M-P Board prepares for Y2K, hears reports and continues contracts

By Mary Zielinski (free-lance)
Posted 6/17/99

Despite facing a tight budget and a possible $56,000 shortfall, Superintendent Gordon Cook Monday asked the Mid-Prairie Board of Education to designate a Y2K coordinator and allocate $5,000 for Y2K …

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M-P Board prepares for Y2K, hears reports and continues contracts


Despite facing a tight budget and a possible $56,000 shortfall, Superintendent Gordon Cook Monday asked the Mid-Prairie Board of Education to designate a Y2K coordinator and allocate $5,000 for Y2K preparedness.

He stressed that both the coordinator and the funds are necessary to achieve and maintain Y2K compliance throughout the district’s computer systems.

Cook said that it is entirely possible that none to very little of the funds will be spent, that the designation is simply to comply with insurance coverage requirements. The insurance presumably provides coverage if systems, such as heating, are damaged due to computer problems resulting from Y2K, he explained.

Board President Tracy Anderson said, “It appears we do not have much choice,” responding to the fact the insurance company has a check list of items for Y2K preparedness and that coverage could depend on meeting that list.

Cook said that he just received the check list, and that the district previously had purchased a software program to deal with Y2K.

The board approved Cook’s request that he be designated Y2K coordinator and allocated a $5,000 budget for possible Y2K expenses.

Cook emphasized that money will be spent only “if we have to.”


Cook also recommended that the board approve renewing contracts for Jim Adam, maintenance director, Doug Slaubaugh, business manager, and Richard Durst, transportation director, for 1999-2000. All three contracts expire June 30. The salary amounts would be determined later, Cook said, noting the extension would be at current levels.

He said that all three agreed to the proposal.

Board Member Elizabeth Curl moved that the contracts for Slaubaugh and Durst be extended, saying that at the last board meeting it was agreed that the maintenance position was to be reviewed and that a committee was formed to examine it.

Further discussion noted that the board, at its June 3 session, had agreed that the position would continue, on a monthly basis, until there was a committee finding.

Cook said that extending the contract was the only way to do that, that there is a 30-day notice provision in staff contracts.

Anderson noted that, in essence, the maintenance contract was voted upon at the last meeting and the board then approved continuing the other two contracts.

Cook told the board that the core committee to review the maintenance position are Ed Whetstine and Jack Dillon, both board members, Gerry Beeler, Mid-Prairie High School Principal, Adam, the maintenance director, and the superintendent.

Cook said that there have been several people from the public also interested and that committee additions should be reviewed.

Curl asked if Cook intended to “hand pick committee members,” and asked specifically how many indicated interest.

Cook said two.

Curl then asked, “Why not have both of them on the committee,” noting that there had not been a limit set.

Cook suggested that the committee should not be too big, and Curl noted that two members from the public equal the board representation.

“Accept the two community members, start your organizational meeting,” she told Cook.

Cook said that there would be no pre-determined agenda, that the group “may hold one meeting, they may need several” to obtain the information needed to report to the board.

“Go forward with it,” said Curl, asking that a progress report be given to the board at its June 28 meeting. Cook agreed.


Middle School Principal Becky Furlong reported that the first year of the Middle School program “went very well,” but stressed that the program will continue to be evaluated.

She said that key goals were met, that “we will put back the seven minute break in the morning; it is needed,” and that the success was due to a flexible block scheduling and the fact that there is daily planning time for the teachers.

The board also received a nutrition report from Donna Bush and discussed, then tabled action until the next meeting, about joining the Food Service Cooperative for Iowa Schools, pending obtaining more information.

In other business, the board:

•approved the resignations of Vicki Passmore, associate for early childhood development at Kalona Elementary School, Pam Hochstedler, Before and After School coordinator at Wellman Elementary School, Karissa Brown, teacher associate at Wellman Elementary and Dan Aggson, custodian at Wellman Elementary. However, before approving Aggson’s resignation, Curl questioned taking action on an item that was added to the agenda at the start of the meeting. Board policy permits late additions “if there is good cause.” After further discussion about adding items to agendas without prior notice, Anderson said that the issue is the acceptance of an employee resignation, “no more, no less” and the resignation was accepted.

•declined to pass a resolution about the constitutional amendments to be voted upon June 29 statewide. A video was shown opposing the move and noting that the election will cost the state $l.5 million when it could have simply be added to the November ballot without charge.

•discussed the need for a board retreat, generally to set goals for the board and the district. Principal Mark Schneider asked for clarification about the goal setting, specifically if it was to guide the district, the board or the administration. Finally, the board agreed that holding the retreat after the September election may be preferable.

•agreed that it needs to discuss violence in schools, but probably cannot have a program before August.

•set Monday, June 21, at 7:30 p.m. for a special meeting to conduct the long-delayed superintendent evaluation. At that time it also will consider hiring an additional teacher for Wellman Elementary School.

•learned that action on acceptance of the high school construction project was tabled, pending further information. Cook said there is a “glitch” that provides complications and that it “could be a couple of months” before the board can take action.

•hired Holly Hartsock as 7th grade softball coach; Randi Foraker as one-year Spanish teacher to replace Philippe Moineau who has a one-year leave of absence.