School board prevented from letting bids on SALC one more month

The stage area at Lime Springs-Chester Elementary is now where band and vocal music meet. The area was cleared of clutter this summer.

by Marcie Klomp

Progress on Spring Ahead Learning Center (SALC) was discussed at the Howard-Winneshiek Community School District Board meeting on August 22.

It was learned the attorney from Ahlers and Cooney of Des Moines, the law firm handling the legalities of SALC, did not have the deed to the Lime Springs-Chester Elementary School property. Bids cannot be let until the deed is found. The board agreed to wait until the next meeting to let the bids. Duane Bodermann commented since groundbreaking wasn’t until spring a month wouldn’t matter too much.

Since the meeting, Duane Johnson, SALC treasurer, said the deed was sent to the attorney. Things should move forward after the September 26 board meeting.

• In other concerns, regarding LS-C, new principal Todd Knobloch spoke of some building changes at the local elementary.

“The stage area was revamped into a music area.” There was a large amount of clutter on the stage that was removed to make room for the band and vocal classes.

The former music room, in the far west classroom is now being used by Spring Ahead Preschool—three-year old group.

The room used by Spring Ahead last year is an “overflow” classroom for special classes and reading groups.

The gym floor was refinished.

Knobloch added, “Lime Springs-Chester Elementary received grants for an outside basketball court and cement that will be done in the near future.”

Elma Elementary also has some playground updates taking place.

• Other big projects around the district either done or close to being done this fall include:

~ High school gym floor was sanded, painted and refinished;

~ New bleachers were installed at the high school;

~ Gym floor at Notre Dame was refinished;

~ Alternative school was moved from Notre Dame to the old Preschool building (between the K-8 and high school);

~ Football and softball-baseball sidewalks were cemented;

~Revamped wrestling ceiling;

~ Sound barriers between junior high and elementary arrived;

~ Painting was done around the district, including painting the high school hallway Cadet blue and white; and

~ The drive at the K-8 building was progressing.

• In the midst of all the updating of buildings and grounds, excess furniture, buildings and other equipment was found. Knobloch mentioned, “In the next couple of weeks, maybe the third week in September, we will have an open sale.”

Some items discussed were old desks, chairs, tables and light bulbs.

The school will be very generous in selling the bulbs. “Each bulb costs us 50 cents to get rid of.” The school is required to dispose of the bulbs properly. It cost $1,300 last year to get rid of old bulbs. The general public can just break them in the garbage, so the working bulbs will be sold.

The board also discussed selling a few of the smaller, dilapidated buildings on the grounds.

• Cheryl Dickman of Food Service gave the nutrition program’s annual report. She concluded the number of students eating lunch was up from last year. The number of students paying full price was down but the number having free or reduced increased. “It shows the signs of the times,” she said. Already this year she has more free and reduced than last year.

It was mentioned the prices of fresh fruits and vegetables and grains is on the rise.

Dickman was pleased with the reception she has been seeing regarding fresh food. “The other day I was walking around the K-8 building and saw the kids were eating greens before the pizza!”

She also asked the board to allow her to purchase a new dishwasher for the Early Childhood Development Center. “We’ve had issues with it since we started. Nobody wants to work on it. They’ve been washing dishing by hand.”

The facility serves about 150-170 meals per day. The food is prepared at the high school and served out of the ECDC kitchen. Also using the facility is Head Start and Kessel Kids.

The board authorized the purchase of a dishwasher for the kitchen.

• New staff were introduced to the school board. Those new to the district include Tim Felderman, high school principal; David Gaus, Business Manager/Board Secretary; Michelle Reidel, elementary art; Jennifer Hemann, Lime Springs-Chester Elementary second-third grades; Samantha Burke, Elma Preschool; and Shelley Miller, Cresco Preschool.

• CIA Insurance discussed the district’s insurance. Cindy Butikofer said the premium last year was $109,000+. This year it is $107,000+.

One item added to the insurance was coverage on the PTO (Parent-Teacher Organization) at Cresco. Knobloch also offered that LS-C and Elma also had parent-teachers groups.

At $100 per group, it was suggested to have one group that worked together. It will be looked at in the future.

• The board voted on the pet ordinance which stated no pets were allowed on school property unless authorized by the principal of the school.

The issue arose when some residents would walk their dogs and not pick up after them, making it a safety hazard for children, athletes and band members who use the grassy areas of the campuses.

• On a three-two vote (Karlos McClure, Jan Carmen and Marilyn Reis for and Jeff Murphy and Duane Bodermann against) the Communication Plan from the Strategic Planning Committee was passed. The conflict came from the different points of view of Superintendent Dianne Anderson and Murphy.

Anderson felt the plan had been completed by the committee after about the second meeting and Murphy felt some committee members would not agree the plan was complete and would want a more formal closure. He said some committee members did not know it was coming for a vote.

The measure was passed, but the plan is always up for review as things change.

• The new school board secretary David Gaus explained the auditor mandated approximately $20,000 in Fund 62 (the childcare fund) be transferred to the General Fund under Elementary Program Fund. The money was from the After-School Program and would be used for the elementary.

• Anderson gave a presentation to the board on the Education Summit, hosted by Gov. Terry Branstad. Educators from all over the nation met to discuss plans and ideas for student learning.

Some troubling facts she brought up included:

~ In 1992, no state scored higher than Iowa on the NAEP (National Assessment of Education Progress) in fourth-grade reading. By 2009, however, 13 states scored significantly higher than Iowa.

~ From 1992 to 2009, Iowa’s eighth-grade NAEP mathematics scores fell from the top in the nation to average.

~ Only 29 percent of Iowa eighth-grade students who took the NAEP in 2009 were enrolled in Algebra I or another higher-level mathematics course. Students in only three states recorded lower enrollment.

~ The achievement gap between Iowa students with and without disabilities on the 2009 NAEP is the worst in the nation. (Later she explained the difference can be in the way states regard special needs students. An example given was a student from another state was labeled special education and was moved to regular classes at Howard-Winn.)

~ Despite Iowa’s above-average scores on the ACT college entrance exam, the percentage of test-takers who met all four ACT benchmarks showing they are ready for college was 30 percent in 2010.

~ Iowa tied for the 16th lowest percentage of people with a bachelor’s degree (25.1 percent) in 2009, according to a national comparison.

She said Governor Branstad will release his blueprint recommendation for Iowa school reform in early October 2011.

The next school board meeting will be at the Crestwood High School Board Room on Monday, September 26 at 7:00 p.m.

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