Mid-Prairie vacancies filled by familiar faces
Within 15 minutes Monday, the Mid-Prairie Board of Education filled a vacancy on the board and hired a high school principal, both of whom are well known in the district.
Jim Cayton officially starts work at the high school Aug.1. He is currently Kalona Elementary School principal and has been with the district since 1985. He joined the faculty as a high school social studies teacher and football coach. He has been at Kalona Elementary since 2007. His salary will be $101,000 with benefits that bring the entire package to $136,977, which is about $10,000 less than the current one for retiring principal Gerry Beeler.
Cayton, who lives in Kalona, was one of four finalists interviewed last week, said Superintendent Mark Schneider. He said “We had selected five, but one withdrew at the last minute.” He added that all were “highly qualified.”
With Cayton’s hiring, the district still needs to fill three principalships: middle school, Wellman and Washington Township elementaries and now, Kalona Elementary.
Schneider said he expects the middle school position to be filled in April and the elementaries by mid-May.
Three principals, Beeler, Nancy Hurd at the middle school and Evan Parrott, Wellman and Washington Township, are retiring, effective June 30.
Also returning to Mid-Prairie is Jeremy Pickard, former board member, who was appointed Monday to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of board president Randy Billups March 11. Pickard was a board member when he missed the filing deadline for the last election and ran as a write-in candidate.
Under Iowa law, he will serve until the September board elections and indicated he will run for the term that expiries Dec. 31, 2015.
In other business, the board:
• elected George Schaefer as vice president, replacing Jim Hussey, who moved up as president following Billups’ resignation;
• heard concerns from a Washington Township Elementary School parents group regarding combined primary classes, especially regarding scheduling. Although they noted the teachers were doing a “fanasic job,” there are concerns about next year;
• received a presentation about Virtual Reality Education Pathfinder that, as its name implies, teaches students about using computers to create “virtual reality,” a skill that has application for numerous jobs including insurance and movie making. Cost of the program, including training and additional computers, is $7,900 and is within the existing budget. The presentation was informational only;
• hired Deanna Miller as a special education associate at $10.88 per hour for Kalona Elementary, a newly created position;
• approved a resolution authorizing redemption of GO bonds by June 1, 2014. The bonds were issued in May, 2009, and would mature June 1, 2016. However, the bonds can be redeemed any time on or after June 1, 2014. The resolution calls for redeeming $170,000 of the $1.3 million outstanding; and
• had a lengthy review and discussion of the district shuttle transportation program, following questions from board member Schaefer about loss of classroom instruction time by the students and why the district provides a free shuttle service to students whose parents choose to send them to a school other than the one they are assigned to attend. It was explained that service has been a part of the district virtually since it was formed and to change it means changing not only board policy but also creating boundaries within the district. There currently are 69 M-P students who ride the shuttles and five IMS students transported from Wellman, for which M-P receives reimbursement. Board members agreed that the issue could be revisited at a later date.