DEWITT — The Central Community School Board has moved forward with approval of a 2015-16 calendar and budget. Due to indecision at the state level, both items have been under consideration for several months.

The board approved the Aug. 24 start date calendar, which complies with the state start date. School ends May 25 (without snow days) with three days off at Thanksgiving, winter break from Dec. 23-31 and spring break from March 21-25. There are six full days of professional development for teachers and 14 days of early dismissal.

After a public hearing, the board approved the 2015-16 budget though the Iowa Legislature has not yet decided on a rate of allowable growth. The budget is due to the state by April 15 and is based on a zero percent allowable growth with a tax levy of $15.25857 on $1,000 of taxable evaluation.

Board president Steve Fuglsang said the rate is higher than what the board wanted to publish but it cannot be raised, only lowered. Currently several proposals at the state level range from 1.25 percent to 2.65 percent, but if no decision is forthcoming, the percent of gain will be at zero percent. The district must pass the levy rate on the high side to protect itself if nothing passes, Fuglsang added.

Board member Christy Kunz noted the unwillingness of the Legislature to compromise and Superintendent Dan Peterson cited growing frustration with the decision. At zero percent growth, the property tax increases almost 20 cents to $15.257; at 1.25 percent, recommended by the Iowa House and Governor Terry Branstad, the levy is $15.032; at 2 percent it is $14.909; and at 3 percent, $14.853.

Peterson said the board can reduce the levy by board action if the allowable growth percentage goes up. Board members and Peterson urged district residents to contact legislative representatives to make a decision.

The approved budget lists $26,093,342 in resources and requirements.

After a public hearing, the board approved an amendment to this year’s budget largely for fiscal management and the district does not necessarily expect to spend the full amounts. The areas are instruction to $5,430,091; non-instructional programs to $1.1 million; and other expenditures to $4,391,500.

Peterson presented a proposal to bring back fifth-grade band at the intermediate school. He reviewed many reasons for reinstating the long-defunct program. The current general music teaching position is at .58 of time, but the board approved increasing that time to .67 because of an increase in sections. By eliminating some summer sessions, the board could increase the time to .875 at a cost of $4,611.The increase in time would also add stability to the position, which is currently filled by long-term substitute Brittany Wedeking, Peterson said. The proposal will be on the May meeting agenda.

The board accepted the resignation with reluctance of Tina Bartels, board secretary and business manager. Bartels is returning to the Northeast District, where she was previously employed.

In other personnel changes, at Ekstrand Elementary the board hired Molly Promo as guidance counselor at MA step 3, Carly Norton as special-education teacher at BA step 1, and Scott Burke as physical education teacher at BA step 1.

Beth Harvey was employed as middle school language arts teacher at BA step 1; Christina Walls as intermediate fifth-grade teacher at MA 12 step 8; and Grady Gallagher as high school business education teacher and Future Business Leaders of America sponsor at BA step 1.

The contract of intermediate school art teacher Caralyn Butler was increased to .67 due to an increase in sections.

Rachel Truelsen was hired as head varsity volleyball coach at a .13 stipend, and Carl Small will fill the head varsity girls basketball coach at .15 stipend.

The board employed Shannon Isaacson as a general food service worker at Ekstrand at $12.23 per hour and transferred Antoinette Schneider to cook at the intermediate school at $13.35 per hour.

The board approved the first reading of new provisions to board policies for licensed employee and classified employee group benefits. The changes are specified by the Affordable Care Act and show the board will comply with the law, Bartels said.

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