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Board approves pay for hourly employees during shutdown; proposed budget includes no tax increase

  • The Charles City school board meeting Monday was held completely online. Board members met via Google Hangout, and a call-in number was presented on the agenda so the public could listen in. The meeting was also streamed via Facebook Live for the public to view and interact in that way. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • The Charles City school board meeting Monday was held completely online. Board members met via Google Hangout, and a call-in number was presented on the agenda so the public could listen in. The meeting was also streamed via Facebook Live for the public to view and interact in that way. (Press photo James Grob.)

  • The Charles City school board meeting Monday was held completely online. Board members met via Google Hangout, and a call-in number was presented on the agenda so the public could listen in. The meeting was also streamed via Facebook Live for the public to view and interact in that way. (Press photo James Grob.)

By James Grob, jgrob@charlescitypress.com

The Charles City Community School District Board of Education unanimously approved a “Pandemic Pay” resolution for hourly/non-exempt employees during Monday’s meeting.

“We will continue to pay our staff during the shutdown,” said Charles City Superintendent Mike Fisher. “We feel it is the compassionate thing to do — we have people who live paycheck to paycheck — and it’s also the economical thing to do.”

The motion ensured the district will pay hourly and/or non-exempt employees while school is temporarily closed. The employees will be paid their regular pay and benefits for up to four weeks during the temporary closure, a term which may be extended by the superintendent upon notification of the board.

“We want our people paying rent, buying groceries and spending money in the community,” Fisher said. “It’s just the right thing to do.”

Fisher said that if the district were to not pay the staff, many would have to file for unemployment, which would be a tax burden.

“Quite honestly, we have this money budgeted anyway, so we feel the right thing to do is compensate and fairly take care of our staff,” he added.

All schools in the Charles City district have been closed until April 13 because of state efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Fisher explained that since teachers are contracted, they would be paid during the shutdown, although there could be some stipulations where they might have to make those days up.

Hourly staff, on the other hand, would be getting no pay at this time, based on traditional rules.

“We realize that would be a major problem, especially since the student’s missed days have been forgiven” by Gov. Kim Reynolds, Fisher said. “That means we don’t have to make those days up. If we don’t make a change, the hourly employees would lose these four weeks worth of pay, forever.”

Fisher said that not making a change would also mean that certified staff might have to come back and make up 20 work days, “which doesn’t make any sense and is a waste of people’s time.”

“I will stand behind our employees,” Fisher said. “They work extra hours and go above and beyond, all the time.”

The board also approved that the 2020-21 certified budget be published at a property tax rate of $12.75336 per $1,000 of taxable valuation and 6% surtax, and set a public hearing concerning the budget for ​Monday, April 13, at 6:15 p.m. in the high school commons area, or online if necessary.

“The tax rate is the same,” said board Treasurer Terri O’Brien. “The surtax rate is also the same as last year.”

O’Brien explained that the cash reserve levy is proposed at about $560,000, which is up from previous years, but the increase is in order to improve the district’s solvency ratio. She also said the district’s management fund had also increased, because the insurance company would have a large (15-20%) increase in the coming year.

The meeting Monday was held completely online. Board members met via Google Hangout, and a call-in number was presented on the agenda so the public could listen in. The meeting was also streamed via Facebook Live for the public to view and interact in that way. No one called in, and the peak number of Facebook Live viewers at any one time was reportedly 95.

In other action Monday, the school district approved a major technological purchase. The purchase includes the 5-year lease of 1360 HP Chromebook student devices from Now Micro at a monthly cost of $4,728, the 5-year lease of 132 audio visual classrooms from Marco Technologies at a monthly cost of $14,720 and the 5-year lease of 44 Toshiba and Lexmark products and managed print services from Access Systems for a monthly cost of $3,527.

Five bids were received for all or a part of the technology purchase Request for Proposals (RFP). These bids were reviewed separately and bundled by April Hanson, the district’s director of technology. The student devices and audio visual classroom lease payments will be paid from the facilities fund and the managed print services and print equipment will be paid from the general fund.

In other business Monday, the board:
— Approved the employee transfer of David Williams, from interim wrestling coach to head wrestling coach.
— Approved the appointments of Robert Pittman, 7th-grade girls track coach, at a salary of $2,253 starting March 16; Ross Chettinger, Lincoln special education teacher at a salary of $12,556.86 starting Feb. 1; Jacqueline Groesbeck, Lincoln special education teacher at an unspecified salary starting Aug. 13; and Katelyn Shultz, CCMS special education teacher at an unspecified salary starting Aug. 13.
— Approved the resignations of Gary Finger, car/bus driver, effective Feb. 28; Mike Lembke, assistant drama, effective June 30; Julie Miller, Washington para-educator, effective March 13; David Voves, National Honor Society, effective June 30; Brooke Samuelson, CCMS counselor, effective at the end of the school year; and Marla Rima, CCMS special education teacher and CCHS cheerleading coach, at the end of the school year.
— Renewed an agreement with Timberline Billing Service LLC effective July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2023. Timberline assists the district in accessing Medicaid reimbursement for covered services. The district pays Timberline a fee equal to 6% of the net Medicaid reimbursement retained by the district.
— Approved Fisher’s recommended school performance metrics.
— Approved the district’s 2020-21 facility projects.
— Accepted the February 2020 financial report.
— Approved the list of 2020 Charles City High School and Carrie Lane graduating seniors.

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