NEH outlines sharing contract

The Northeast Hamilton School Board approved a whole grade sharing agreement with Webster City schools beginning in 2015 for students in 7-12th grade at its regular meeting Thursday night.

Voting to approve the agreement were Roxanne Anderson, Bruce Mark, Mike Rapp and Eric Patterson. Marlin Pruismann was absent.

In the absence of departing superintendent Larry Frakes, NEH High School Principal and Administrative Assistant Dennis Bahr outlined the WGS agreement.

NEH receives $6,300 per student in state funding annually and the home district will pay 65 per cent of that to Webster City in the first year of the agreement. The percentage increases to 67.5 percent in the second year, 70 per cent in the third year and 72 percent in the fourth year, said Bahr.

“It caps at 75 percent, which is the same rate that Stratford pays,” explained Bahr. “We will retain a difference of $120,000 which will be used to fund and operate the elementary”.

In addition, the Blairsburg school will be responsible for student transportation costs to Webster City, he said.

The contract is a three year agreement with a rollover and a mutual consent clause which allows both parties to cancel the contract, said Bahr.

The Board voted to approve technology updates for the elementary school computer lab with Web and Hub updates, projector updates and the purchase of new computers in the media lab.

NEH’s new associate superintendent Mike Kruger was present at the meeting and will begin his duties on July 1. He reported that the elementary building experiences connectivity dead zones which will be addressed with the Hub update.

A vote on the installation of cafeteria technology updates was postponed until Kruger can present further details to the Board at the July meeting.

The Board had several personnel matters to address.

The Board reluctantly accepted the resignation of Bahr, who has served the district for two years as administrative assistant and high school principal.

“I have truly enjoyed working here,” said Bahr, who noted he valued his tenture at NEH. “Thank you very much for the opportunity”.

For the elementary Special Education teacher position, Kruger recommended the Board offer a contract to Mary Carlson.

Board member Mike Rapp asked if there had been any attempt to fill the position from within.

The administration considered applicants who were both certified and qualified, explained Bahr.

“I have always felt that since we are going through whole grade sharing, it is best to maintain an excellent elementary staff,” said Bahr. “Things need to be improved and that is why she was recommended”.

With the resignation of 9th-10th grade science teacher Manda Thomas, the district will leave the position vacant, reported Bahr. Next year, those students will stay for an additional class period in Webster City and return to Blairsburg with the upper classmen after fourth period.

Bahr noted that the district will reap cost savings from eliminating the salaried position and the transportation expenses of an additional bus trip to and from Webster City.

The Board approved the assistant baseball coach contract for Adam Vorries, who has been serving uncompensated since the season began.

The Board accepted the resignations of Chelsea Herren cheerleader coach, Virginia Hoelsher – individual speech coach and Natalie Ostheimer – girls softball coach.

Ostheimer’s season contract was for $750. As she served a partial season, the Board approved payment for days served for a total of $500.

In an effort to cut costs, the administration recommended that the district reduce custodial staff. Custodian Patricia Jacobson addressed the Board and asked it to reconsider cutting her position.

Head Custodian Jill Babington told the Board that two of the three custodians were not issued a contract by the departing superintendent. She also reported that preparing the buildings for the upcoming school year is one of the most labor intensive times for the custodial staff.

“There is still (my) half of the amount of work to be done, with no eliminating of the student body, sports or number of classrooms,” noted Jacobson, who offered to work a reduced number of hours in order to keep her position.

Bahr, Babington and Jacobson agreed to arrive at a decision before Jacobson’s contract expiration on June 31.

The Board voted to renew the district’s house rental contract at $550 per month with the renter paying LP costs.

The Board approved the lease agreement with Prairie Lakes AEA in the high school building for 2015-2016.

Bahr reported on the 2012-2013 audit report which was “clean” in terms of concerns.

“There is always a concern about segregation of duties,” said Bahr. “We try to do that as much as we can”.

Board Secretary Kathy Biere told the Board that the district has tried to establish proper protocol with checks and balances but with a small district staff, that is not always possible.

The Board accepted bids for propane, milk, bread, gas and diesel for the 2015-2016 FY. Awarded bids were: IAS – propane; Hiland Dairy – milk; bread – Pan O Gold; and gas and diesel – United Coop.

The next meeting is set for July 24.