Three things to know from the May 6 STC School Board meeting

NEWS CHRONICLE PHOTO BY ALLISON GRAHAM — South Tama Superintendent John Cain gives his regular report to the STC Board of Education during their meeting on Monday, May 6 at the Partnership Center in Tama.

At their regular meeting on Monday, May 6, the South Tama County Board of Education approved a new 28E agreement relating to their natural gas utility with the Iowa Local Government Risk Pool Commission. The 28E will cover the 2024-25 school year.

This agreement introduces the Education Energy Group Pool Program aimed at pooling natural gas risks and stabilizing natural gas prices for public schools. The program will be administered by Education Energy Group LLC and other service providers, including WoodRiver Energy LLC as the certified natural gas provider.

Under the agreement schools pay the Risk Pool Commission a fixed premium amount each year. The Risk Pool Commission then pays the natural gas bill for all of the schools enrolled in the program using the premium.

The benefit to the member schools is that they are protected from unexpected spikes in natural gas costs in the event of something like an exceptionally cold winter.

South Tama will participate in the 28E natural gas risk pool program at a total premium cost of $117,383.25 for the 2024-25 school year.

Budget restructure

The final 2024-25 budget restructuring plan was approved by the board at their most recent meeting. The plan addresses a roughly $1 million shortfall expected in the coming school year due to a decline in enrollment and the expiration of federal pandemic relief funding. The plan is expected to save the district $1,032,446.

Among the items included in the budget restructuring plan are the operational sharing agreement with North Tama schools to share the superintendent, director of maintenance and a business official position, the elimination of lower elementary class sections by not filling current vacancies and a 10 percent reduction in building supplies at all levels.

The plan achieves the needed budget cuts without any current staff members losing their jobs.

Coach bus drivers

Coaches for extra-curricular activities at South Tama that also hold a commercial driver’s license will have a new opportunity under a proposal approved by the board.

If a coach already has a CDL license with a school bus endorsement and would like to drive a school bus for the activity they coach or sponsor, they will now have a stipend available that can pay them for their services both as a driver and as a coach.

The stipend is between $50 and $75, depending on the distance of the trip, and will be limited to trips that require a school bus.

In other board news…

New staff hires include: Doug Kaloupek, Maintenance; Harley Doty, HS Math Teacher; Rollanda Puentes, K-4 ELL Paraeducator; Leah Fonua, Head 8th Grade Volleyball Coach; Suzanne Lux, Part-Time Preschool ELL Paraeducator.

Eight staff Resignations were also approved including: Michelle Kalinay, Director of Food Service & Nutrition; Rubi Pesina, HS ELL Paraeducator; Jason Castor, Middle School Custodian (12:00-8:30 pm); Stephanie Lane, MS Art Teacher; Andrea Asmussen, MS Kitchen Staff; Morgan McFate, Basketball Cheerleading Coach; Jeff Niedermann, Industrial Arts Teacher; Regina Gill, MS Special Education Teacher.

Open positions as of the May 6 meeting included: Industrial Technology Teacher, Director of Food Service and Nutrition, Elementary Kitchen Staff, Middle School Special Education, 5th Grade Teacher, Middle School Art Teacher, Elementary Art Teacher, Elementary Family School Liaison, English Language Arts Teacher (High School), Family and Consumer Science Teacher (High School), High School Special Education Teacher, High School Special Education Paraeducator, High School Custodian, K-12 Special Education Teacher, Assistant 7th & 8th grade basketball coach, Head 7th grade basketball coach, Head 8th grade boys basketball, Assistant 7th grade football and Assistant 8th grade football coach.

There was discussion about formalizing a non-voting student seat on the school board.

The board approved an update of the employee handbook that puts a policy into place restrictions around the usage of unpaid leave. Going forward, staff will not be eligible for an annual raise if they are above a certain threshold of unpaid leave.

The board approved several quotes and invoices during their recent meeting. Quotes approved included a quote for curriculum software from SchoolsPLP in the amount of $2,220, curriculum materials from Bridges for the 2024-2025 school year totaling $8,190, and curriculum material from Really Great Reading for the 2024-2025 school year in the amount of $5,709. A milk bid from AE Dairy for the 2024-25 school year was also approved along with a quote from SHI for the renewal of the Iboss cloud storage service for the 2024-25 school year, totaling $8,598. Invoices approved by the board included a construction invoice from ISG in the amount of $15,000 for the middle school project, an invoice from Phillips’ Floors for exclusive maintenance on the wood floor in the high school gymnasium totaling $6,415, an invoice from CEC for fire alarm testing in the amount of $5,123, and an invoice from Software Unlimited for $9,150 for accounting software for the 2024-25 school year.