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VINTON – As it has in the past, the Vinton Shellsburg Community School District offered an opportunity of early retirement to staff members.

At February's meeting, school board members accepted applications from nine staff members who expressed an interest in participating in the program.

The program was open to both certified and non-certified staff that would allow anyone with 15 years of service with the district who would be 55 years old by June 30, to receive 50% of his/her last year’s wage/salary, exclusive of additional stipend for coaching, plus $60/day for unused sick leave for certified staff or $40/day for unused sick leave for support staff with payments  being placed into a post-retirement special pay account.

Submitting applications were:

- Cheryl Jorgensen, Judith Mumm, Gail Showman, Teresa Wilson, Barbara Salger, Diane Higgins, Alice Ann Janecheck, Julie Long, Les Bearbower.

Mary Jo Hainstock, district superintendent, explained that all resignations would be effective at the end of the current year with the exception of Les Bearbower, director of buildings and grounds.

“Mr. Bearbower’s resignation will be effective at the end of the year,” Hainstock said. “That will  allow for a smother transition of duties and responsibilities.”

She explained that with the projects scheduled for the summer months that happen throughout the district, accepting  Bearbower’s resignation effective the end of the year made sense.

“We are going to be losing a lot of great people,” Hainstock stated during the meeting. “Each of these individuals have a mark on our district.”

Combined the individuals have given 215 years of service to students in the district.

The district is estimated to pay $279,350 in early retirement stipends which will be paid through the management levy fund.

In other business:

- Hainstock gave an update on the 2019-2020 school calendar.

“We surveyed our parents/community and our staff,” she stated. “Based on the input, the Calendar Committee will create a calendar for your review.”

Highlights from the surveys included:

- recommendation for the last day before the holiday break to be Friday, Dec. 20, with an early-out;

- community staff members agree that they want a spring break around Easter, there was no clear agreement on how many days or whether or not they should include snow make-up days;

-snow make-up days should be built into the calendar;

-agreement that professional development days and early-outs work well on Friday, versus other days of the week.

Kyle Schminke, board member, asked Hainstock if there had been action taken at the state legislature about what day school could start.

Hainstock shared with those present at the meeting that there had been discussion at the statehouse to allow the school year to begin immediately following the conclusion of the Iowa State Fair.

“There has been no action taken,” regarding the matter she said.

 -Board members accepted a bid from Bluebird for a new 71 passenger propane bus.

Randy Arndt, director of transportation, reviewed bids from three companies with the board during the meeting.

Arndt explained that many of the district’s fleet is made up of buses from Bluebird, but that it could be difficult to get work done with on the buses because the Waterloo location can become backlogged with bus repairs.

In some cases, he told board members, other districts have had to wait nearly two weeks to get a bus back.

Arndt shared that the district had received a bid from Thompson for an International bus. “They will send a mechanic out to us, rather than us taking a bus to them,” he said.

Schminke raised concerns about going with an International because of problems that had been reported about the engine.

“Its your decision,” Arndt told board members before the vote. “I’m okay with whatever decision you make.”

Board members voted to accept the bid from Bluebird for the bus which would be delivered mid July.

With the weather conditions of the past month, compliments were given to Arndt and the district’s bus drivers.

“We have good drivers,” Arndt said. “They are not putting themselves or the students in bad situations when they are out on the roads.”