North Tama school board talks budget, contracts

North Tama student council member Paden Ketter is sworn in by Board of Education Presdient Rod Zobel as the board’s student representative on March 18. Photo by Darvin Graham/NT Telegraph

The North Tama Board of Education welcomed its first student member at a regular meeting on March 18.

NTHS Student Council member Paden Ketter was sworn in at the beginning of the meeting by board President Rod Zobel, and will act as a non-voting student representative on the board through the end of the school year.

“This is a milestone for North Tama and a really awesome thing to be a part of,” Superintendent David Hill said.

Lawn maintenance duties at North Tama will commence in a similar fashion as last year after the board accepted a bid of $275 from Dennis Albert for mowing of the athletic complex for the upcoming school year.

Mowing for the remainder of school grounds will be done by school employees with school-owned equipment.

North Tama counselor Teresa O’Meara spoke to the board regarding a pair of scholarship programs the school has interacted with in recent years.

O’Meara gave an update on the participation with the North Tama Dollars for Scholars program and relayed an anecdote about a former student that contacted her to say how the state-funded Last-Dollar Scholarship had helped close a $6,000 cost gap so that he could purchase tools necessary to complete a degree in the automotive industry.

The board was presented with an overview of the proposed budget for the 2022 fiscal year by Superintendent Hill.

Hill indicated the school tax rate would see a slight decrease, from $10.04 per $1,000 to $10.02 per $1,000, should the budget be approved. A public hearing for the fiscal year 2022 budget is scheduled for April 12.

Teacher contract agreements were ratified by the board last Thursday after first being ratified by the North Tama teacher’s association. The agreement for teachers will see a 1.83 percent salary increase, which according to Hill, could amount to between $900 to $1,000 per teacher over the course of the next school year.

Most employee groups, including secretaries, custodians, paraeducators, transportation, the business manager, and nurse received a 1.83 percent increase, the same as the teachers. Principals received a 1.83 percent increase plus an additional $1,000.

The superintendent received a zero percent salary increase. At his request, his contract will be modified to allow for the carry-over and accumulation of, or payment for, unused vacation days.

Nutrition department employees also received a 1.83% increase, plus an additional one-time adjustment of $0.90 per hour. The nutrition department increase will be paid for from the Nutrition Fund, not the General Fund.

A public hearing was conducted ahead of board approval of the upcoming school calendar. No public comments were seen and later in the meeting the board voted unanimously in favor of the 2021-22 calendar proposal. The calendar provides for 175 days of instruction with the first day of school being on Aug. 25 and the tentative last day of school being on May 24.

Hill said the biggest change in the schedule compared to the current year is the moving around of parent-teacher conferences to coincide with the Thanksgiving and Easter holidays.

Iowa Department of Education Director Ann Lebo will be making a visit to North Tama schools on Monday, April 12 in the afternoon. According to a state press release, the visit is intended to focus on work-based learning initiatives happening at districts throughout the state.

Hill also encouraged board members to help spread the word regarding the public input session on March 30 for the North Tama facilities study being conducted by Align Architecture. The session is open to all community members and will be delivered via Zoom video and telephone conferencing from 6 to 7:30 p.m. next Tuesday.

Those interested in participating are encouraged to sign up at https://tinyurl.com/NT-March30 or contact the school office for more information.