School Board Honors Retirees
By Eduardo Zamarripa, CRI Weekly News
The Oskaloosa School Board celebrated the retirement of seven staff members on Tuesday night.
The board held a reception for the retirees before the meeting, and honored them with a merit award plaque commemorating their years of service.
“We are extremely happy for you. We thank you for all the years and years of dedication, coming to school every day, being prepared, changing lives, and for that we thank you,” says Oskaloosa Schools Superintendent Russ Reiter. “Sometimes it gets to be a difficult night, because we really and truly do appreciate all that you do.”
The following staff members retired (years of services in parenthesis):
- Kevin Pederson (8)
- Diane VerMeer (13)
- Tom Tresnak (24)
- Mike Striegel (25)
- Cynthia Gray (29)
- Diane Meredith (30)
- Claudia Martin (33)
“On behalf of myself and this entire school board, we wish you the very, very best,” says Board President Carl Drost.
In other agenda items, Reiter discussed the progress on the security access improvement project. The district is installing new swipe card recognition systems on 16-18 doors at the Oskaloosa High School and Middle School, and at the George Daily Auditorium. The doors will also have a camera that is activated every time someone swipes a card. Reiter says the new security system is about “90 percent” complete.
The board unanimously approved the first reading on a board policy that will give the district the ability to conduct more extensive background checks on new hires. That policy will undergo a second hearing in the next school board meeting.
In addition to that, the board unanimously approved a 4.03 percent package increase for support staff members who were not a part of the 2013-2015 Oskaloosa Support Staff Association Master Agreement. Support staff members include bus drivers, secretaries, food services, custodians, among others. Reiter says there were a few individuals who were originally not part of that agreement.
MaKennah Little, a sophomore at the Oskaloosa High School, will be competing at a national debate competition in Kansas from June 15-20. The board has to approve traveling activities that cross state lines. The board unanimously approved Little’s participation. Her teacher and debate coach, Jessica Weinrich, attended the meeting and says Little will be “judged on research, argumentation, speaking ability.”
The board also approved the hiring of Ryan Parker as a high school physical education teacher ($46,700 a year), and of Jolene Lebel as the elementary principal ($80,000 a year). Reiter also says Parker has been offered the high school varsity boys basketball head coaching position.
In addition to that, the board approved the resignations of Bonnie James, Amanda White and Tara Braithwaite, and received presentations from the Iowa Reading Corps and the Professional Learning Communities. Director of Curriculum and Instruction Mary Cooksley also gave an Iowa Assessment Report presentation.
The next school board meeting is scheduled for May 29 at 5:30 p.m. After that, Drost says the board will only meet once in June and July, and might go back to meeting twice a month in August.