Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

March 15, 2012

Board votes to close Mystic and Cincinnati Elementary

By Krystal Fowler - Lifestyle editor
Daily Iowegian

CENTERVILLE — The Centerville School Board voted to close Cincinnati and Mystic Elementary Schools at the end of the school year during an emotional two-hour meeting Tuesday evening. The board also passed a series of resolutions cutting several positions, although not all that were originally suggested.

Board member Jeri Pershy made the motion to close Cincinnati and Mystic Elementary. Each board member made a statement as they voted.

"With declining enrollment…and the current budget constraint that we're under and we're going to be under in the future, I think it's in the best interest of our school district to close the elementary schools," said board member Michelle Moore.

"Even though I have strong ties to the Cincinnati School, it is with a heavy heart that I feel it is in the best interest of the school district as a whole to close both Mystic and Cincinnati at this time," board member Pershy said. "I appreciate all the input of the staff as well as local residents at all the meetings. I listened, learned and in the end changed my opinions on some of the cuts recommended. I can only hope our decision tonight is the right one. Only time will tell."

"I'm going to vote yes because of the cost savings…but I'd like to see the Cincinnati and Mystic kids when they come over here…stay together," said board member Tom Lange.

Superintendent Tony Ryan said they would try to keep the classes together as much as possible.

The motion passed unanimously.

In the end, the closing of the schools caused the loss of one full-time special education teaching position, two full-time Title I reading positions, three full-time general education teaching positions, two secretarial positions and two custodian positions from those schools. The board voted to move four general education teaching positions from those schools into Centerville so that each grade K-3 will have five sections next year, to help keep class sizes smaller.

Because of the move to close the outlying schools and adding a fifth section of K-3 into the Centerville school buildings, the board also moved to transition the third grade students to Lakeview Elementary beginning in the 2012-2013 school year.

At the Monday night work session the board and administrators had discussed the possibility of the third grade being housed at Lakeview. It was emphasized that the children would be housed in their own area and would have their own lunch period and recesses.

The board moved that four .5 positions up for reduction should be removed from consideration. The .5 art, band, vocal music and industrial technology positions were removed from consideration for cuts.

Several other positions were tabled until the board's next meeting. The one full-time P.E. teaching position, one full-time librarian position, one full-time attendance officer and one administrative secretary positions were tabled.

Several positions were cut. They are listed below.

1.2 full-time teaching positions at the Ed. Center. Approved unanimously.

1 full-time Title I reading position at Central School. Approved unanimously.

2 full time 7-12 science teaching positions. One of these positions was a temporary one-year contract due to the illness of the regularly hired teacher. Approved unanimously.

1 full-time 7-12 math position. This position was reduced due to the retirement of Marilyn Foster during the previous meeting. Approved unanimously.

.5 7-12 social science teaching position. Approved 5-2. Board members Lange and Marty Braster voted against.

.5 7-12 business education teaching position. Approved 5-2. Board members Lange and Braster voted against.

2 full-time 9-12 tutors. Approved 4-3. Board members Lange, Braster and Pershy voted against.

.5 assistant mechanic position. Approved unanimously.

2 full-time 9-12 custodian positions. Approved 6-1. Board member Braster voted against.

1 K-3 special education associate. Approved unanimously.

1 9-12 special education associate. Approved unanimously.

Before moving on to other business, Board president Nick Hindley thanked everyone for their work throughout the cost cutting process.

"I appreciate everybody going through this," said Hindley. "I don't think anybody here at this table or in this room is happy. There's nothing here that we did that we're proud of, that we're looking forward to doing…It's a grieving process. We've closed two schools. We've changed two towns. We've changed our school system. I hope everybody can grieve and then come together and make Centerville School District stronger and better."

In other business:

The board voted to approve the retirement of foreign language teacher Barbara Frewing and the resignation of athletic director and CHS assistant principal Jim Knott. The board also approved the employment of Kimberly Gunter as a cafeteria server at Lincoln Elementary.

The board authorized travel and the use of a suburban to the National Student Council Convention June 22-25 in Oklahoma City, Okla.

The board also approved a one-time exemption to policy 805.1 which states in part, "Memorials involving concrete work, pavers, gardens, planting or building landscape modifications will not be permitted," in order to allow the class of 1990 to give a concrete memorial bench to Centerville High School in remembrance of Master Sgt. Travis W. Riddick who was killed in Afghanistan on Jan. 19. The class asked that the special circumstances of Master Sgt. Riddick's status as an active service member killed in a military zone while performing military support duties related to the war in Afghanistan be taken into consideration. Board member Roos voted against the exemption.

The board also approved the educational services contract with Indian Hills Community College and the CRISS training contract.

The board table the second and final reading of policy primer Debt Compliance Regulation.

The board approved sports official's contract for three substitute boy's basketball referees.

The board then looked over reports from administrators and was introduced to the new transportation/buildings and grounds director Brad Jones before looking over and approving financial reports and adjourning.

The next board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the administration building.