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Board approves action to allow sale of former Central Office

The Newton Community School District Board of Education unanimously approved an action to allow the sale of the Maytag house that was the former location of the district’s Central Office during Monday night’s regular meeting. Joe Klingensmith moved to approve the action item and Nat Clark seconded the motion.

There was no further discussion on the matter during the meeting, but Superintendent Steve McDermott said during a phone conversation this morning that there is local interest in the property. However, a listing price is not yet set.

“Right now the feeling of the board is that they intend to have the district sell it as owner rather than working with an individual real estate agent ... just out of fairness,” McDermott said. “It would be so difficult to select one over others, and so many realtors are very supportive of the school district.”

Also on the agenda during Monday night’s meeting was the first reading of School Board Policy 410.1, in which the board unanimously voted to consider the approval of an early retirement policy. If approved after a second reading, eligible early retirees would apply for early retirement in January and be able to receive those benefits at the end of this school year.

“How many people are you hoping to entice with this?” board member Dennis Combs asked.

“We’re hoping to get the maximum,” McDermott said, noting that 15 most-senior employees would be able to apply.

The board amended the district’s previous early retirement policy during the first reading to establish a uniform percentage of taxable cash benefits for all district employees, including teachers, nurses, classified personnel and administrators. Each classification, according to the amendment, would receive 25 percent of their Schedule C base salary or salary paid at the time of retirement.

Other items of interest during Monday night’s meeting:

• Director of Business Services Gayle Isaac reminded the board of the upcoming special election from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4. Only one polling location — the Jasper County Community Center — will be open for the election.

December’s special election became necessary when the board elected to renew its revenue purpose statement, which outlines how the NCSD will use sales tax pennies. The plan must be in place at least 60 days before the current authority expires.

In addition to voting on the RPS, the Newton community also will elect a board member as dictated by Iowa code. On the ballot will be Joe Klingensmith, who lost his seat on the board after the last election but was later appointed when Jeremy Heaberlin vacated the position; Sheri Benson, who initially was voted into the seat; and Newton parent Stephanie Bailey.

• Wendy Parker, director of secondary educational services, gave the board a quick update regarding the 1:1 iPad initiative set to roll out at the start of the 2013-2014 school year at the high school level.

On Wednesday of this week, all Basics & Beyond teachers as well as one teacher from each department at the Newton Senior High School will receive their iPads. Those teachers then will begin training on the tablet devices Thursday. By Feb. 15, all teachers at the high school level should have their iPads.

• Two Emerson Hough preschool teachers invited board members to a preschool family fun night from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4. The event will be math-centered with the goal of helping families learn to do activities with their kids at home, such as sorting laundry in an educational way or using a deck of cards to help teach math skills.

Amy Martens can be contacted at (641) 792-3121 ext. 426 or via email at

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