The Albia Community School Board approved a reduction in their proposed levy rate compared to this year during their March 8 meeting.

The board was presented with the 2021-2022 proposed budget and approved it for presentation during an upcoming public hearing. The proposed levy rate in next year’s budget will be $12.51 down from $13.03 this year. The levy rate also went down last year according to board secretary Melissa Bauer, who presented the budget to the board. The district saw only a slight decrease in enrollment in 2020.

The board also looked at proposed amendments for the 2020-2021 budget. The amendments were due to two main factors, COVID-19 relief money the district received and spent and that the district chose to complete several capitol projects this year that were not included in their approved budget.

The three areas of the budget that are proposed for amendment are Total Support Services which would increase from $4,420,000 to $4,800,000 due to increased spending during the pandemic, Noninstructional Programs which would increase from $590,000 to $620,000 due to increased expenditures and Total Other Expenditures which would increase from $1,865,232 to $4,500,000 due to increased spending from renovation projects that were completed during the year.

The budget amendments do not increase taxes, they just reflect increased money the district received and/or spent during the current year that were not considered when the original budget was approved last year.

The board approved holding public hearings on the proposed budget for next year and on the proposed budget amendments for this year on April 12.

The board also approved paying off two loans early during the next budget year. This should save the district about $30,000 in future interest payments they will not have to make.

The board also briefly discussed the newest COVID-19 relief package being approved by the federal government. Superintendent Kevin Crall said the administration would be discussing how to spend any money the district will receive from the package in the near future.

Albia Jr./Sr. High Principal Richard Montgomery spoke to the board as the guest principal. Montgomery gave updates on Awards night, which will be held on a Thursday this year, and on graduation, which he said the senior class was interested in having outdoors in the evening. This was first done last year due to the pandemic, but Montgomery said the senior class liked the idea of continuing that change.

Montgomery also said that Albia was considering doing away with traditional semester tests and was leaning heavily toward not having them this semester. Montgomery said the high school is the only school that has them and that Albia is the only school in the conference that still has semester tests.

Montgomery said with the current instructional system, which is standards based, students learn concepts that are then built on and repeatedly assessed throughout the course of a semester and a year, so semester tests no longer hold as much weight as an assessment device as they did in the past.

The board considered and approved the ACEA Master Contract Agreement for the 2021-2022 school year. The total package for staff would see an increase of 2.9 percent which would be an increased cost to the district of $206,750. The master contract would be in effect from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2023.

Members of the board who served on the salary committee said they believed it was a good year to give an increase to staff because the staff had had to deal with a lot of extra responsibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the district currently has a large unspent authority they can use for the increase and since the district is not seeing a increase in the cost of insurance this year, staff will actually see an increase in their take home pay.

In other business:

• The board approved adding a technology support position discussed during their last meeting. The board approved the job description and compensation package for the position.

• The board approved raising the price of three activity cards for the upcoming school year. The student card will go from $45 to $50. The adult card will go from $70 to $80 and the Family card will go from $160 to $175. There will be no change in the adult couple card at $125, the military/Monroe County senior 55-64 years old card at $50 and the Monroe County senior 65 and older card which is free.

• The board voted to approve allowing open gyms on Wednesday for adults wishing to play basketball. The gym had been closed to them since the pandemic began.

• Superintendent Crall requested that the board approve converting on certified contract day to a flex day for staff to allow them to have PLT time now instead of waiting until the end of the year. The board approved the request.

• The initial proposal for 2021-2022 contract from the AEEA (Support Staff Association) was accepted by the board.