Iola-Scandinavia School Board voted to contract for cleaning services from Service King at its May 14 meeting.
The board voted 3-to-3 on the motion, with Board President Tom Opperman breaking the tie in favor of outsourcing the services.
The change will save the I-S School District about $60,000 annually, but it will also force the layoffs of four part-time employees.
Members of the audience spoke against the decision.
“I think you’re making an error tonight,” Jerry Harvancik said. “These people deserve to keep their jobs. We have enough unemployment in this community.”
Board member Charlie Wasrud explained that providing a good education to students is the focus of the I-S School District.
“You can’t leave that amount of money sitting there and then ask people to raise taxes,” he said.
One audience member agreed that the current crew is doing an excellent job of cleaning the high school, and questioned why the board needs to change things.
District Administrator Joe Price said that cleaning of the high school building is currently being contracted to Service King. He agreed they are doing an excellent job.
Another audience member asked what the contractor will do as far as cleaning. Will they just do the floors?
Price said Service King will be contracted to do everything the current staff is doing.
Board member Jeff Oppor suggested that the school district could save money by combining the district administrator position with the buildings and grounds director.
Academic Excellence Scholarship
The board discussed how to decide which graduating senior would receive the $10,000 Academic Excellence Scholarship funded by the state of Wisconsin.
With three valedictorians, the district’s top student was determined to be Abby Wiersma. She recently decided to attend an out-of-state university, so the scholarship then is given to the next ranking student.
A problem exists because Ryan Przybylski and Stephanie Tetzlaff are tied for every criteria dictated by the district’s policy created in 1998. The board has approved a policy change – effective beginning in the 2012-13 school year – adding a fourth criteria.
“They are graduating under the current policy, so we can’t alter it now,” Price said.
The current policy states that, in the event of a tie, the board decides which student is awarded the scholarship.
Ryan Przybylski’s father objected to a suggestion that the board “flip a coin” to make the decision.
“I feel this recommendation should only be made after careful review of the candidates,” said Lonnie Przybylski. “It’s callous and inconsiderate to just flip a coin.”
“The board should supply the same scholarship funding to all qualifying graduates,” he suggested.
“Do you know how much you’re asking the district to pay?” Price asked.
Hoyord agreed that the district should give $2,500 annually to the second student.
“I disagree,” said board member Kelton Wilhite. “We have just spent over an hour talking about laying off people. To just give another $10,000, I just don’t agree with that.”
An audience member asked if there was a scholarship fund already in place from which the money could be drawn.
High School Principal Sara Anderson reported that all of the allotted scholarship money has been designated.
“I suggest you give them the money,” said board member Jeff Oppor. “Take the money we saved in heating costs this year.”
Price explained that this could cause problems if the same situation occurred again in the future.
Again, the board was 3-3 on a motion to decide the scholarship award by flipping a coin. Again, Opperman cast the deciding vote in favor of the motion.
By a flip of a coin, the board decided to award the Academic Excellence Scholarship to Stephanie Tetzlaff.
Employee Handbook, Fund 80
The board discussed changes to the Employee Handbook, with some board members questioning the cut in benefits to part-time employees.
“Would it be possible for our district to offer them some type of benefit for hours worked,” Kristen Hoyord asked. “Otherwise, what’s to keep them here?”
“The handbook does have benefits. We’re just not offering leave for those who work less than half-time,” Price replied.
He noted that previously the part-time employees were allowed 10 days per year.
“We are at the top of the pay scale for comparable jobs in the conference. Our wages are significantly higher,” Price added.
He said the Employee Handbook can be altered at anytime.
The board also discussed and agreed to increase funds allotted to Fund 80 by $50,000, for a total of $52,000. These are funds taxed outside of the school district’s revenue limit.
The Fund 80 is designated for community projects, so it could be used to finance operating the I-S Community Fitness & Aquatic Center, according to Business Manager Jon Novak.
“After refinancing, if we increase Fund 80 levy, it would have minimal effect on taxpayers,” Novak said.
“The downside in levying to Fund 80 is we don’t get state aid on that money,” Price explained. “It’s totally local taxpayer funded.”
No motion was needed because the change will be part of the proposed budget for 2012-13.
In other business, the board:
• Approved the retirement of Helene Pohl, district library media specialist since 2000.
• Approved leave for Bryan Brooks, math instructor, for May 27-June 6, to attend police academy.
• Set a special meeting for 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 6, to begin the process to hire a district administrator and discuss appointing an interim district administrator.