The regular monthly meeting of the Mount Vernon Community School District School was held on February 7, 2022. The following topics were addressed during the meetings:
Approval Agenda: The meeting agenda was approved as written with no changes proposed.
Superintendent Report: Dr. Batenhorst spoke briefly about the current focus on education in the current Iowa Legislative session, and spoke about the importance of public schools in ensuring that communities, states, and the nation are healthy and high functioning.
Public Comments: Mount Vernon High School Theater teacher Tom Stephens shared with the Board the need for a full-time Technical Director for the Theater program and the Performing Arts Center.
Remote Learning Update: Dr. Batenhorst provided an update on the District’s Remote Learning program; reviewing the number of students involved in the program, and discussing the progress of students in the program. Dr. Batenhort shared the District would discontinue the program for elementary students at the end of the year due to low enrollment, but the secondary program would remain in place since the online remote learning program, the Apex program, is used for a variety of purposes with the District purchasing the use of unlimited licensing for the Apex program.
2022-2023 Calendar: Dr. Batenhorst provided the Board with the details of six possible calendar options for the 2022-2023 school year. The Board provided input regarding the various options which Dr. Batenhorst will discuss with his administrative team. A final calendar recommendation will be brought to the Board for approval in the March 8, 2022, meeting.
COVID-19 Update/Staff Vaccination Mandate Policy: Dr. Batenhorst provided an update on the COVID-19 cases data for the District, and addressed recent actions in the Courts that have impacted the COVID-19 responses of school districts. The Board then approved two recommendations made by Dr. Batenhorst related to the District’s response to the pandemic. The first recommendation called for ending any potential mask mandates tied to COVID-19 and overall illness data that have been in place since January 1, 2022. The second recommendation called for new metrics to be put into place that would allow for the eventual return of visitors to the schools. Once the daily COVID-19 positive case numbers are consistently under 2% for the students, the overall daily illness rates are consistently under 8%, and the active case numbers for the Mount Vernon Community show a downward trend over a three-week period of time, visitors will be allowed back into the schools. The COVID-19 and overall illness rates have remained under the 2% and 8% thresholds, so the key factor will be the drop in Mount Vernon community case numbers.
Personnel Division: The Board approved the staffing recommendation plan for 2022-2023 as recommended by Dr. Batenhorst. Prior to approving the plan, Dr. Batenhorst reviewed the financial impact of the plan by outlining savings and impacts on the overall budget. The plan includes replacing all of the teachers who took advantage of the District’s Early Retirement Incentive Program, with the exception of a Fifth Grade teaching position that will not be filled due to lower student numbers in the Fifth Grade next year. The plan also calls for the hiring of a High School Counselor, replacing the position of Director of Student Support that has been vacant for two years. The District will also add back a second Talented and Gifted Teacher, another position that has been vacant for two years. The Board also approved a new position of Behavior Interventionist at Washington Elementary, and approved the hiring of a Kitchen Manager for Mount Vernon High School. The Board also approved the hiring of a series of support staff members, including associates, food service workers, and coaches to fill currently open positions.
The Board also approved the parameters for the hiring of a new School Business Official to replace the current School Business Official who is retiring. The position will be posted immediately in a variety of outlets in order to recruit high-quality candidates.
Facilities Division: No information was provided during the Facilities Division of the agenda.
Administrative Division: Dr. Batenhorst solicited input for recommendations for someone in the District that may be interested in serving on the Mount Vernon Housing Commission.
Reports: No reports were offered by Board members during the meeting.
Work Session: The Board now plans on scheduling a work session for sometime in the month of February to discuss Board goals and the strengths of individual both members.
Consent Agenda: All items in the Consent Agenda were approved as presented.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the School Board is scheduled for Tuesday, March 8, 2022. The location will be the MVHS Library.