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A vote Monday could bring SAMs program to two Newton schools

It appears the Newton Community School District is potentially moving forward with implementing a School Administration Manager program at its two lower-elementary buildings.

At Monday’s board of education meeting, the board will vote on whether or not to approve two contracts that have been extended to fill the positions. The district offered Tom Bartello the SAMs position at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School and Mike Moran Berg Elementary’s opening.

Bartello is currently an instructional coach in the district and serves students at the Aurora Heights and Woodrow Wilson campuses. Moran is an English/language arts teacher at Newton Senior High School and has aided in administrative duties there in the past.

During the June 23 board meeting, Superintendent Bob Callaghan expressed a number of reasons he supported this program, including the fact that this would allow the district to develop its future leaders from within. He also mentioned that by going this route, the district would experience a significant cost savings compared to last school year.

If approved, the two SAMs would be in lieu of having an assistant principal at Berg and an instructional coach at each building. Callaghan estimated those three salaries last year ran around $252,000, and that two SAMs would cost between $125,000 to $140,000.

The plan for the program is for the SAM to handle a majority of the non-instructional duties for Thomas Jefferson principal Lisa Sharp and Berg principal Jolene Comer. In theory, this would allow them to focus more on the academic aspect of their jobs.

According to the district’s job posting of the two SAM positions, the SAMs would manage activities, coordinate building facilities and transportation needs, handle minor disciplinary measures and handle non-instructional student supervision.

Also at the June 23 meeting, NCSD Associate Director of Elementary Services Jim Gilbert said the district would continue to use the instructional coach model at its upper-elementary level buildings. He added that at the end of the school year, they would compare the data from both methods to gauge the effectiveness of each.

School security was a dominant topic of the last board meeting as well in light of the recent incidents involving David LaVera, who was present in two Newton schools — Berg Middle School and Aurora Heights — on multiple days and even attended a BMS function at Maytag Pool before being charged with enticement of a minor, a Class D felony; carrying weapons, an aggravated misdemeanor; and failure to have a valid driver’s license, a simple misdemeanor.

LaVera, 33, of San Diego reportedly had been in the Newton area since early to mid-May. During this time, he claimed he was an actor in the “Twilight” film series and had been signing autographs under the alias “Kiowa Gordon” — a verified actor in the series. He is currently incarcerated at the Jasper County Jail for allegedly enticing a 14-year-old Baxter girl into his vehicle on June 10 and is being held on $50,000 bond.

He is also being investigated for an incident involving a 14-year-old Newton girl.

In response to the LaVera situation, the board formed a sub-committee made up of board members Donna Cook, Travis Padget and Bill Perrenoud to investigate school safety and security. On Monday, the trio will present their findings and potential solutions to prevent future security breaches within Newton schools.

In other business:

• At 6:45 p.m., a public hearing will be held in regard to making technology purchases, followed by a vote later in the meeting.

• District Business Manager Gayle Isaac will ask the board to consider setting a public hearing for a new school bus purchase.

• The board will vote on a contract with AT&T on the possibility of the company placing a cell phone tower on district property.

• Results of a NHS students’ drug and alcohol usage survey will be discussed.

• The first reading for several policy revisions will be held and followed up with discussion.

• Isaac will discuss the district’s utility bills for the last three years. He will also ask the board to vote on naming depositories for the district’s finances for the 2014-2015 school year.

• A 28E contract between the district and the Lynnville Sully Community School District to allow that district to place students at Basics and Beyond Alternative School will be voted on.

• A vote on a transpiration agreement with East Marshall Community Schools will also be held.

• A vote on selecting a milk bid for SY15.

Senior staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at

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