Solar panels are nuisance charge neighbors

Solar panels from Crestwood High School. (Submitted by Andrew Larson)

Solar panels from Crestwood High School. (Submitted by Andrew Larson)








By Marcie Klomp

Attorney Todd Kowalke, representing Elsie and Joe Busta, addressed Howard-Winneshiek School Board members regarding the solar panels recently installed in the northwest corner of the athletic field are an eyesore to the Bustas.

“This summer, the school decided they wanted to install solar panels and they did . . . as close as legally possible to the Bustas. All you can see are these big panels in the backyard. I walked the area and found at least six places that they could go.”

He explained Iowa Code has a nuisance ordinance. “Anything offensive to sight, sound or vision is a nuisance. As far as we are concerned, those are a nuisance to my clients.”

He went on to say the school’s website was not very informative since he could not easily find how to get in touch with board members.

Kowalke was then told his three minutes of open forum speaking was up. Surprised, the attorney continued briefly, “I didn’t know that, about the three minutes.” He also complained about not having dates of school board meetings on the school calendar.

Although not obligated to address a speaker during open forum, Supt. John Carver explained, “The board meetings for the 2014-15 school year are established during the September meeting. They will be available at that time.”

• In other business, while going over payments, board member Doug Berg asked about the tuckpointing of the K-8 building. He asked Larry Trende, Buildings and Grounds Director, “How do you feel about the project? There is a lot of sharp edges over there. That’s my opinion.”

Trende sad he would look it over again.

Berg added, “Overall it looks awesome.”

• Two families attended the meeting to talk about the open enrollment of their children out of H-W.

Eric Kaski, of Lime Springs, said rumors about his family wanting to go to Riceville because of wrestling were ridiculous. The family is moving because their oldest child’s grades have fallen since he went to Cresco. They are hoping the smaller classes at Riceville will benefit him.

He added, “We did fill out the paperwork on time and for whatever reason, they did not send it until it was after the date. I don’t know why they weren’t sent over here on time. I just don’t know.” (Open enrollment papers are to be given to the receiving and leaving schools by March 1, to be accepted.)

Prescott Payne, of Elma, was also on hand to ask to enroll his children in Riceville. He explained he was now working in Charles City and was thinking of moving into the Riceville School District this year.

He continued, “The same thing with paperwork happened to me. My screw up. I should have taken it. She [school secretary] said she was going to do it.”

The open enrollments for those families were approved.
• Cheryl Dickman answered questions on the Wellness Policy and gave the Food Service report.

She was especially proud of H-W keeping breakfast available until 10 a.m. at the high school, allowing for the NICC students to eat. Six thousand more breakfasts were served in 2013-14 than the year before.
Dickman added the policy and suggestions for healthy food will be on the website for parents to look over.

Later in the meeting a guest commented he had never seen such a well-run food program.

• The board voted to go with IT Savvy as the wireless service since Mediacom did not follow through with their agreement. Board member Karlos McClure commented, “Faster speed, slower service.”
Trende added, “We want to video stream football games, etc. with this service.”

• The student, teacher and parent student handbooks were approved.
• Gary Sinclair, PMA Financial Network representative, gave a report on the district’s five-year financial projections. He said the numbers are important to know so the board can make knowledgeable decisions.

“Have you ever tried to drive a car by looking the rearview mirror? As a district, we need to spend more time looking ahead than behind.”
The program he works with allows districts to go online and change variables to show different outcomes for growth or decline of student populations or Allowable Growth.

• Carver joked the online registration this year was kind of like ObamaCare. When a kink appeared, it was fixed, but slowed the process. “Next year will be much nicer!”

He concluded by saying, “I’m really excited about this school year to begin.” The teachers and students will be doing great things.

• The board voted to submit its priorities to the Iowa Association of School Boards:

1) Support setting the supplemental state aid by the date specified in the Iowa Code at a rate that encourages the continuous school improvement and reflects actual cost increases experienced by school districts and AEA’s.

2) Support preserving the integrity of the statewide penny sales tax for school infrastructure, including the tax equity provisions of buying down the highest additional levy rates to the state average.

3) Support continuation of sufficient incentives and assistance to encourage sharing, reorganization or regional high schools to expand academic learning opportunities for students and to improve student achievement.

4) Support legislative action to develop and deploy in urban, suburban and rural communities affordable, robust and reliable high-speed broadband internet access.

• The next board meeting will be Monday, Sept. 8 at the high school media center.


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