Mount Vernon Community School District School Board News Brief

November 2021

The regular monthly meeting of the Mount Vernon Community School District School was held on November 16, 2021.  The Board also held its required Annual School Finance Meeting, and its Organizational Meeting after the recent School Board election.  The following topics were addressed during the meetings:

Closed Session:  The School Board met in closed session with Dr. Batenhorst to complete the yearly mid-year evaluation of his performance.  The final evaluation for the year will take place in the spring of 2022.

Annual Meeting:  During the Annual Meeting, the Board reviewed and approved the Teacher Early Retirement Plan for 2022.  The Board also reviewed the yearly financial summary provided by School Business Officer, Matt Burke.  Overall, the District’s finances remain sound, but the lack of sufficient funding from the state means the District must keep a close eye on its General Fund, Unspent Balance, and Spending Authority when making financial decisions.     

Consent Agenda:  The Board passed all items in the Consent Agenda, including the certification of the recent School Board election.  Rick Elliott, Lori Merlak, and Bill Thomsen were certified as the winners of the November 3, 3021, election.

Organization Meeting:  During the Organization Meeting, the Board administered the oath of office to Rick Elliott, Lori Merlak, and Bill Thomsen.  Additionally, Nannette Gunn was elected as Board President and Jeremy Kunz was elected as Board Vice-President.  

Regular Monthly Meeting

Approval Agenda:  The meeting agenda was approved as written with no changes proposed.

Superintendent Report:  Dr. Batenhorst took time to applaud all of the Board members for their continued service to the District, and honored Sherry Grunder for her eight years of service on the Board.  Sherry was praised for her leadership as President during recent challenging times, and for modeling civitility in her role as a Board member.  Dr. Batenhorst congratulated Lori Merlak and Rick Elliott on being reelected to the Board, and congratulated Bill Thomsen on his election to the Board.  Dr. Batenhorst also thanked Ian Dye and Nick Edwards for running for the Board and giving voters a choice of five quality candidates.  

Public Comments:  No public comments were made during the meeting. 

Program Division

COVID-19 Update:  Dr. Batenhorst again reviewed the metrics chart that has been created to track cases during the pandemic, and discussed the notes from the Metrics Team meeting held last week.  The Board supported keeping the PK-6 mask mandate in place until winter break.  Dr. Batenhorst supported moving from the mandate to a mask recommendation effective January 3, 2022, as long as COVID-19 conditions remain manageable as they are now.  Dr. Batenhorst also updated the Board on issues related to a possible COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all employees in the District.  The District is waiting for further guidance from its legal counsel regarding this potential mandate.   

Certified Enrollment:  The Board reviewed the Certified Enrollment report which revealed an increase of 17.55 students from the 2020-2021 school year to the 2021-2022 school year.  Resident enrollment remains flat due to lower birth rates of school-aged children, but it is hoped that the addition of residential housing will move that number upward in the future.  Open Enrollment numbers remain strong.  When preschool classes are factored in, the District has 27 more students in attendance in 2021-2022 over 2020-2021.  This is an increase from 1388 students to 1415 students.

Personnel Division:  The Board approved the hiring of a series of support staff members, and the amendment of a few contracts for people serving in new roles.  

Facilities Division:  Dr. Batenhorst provided a brief overview on the progress with the new softball complex, and shared that a broader overview of projects will be provided in the January 2022 meeting when the yearly facilities update is provided.  

Administrative Division: The Board approved the First Reading of a series of policy updates provided by the Iowas Association of School Boards.    

Reports:  No reports were offered by Board members during the meeting.   

Unfinished Business:  Final details for the IASB Convention this week were reviewed.       

Consent Agenda:  All items in the Consent Agenda were approved as presented. 

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the School Board is scheduled for Monday, December 13, 2021.