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8AM Newscast 04-15-2014

News, Podcasts

April 15th, 2014 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

Atlantic School Board approves early retirement & reduction in graduation credits

News

April 15th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic School Board Monday night, accepted Early Retirement incentive requests from a dozen instructors and/or staff members. Superintendent Mike Amstein announced the names. They include: Joanne DeArment, Reading Support at Washington Elementary; 2nd grade teachers Sue Riggs and Sharon Ambrose; Kindergarten/1st grade teacher Laurie Fell; 1st grade teacher Deb Murphy; 3rd grade teacher Nancy White; 4th & 5th grade teacher Bruce Hansen; Bev Schelling, Level 2 & 3; High School Math teacher Kathy Bradfield; 3rd grade teacher Nancy Christensen; Jayne Tyler, 2nd/3rd grade Math support; and, Denise Sasse, 2nd/3rd grade Reading Support.

Amstein said as he looked at the names, he realized there was “A lot of experience going out of the District,” especially with most of the resignations coming from the Washington Elementary School. He said it will be difficult to replace them, but it’s a process the district has gone through before. Amstein said at one time they were beginning teachers, too. He congratulated the retiring teachers on “A job well done, and a nice career.” He said they have served their time and done a good job serving the district.

In other business, the Atlantic School Board approved the appointment of Olivia Newburg, Secretary to the Superintendent, as Board Treasurer. They also approved, by a vote of 3-to 2, a recommendation by High School Administrators, the reducing of graduation credits from 52 to 48, beginning with the current Junior class.

Board members Dennis Davis and Phil Hascall voted against the motion. Both said they were concerned with the “rigor” of the courses being offered, and the possibility the District was “Dumbing things down,” or “lowering the bar,” for future graduating classes. Board President Kristy Pellet said she felt the same way at first, but became convinced it would help level the field a little more for kids who are struggling but making an honest effort.

Amstein said the rigor of the classes are not impacted, because they still have to meet the requirements of the Iowa Core Curriculum.

7AM Newscast 04-15-2014

News, Podcasts

April 15th, 2014 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

Nebraskan gets 25 years in Iowa child sex case

News

April 15th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

GLENWOOD, Iowa (AP) – A Nebraska man has been given 25 years in prison for sexually abusing girls ages 7 and 8 in western Iowa.  The Daily Nonpareil says 64-year-old John Schondelmeyer, of Bellevue, Neb., was sentenced on Monday. He’d been found guilty of two counts of sex abuse and two counts of lascivious acts with a child.

The Mills County Sheriff’s Office says Schondelmeyer was in the process of moving to Fayetteville, N.C., when he was arrested Oct. 17, 2013, at his Nebraska home.  Schondelmeyer will be transferred to Nebraska, where he faces more child sex charges.

Atlantic School Board approves 1:1 computer proposal

News

April 15th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A proposal to give Atlantic High School students Apple MacBook Air laptop computers beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, was approved by the Atlantic School Board during their meeting Monday night. The 1:1 (One-to-One) program will cost more than $625,650 over the course of four-years, but the District got a jumpstart on paying for the plan thanks to the generosity of a local bank.

Board President Kristy Pellett read a letter from 1st Whitney Bank and Trust President/CEO Paul J. Gude, whereby Gude pledged their support of the proposal to “Enhance the academic success of the district’s students.” Gude said in his letter 1st Whitney Bank will pledge $50,000 towards the first phase of the project. On behalf of the School Board, Pellett thanked Gude and District Technology Coordinator Roger Warne for teaming together to form the public/private business partnership which will make the program possible.

Warne said the official Apple quote came in $25,000 less than what was expected. The Apple Lease Program runs $124,000 per year for the four-year contract, not including $90,000 worth of “add-on’s” that includes cases and software. Superintendent Mike Amstein had tentatively budgeted $160,000 per year for the program to make it a “workable situation.” Warne said the entire project would cost about $152,000 per year, with a two-percent loan rate.

Warne said with the Board’s approval, he can begin to solicit additional donations from businesses and individuals to help defer some of the costs, especially for the first year of the program.  

Cuts amounting to more than $755k recommended for Atlantic Schools

News

April 15th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic School District Superintendent Dr. Michael Amstein, Monday, recommended cuts in staffing and other areas amounting to more than $755,000. On Feb. 8th, the School Board heard from Iowa Association of School Boards Finance Support Co-Director Gary Sinclair, with regard to district finances for the past five-years. In his presentation, he recommended the district try to find ways to cut $700-thousand dollars as a means of improving its financial health.

During Monday night’s Board meeting, Amstein proposed six areas where the District could save $675,965. The first recommendation was to make across-the-board cost reductions for all departments, amounting to $185,146. Amstein said 12 teachers have accepted the District’s Early Retirement package, which saves the District $382,983. Reducing the Level 3 Behavioral Program by two Para positions would save another $41,814.

Other cuts include reducing the Atlantic Middle School At-Risk Reading position, the elimination of a Testing Para position and Summer School Transportation, for an additional savings of $66,022. Eight additional reductions and costing savings the Board could consider amount to $208, 961, for a total of $884,926. Of the eight additional cost saving measures, Amstein recommended the Board consider reducing the budget for Substitute Teachers and reducing the textbook budget, Utilize current staff to teach FCS at the Middle School, and reducing the Para contract hours to 35 hours, which would save $113,748 altogether.

Board member Dennis Davis and Phil Hascall both said they would have a problem reducing the Middle School At-Risk position. Amstein said that wasn’t on his original list of recommendations, but it was added by personal request from the instructor. Haskell said he feels uncomfortable reducing the position after having seen the dramatic improvements of the students in the program.  Davis said he doesn’t want to “Nickel and Dime” the budget now and have to come back later in the year to add more hours or hire additional personnel to fill the district’s needs.

Board President Kristy Pellett said “Certainly there will be cuts that affect students,” but the effects will be minimal because of early retirements. She was however concerned about the generalization of the “Across all departments” cuts…which she says is vague. Amstein says any amount other than salaries can be reduced depending on need, but there may be monies left over from areas such as snow removal, of which only 1/2 of what was budgeted for has been used.

Those areas which appear to be safe from the budget axe, include the elimination of a SAM position at Washington Elementary, elimination of an ELL position at the High School and the At-Risk Advocate position at the Middle School, along with the postponement of swimming and bowling activities.

The total cuts, if approved by the Board during their meeting on May 12th, amount to $755,965. Amstein said the proposed cuts still give the districts “Some wiggle room,” while hitting the target cost saving goal proposed by Gary Sinclair.

HUSH program sees a drop in deer donations

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 15th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The number of deer donated to a Department of Natural Resources program that uses the meat to feed the hungry in the state dropped by 15-percent this year. Hunters still donated 39-hundred deer to the “Help Us Stop Hunger” or HUSH program. The D-N-R’s Jim Coffey oversees HUSH and says hunters have been very generous over the last decade. “The Hush program has been very popular with our hunters, they see direct benefit back to local communities and helping needy families,” Coffey says.

He says the drop in deer donations compared to last year amounts to around 30-tons of ground venison. “Most likely the donations are down because the deer population is down,” Coffey says, “also beef prices are up, so it’s more like that people keeping more for themselves.” Coffey says the D-N-R’s efforts to reduce the deer population have worked.  “We’ve been more liberal with the harvest of the doe deer. And obviously, the does are the ones that produce the next year’s offspring. So, when we’re harvesting additional does, that means were producing less deer into the population next year.”

The Food Bank of Iowa coordinates distribution of the deer meat and is replacing the loss of venison with other protein, like canned chicken, or even peanut butter. Hunters in the program have donated some 60-thousand deer in 10 years — which is the equivalent of nearly 11 million meals (10.8 million).

(Radio Iowa)

Burn bans lifted in Fremont and Pottawattamie Counties

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

April 15th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Burn Bans which had been in-place in Fremont and Pottawattamie Counties were lifted Monday, due to the recent wet conditions. The Fremont County ban on open burning had been in effect since March 18th, while the ban in Pottawattamie County was in-place since March 19th.

Burn bans remain in effect for Mills, Montgomery and Page Counties, until further notice.

Iowa News Headlines: Tue., April 15th 2014

News

April 15th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press…

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Two top managers at the Iowa Department of Administrative Services have been asked to return for a second day of questioning before a joint legislative oversight committee. Doug Woodley and Paul Carlson didn’t help lawmakers clarify the big question: who authorized settlement agreements in which money was paid for secrecy.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A plan to enroll more 4-year-olds in preschool and incentivize the creation or expansion of programs has won the Iowa Senate’s approval. The legislation that now goes to the House would offer additional funds to school districts with existing programs or those that initiate new programs, in an effort to expand preschool enrollment. These incentives would be offered for three years beginning in 2015, and would be based on increased enrollment.

OTTUMWA, Iowa (AP) – An Ottumwa man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for the brutal beating of a toddler under his care. Dustin Dewayne Armstrong agreed to a plea deal before his trial on multiple charges of child endangerment was scheduled to begin this year. Prosecutors say in April 2013, the 20-year-old Armstrong grabbed Brayden Young’s jaw and slammed his head against a wall. The then-two-year-old boy was later hospitalized with broken bones and extensive brain damage.

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) – Young hunters will have a special opportunity thanks to the generosity of a Webster County family. Donald Seltz and his family decided to sell 75 acres of land to the county for $1,000 per acre. That’s far less than the $8,000 or more an acre the family could have earned for the land. The conservation area has been named the Shirley Kirchner-Seltz Prairie, in honor of Donald Seltz’s late wife.

Attempted Phone Scams in Shelby County

News

April 14th, 2014 by admin

The Shelby County Sheriff’s office has received two reports recently of attempted phone scams in the area. Authorities say a man has been phoning people and representing himself as a member of the Shelby County Sheriff’s office. He then threatens certain legal action in order to try and get the victims’ money.

Those who live in Shelby county and the surrounding areas should be aware the Shelby County Sheriff’s office will not seek payment for legal matters over the phone, and you should never give personal information to anyone claiming to be from the Sheriff’s Office, or provide payment over the phone. Neither of the two previous victims gave any money to the scammer.

The case remains under investigation.