grade classroom at Crawfordsville Elementary School is bulging at the walls, Superintendent Jeff Dicks told the WACO School Board Monday night during the board’s regular monthly meeting.

School officials knew the grade might be large as the census count last spring was 23 students in the one-section grade.

Enrollment, though, has changed drastically since the start of school Dicks said. He said there are now 31 second-graders. “It seems like every new student who enrolls is a second-grader,” Dicks quipped. “It is a nice problem to have, but it is also a dilemma.”

The superintendent said the classroom is so crowded that two desks are two feet away from the front wall of the room. He said he is attempting to get a para-professional as a band-aid measure.

Long-term solutions include a long-term substitute or hiring another full-time teacher. Contributing to the dilemma is the fact there are no open classrooms near the second-grade room.

Dicks said he would prefer to hire a full-time teacher “but that is pricey.” He also questioned the quality of the candidate pool since schools have completed their hiring.

“At this point, it’s more about finding quality,” Dicks noted. “We have to navigate this as fiscally responsible as we can so we don’t overspend. We’re working on it. It may be a full-time teacher if we can find the right person.”

He said he would keep the board posted on progress solving the problem.

Monday night’s meeting was also the board’s organizational meeting. Tim Graber and Amy McLaughlin were re-elected president and vice president, respectively. Graber has been president since 2010 and McLaughlin will serve her second year as vice president.

Board members passed a resolution requesting allowable growth (creating additional spending authority) from the state for a special education deficit of $56,607.95. The resolution does not impact property taxes.

WACO had a $10,060 carry-over in the special education account entering the 2016-17 school year but more students necessitated the hiring of another teacher, Dicks explained. “We’re levying back for the deficit because we want the additional spending authority. We have to serve these kids.”

In another financial matter, Carrie Coble, board secretary/school business manager, said the district ended fiscal 2017 with about $14,000 more in revenue than expenditures.

The board approved the purchase of 28 student chairs and eight tables for Gwen DeVaul’s classroom at a cost of $9,680 from Community Furnishings of Cedar Rapids. If the chairs and tables are satisfactory, the school will buy more, the superintendent said.

WACO board members also approved a three-year contract with Johnson Controls of Cedar Rapids for preventive maintenance on the district’s heating and cooling systems. The firm will be paid $7,971 this year and the cost will increase by 3 percent each year.

The board approved applying for two fall riverboat grants. One grant would help finance revamping of the computer lab and the other would supply funds for renovation of the junior/senior high school commons.

Contracts were approved for Codie Owens and Katherine Brune, high school associates, and Peggy Leichty, part-time high school associate.

Board members, during the organizational meeting, also approved retaining the third Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. as the date and time for regular board meetings. All meetings, with the exception of the June meeting, will be at the junior/senior high school in Wayland. The June meeting will be in Crawfordsville.

The next regular meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16, at Wayland.

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