Comfort Steps Down From Oskaloosa School Board

Charlie Comfort (left) shakes hands with Oskaloosa School Board President Carl Drost (right) moments after Comfort submitted his resignation.

Charlie Comfort (left) shakes hands with Oskaloosa School Board President Carl Drost (right) moments after Comfort submitted his resignation.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – The Oskaloosa School Board met in regular session on Tuesday night, June 10th, 2014.

The evening started off with a resignation of school board member Charlie Comfort. Comfort has recently taken new employment and an impending move outside of his director district. With these and other reasons, he has asked the board to accept his resignation effective July 10, 2014.

The district that will open is in district 4, southwestern quadrant of Oskaloosa. Within 30 days the board can appoint someone to the open district. If noone is appointed, a special election would be held.

Oskaloosa Middle School Principal Andy Hotek and Oskaloosa School Superintendent Russell Reiter will be traveling to China at the end of June to further develop a partnership in student exchange. Last fall, Oskaloosa Schools hosted a 21 student delegation from China for a week.

The board committed to the sale of the former bus barn to the Mahaska County Emergency Management for $55,000. The school district is finalizing some legal documents for the sale. “Trying to save taxpayer money,” said Reiter.

The building and grounds are located at 610 G Ave West. The money from the sale will help build an additional storage shed at the current school bus barn.

The board then took up the matter of approving the 2014-15 Parent/Student Handbook. Discussion on the approval of the Blue Zone Community Action Pledge may further impact the handbook at a later date. Times for recess are one point of possible conversation and possible revision.

The board approved the addition of parking at the Webster School, The concrete contract will add 23 angle parking spots.

This move was made to help “alleviate parking issues to improve student safety,” said Reiter.

Two bids were received for the work. TK Concrete was the lowest bidder at $49,361. Stevens Concrete submitted a bid of $51,316.

Carl Drost said he likes to spend money locally. Concerns were expressed to make sure the project was completed by August 1st.

Comfort made the motion to accept the bid from Stevens Concrete. Tom Richardson seconded the motion, and the measure passed unanimously.

During the conversation in regards to the Blue Zone Community Action Pledge, Reiter said that he has been working with the Blue Zone and Power 9 committees. The school would need to obtain 54 points on the pledge to be Blue Zone.

Neil Hadden expressed some concern about the deletion of treats for individual students on their birthday and combining them into a single day per week.He said he was well aware of how kids looked forward to sharing treats on their birthday.

“I’ll be the first to admit I’d love to help Mr. Dursky eat those 4 cupcakes every day,” said board member Tom Richardson. “But I know that’s not good for me. So I’m going to have to disagree with Neal on that. We have to make a stand somewhere on improving health.”

“I agree with Tom,” said board member Shawn Moyer. ”

Another discussion was related to signage at sporting events. Signs with the logo of soft drinks on sign boards that list the menu at sporting events on school grounds. A possibility of change over to different types of drinks like water on the signage may be a possibility.

“It’s a pledge, it’s a guide,” said Reiter.

Comfort made the motion to approve the Blue Zone recommendation, Richardson seconded.

Before the board vote, board president Carl Drost shared his thoughts about Blue Zones. “I am voting against this for personal reasons. One is, I don’t like federal mandates. I dislike state mandates and I dislike mandates coming from the Blue Zone telling us what we’re going to do. I don’t think there’s a board member here who likes state mandates that are unfunded. And we don’t like national federal mandates that are unfunded. I like military history and on Friday, with the 70th anniversary of D-Day, I watched those old guys that went and stormed that crazy bank of Normandy. I think they went and fought and died. So first, we don’t speak German. Secondly, we don’t have a dictator. And thirdly, I have the right to eat what I want and take personal responsibility for my own physical condition.”

It passed on a 5-2 vote by the board with Drost and Hadden voting no. A list of the initiatives is posted below this article.

The board lastly went into closed session for superintendent evaluation. The board approved a contract with Oskaloosa Superintendent Russ Reiter.

Reiter will receive a 3% raise. This will take Reiter from $162,500 to $167,375, which will also include an increase the transportation allowance from $350 a month to $400 per month.

The motion passed unanimously.

Blue Zones School Pledge Actions

  • Establish a health-and-wellness council that meets regularly at the school.
  • Enforce a tobacco-free campus.
  • Redesign the lunchroom to nudge students into choosing healthier foods.
  • Update cafeteria equipment to support provision of healthier foods.
  • Integrate physical activity into daily lesson plans outside of physical education class.
  • Integrate nutrition education into daily lesson plans outside of health class.
  • Require that students are physically active during the majority of time in physical-education class.
  • Incorporate “lifestyle-focused” activities into your physical-education curriculum.
  • Limit vending-machine access during the school day, or only stock vending machines with items that meet the Blue Zones Guidelines for Healthy Foods & Beverages for Schools.
  • Make unhealthy food options, such as desserts and soft drinks, available for purchase with cash only—not debit or credit cards.

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