Harmony to share Ewell as superintendent

KEOSAUQUA ? The Van Buren Community School Board approved during its meeting March 21 sharing its superintendent Pam Ewell with Harmony for the 2018-19 school year.

Both schools will technically be separate entities for one more year until the consolidation takes place July 1, 2019.

Harmony did not renew its contract with current superintendent and principal Kerry Phillips for the next school year.

The Van Buren board held a closed session to discuss the possibility of sharing Ewell with Harmony. The agreement is continginent upon Harmony board approval at its next meeting.

According to Ewell, the salary structure for this new arrangement would be determined by both boards at a later date. She said it would spend 70 percent of her time at Van Buren and 30 percent at Harmony.


Band uniforms

? In other action, the board approved a request from the music boosters to allow them to purchase new band uniforms with funds they raised.

Mary Jane Mast, representing the music boosters, discussed the purchase with the school board.

The board quickly approved the donation.

According to Ewell, donations to the district need to be approved by the board. The booster group has been raising money for a few years to replace the current band uniforms. The current uniforms are more than 30 years old, Mast said.

?There?s a lot of difference in sizes in kids then and kids now, plus those uniforms have seven pieces,? she said.

The uniforms the music boosters are paying for have only four.

?That?s a big thing, as there are less pieces to lose,? Mast said.

One of the concerns the administration had was purchasing before the mascot and colors would be decided by the newly reorganized board.

The Iowa Area Education Agencies is facilitiating meetings with students to gather input on this issue.

Van Buren board president Andrew Lydolph said he had talked with Dan Smith, Harmony board president, about this purchase before the meeting.

Mast said that the uniforms needed to be purchased by April 1 to get them for the next school year.

Plus, she said, only one of the pieces is orange, so the district would not have to purchase another full set in case the colors are different.

?It was estimated that it would cost $7,000 to $8,000 to change the colors,? she added. ?The plume would be mylar silver.?

Mast said the music boosters are paying for 60 new uniforms. There are 35 band students and they anticipate 35 to 45 members of the marching band. Mast said the boosters wanted to purchase more than the current numbers to have enough on hand with various sizes to meet the needs for many years.

The music boosters have played a vital role in helping fund various projects and equipment over the years, Mast said.

The boosters have purchased new risers, marching drums and carriers, choir robes, marching t-shirts and color guard uniforms and flags.

?The uniforms look sharp,? said board member Alex Richards.

?Thanks for doing what you are doing,? Andrew Lydolph, board president, added.

During the board meeting, members discussed the new fundraising form for various school groups raising money.

? The board approved a certified budget for 2017-18.

There is a slight change from the one that was published. Boards can decrease the budget or tax asking on the published version.

The proposed budget had asked for a $12.22 tax levy. That was reduced to $11.84 in last week?s meeting.

Morrissey said the administration would like the levy to be predictable and stable over the years and the one that was proposed had the same levy.

However, the proposed budget asked for $250,000 in the management fund, which was an increase from $150,000. The management fund and cash reserve levies are one of the few levies the board has real control over.

Morrissey said an increase in the management fund would give the board some cushion in future years should they try to offer an early retirement.

?If you don?t, two years later you may wish you put more in,? Morrissey said.

However, board members decided to keep the levy amount the same, at $150,000, which lowered the tax asking by 38 cents per $1,000.

?In my opinion, I just don?t want to use the management fund as a savings account, unless we specifically have plans to do something with that,? said President Lydolph.

Richards agreed, alluding to the tax increase from the county?s portion of the tax bill.

The motion that was made to approve the budget changed the management levy to $150,000.

The new budget anticipates an additional $200,000 in general fund revenues because of increased enrollment in both K-12 and preschool programs.

It also includes a voter-approved playground levy.

Ewell said the district anticipates that the amount approved by the state legislature for the ?transportation equity? bill was around $212,000.

This would be for one year and would reduce the inequities in school funding that districts like Van Buren have to spend for large transportation expenses.

Board member Jayne Wells said this was a big deal for the district and any communication to legislators should include an appreciation for that funding and also what the school will do with that extra money for students.

? The board approved the following positions to fill: special education or behavioral interventionist at the elementary, alternative education teacher, full-time bus driver/utility person, and social studies. The social studies position is because of transfers and by increasing special education by three-fourths and social studies by one-fourth.

New hires that were approved:

Jamie Hurley, special education one-on-one associate, $11.34, 7.5 hours;

Samantha Garrett, junior varsity softball, $2,578.05;

Brad Davison, volunteer, assistant softball;

James Sprinkle, volunteer, assistant softball;

Chris Wolf, volunteer, assistant baseball;

Libby King, junior high softball, $1,804.64;

Resignations that were accepted:

Jessica Rodibaugh, preschool one-on-one special education - associate/paraprofessional;

Chris Wolf, junior high baseball coach;

April Smith, rhythm squad;