Things settling down at H-W

Caden Gates is working hard in kindergarten.

Caden Gates is working hard in kindergarten.

By Marcie Klomp

After three days of school under its belt, board members learned things were starting to settle down at Howard-Winneshiek School District. The board meeting was held Aug. 26.

Supt. John Carver told the board students were still coming and going, so solid enrollment numbers were not in. He did express a few concerns over a few classes, including the combination first-second class at Lime Springs-Chester Elementary and third grade in Cresco.

Projected numbers from last year had 10 first and 12 second graders at LS-C. After the start of the school, however, the classes grew in size to 12 and 14 students. That put a strain on teacher Jennifer Hemann. A .5 classroom associate will be advertised for that class.

Due to cuts, one teacher at Cresco Elementary had to be reduced for the 2013-14 school year. Carver explained that administrators had asked teachers what direction to go. The consensus and ultimate answer was to release one of the four 2012-13 second grade teachers. That class is now in third grade with the three sections having around 24-25 students each. The classes will continue to be monitored to make sure students are getting the attention they deserve.

In other staff-related issues, Rebecca Caffrey was hired as Preschool Associate and Meg Meirick and Hannah Harken were hired as one-to-one associates.

• Spring Ahead Learning Center has been occupied since February, but the school board has yet to sign off on the project. Board secretary Clint Farlinger explained, “A couple months ago there were some issues that have now been resolved.”

Building and Grounds Director Larry Trende added, I had some concerns about siding and they assured me it was good.”

Director Karlos McClure asked, “What about the painting over the door going out to the playground? [Architect Gary] Andersen was told about it.”

Carver added the district needed protection against problems. “That goes against Gary [Andersen] and not the board.” The school attorney will look into the matter.

Fortune concluded, “I just want to protect us.”

• Carver gave a presentation on the board retreat held Aug. 10 at Prairie Springs Nature Center, which was facilitated by Andy Peterson of Donaldson’s. The four-hour meeting gave board members time away from the regular board meeting to look at the district’s Vision and Mission Statement, district growth opportunities, physical plant activities and establish board goals.

Some key words for the vision and mission statements included exciting, contemporary, inviting and culture.

Director Scott Fortune pointed out he would like to put a date on items sitting in the “parking lot” or the to do list of the district. “Any goal worth its weight needs a date when it will be accomplished,” he added.

Director James Kitchen was excited about Team Extreme, where students can be part of something outside of school.

• First year 2-6 grade Principal Greg Adams noted, “We have 177 days of school left. There are three in the books—three good days.” He added he and others are keeping their eye on first-second at LS-C and third grade in Cresco, as stated earlier. Also, the new digital devices to every student were working well so far.

• Cindy Butikofer of CIA Insurance presented the annual insurance coverage for the district. The total bill came to $204,979.00, an increase of $16,569 from last year. The only thing not included in the figure was the digital devices from this year.

Board members wondered about having multiple bids for next year. Fortune commented, “We ask Larry to have other bids. We should get them too.” The board accepted the proposal from CIA but will ask for bids in January 2014.

• Board President Bodermann suggested the board vote for Jan Kreitzer as the AEA (Area Education Agency) director. “Since she is from our area,” he added. The board will ask her to come to the September meeting and make the official decision at that time.

• Director Doug Berg asked if a stress test had been done on the server. Carver joked that with the start of school there were “1,800 devices hit the server, and it went okay. It was pretty solid.”

• The next meeting will be Monday, Sept. 16 at 7:00 p.m.



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