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Marla Padget

Padget

WATERLOO — A new contract with UnityPoint Health will add a ninth registered nurse to support Waterloo Community Schools’ 19 buildings.

The Board of Education Monday approved the $1.18 million one-year contract with the Waterloo-based health system, which represents a 9 percent $98,233 increase over the current year. The contract goes into effect July 1.

Adding the 0.9 full time equivalent nursing position doesn’t account for all of the extra expense, though. The $48,394 cost is a 4.5 percent increase in expenses for nursing.

Raises for existing health assistants, nurses and administrative team members boost costs 3.6 percent or $38,882. That covers increases for cost of living, merit-based performance and benefits. There is also a 1 percent, or $10,957, addition to the contract for various personnel functions and support infrastructure such as human resources, finance, supply chain and information technology.

“This is for all the services, not just salaries,” Marla Padget, executive director of student and at-risk services, told the board of the higher contract. Officials have also identified factors that allow for a reduction in administrative hours while nursing hours grow.

Michael Coughlin, the district’s chief financial officer, noted that annual nursing hours will grow from 14,320 currently to 16,192 next year with the addition of another staff member. Nursing assistants will have another 25,880 hours in the schools. They help to provide coverage to schools since a registered nurse is not always available for each one.

Board member Jesse Knight suggested that the district consider a multi-year contract with UnityPoint Health.

“We could look at that in the future,” said Superintendent Jane Lindaman, noting this will be the second year of contracting with the company. It was chosen through a competitive bid process after the Black Hawk County Health Department informed the district it could no longer provide the service.

In other business, the board approved:

  • Enrolling its remaining four schools in the community eligibility provision of the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, in a 6-1 vote with Sue Flynn dissenting. Kingsley and Orange elementaries, Hoover Middle School and West High were added – allowing all district students to receive meals at no cost through 2022-23 – based on an overall increase in the combined identified student percentage that qualified for the program. Flynn voted against the measure because “I just think it further stigmatizes Waterloo as a poor district,” she said, noting people who can afford to pay for meals should have that option.
  • A one-year lease with Central Rivers Area Education Agency to continue locating Lowell Elementary School in its former office buildings. The district will pay $10,000 per month, down $5,000 from the existing monthly amount, plus cover utilities and grounds maintenance. Costs for the temporary use of the facility after a portion of the roof collapsed at the Lowell building will be covered under the district’s insurance policy damage claim.
  • A three-year contract extension with Durham School Services to provide student busing with annual increases of 4.2, 4 and 3 percent in the coming years. Annual costs are projected to rise from $4.49 million currently to $5.02 million in 2021-22. The vote was 6-1 with Knight dissenting over concerns that “opportunities for quality improvements” with the company are not being sought.
  • A return-to-play concussion protocol for athletics and a safe school emergency operations plan, both new requirements under Iowa Code.
  • The purchase of $169,933 in kitchen equipment for the Waterloo Career Center culinary arts program from Wilson Restaurant Supply in Waterloo, which submitted the lowest of two quotes. The other was $172,840.
  • A slate of board policy changes, in a 6-1 vote with Endya Johnson dissenting. She objected to the Wednesday night student activities policy, which sets a time for practices to be done on what has commonly been considered “church night.” Johnson pointed to growing diversity in the district and said it was better that some of the changes remain unwritten rules.
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