Sawhill, Richards, Roeder opt for early retirement

By RICK MORAIN

For The Jefferson Herald

The Greene County school board on Jan. 15 accepted voluntary retirement applications and resignations from three longtime school staff members, who represent a combined 88 years of service to the Scranton, Jefferson, Jefferson-Scranton, East Greene and/or Greene County school districts. 

All three will retire at the end of the current school year.

Retiring are middle school math teacher Mark Sawhill with 31 years; elementary and middle school art teacher Kevin Richards with 31 years; and custodian Marcia Roeder with 26 years.

The board thanked them for their many years of service and wished them well in their retirement.

The board also approved the hiring of Josh Carlson as girls’ golf coach and accepted the resignation of Marsha Snowgren as middle school associate (at the end of the school year).

The board took several actions in connection with the current construction project. 

An engagement agreement with Ahlers & Cooney P.C. as bond counsel for the sales tax revenue bond redemption and sale was approved, as was a resolution authorizing the redemption of outstanding school infrastructure sales, services and use tax revenue refunding bonds dated June 29, 2016. The redemption will result in lower bond interest costs.

The board then fixed the date of 6:30 p.m. Feb. 19, the next board meeting, for a public hearing on the proposed issuance of about $10 million worth of school infrastructure sales, services and use tax revenue bonds. 

The bonds will both repay the district’s funds that were previously advanced for the construction project and help fund the project’s upcoming costs. They are part of the bond issue that was approved by the district’s voters.

The board approved three requests to the state school budget review committee to permit funding of specific programs. 

One is the 2020-21 at-risk dropout program budget for a request of a modified supplemental amount of $415,439 to implement the plan, along with the required district match of $138,480, representing 25 percent of the program cost.

A second request is for Grandwood administrative costs, with the Greene County district’s cost estimated at $12,931.43. Grandwood provides services to students with behavioral issues. The third request is for Woodward Academy Dayschool administrative costs, with the Greene County district’s cost estimated at $1,756.71.

An independent contractor agreement with ESSDACK for Kevin Honeycutt’s services on Feb. 3-4 and Feb. 10-11 for $3,000 per day was approved. 

Technology director Brent Gerzema and business manager Brenda Muir explained the need to update the school business office financial software. The board approved a quotation from Harris School Solutions for implementation and training of the software for $11,100.

The board approved a number of coaching contracts. 

Soccer coaching contracts for 2020 are as follows: Carl Behne varsity boys, Chad Black assistant boys, Marilyn Tasler varsity girls and Maribelle Hernandez assistant girls. Head coaches will receive six units of $3,473, and assistant coaches will receive four units or $2,316. The unit value is based on the current supplemental schedule.

Baseball and softball coaching contracts approved are as follows: Matthew Paulsen varsity baseball, Kevin Paulsen assistant baseball, Tom Kennedy varsity softball, Tiffany Hupp assistant softball, Marissa Promes ninth grade and middle school softball, and Jacque Schirmbeck middle school softball. Other positions are still open and available.

The board approved an early graduation request from Scott Brown.

The board approved revisions to board policies involving enrollment and count dates and adding a paragraph recommended by the Iowa Association of School Boards on parental requests for siblings’ classroom assignments. 

The board placed on second reading and approved revised board policies on internet safe and responsible use regulations for students and the district.

Fundraisers were approved for a Gay Straight Alliance bake sale and a middle school bake sale to help sponsor an animal in need.

The district’s advertising committee recommended an increase in the district’s advertising budget for radio, online and print ads promoting the school and the regional academy. The budget was increased by $12,000, to a total of $24,359.

The conversion of the current high school building into a middle school will be on the February meeting agenda. 

The project will be let out to bid and a public hearing must be held before approval of bids.

The school district’s administrators gave brief reports to the board. Superintendent Tim Christensen reported on a school nutrition review, an upcoming Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Advisory Council, an upcoming school budget workshop, and lobbying. 

At the end of the meeting, the board went into closed session as allowed by Iowa Code for its periodic evaluation of Christensen.

No action was taken when the board came out of closed session 19 minutes later.

In a work session held before the regular meeting, district owner’s representative Sam Harding updated the board on construction of the new high school and career academy. He said the project is back on schedule, with completion expected by Aug. 1 except for the high school performing arts theater, which is projected for Oct. 1. 

High school Principal Brian Phillips recommended changing the number of minimum classes required for extracurricular participation from five to four, which is the state minimum. Several staff members and a student spoke in support of the change. 

It will be discussed again at a future work session before any change is made.

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