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North Crawford reading scores explained and propane chosen
North Crawford

NORTH CRAWFORD - The district’s new website, reading scores and the annual propane contract were the major topics for the North Crawford School Board at their meeting on Monday, July 22.

Superintendent Brandon Munson was very proud to show the board screen shots of the newly launched North Crawford School District website.

“It’s clean, easy to navigate, and vastly improves the district’s ability to communicate with our stakeholders,” Munson said. “The calendar, in particular, is much easier to populate with events, and all staff will have the ability to put events in there. The site is designed to work well on both computers, as well as smart phones.”

Munson explained that the app to use the site on a smart phone is available to download for free from the pertinent app store for your mobile device.

Terry O’Donnell asked Munson if the cost of the site had come in on budget.

“Yes, the project came in on budget,” Munson responded.

Reading scores

North Crawford Elementary Principal Amanda Killeen took the time to better explain the reading report that had sparked so much discussion at the June board meeting. At that meeting, the board had gained the impression that “readers more than one level below benchmark went from 41 percent in the fall to 22 percent in the spring.” The assumption was that one level referred to a grade level, but Killeen explained that the levels she was referring to are the ‘Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Levels.’

“Below the benchmark doesn’t mean that the students are whole grade levels behind,” Killen clarified. “Within each year’s benchmarks, there are multiple levels." The Fountas and Pinnell assessment system provides us with a benchmark level for different points of the school year for each grade level. Killeen reframed it to say that the district should actually celebrate having 18 percent more students reading at or above benchmark expectations in the spring compared to fall. 

Killeen reassured the board that there are not a significant number of students in the district reading below their grade level. Killeen told the board that focusing on students’ reading abilities through grade three is especially crucial.

“Research suggests that if students are not reading at grade level by grade three, then they are likely to struggle with reading all the way through their K-12 education,” Killeen explained. “We still have some work to do, but next year our team plans to expand teacher capacity for reading interventions by giving teachers additional resources, training and flexibility.”

“I’m relieved to hear your explanation of the numbers,” board member Judy Powell said.

Mary Kuhn asked if getting more volunteers in the school to read with children would be helpful, and if there were particular times that volunteers would be needed.

“Absolutely more volunteers would help,” Killen said. “With the way the elementary schedule works, there would basically be reading volunteer opportunities throughout the day.”

Killen also told the board that her team is looking at different writing curriculums for the upcoming school year to augment and enhance the current reading program.

Propane contract

A big discussion about the 2019-20 school year propane contract for 20,000 gallons took place at the meeting. Munson explained that a make-or-break issue in the contract negotiations was the equipment used in the school parking lot to refuel the buses.

“The current refueling station was not operating properly last year,” Munson told the board. “Our current provider, Scenic Rivers, bought the equipment from a third party, and they have been out multiple times to try to repair it, without fixing the problem.”

Munson said that when drivers are refueling, particularly in the winter, the device would switch off causing a suspension in refueling. To reset itself, the device will take several minutes, and this can happen multiple times in a single refueling episode in the cold months.

“It is very inconvenient in the dead of winter,” Munson said. “I told Scenic Rivers that if they can’t fix it, then we’re done.”

Munson said he was assured that the problem would be resolved, but said, “I’ve heard that before.” They offered to replace the unit with a new unit of the same model as the existing one.

Munson explained that in addition to the Scenic Rivers bid, which had come in at 98.9 cents per gallon, he had received bids from Premier Co-op and from Vesbach.

Munson said the bid from Premier Co-op came in at $1.03 per gallon and they have offered the district a two-year contract at the current price. The district would be able to split the pre-pay amount over two budget years. In addition, they have offered to swap out the refueling unit on their dime. The district would only need to pay a minimal amount to have an electrician present when the swap was made.

“Those pumping units are not cheap,” O’Donnell commented.

Vesbach, Munson said, had come in with a bid at $1.05 per gallon and “didn’t really seem to want the business.”

“Scenic Rivers does not have contracts with any other school districts but North Crawford,” Munson elaborated. “Premier Co-op has seven school districts as customers, and has more experience in working with them.”

Munson said Premier Co-op was confident that the problem can be solved, and in addition has offered to put ‘quick connection’ hardware on all the buses. They will come in to train the North Crawford drivers on use of the quick connections, and their timeline for completion of the work would be before the end of August or by the beginning of September at the latest. He said that North Crawford Transportation Supervisor Kevin Burke was recommending the board contract with Premier Co-op, and Munson said that he was as well.

The board voted unanimously to award the 2019-20 propane contract to Premier Co-op.

In other business

In other business the board:

 • approved hiring Beau Blaha and John Powell as Middle School football coaches

• approved hiring Jeremy Fradette as head high school football coach, Jason Knight as assistant coach, and Anders Unseth as an assistant;

• approved hiring JoEllen Young and Alyssa Page as middle school volleyball coaches

• approved hiring Vicki Stevenson as high school volleyball head coach, and Carrie Galindo as assistant coach

• approved hiring Liz Bransky as cross country head coach, and Canisius Johnson as assistant coach

• approved hiring Erika Wilson as fall cheerleading advisor

• approved hiring Camille Smith as director of the North Crawford Playhouse, with Paul Cota and John Tully as assistant directors

• set the date of the North Crawford School District Annual Meeting for Monday, September 30

• set their next meeting date for Wednesday, August 21

• approved a five-cent raise in elementary, middle school and high school lunch prices

• approved the co-curricular and coaches handbooks with one change to the co-curricular handbook to allow students one chance in a school year to continue to participate in extracurricular activities, when they do not have passing grades in all classes by the Friday check.