The Albia Community School Board met at 5:30 p.m. in the high school library to accommodate those interested in attending Monday’s Grant School Christmas program.
Offering an early retirement package for school staff this year drew considerable attention. The board discussed two options presented to them from Superintendent Kevin Crall, with elements including being either 56 years of age with 30 years of service or 59 years of age with 30 years of service.
What became the main sticking point was increasing the amount paid to those retiring early. In recent early retirement packages, employees received $25,000 spread out over three years. One of the options this year was to increase that to $30,000.
The board also discussed the true cost savings to the district. School Board President Craig Ambrose said he was always skeptical about the cost savings because those receiving early retirement would ultimately retire anyway and be replaced with less expensive, younger teachers. Vice President Roger George agreed with that assessment.
School Board member Linda Hoskins argued that it was both an incentive for long-time teachers “just hanging on” and also a reward for exemplary educators nearing retirement. Hoskins made the motion to offer the option that included 59 years of age plus 30 years of experience and a $30,000 buyout. Jeff Liston moved to amend Hoskins’ motion to $25,000.
The amendment was defeated and then the entire early retirement motion was defeated on a 4-2 vote.
The school’s Calendar Committee brought forward a preliminary calendar for the board to consider. Again, considerable discussion ensued involving the start of school, the end of Christmas vacation and the end of school. The Calendar Committee is suggesting classes start on Friday, Aug. 23, which is the earliest allowed by the state. Another date discussed was Monday, Aug. 26, but the thought was a Friday start would be a good organizing day for teachers and students.
The Calendar Committee had Christmas vacation next starting on Monday, Dec. 23 and ending on Thursday, Jan. 2 with classes resuming on Friday, Jan. 3, nearly two full weeks of Christmas vacation.
Superintendent Crall felt a better start would be Thursday, Jan. 2. Others had argued completing the entire week with vacation and starting school on Monday, Jan. 6. That would push the end of school to Wednesday, May 27. The concensus of the school board was to restart school on Jan. 2 and get out of school on Tuesday, May 26.
The board approved early graduation for the following students: Lindsay Bates, Ryleigh Bricker, Amber Brown, Ashley Brown, Paige Fry, Steffen Hartley, Shyann McMahon, Dylan Nelson, Payton Nichols, Nicholas Scholtus, Blake Wilson.
The board accepted the resignation and retirement of long-time school bus driver, Merle Regenold. They also approved Jason Strohbehn, Denise Strohbehn and Aaron Reeves as school volunteers.
A resolution was passed to use general funds for the purchase of $4,697 in new and refurbished football helmets.
The board discussed a recommendation by Superintendent Crall to offer two six-month contracts for a special education instructor at Lincoln Center and an At-Risk teacher for the 7-12 building to meet student needs.
The Space Study Committee will be meeting Tuesday, Dec. 11, 4 p.m. with Estes Construction and RDG about the recommendations for facility improvement. School board member Mark Robinson was curious about some of the costs connected to projects Estes and RDG had put forward.
“I’m hoping we can prioritize this report and make sure we’re using taxpayer dollars wisely,” he said. “In light of what is happening with the Waukee District, people are really going to be watching closely what we do.” Superintendent Crall and the board briefly discussed some of the costs attached to the projects described by Estes and RDG and agreed that any safety concerns would probably be addressed first.