Home News Thursday Afternoon News, March 30th

Thursday Afternoon News, March 30th


School Board Approves Contract For New Curriculum Director

(Le Mars) — The Le Mars Community Board of Education approved the hiring of a Curriculum Director to begin work for the 2017-2018 school year. The school board approved Rachel Leavitt with an annual salary of $98,000. Leavitt is
currently serving as the junior and senior high school principal for the Lawton-Bronson school district. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Steve Webner says he was surprised at the number of applicants for the newly created educational position.

Webner told the school board about Leavitt’s qualifications.

Rachel Leavitt

Rachel Leavitt

Leavitt attended Northwestern College in Orange City. Webner says there were two people from the Le Mars Community School District that submitted an application for the curriculum director position. Webner says one of the applicants was among the five people that were interviewed.


School Board Approves Salary Increase And Last School Day

(Le Mars) — The Le Mars Community Board of Education has approved a salary increase of $250 for the base salary of $37,085 as part of the master contract with the Le Mars Education Association. The proposal will increase the cost of
salary to the school district by $148,010 or 1.5 percent for 2017-18. The school board also decided to have the last school day be on Thursday, May 25th. School superintendent Dr. Todd Wendt informed the school board that the Le Mars Community School District had a total of three days that were lost due to
weather closures.


Dr. Wendt informed the school board that the school will meet the minimum required hours of education as stipulated by the state.



Holz Says Lawmakers Will Again Work On Budget Shortfall Beginning Next Week

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Gov. Terry Branstad has lowered his projections for Iowa’s upcoming budget year by about $173 million amid declining state revenue.
The Republican governor released a revised budget Tuesday night that proposes spending roughly $7.2 billion in the budget year that begins in July.  His staff discussed details Wednesday.
Branstad’s revised budget includes some new spending but does so in part by reducing funding to some departments, community colleges and the state’s three public universities. It also includes cutting money from a job skills training fund.
The figures also break down how the state plans to tap cash reserves to plug a $131 million shortfall in the current budget. Lawmakers addressed an earlier shortfall by cutting more than $117 million in spending.
Republicans with majorities in both chambers will soon release their
budget proposal.

State Representative Chuck Holz of Le Mars believes the legislature will along with Governor Branstad’s plan. He says the state lawmakers will deal with the budget concerns next week.

Chuck Holz

Holz says lawmakers are required under Iowa Code to payback any funds taken from the state’s cash reserves.

The Le Mars lawmaker says it is likely the budget for next year will also be tight, given the state’s revenue projection do not expect to see much of an increase.



Iowa House Approves Bill Preventing Access To 911 Audio Recordings

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A fast-moving Iowa bill would eliminate the public’s right to access 911 calls involving emergencies in which people are injured, sealing key information about public safety.
The House has approved the measure and a Senate committee will discuss it Thursday.
The bill declares that 911 calls involving injured victims are medical records and exempt from Iowa’s open records law. That means authorities’ initial response to shootings, stabbings and many other incidents would face less scrutiny.
Calls involving juveniles would all be confidential.
GOP Rep. Dean Fisher says the legislation comes in response to the release of 911 calls to The Associated Press last year that exposed a string of gun accidents in Tama County that killed two teens and injured a third.
Fisher says medical privacy outweighs the public’s right-to-know.


Lee County Supervisors Approve Minimum Wage Increase Despite Action By Legislature To Deny Any Increases

KEOKUK, Iowa (AP) – Supervisors in southeastern Iowa’s Lee County have approved a minimum wage increase, even after state lawmakers passed a bill that would ban local governments from increasing the minimum hourly wage.
The Hawk Eye reports that Lee County supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to raise the county’s minimum wage to $8.20 an hour – 95-cents above the current minimum of $7.25 an hour.
Supervisor Ron Fedler, of West Point, was the only vote against the measure, saying he does not believe wage laws should be set at the local level.
The GOP-controlled Iowa Senate passed a bill Monday night banning such local minimum wage measures. A similar measure had already passed in the Republican-majority House. The bill now heads to GOP Gov. Terry Branstad, who supports it.


Polk County Inmates Granted Access To Internet

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Polk County Jail inmates are exploring the internet, watching movies and contacting loved ones through a pilot project that gives them access to tablet computers.
The Des Moines Register reports (http://dmreg.co/2nOOoDA ) that Telmate, a Fruitland, Idaho-based company, is providing 97 tablets free to the jail. The company owns them and collects from three to five cents a minute directly from the inmates’ jail commissary accounts.
The inmates have spent about 30,000 minutes a day since the tablets were distributed to jail cellblocks March 9.
The company says studies show the more inmates stay connected, the less likely they are to reoffend.
The assistant jail administrator, Cory Williams, says the inmates must follow jail rules if they want to maintain access to the tablets.