By Pete Temple, Express Sports Editor
The initial contract proposal by the Monticello Education Association (MEA), a new, five-block schedule for Monticello High School, and discussion about open block at MHS were among the major topics at the Monticello School Board meeting Monday, Jan. 27.
A five-block schedule for MHS was approved by the board. A key reason for the change from the traditional four-block schedule is to accommodate students who leave the building to go to Kirkwood’s Jones Regional Education Center (JREC).
Under the current schedule, students have to miss part of their third block at the high school in order to get to JREC on time.
The new schedule is as follows: Block I, 8:05 to 9:25 a.m.; Block II, 9:30 to 10:50 a.m.; Block III, 10:55 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.; Lunch A, 10:55 to 11:20 a.m.; Lunch B, 11:50 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.; Block IV, 12:20 to 1:10 p.m.; Seminar, 1:15 to 1:35 p.m.; and Block V, 1:35 to 2:55 p.m.
Blocks I, II and V will meet every other day, while the shorter Blocks III and IV will meet every day.
The MEA’s proposal called for increases of $2,000 to base salary, non-BA nurse base salary, and Schedule B base salary. The association also proposed benefit premium increases from $730 to $780 for full-time employees, and from $365 to $390 for part-time employees.
A new concept introduced by the MEA involves a sick leave bank, in which employees could, if they so choose, donate sick leave days to the bank. The days could then be used in the event an employee is forced, for health or other reasons, to miss school long-term.
Also on Monday, the board passed the 2014-15 High School Registration Handbook/Program of Studies, but with the stipulation that it will further study eligibility for the open block.
Board member Bud Johnson said that the current open block policy is “too loose.” Seniors are required to have a passing grade in all their courses in order to leave campus during open block. Johnson said that means a student with a D-minus average would be able to leave, when further instruction might help improve the student’s average. “We should raise the bar instead of lowering the bar for the educational standards that we want to aspire to,” Johnson said.
The board plans to discuss the issue at its Feb. 12 work session.
In other action, the board:
• approved the first reading of Board Policies, Series 600, 700, 800, 900 and 1,000.
• set a public hearing date of Feb. 24 for the Instructional Support Program. The board will discuss the program further at the Feb. 12 work session.
• set a public hearing date of Feb. 24 for the Early Start Calendar Waiver Request.
• approved a field trip request to Day on the Hill in Des Moines Feb. 26 for the high school SODA (Students Opposed to Drugs and Alcohol) group.
• accepted the resignations of Devin Fagan as special education child specific associate at the middle school and of Curt Paulsen from his maintenance position.
• appointed Ed Goldsmith as substitute bus driver.