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INDEPENDENCE – The Independence Community School District board of education delayed its regular monthly meeting by 24 hours amid the growing COVID-19 pandemic. Among those in attendance at the March 17 meeting were board members Eric Smith, Kim Hansen, Matt O’Loughlin, Jennifer Sornson, and Gina Trimble; Superintendent Russell Reiter; Board Secretary Laura Morine; and district building administrators.


  • There were no public comments.
  • Board Members Trimble and Sornson each noted the need for patience regarding the changes coming as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and to take things day by day.
  • Superintendent Reiter expressed his thanks to the community for passing the Revenue Purpose Statement (RPS) in the March 3 special election.
  • Some ICSD students were scheduled to be at some area businesses for the Iowa Quality program during early April, but that has been postponed.
  • Due to COVID-19, classes and activities are cancelled until April 14. Reiter and the administration team have been working hard to determine the next steps during the closing, but changes are coming in rapidly.
  • The district applied for the summer food program in order to provide sack lunches to children under age 18. State approval is still pending.* The board decided to meet at 12 p.m. on Friday to vote on a measure that would extend emergency powers to Reiter to determine how/if employees would be paid during the shutdown.


Dean Youngblut, student outreach coordinator for Geater Machining and Manufacturing, gave a presentation on the nine-week pre-apprenticeship program the company offers. The paid program is seeking six to eight students for this summer to provide an introduction to the manufacturing industry. Students are chosen through an application process and receive a performance review during the program.

Of the four Jesup students who participated last summer, Youngblut said one signed on with Geater.

The pay is $15 per hour, and the hours worked are credited toward an apprenticeship should the individual choose that career path.

The dates for this summer are June 8 through August 7. Geater is flexible with participants who are summer athletes.

Old Business

On a 4-1 vote (Trimble dissenting), the board approved the 2020-21 school calendar. According to Supt. Reiter, this calendar is almost identical to the current school year’s with some exceptions. Based on conversations with the administrative team, teachers, and others, a lot is being accomplished with this year’s schedule and the staff will continue to build on that success.

New Business

The board unanimously approved:

  • Agreement of service between ICSD and BankIowa for the installation of an ATM at the jr/sr high
  • Cooperative agreement by and between University of Northern Iowa and cooperating educational agencies for the 2020-21 academic year
  • 2020-21 senior high course registration guide with the addition of a statement concerning the seven-credit social studies requirement for the class of 2022 and the replacement of the Iowa Regent Universities information with a URL (hyperlink) to the Regents’ website with that information
  • Heartland Acres Agribition Center, Inc. event space rental agreement for the 2021 prom
  • Farm lease for the north parcel for 2020-21
  • Resolution authorizing the redemption of general obligation school bonds, Series 2012, dated May 1, 2012, and levying a tax for Fiscal Year 2020-21 for the redemption of general obligation school bonds, Series 2012, dated May 1, 2012


Reiter, Morine, and the building principals provided information about what is known so far about the remaining school year during the pandemic. For future school board meetings during this time, the administration office will be the posted location, and board members will call in. The school district is looking at electronic options for board meetings.

The building principals met with their staff before school started on Monday, March 16. The school district submitted a request to participate in the Summer Food Service/Unanticipated School Closure program and is waiting for a decision. If approved, the district would be able to provide sack lunches to all children under the age of 18 and be reimbursed.** In the meantime, Hansen reported that a number of community groups are working with the Mustang Foundation to provide sack lunches to students free of charge.

A survey was sent out to the community to get an idea of how many meals would be needed.

The mobile library may start up again, like last summer

The custodial staff is still working and trying to perform a good cleaning before students come back.

Donations are being accepted by the Mustang Foundation to help cover expenses of activities – like the spring musical – that were cancelled but expenditures were made.

Sornson reminded everyone that while Red Cross blood drives have been cancelled, there is still a need for blood. Call the Red Cross to make an appointment to donate.

* **On Monday, March 23, the district received the waiver for the food service waiver. Champ Feeds the Mustangs, the group that began the sack lunch program on March 18, will continue to serve meals this week through March 25. On March 26, the school will start providing meals on Thursday. A breakfast/lunch program will begin on Monday, March 30. See page 1 story with information from Annette Harbaugh, director of food services for ICSD.