Bodermann new school board president

Spanish trip
From left, juniors Matthew Cuvelier, Sabrina Schmidt, Kate Sheehy and Spencer Bohr tell school board members about their summer trip to Costa Rica.

By Marcie Klomp

Howard-Winneshiek School Board members voted Duane Bodermann as the board president at its annual meeting on Sept. 24. Scott Fortune was elected vice-president. They each were given the oath of office, along with Clint Farlinger, board secretary.

The president continued with the same days and times for meetings as were used in the past—the fourth Monday at 7:00 p.m., except for Dec. 17, the third Monday. Superintendent John Carver will set up a rotation for having the meetings in various buildings in the district.

Farlinger gave the Annual Financial Report, which is full of numbers, numbers and more numbers. The most pertinent information he pointed out to the board was the school’s spending authority.

It doesn’t matter how much money the school has, what matters is how much money the state says a district can spend. Any unspent money can be held over for the next school year. This year, the amount of unspent balance being rolled over was $1.8 million. For comparison:

2012: $1.8 million

2011: $500,000

2010: $185,000

2009: $875,000

2008: $1.5 million

As the reader can see, the district was in dire straits just three years ago, and that scare resulted in the closing of Ridgeway Elementary.

Farlinger said the $1.8 million shows a solvency ratio of 12.85 percent. “The gurus say they want the solvency ratio at 5-15 percent,” he later explained.

Other numbers he brought up are associated with salary. H-W’s salary is 75.6 percent of the budget. The “gurus” would like that number to be between 75-79 percent.

In both instances, the numbers are moving in the right direction.

The big question now is how much, if any allowable growth school districts will be granted by the state.

Board member Doug Berg asked, “There’s a real possibility we won’t get allowable growth [from the state]?” Carver answered in the affirmative. Berg questioned, “That’s about $300,000?” Again the answer was yes. That sobering number will need to be at the forefront of the board’s mind when making decisions for the upcoming year.

At the close of the annual meeting, Bodermann said, “I thank the board for the confidence in me.”

• The regular board meeting was then opened with two open forum presentations.

During open forum, the board and spectators went on a field trip to Libby Schwade’s room, but it wasn’t as far as the field trip her Spanish students took over the summer!

Juniors Matthew Cuvelier, Sabrina Schmidt, Kate Sheehy and Spencer Bohr spoke about their trip to Costa Rica.

Schwade explained that two years prior, she and Tisha Macon had realized it was seven years since a group had traveled abroad, so they started planning for it. The two teachers, a parent and another teacher were chaperones to 19 students.

Cuvelier said his favorite part was the hot springs; Sheehy’s favorite was zip-lining; Schmidt’s favorite part was visiting the school, and Bohr’s most memorable part of the trip was the waterfall.

Don Mork and Tom Tuchek gave an update on the progress of a trap shooting team at Crestwood. They said it would not cost the district anything. Expenses would be paid through donations, sponsorships, fund-raisers and out-of-pocket.

• Carver asked each principal (Shirley Sovereign-Cresco Elementary; Todd Knoblock-Lime Springs-Chester and Elma Elementaries and Crestwood Junior High; and Tim Felderman-High School) to give a five to seven minute Curriculum, Instruction Assessment (CIA) report at the regular board meetings.

~ Sovereign talked about the goals of her staff to work on improving the School In Need of Assistance (SINA) label. “We have to work on what we need to do,” she said.

~ Knobloch said the K-8 building in Cresco has been part of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program for several years and he was going to introduce the program to LS-C and Elma. He explained the program teaches students “this is how you are expected to behave.”

He noted study assistance is available at the junior high from 3:30-5:30 and 15-20 students take advantage of the service.

The principal was most animated about the new iPads that were given to each junior high student this year. The technology has had to transform how teachers are teaching. “It is very interactive. Teaches have to keep on their toes to keep ahead of the students.” He pondered how to take it to the next step.

~ Felderman told the board, “This is a year of learning, of questioning the ‘why’s and how’s’ behind concept-based learning. We need to change how we assess the students at the high school.” He wants to find out if the students know the material and concepts, not if they merely test well.

• Carver reported he wanted the school district to start thinking differently. He wants to look at upgrading the special education program. “We paid one quarter of a million dollars to Decorah for Special Ed. We should be able to teach them here at Howard-Winneshiek.”

He also wants all the buildings to be updated physically and technologically. “One of our stumbling blocks is high speed broad band-especially at Elma and Lime Springs.” He added he would like to see students at all the centers able to interact in the classroom with Skype.

• In other business, the board approved the request for money to make up for a $105,000 deficit in special education. This is an annual request. It was approved.

Joe Braun was appointed as the local legal council with the option to seek council as needed on special knowledge cases.

Since 1996, the most the superintendent could authorize for purchases was $5,000. Farlinger noted, “This is antiquated. Decorah’s superintendent can approve up to $25,000.” The recommendation to the board was to allow Carver the ability to spend up to $10,000 on necessary items without preapproval from the board. All voted aye except member James Kitchen.

Karlos McClure was chosen as the delegate to the IASB Assembly.

Kitchen again suggested to periodically bring up issues presented at open forum and other items that have been nearly forgotten.

McClure said, “In my opinion, we need to refer to the elementary centers the same, such as Howard-Winneshiek Elementary at Cresco or at Elma or at Lime Springs. They are not stand alones.”

The next board meeting was set for Oct. 22 at 7:00 p.m.

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