NEH board OKs book buy

BLAIRSBURG – The Northeast Hamilton School board approved the purchase of new math textbooks for the coming year and the 2013-2014 student handbook at its August meeting Monday night.

Superintendent Larry Frakes asked the board to consider purchasing new mathematics textbooks for grades kindergarten through 8th at a cost of $23,800 for the upcoming school year.

At his last meeting as superintendent in June, Superintendent Patrick Hocking had suggested the district review textbook purchases.

When Frakes took over the NEH superintendent position in July, he thought the textbooks had been ordered. It was when teachers Kim Schimp and Janelle Oakland presented a proposal for new textbooks that Frakes realized no action had been taken, he said.

Frakes contacted McGraw Hill and received a bid on kindergarten through 8th grade “My Math Program” textbooks at a cost of $23,800.

“The program is designed to insure that teachers are teaching the subject at the proper time,” he said, adding that the textbook program is also technology integrated.

Since the books encompass a five-year program, the district will have to purchase new books at that time.

“This is something that is needed in this district,” he said.

Randy Greenfield inquired about purchasing the books from the PPLE Fund as he was concerned the district would not have enough cash on hand to begin the new year with this purchase.

Administrative Assistant Dennis Bahr told the board he would investigate which budget could be used for the purchase.

“I think we are fine,” said Bahr, who noted the purchase was necessary. “We don’t want to cheat our kids.”

Frakes promised the board he would make every effort to ensure that the books arrive by the start of the 2013 – 2014 school year on Aug. 20.

The board also approved the 2013-2014 NEH Student Handbook. The motion had been tabled from the July meeting to determine why there was a connection of activity eligibility tied into the NEH teacher initiated MASH – Make-up Assignment Study Hall program.

Frakes reported that while the proposed wording had been taken from the Webster City CSD handbook, the WCCSD program did not match up with NEH’s MASH program.

“We will revert to the previous wording in our handbook,” said Frakes. “We will continue with MASH but it will not be part of academic eligibility standards.”

Board member Mike Rapp questioned the wording of academic eligibility standards in the handbook.

After a lengthy discussion, the board agreed to follow state requirements of eligibility for summer sports. If a student has failing grades in the second semester, that student would be ineligible for activities for 30 school calendar days.

If a student does not participate in summer sports, that ineligibility begins for their next activity participation.

In consent agenda items, Rapp questioned the cost of $504 for meals billed by Webster City CSD.

School board secretary Kathy Biere reported that those invoices were for Northeast Hamilton’s share of meals consumed during the regional and area superintendent meetings between Webster City, Clarion and Eagle Grove.

Frakes reported on the progress of the new school day care. The State of Iowa had initially sent the incorrect criteria to the district, said Frakes.

While the newly hired day care director had complied with the state’s requirements, it was discovered that the state had sent the wrong specifications, said Frakes.

The regulations sent were for in-home day care not school site day care, he said.

Faced with a possible two-month delay, the district will work with the state to bring the district into code for the beginning of the new school year, he said.

Administrative Assistant Dennis Bahr reported that grading work would begin on the school’s new bus barn on Aug. 13. Colors for the school’s transportation storage facility will be blue in the lower third quadrant with the majority of the building in ivory. The roof will be blue and the downspouts and soffits will be white.

The board reviewed a proposal on an annual pest control program submitted by Custodian Jill Babington. Bids from Orkin of Ames, Hawkeye West Pest Control of Clarion, Godfather’s Extermination of St. Cloud, MN and Pest Be Gone of Mason City were reviewed.

Babington proposed that the board consider introducing a pest control program.

“There is not a rodent problem and we did not find anything that we don’t normally see,” she told the board.

Frakes told the board that a pest control program has been standard operating practice in each district he has worked at in the past and recommended the board initiate an annual program.

The board directed Babington to research each program and report her findings at September’s meeting.

In other business, the board approved the Open Enrollment for a Kindergarten student for the upcoming year.

Also approved was an intrafund loan from the General Fund to the Food Service Fund of $20,000. Frakes noted that this is a temporary loan which will be paid back by June 2014.

Bahr noted that the Webster City School board is also making a similar loan to fund its food service program.

Frakes recommended that the board hire Stephanie Rapp to serve as the food service cook at $12 per hour without benefits.

Frakes also advised the board that the district needs to develop a pay scale for non-certified employees.

“It is my belief that if we want to keep good people around, we have to do better with our pay scale,” he said.

“We do pay poorly,” agreed board member Greenfield.

Frakes suggested the board develop a pay scale for each classification of employee including custodians, bus drivers, food service personnel and teaching associates.

A constituent addressed the board and asked when shop equipment would be auctioned off. Last year, excess chairs and desks were sold, according to Babington. It was decided to offer the shop equipment at a later time, she said.

Board President Kim Schaa reported that before shop equipment is sold, it will be advertised to the public.

Frakes thanked retiring board member Randy Greenfield for his service to the district. New board members will be elected in a general election in September.

The next school board meeting will take place on Sept. 19 at 7 p.m.