Mount Vernon Community School District School Board News Brief

May 2021

The regular monthly meeting of the Mount Vernon Community School District School was held on May 10, 2021, with the following issues discussed:


Public Hearing Regarding the Special Education Delivery Plan:

A public hearing was held to allow for feedback on the District’s Special Education Delivery Plan.  No members of the public offered feedback during the hearing.


Superintendent Report: 

Dr. Batenhorst took the time to honor the seven School Board members as part of School Board Recognition month.  Dr. Batenhorst thanked the School Board for its hard work, patience, and understanding during difficult times in unchartered waters.  School Board members were recognized with a certificate, book, and a dessert party to honor their work.    


Public Comments: 

One patron shared information from his mother who serves as a substitute teacher in the District, regarding how the District could address the learning needs of academically at-risk students.  Another patron asked the Board to drop the current mask wearing mandate, citing data that supports the lack of impact of COVID-19 on young people.


School Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC) and Committees Update: 

Dr. Batenhorst provided a presentation on the work of the SIAC group, as well as the work of the Personalized Learning, Wellness, Communications, and Safety Committees.  Dr. Batenhorst also shared details regarding the work completed today by the administrators and instructructional coaches as they develop the professional learning plan for the staff for next year. 


i-Jag Program Discussion: 

The School Board approved piloting the i-Jag program at Mount Vernon High School for the next two years at no cost to the District.  The i-Jag program uses business, industry, and education partnerships to ensure that youth facing multiple challenges to graduation remain in school, attain basic employability skills through classroom and work-based learning experiences to be successful.  Students in the program are also provided with academic support services, and support after graduation to transition successfully into a career and/or pursue a post-secondary education to enhance their career entry and advancement.  The Board approved the i-Jag program for the next two years at Mount Vernon High School.  


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:  5

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

Current 14-day Linn County positivity rate average:  5.2%

Dr. Batenhorst shared that vaccines may soon be available for students as young as twelve, and that the District has reached out to Linn County Public Health to see if there is the possibility of hosting a vaccine clinic for eligible students sometime in the near future.  Dr. Batenhorst also shared that there remains the consensus of health experts and area districts to maintain mask wearing requirements for the remainder of the school year.  


Remote Learning Proposal: 

Dr. Batenhorst asked for approval of 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 offering this option, 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 data on the number of students currently interested in remote learning, and shared that other potentially interested students would have until late May to complete an application for consideration.  The Board approved the remote learning pilot program for the 2021-2022 school year.    


Personnel Update: 

The School Board approved the contracts for a variety of extra duty positions for the remainder of this year and for the 2021-2022 school year.  The School Board also approved a $200 one-time COVID-19 stipend for staff members who worked on a regular basis during the regular school day during the 2020-2021 school year.  The School Board acknowledged the staff for working under difficult circumstances, while also being concerned for their health and the health of their students.     


Facilities Update:

Dr. Batenhorst provided a brief overview on the progress with the new softball complex, and shared a brief update on the continued work on the proposed Activities Complex project. 


Update on School Board Policies: 

The Board approved the Second Reading of a series of policy updates from the Iowa Association of School Boards.  These policies now go into effect.


Health Insurance Update: 

Dr. Batenhorst and School Business Official Matt Burke presented a recommendation that the District move to a partially self-funded health insurance program through the Acumen company.  Moving to this plan will result in lower insurance premiums for employees.  The School Board approved the move to this new insurance plan.      



Rick Elliott shared that the Booster Club has made a pledge to donate $75,000 for the proposed Activities Complex.


Unfinished Business: 

Lori Merlak encouraged the Board to engage in a work session in the next few months to discuss Board processes, goals, etc.  Sherry Grunder shared that the three schools will be holding staff recognition ceremonies the week of May 17th, and that Board members are encouraged to attend.   


Consent Agenda: 

All items in the Consent Agenda were approved as presented. 

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the School Board is Monday, June 14, 2021.