A consulting firm has been selected to assist the Clarinda School District if it becomes necessary to find a replacement for Superintendent Chris Bergman.
The choice of Grundmeyer Leader Search came during a Board of Education meeting Feb. 10, with the action taken as a contingency in view of Bergman being a finalist for the position of superintendent in the Gilbert School District, located near Ames.
Responding to contact made by the district, Grundmeyer submitted a proposed fee of $10,813.11 for services that would be provided.
Also contacted was another company, EDWise, that submitted a “base options” amount of $7,500, plus additional expenses that could be charged.
The Clarinda district has worked with both firms previously when hiring individuals for the superintendent’s job.
Board President Greg Jones said utilizing companies that specialize in recruiting qualified candidates for the position removes that burden from local officials.
The firms, he noted, “go through the applications, do the background checks, all the things you have to do. As expensive as it is, it’s money well spent. I certainly wouldn’t want it on my shoulders.”
The position, if it becomes open, will be posted statewide.
Director Ann Meyer questioned the procedure for applicants who may not immediately be identified by Grundmeyer.
“Can a person not go through the search company?” she said. “If we hire the search company to do this, and some other person is interested in the position, or hears about it, can that individual apply to the district?”
Jones said that such a situation “has actually happened in the past,” and if someone seeks the job in that manner, the applicant would “then get thrown into the mix with everybody else.”
The search firm, he said, “won’t disqualify people, for whatever reason, without telling you. They’re not going to tell you who to pick. They will never do that.”
Director Darin Sunderman said that, from what he had learned, Grundmeyer “has a larger pool of people right now they are working with. They are more of an up-and-coming firm [with] more connections.”
Acknowledging the disparity in the fee proposals from the two firms, Jones said that there is a difference in the information they gather and in the “vetting process they go through” in regard to applicants.
Among other specific services provided by Grundmeyer would be establishing a salary range and benefits package for the position; recruiting candidates and developing interview questions; screening candidate application materials; presenting candidates to the board; conducting interviews and offering feedback; ensuring proper licensure; and formulating entry plans and goals.
In other matters at the Feb. 10 meeting, the board approved the 2021 summer lunch program, which is expected to accommodate 60 children per day in June and July.
“Last summer, we were very proud of the willingness of the lunch staff to come in during their summer break time and work through the food distribution process that we established,” said Co-Food Service Directors Traci DeBolt and Joyce Johansen and Summer Lunch Coordinator Julia Harris in a letter to the board.
The letter further stated: “Our plan at this time is to return to the food pickup process that we created last year while we continue under our coronavirus requirements. We believe this worked well and did not have many issues arise.”
The program will be suspended during August so that work can be completed to set up the kitchen in preparation for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
“We would potentially revisit this change if we were to continue with the free meals for all and it carried into the next school year,” according to the letter.
Also at the Feb. 10 meeting, the board approved an agreement with Grandma’s House Daycare regarding the use of a room at the Garfield Elementary School building.
At present, Grandma’s House is utilizing room 213. A school district employee watches children before the start of classes, and employees from Grandma’s House watch children after school.
Under terms of the agreement, the school district will lease the room to the child care operation. For rent, Grandma’s House will pay the district for the hours worked per month by the district’s employee.
The district will be responsible for routine maintenance and repair of the room, and Grandma’s House will be responsible for daily aspects related to the use of the location, such as cleaning and trash removal.
In other business, the board:
Approved an “Agriculture in the Classroom” teacher supplemental grant of $234, called “Get Crackin’.“ Middle school agriculture teacher Logan Henry submitted the application to the Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation. The grant was made possible by the Iowa Farm Bureau and the Iowa Egg Council.
Approved amending the 2020-2021 school calendar to allow March 31 to be a make-up snow day and to move the professional development day to a virtual, flexible option, including required and choice learning. Parent-teacher conferences will remain on March 29-30, and April 1-2 will remain as “no school” days for spring break.
Approved a budget guarantee resolution for fiscal year 2022 regarding the tax levy for the district’s regular program adjustment, as allowed under Iowa law.
Approved an early graduation request from Clarinda High School student Molly Lihs, pending successful completion of district and state requirements.
Approved the second and final reading of administrative rules related to physical restraint and seclusion of students. The rules reflect changes proposed by the Iowa Department of Education
Approved the first reading of policy primers regarding such topics as employee leave of absence; family and medical leave; district operation under public emergencies; and prohibitions on discrimination and harassment.
Approved the first reading of a series of policies covering issues such as goals and objectives of education programs; curriculum development, implementation and evaluation; individualized instruction; programs for talented, gifted and at-risk students; instructional material selection; and information resources regulation.
Approved transfers of Jessica Doyle from high school assistant volleyball coach to head volleyball coach; and Macy Elwood from high school co-head volleyball coach to assistant volleyball coach.
Commenting on the announced closing of the Clarinda Academy, District Finance Director Colby Pedersen said he believed the financial impact on the district would not be substantial.
Because enrollment at the academy has been declining during the last several years, “our loss of funding has been gradual. It’s really winded its way down slowly, and we’ve been able to phase that out,” Pedersen said.