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STC to have 10-acre farm laboratory

May 11, 2011
By Joyce Wiese, News Correspondent
TOLEDO CHRONICLE - A 10-acre portion of South Tama school-owned property is slated to become a classroom laboratory.

Jim Plantz, associate high school principal, and Terri Guenther-Mayer, vocational agriculture teacher, presented the proposal to use 10 acres of farm land near the South Tama High School for this purpose at the school board meeting on Monday, May 2.

Board members Michelle Yuska, Jackie Dvorak and Mark McFate voted to approve the use. Members Ron Hala and Anne Michael were absent.

The plan is for the 2011 growing season and would be reviewed prior to the beginning of the next year's season. The proposal shows all costs for what it would take to let the students plant 10 acres of land in soybeans or corn.

Plantz said the students would start out with soybeans. Total cost figured would be less than $3,000. Seed, equipment and other related items would be donated.

In addition, several families have volunteered to help in any way they can. Board members agreed it was worth a try and would be a good hands on way to teach students about farming.

Change To Local

Insurance Administration

Jake Jacobson, Independent Insurance representative, discussed the district's medical insurance plan.

Jacobson is in partnership with LMC insurance and is able to administer large group medical insurance plans. The district has used Holmes Murphy to broker the employee medical plan for several years, however, the opportunity to work with a local provider is now available.

It is anticipated the level of personal service provided will remain the same but it will be provided at a reduced cost. Superintendent Kerri Nelson said she had consulted with the Education Association's negotiations team and executive leadership board who agree with this change due to the cost savings.

Holmes Murphy's rate of commission for administration was $18 a month per enrollee or $21,816.

Jacobsen's rate of commission for administration is $14 a month per enrollee or $16,968, or a savings totaling $4,848.

Law requires expenditures are catagorized into four categories as presented on the published budget estimate each year, and that the district does not spend more than the published amount in each of those four categories.

Board members approved the change on a 3-0 vote.

Set Budget Amednment Hearing

Because the budgdet is set so far in advance, the law also provides a method for school districts to amend their budget if necessary. This year it is likely the district will spend more in the Instruction category, mainly because of high special education costs compared to previous years, and in the Total Support Services category, because the school will be purchasing vehicles that hadn't been budgeted for in February, 2010.

A Public Hearing has been set to Amend the current budget document for May 16, 2011, at 5:30 p.m. at the Administration building.

In other business before the school board:

•A special pay would change the way the retirees from South Tama are paid. Rather than an individual check to each employee each year for a period of five years, one check would be written to National Insurance for the sum of all payments due that year, to be deposited in a tax-deferred annuity account for each retiree. Neither the employee or the district would owe FICA tax on the funds and the retiree can either leave the fund there until later, roll them over to another annuity, set up an automatic recurring withdrawal or withdraw all funds immediately with no penalty. Deferring the tax to a later date could benefit some retirees.

Even though the school district's 101 percent budget guarantee next year is $30,613, down from $414,236 for the current fiscal year, in order to receive the guarantee it is necessary to adopt a board resolution to that effect in addition to the action to adopt the Fiscal Year 2012 budget as published. The resolution states the Board of Directors of the South Tama County Community Schools will levy property tax for fiscal year 2011-2012 for the regular program budget adjustment as allowed under section 257.14 in the Code of Iowa.

•Terri Guenther Mayer, vocational agriculture teacher, told board members that FFA seniors have worked hard through their four years of high school to earn points.

These points give students the opportunity to go the National FFA Convention, State FFA Convention, and earn awards through the National FFA Foundation.

Guenther asked that seniors who have earned over 200 points through their four years receive an FFA sash to wear during graduation. The FFA would purchase the sashes and present them to the students during the annual FFA Banquet. Mayer saays these sashes would encourage other FFA membhers to be involved while letting the community know the student wearing the sash is a proud FFA member. Members can earn points by attending meetings, participating in contests, participating in leadership camps, and filling out their record books. Point earning activities are provided throughout the year, even in the summer. However, it is still challenging to earn 200 points. The sashes would come in blue

or gold.

•Jackie Ellenbecker has been hired as juvenile court liason starting May 2, at a salary of $35,000.

•Resignations were from Cathy De Bondt as Assistant Elementary Principal and Kirby Landstrom as High School Math instructor, both effective at the end of the contract school year.

Article Photos

Terri Guenther-Mayer



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