School Board News Brief

Mount Vernon Community School District School Board News Brief

April 2021

The regular monthly meeting of the Mount Vernon Community School District School was held on April 12, 2021, with the following issues discussed:

Public Hearing Regarding the 2021-2022 Budget:

A public hearing was held for the purpose of gathering feedback on the District’s proposed 2021-2022 budget.  No members of the public shared feedback during the hearing.

Public Hearing Regarding the Sale of Equipment:

A public hearing was held for the purpose of gathering feedback on the proposed sale of equipment by the District.  No members of the public shared feedback during the hearing. 

Superintendent Report:

Dr. Batenhorst expressed his gratitude to the Mount Vernon Community School District staff for its dedication and service to its students.  Dr. Batenhorst mentioned that the tentative agreement reached with the Mount Vernon Education Association would mean pay increases for all staff members, something especially important this year with the great work done by everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Public Comments:

No public comments were offered during this meeting.

Technology Update:

Technology Director Sean Flockhart provided the School Board with an overview of the future vision for technology in the District, and discussed security upgrades to the District as it moves toward the goal of having secured entryways at all three schools by August of 2021.  Mr. Flockhart also discussed the 1:1 device roll-out in the District that was accelerated this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Dr. Batenhorst acknowledged the great work of the Technology Department during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as the District transitioned to a 1:1 platform for all students.    

Website Review:

Dr. Batenhorst walked the Board members through an introduction to the District’s new website, highlighting new features and highlighting how the new website is more reflective of the people and programs of the District.  Dr. Batenhorst commended Superintendent Secretary Amy Weber and Technology Director Sean Flockhart for their leadership during this project.

COVID-19 Update:  

# of students currently testing positive for COVID-19:  0

# of staff members currently testing positive for COVID-19:  0

# of people currently quarantined related to COVID-19:  0

# of people in self-quarantine related to COVID-19:  0

Current 14-day Linn County positivity rate average:  4.4%

Dr. Batenhorst shared that all staff members wishing to be vaccinated have received both doses of the vaccine.  Approximately 87% of the staff chose to be vaccinated.  Dr. Batenhorst reiterated the District continues to monitor the spread of the variant strains of the virus; as well as monitoring the recent outbreak in the Iowa City School District, and a slight uptick in cases reported by Cornell College.  

Remote Learning Proposal:

Dr. Batenhorst provided a draft of a proposal to possibly offer a remote learning option for 2021-2022 for students who would be more comfortable learning in a remote/virtual environment.  Dr. Batenhorst shared that many other districts in the area and across the state are considering something similar, and shared that the District has funds available through federal and state money for COVID relief to provide this as a pilot program for 2021-2022.  Dr. Batenhorst shared he would share a draft of a plan with families in the next few weeks, and will return to the Board in May for further discussion on the topic before determining whether or not to offer this learning option for 2021-2022.  

2021-2022 Calendar Discussion:

The School Board approved the proposed calendar for the 2021-2022 school year, with school starting on August 23, 2021.  

Personnel Update:

The School Board approved a new three-year contract with the Mount Vernon Education Association, beginning July 1, 2021.  Certified staff members will receive a 2.29% increase to base wages in 2021-2022, and a 2.24% increase to base wages in 2022-2023.  They will also receive salary schedule step and lane movements each of the first two years of the contract.  The parties agreed to reopen negotiations in the third year of the contract for the purpose of negotiating base wages.  The parties also agreed to adjustments to the Extra Duty Salary Schedule, while keeping all other current contract language in place.  The contract will end on June 30, 2024.

The School Board approved base wage increases for the administrators and support staff, increasing wages by 2.29% in 2021-2022, and 2.24% in 2022-2023.

The School Board approved a series of new contracts for a new Spanish teacher at Washington Elementary, a new Math teacher at Mount Vernon High School, and several new coaches.

Dr. Batenhorst presented information regarding a possible change to the District’s health insurance.  A special session of the Board may be requested in the next few weeks if the District believes a change to a partially self-funded health insurance program would be beneficial to staff members.      

Facilities Update:

Dr. Batenhorst provided a brief overview of notes from a meeting he held previously with the Facilities Committee, providing an overview of projects being completed with funds available from bond projects proceeds as well as insurance money related to the 2020 derecho. 

Update on School Board Policies:

The Board approved the First Reading of a series of policy updates from the Iowa Association of School Boards.  Final approval of the policies will take place in the next regular School Board meeting in May.

Presentation of 2021-2022 District Budget:

School Business Official Matt Burke provided the Board with the proposed budget for the 2021-2022 school year.  Mr. Burke shared that the proposed budget is consistent with School Board goals on financial planning, and keeps property tax rates at the same level as last year at $17.89259 rate per $1000 of taxable valuation.  The proposed budget for 2021-2022 is $27,929,792.           


Board Member Nannette Gunn shared an update on focus groups being completed with teachers as part of the work of the Personalized Learning Committee.  Board member Lori Merlak shared that the Communications Committee met recently to review and offer feedback on the District’s new website.  Board member Rick Elliott highlighted the work of the Booster Club, including its various fundraising efforts. 

Unfinished Business:

There was no unfinished business addressed in the meeting.   

Consent Agenda:

All items in the Consent Agenda were approved as proposed. 

Closed Session:

The School Board met in closed session with Dr. Batenhorst for the purpose of completing his yearly performance evaluation.

Follow-up to the Closed Session:

The School Board voted to extend the contract of Dr. Batenhorst through the 2023-2024 school year, and approved a new salary for him for the 2021-2022 school year. 

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the School Board is Monday, May 10, 2021.