Union School Board discusses array of topics

Board enters closed session for superintendent evaluation

Union Community School Superintendent Travis Fleshner

The Union Community School District held a regular board meeting Monday, September 20 beginning at 6 p.m. in the Union High School Media Center with all members present.

Masking is addressed

Superintendent Travis Fleshner reported to the board local COVID-19 positive case numbers are up at this time compared to last year but highlighted the fact those numbers are still below 1 percent and Union’s daily attendance rate sits at 93.5 percent overall. Later in the evening, the board voted 7-0 to approve keeping the district’s Return to Learn Plan as is “with no mask requirements.”

District enrollment up

The district’s enrollment appears to be up for 2021-2022 school year by 17 students. An official count will be reported October 1, 2021. Union’s certified enrollment for 2020-2021 was 992.8 students.

Transportation update

The board was given a transportation update. The district’s most recent bus inspection “went well” with most of the issues already being addressed.

Until further notice, all LP bus repairs will take place in Washington, Iowa due to an explosion and fire at School Bus Sales Co. in Waterloo, Iowa back in December 2020.

The district is planning to request new bus bids in the next few months and possibly sell a couple of vehicles.

Teacher negotiations and school board elections

Board member Brandon Paine and Superintendent Fleshner reported they planned to meet with Administrative Law Judge Susan Bolte from the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) as well as members of the Union Education Association on Wednesday, September 22 to “look at negotiating differently.”

The Union Education Association — the bargaining unit representing Union’s teachers — has a potential retention and recertification election in 2021 according to the PERB website. In October of 2020 the Union Education Association voted to retain and recertify their union as their exclusive bargaining representative — 73 ‘yes’ votes were recorded and five ‘no’ votes out of a total of 97 eligible voting members.

The deadline to file paperwork to run in the November 2, 2021 city and school board elections has now passed. It was reported during the board meeting that one individual (Maureen Hanson of La Porte) is running for Kevin Sash’s District 2 seat and one individual (Lindsay Pipho of Dysart) is running for Kristi Martin’s At-Large seat.

No one filed paperwork to run for the District 1 seat currently held by Darrell DeWinter.

Public hearing set for instructional support levy

A public hearing was set for October 18, 2021 at 6 p.m. in the Union High School Media Center to address a resolution to consider continued participation in the Instructional Support Levy.

This would be a five year renewal of the levy which is a combination of property taxes and income surtaxes. Funding for this levy is determined annually and can vary from 1 percent to no more than 10 percent of the total regular program district cost for the budget year.

The current Instructional Support Levy (which expires in 2022) for the Union Community School District has a 6 percent income surtax and has generated $580,137 total for the fiscal year ending on July 30, 2021 of which $67,750 was from property taxes and $512,387 was from income surtaxes according to data published by Iowa Department of Management.

Superintendent evaluation

The board went into closed session at 6:27 p.m. Monday evening for a superintendent evaluation to “to review or discuss records which are required or authorized to be kept confidential.” School member Brandon Paine was recorded as leaving the closed session at 8:19 p.m. The board returned to open session more than three hours and 45 minutes later at 10:14 p.m. The meeting then adjourned at 10:15 p.m.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for October 18, 2021 at 6 p.m. in the Union High School Media Center.