Former I-S administrator remains on sabbatical
By Holly Neumann
The Iola-Scandinavia Board of Education unanimously accepted the resignation of David Dyb as district administrator during their regular scheduled meeting held on April 3.
Dyb’s resignation will be effective as of June 30.
Board member Mike Koles read a prepared statement indicating that Dyb “will remain on sabbatical leave for purpose of career exploration and educational opportunities” until that time.
“We will continue with Sarah Thiel, Sara Anderson and Stacey Wester as co-interim district administrators throughout the remainder of the 2016-17 school year,” Koles said.
The school board will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 26, to discuss how to move forward with future leadership within the district.
“I am concerned about the money situation going on in this town and with the school,” said Steve Olson.
He said his taxes have gone up more than expected and also questioned the spending of the referendum money.
“We were told that our taxes with the referendum would be $7.30 per month per $100,000 home. Well, we checked ours and our tax bill is going to higher than that $7.30,” he said.
Olson also questioned when the district would begin spending the referendum money.
“The residents of Iola need to keep track of where this money is going,” he said.
Diana Jones once again questioned Dyb’s sabbatical leave.
“If Dr. Dyb, had done something wrong, you would think the board would have had grounds to release him from his contract and stop paying him immediately,” Jones said. “If that was the case the district would not have been liable to pay his wages from that day forward, saving the school $63,155 in seven months of salary, as well as benefits cost they were paying, which would have saved the district over $75,000.”
Jones went on to say that the board has a fiduciary responsibility in how it spends the district’s money.
“Throwing away $75,000 is not acting responsibly,” she said. “He could have been working or should not have been paid.”
Staff members Cari Honken and Jill Willems showed their support of the board.
“I am here as a teacher, parent and community member and I have dedicated my life to teaching your children,” said Honken. “I love coming to work here every day. One of the reasons that I feel this is because of the level of support that the teachers receive in this district, from the parents, administrators and school board.”
Honken addressed how recent events have divided the community.
“I have a lot of questions just like you have, but I have resolved to put my trust in the school board,” she said. “I do not believe that these people are evil people, out to try to pull something over on us. They are good hard working people with a deep interest to our community and to our children.”
While she may not understand the decisions the school board has made, Honken said she believes they want what is best for the students, staff and community.
“The negativity has trickled down and it’s hard not to take it personally as a teacher,” Honken said. “I wish everyone could see firsthand the wonderful things happening every day in classrooms throughout this district. We cannot lose sight of that. That is so much more important than what we are arguing about.”
She said the community needs to learn to agree to disagree and to move on even in difficult situations.
“It’s time to move on and get back to focusing on all the things that have made this district great,” Honken said
Willems said she has been silent for a long time, because silence felt like taking the high road.
“When one side keeps speaking louder and stronger and longer, spreading views that are so inconsistent with how I feel, it is time to speak up,” she said. “When a few people try to pose as a group representing the community, it is time to step up and say, I am a part of this community, and part of this school and I do not agree with your mission.”
Willems said she cannot stand and claim every action taken and every word spoken by the board is exactly what she would have said or done.
“But I have not been privy to everything that goes on behind the scenes and neither has anyone else,” she said. “What I can stand up here and say with conviction is that I trust that our board has the best of intentions for our school today and moving into the future. It is frustrating not knowing, what has happened, but I accept that there are reasons that everything cannot be shared and that I may never know the details.”
She noted that I-S has great teachers who are passionate about their students and learning.
“Comments have been made that nobody is against the teachers and that this group supports us,” Willems said. “You cannot separate us out and say you support us, when damaging the reputation of our school.”
She believes that Iola-Scandinavia is still a strong school district.
“Nothing here has changed,” she said. “Your children are getting the best we have to offer. Nothing good is going to come from anymore questioning and demanding. It’s time to put this situation behind us and come back together as community.”
The board approved revising the 2016-17 school calendar to make up for four snow days. The school year was to originally conclude on June 2, but will now be extended to include full instructional days on June 5-6 with a half day on June 7.
The board also approved a Consumer Price Index total wage increase of 1.26 percent for all staff members for the 2017-18 school year.
“Members of the school board have, once again, been very easy to work with to develop a plan for teacher compensation that helps teacher salaries keep up with the rate of inflation that still works for the school budget,” said Travis Bassett, union representative. “Their willingness to work with teachers to develop creative ways to compensate teachers in light of ever-tightening budgets is a clear example of this school board’s commitment to trying to keep highly qualified teachers in our district so that our kids have some of the best educational opportunities around.”
Preliminary notice of layoffs, as a result of restructuring, will include the middle school Spanish/gifted and talented position from full-time to part time. The gifted and talented services will now be wrapped into the reading specialist/interventionist position for 2017-18.
The next monthly meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Monday, May 8.