Mount Vernon Community School District School Board News Brief

August 2021

The regular monthly meeting of the Mount Vernon Community School District School was held on August 9, 2021, with the following issues discussed:

Superintendent Report:

Dr. Batenhorst provided information related to the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, and provided an overview of the calendar for the week prior to the start of the school year that begins on Monday, August 23rd.  Dr. Batenhorst also discussed the continued presence of the COVID-19 virus, and previewed the work to be done on the District’s Return to Learn Plan.      

Public Comments:

A community member shared concerns regarding the volume and inappropriate nature of music being played recently at sports practices in the District.  Another community member asked the District to create a culture of caring in its COVID-19 response, and encouraged the District to develop common language for educators to use when working with students around the mask wearing issues in the schools. 

Programs Division:

The Board discussed and provided feedback on the District’s Return to Learn Plan that is being updated for the 2021-2022 school year, as the District continues to deal with the impact of COVID-19 on the school community.  The Board put forth the following recommendations and proclamations as part of the review of this plan:

  1. The Board acknowledged that House File 847 passed by the Iowa State Legislature in May of 2021 bans the District and the City of Mount Vernon from putting into place any form of a mask mandate.
  2. The Board discussed that both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all students, staff, and visitors wear masks in the school setting when indoors, and when social distancing of three to six feet cannot be consistently maintained. 
  3. The Board recommended that all students, staff, and visitors wear masks in the school setting when indoors, and when social distancing of three to six feet cannot be consistently maintained.
  4. The Board recommended the wearing of masks regardless of vaccination status when indoors, and when social distancing of three to six feet cannot be consistently maintained.
  5. The Board recommended that the District follow a CDC Order from January of 2021 that requires passengers and drivers to wear masks on school buses, including buses operated by public and private school systems. 
  6. The Board recommended that all people who are eligible for receiving a COVID-19 vaccine should do so unless a compelling medical or religious reason precludes them from doing so.  

School Improvement Advisory Committee Update:

The Board also discussed the plans for the School Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC) for the 2021-2022 school year.  Dr. Batenhorst asked each Board member to invite two to three community members and/or business leaders to a public SIAC meeting that will be held on Monday, October 25, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. at the Mount Vernon High School Performing Arts Center.  

Personnel Update:

The Board approved the hiring of new associates and extra duty positions related to the theater program for the 2021-2022 school year.   

Facilities Update:

Dr. Batenhorst provided a brief overview on the progress with the new softball complex, the Washington Elementary parking lot, and the secured entrances to the elementary and high schools.  The softball complex work will be completed in the next four to six weeks, the parking lot has been paved and is awaiting for striping of the lot on August 10th, and the secured entrance projects will be completed by the beginning of the school year on August 23, 2021.  

Update on Upcoming Board Election:

School Board members were reminded of the guidelines for the upcoming School Board election to be held in November 2021.  Current Board member Sherry Grunder has expressed she will not run again, while Board members Lori Merlak and Rick Elliott have expressed their intentions to run again.  Any community members interested in running for a seat on the School Board are encouraged to contact the District Office for more details, or review the information on the District’s website.    


No Board reports were offered during the meeting.  

Unfinished Business:

No unfinished business was addressed during the meeting.      

Consent Agenda:

All items in the Consent Agenda were approved as presented. 

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the School Board is scheduled from Monday, September 13, 2021.  Dr. Batenhorst will post the District’s Return to Learn Plan later this week, accompanied by a letter that will provide an overview of the District’s COVID-19 protocols for the 2021-2022 school year.