By R.D. KEEP
---- — OSKALOOSA — The Oskaloosa School Board agreed to a tentative agreement with the Oskaloosa Education Association at Tuesday’s regular session.
The agreement, which will be voted on the by the association later this week, will be a 3.6 percent increase and includes increases for insurance.
“It was a very good meeting between the negotiations team,” said superintendent Russ Reiter. “Thanks to everyone for their work.”
Board Secretary Chad Vink stated there were a number of items discussed that were not part of the negotiated contract, but were valuable discussion items. The contract includes an increase in the base by $550.
With the completion of the tentative agreement, Reiter recommended the hiring of two new teachers. They were hired in the Special Education Department at the high school for 2014-15. Both served recently as student teachers in the district. The teachers, Noelle Hoover and Taya Donovan, will be hired at BA step 1 at $33,615 each.
“When you have a number of colleges in the area with student teachers you have a chance to hire new talent and see how they perform, you have to try to hire them,” said Reiter. “These two taught at the high school. Taya taught at the high school and at the middle school. They will be good additions to our staff.”
Curriculum Director Dr. Mary Cooksley stated the results from the parent survey were in, but only 20 percent responded. Conversation by board members ensued regarding how to increase the numbers. Cooksley said the report is an online assessment. Questions arose if this was the only way to access the survey. The answer was yes from Cooksley, but that according to student assessment nearly 90 percent state they have Internet access.
Board Chair Carl Drost was disturbed by the percentages for the question regarding how much building principals care for students. The results showed approval at about 50 percent at the high school and 60 percent at the middle and elementary schools.
“I have been to these schools and I know these principals care for their students,” said Drost. “How can these be that low?”
Cooksley and board member Nik Rule said part of the problem is not enough responses so the data, while valuable, may not be as valid as it would be if there were more responses. Rule and Cooksley said in data evaluations at least 30 percent is an acceptable rate to determine validity. Cooksley said the team would continue to look at other ways to increase parent participation.
In his report to the board, Reiter said he has been in contact with an architect to consider how to handle the flooring issues at the high school. A settlement has been proposed with the original contractor and could be finalized in the next few weeks depending on an appeal. Reiter said he would suggest bringing the architect in May or June to discuss the issues.
Reiter said they looked at the elementary school to consider how the best way to access additional classroom space. He said the architect indicated the changing of the courtyards into classroom space would be more costly than adding space. The architect indicated the addition of pods on the east and west extensions may be the best option.
In other business:
• Heard a presentation from YMCA Executive Director Dawn Collins regarding the YMCA annual report. The report is made to the district as part of the organization’s report to stakeholders.
• Held public hearing and approved the 2014-15 budget. No member of the public was on hand to speak. The district is asking a $14.95 per $1,000 evaluation.
• Agreed to purchase two diesel busses from Hogeland Bus Company for $97,488 each.
• Approved a resolution to support the Oskaloosa Blue Zone Certification.
• Approved specifications to receive bids for provision of milk.
• Approved increase of adult lunches by 10 cents to $3.35 for the 2014-15 school year.
• Approved agreement with Iowa Education Purchasing for cooperative food purchases.
• Approved a resolution to participate in the 2015 hazard mitigation with the multi-jurisdiction plan.
• Scheduled a public hearing for a budget amendment for current budget year. Hearing will be held on Tuesday, May 13, at 7 p.m.