Board postpones bid letting on Learning Center . . . again

By Marcie Klomp

The Spring Ahead Learning Center bid letting has been postponed for another month, Howard-Winneshiek School Board members learned at the October 20 meeting, held in Elma.

October 2011 was the original tentative ground-breaking schedule. Ground-breaking cannot take place until bids are let and a contractor hired.

In July, the school board hired Ahlers & Cooney of Des Moines to help with all the paperwork for SALC. Since then, bid-letting has been held off for the third month because the proper legal description cannot be found.

Supt. Dianne Anderson said the attorney handling the case, Jane McAllister, has been working on getting the proper abstract and to get a new one would take a long time. They are trying to find paperwork when Lime Springs Independent School dissolved into Howard-Winneshiek.

New board member Jim Kitchen, who is also on the SALC board, has been in contact with McAllister. He said another step to move forward with building the facility is getting a right-of-way or easement from the City of Lime Springs [for parking]. “I got us on the Lime Springs City agenda.”

Anderson, who has another meeting scheduled for November 1, said, “When you go over the superintendent’s head, it causes problems.”

Kitchen apologized if he overstepped his bounds. Board member Scott Fortune commented, “Jim took the initiative. Now we have a slot on the agenda. It’ll just get us moving ahead sooner.”

Anderson added, “Jane McAllister has to start the abstract from scratch. She said it will take a long time.”

Board member Duane Bodermann responded, “I’ve had an abstract done and it didn’t take that long.”

(The county abstract office was contacted after the meeting and a new abstract is guaranteed in two weeks or 10 working days.)

The board will wait to let bids until a legal abstract is obtained.

• In other business, teacher Heather Suckow spoke at open forum to the board about budget cuts. Suckow, who has been with the district for 14 years, wanted to let the board know how some cuts from last year were affecting her and other teachers.

By cutting down on the number of special classes (P.E., music, art, library) per week, it gives the teachers less time for prep and free time during the day.

She also suggested paying more for substitute teachers (the current rate is $90 per day) so they would be more likely to pick How.-Winn. than another school when subbing.

Another option may be to hire a full-time sub for the district. If there was a day the sub was not needed, the teacher could help with special education.

• Riceville Kiwanis invited the board, teachers and parents to attend a meeting on March 7 where Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass will be speaking.

• Board Secretary David Gaus spoke about changing the accounting software currently used by How-Winn. He suggested going with Software Unlimited when the contract ends with Grant Wood. “Sixty-five percent of the school districts use Software Unlimited.” He added it would be less expensive and more user-friendly. “It could save a lot of paperwork.”

The board will look at the system when it is time.

• The board voted to give Doug Sickles a stipend to help out principals in K-8.

• The board voted to hire Gates Upholstery [of Lime Springs] to reupholster the auditorium seats. Todd Knobloch claims there are 531 seats to be redone. The cost would be $40 per seat, compared with over $200 per seat to replace. The business will do one row, or 20 seats, at one time. The money will come from Capital Projects Fund.

It is hoped they will last 40 years, which is how long the old ones lasted.

• It was approved to take $57,441.33 from General Fund to support the Title 1 budget. This is to help fund the School In Need of Assistance program.

• Band Director Jason Dobbs asked to have the timpani or kettledrums replaced. He joked the drums may be older than the auditorium seats.

He said, “Last year, Rachel Frana really had to fight [to use the drums]. We haven’t got anything significant since 2007. I’d like to see money budgeted for better equipment.”

Fortune thanked Dobbs for the good work he has done.

The director also said the band needs new uniforms. “It has been 15 years, which is about the lifetime of a uniform.”

Instead of going with the proposed three-year rental plan, the board went with purchasing the drums from Kephart’s for $9,800 right away.

• It was approved to make the necessary repairs on the coolant tower at the junior high. Fortune made sure those working on electrical were certified.

• The board approved the 2011-12 SIAC (School Improvement Advisory Committee) members. The committee includes administrators, staff, students and community members. They address issues such as bullying.

Board members James Kitchen, Doug Berg and Scott Fortune look at one of the iPADS recommended for school use by Helen Westcott.

• The board agreed to purchasing 50 iPADS, which was recommended by Helen Westcott, Technology Director. She extolled the benefits of iPADS over laptops and said, “They’re our future.”

The iPADS will go to the junior high with 20 going to teachers and 30 being part of a lab, where classrooms can check them out for use by students.

Board member Doug Berg asked more about the purchase and was told Apple is a better product—lasting 10 years compared with Windows lasting three to five years.

“I’m a software person. I’d like to be part of your committee,” Berg said.

The cost is $499 each or $470 each for a volume discount.

• Two field trips were approved—one for K-2 for a play at Cedar Falls and the other for Gifted And Talented and math group to attend a math competition at Waverly-Shell Rock.

The next meeting will again be held at Elma on November 28.



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