By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
School board raises substitute teacher rate of pay
At North Crawford
North Crawford

NORTH CRAWFORD - The North Crawford School District has struggled with finding adequate numbers of substitute teachers. Superintendent Brandon Munson said it had been a problem the last few years, but especially this year.

It turns out that the rate of pay the district offers substitute teaches was lower than that offered by surrounding districts. Munson said that North Crawford offers $100 per day, while Seneca offers $105 per day. He said the district had not raised its rate for substitute teachers for eight years.

Munson proposed that the board approve an increase for the per-day rate to $115, and also pay $100 for the substitute teacher’s initial licensure, and $100 for them to take the CESA-3 substitute teacher class.

“If we pay the $200 for the initial licensure and class up front, there is no guarantee that the individual will continue to sub for our district,” board member Terry O’Donnell said. “I think we should have them pay for those things up front, and then reimburse them after they have subbed a certain number of times.”

Acting on the urgency of the situation, the board decided not to act on O’Donnell’s caution. The board voted to raise the per-day rate of pay to $120, and to pay for the initial licensure and the substitute teacher class.

COVID testing

School nurse John Powell made a recommendation to the board that they approve use of rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 in the district. The rapid antigen test yields a result in 15 minutes, and has been found to be about 85 percent accurate for positive test results, and 99 percent accurate for negative test results. The testing would be part of a Department of Health Services (DHS) program, and would be available at no cost to the district.

“The rapid antigen tests are not quite as accurate as the PCR, molecular ‘polymerase chain reaction’ tests. They are less sensitive and there is a statistical chance that a positive case is missed and the remote possibility for a false positive. However, DHS has authorized the rapid antigen test use in schools,” Powell explained. “We will use them for asymptomatic individuals who are looking to return to school/work early according to CDC and DHS guidelines. If they are negative they can return to school/work on the early return date. If positive, they will need to isolate, and will be recommended to complete a follow up molecular test.”

Powell said reporting of testing results is required by CDC and DHS to participate in the no-cost program. He said that parental consent would be required to perform the test.

The board voted unanimously to allow the district to begin using the testing in the school.

Other health news

In other school health news, school nurse John Powell reported that the district had offered a flu clinic, and 110 staff and students had been vaccinated.

He also reported that the district is continuing the ‘teeth for life’ free dental care program. The program offers children cleaning, assessments, sealants and fluoride treatments.

Last, Powell reported that he has advocated that honor students be able to use the ninth hour ‘advisory period’ to work out in the Shed. The advisory period is a time where students experiencing academic issues can receive additional support, which honors students may not need.

School COVID trends

Superintendent Brandon Munson reported on troubling trends in the district’s COVID data, comparing them to data from the prior school year. He pointed out that for the entire 2020-21 school year, the district had 27 total positive cases, whereas, two months into this school year, the district has already had 23 positive cases. From 2020 to date, there have been 50 positive cases in the building, with one case among those fully vaccinated, and two cases in asymptomatic individuals. There were 115 isolations in the 2020-21 school year, and have been 47 this year in the first two months. There were 266 quarantines in the 2020-21 school year, and 47 to date this school year.

“We have only had four cases that were at school, with lots of cases coming from community spread,” Munson explained. “Athletics has been a big source of cases, but what we are doing in the building during the instructional day seems to be working.”

An isolation is defined as either a positive case or someone who meets the symptom screening protocol to be sent home and later tested negative. Quarantine numbers are those who were excluded from the building. This is the number of occurrences, and not the number of total students that were at some point in the year excluded from school. The total number of students is less than the number of quarantine cases.

Open enrollment

Superintendent Brandon Munson reported to the board on the troubling open enrollment numbers the district had experienced this year. He said that this year 11 students had open-enrolled into the district, and 59 students had open enrolled out of the district. Munson said that 18 of the 59 students open enrolled out had once been students in the district.

This net loss of 48 students has resulted in a net district revenue loss of $398,895.

In other business

In other business the board:

• heard from elementary principal Amanda Killeen that her team has been screening children for their need for either English language or math interventions, and working with families to notify them of plans to work with the students

• heard from middle school/high school principal Cale Zuiker about the new advisory period, known as ‘WIN Time’ or ‘What I Need.’ He explained it is a time dedicated to providing targeted instruction for students identified as needing intervention in either reading or math

• accepted the resignation of Chanda Chellevold, a 14-year veteran of the district

• approved the hiring of Tammy Watters to replace Chellevold in the position of educational assistant

• approved winter athletic coaches: Girls Basketball – Amy Byl and Courtney DuCharme (MS), and Michael DiPadova (V); Boys Basketball – John Powell and Adam Anderson (MS), and Chris Wettstein and Jeremy Fradette (V); Wrestling – Aaron Keenlance (MS), and Eric and Adam Hady (V)

• approved three students for the ‘Start College Now’ program through Southwest Tech

• approved the 2021-22 district budget and levy.