The Aurelia School Board spent much of its monthly meeting on Monday discussing the status of the middle school wrestling program.
The school had been extended an invitation by the Alta school to share middle school wrestling, as Aurelia's squad is expected to be low in numbers and because Aurelia did not have a coach contracted for the middle school position.
The best estimate of the number of Aurelia participants is "four probables and four maybes", according to Superintendent Tom Vint, who did an informal poll of students. Since that time, Mike Frey, the head wrestling coach of the shared Aurelia-Galva-Holstein wrestling program, has offered to coach the middle school team. After a lengthy discussion, weighing pros and cons of both options, the board voted to reject Vint's recommendation to share middle school wrestling with Alta, and to instead contract with Frey to "keep the program in-house."
The board's hope is that more students may choose to participate in the wrestling program if it is offered in Aurelia. It was stated that Frey will be notified, and reminded that he will be expected to be present for practices and meets and to have an assistant working with him who is knowledgeable about wrestling.
In other board business, State Representative Dan Huseman was present and listened to the board's concerns on a number of legislative issues.
He estimates that allowable growth (the percentage of increase of per-pupil funding in the state formula) will be "at least 4 percent."
Huseman said that the legislature might extend the length of the school year to 190 or 200 days from its present 180 days, although it probably won't be done in the upcoming legislative session.
Huseman informed the board that state funding for professional development would be maintained at the current level or perhaps increased a little.
In regular administrator reports, Elementary Administrator Ann Sandine reported on the scores of students in grades 2 -- 4 who took the Iowa Test of Basic Skills tests in November. All three grades scored above the state norms. Individual results will be sent home with report cards in January.
She also said that the Accelerated Reader Program will be expanding to include first and second graders.
A special trip to Santa's Castle in Storm Lake is planned for the TK, kindergarten, and first grade students this week, and the kindergarten class will be visiting Ron Anderson's farm on Dec. 16.
Dec. 21 brings Christmas parties for all the elementary grades, and school will be dismissed at 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 22 to begin Christmas vacation.
High School Principal Dave Hickman led off his report by reporting that the high school classes have continued their outstanding attendance. For the first seventy - five days of school, the high school is averaging 97.03 percent attendance, led by the freshman class with a 98.28 percent .
Hickman discussed incentives for taking and doing well on the Iowa Tests of Educational Development (ITEDs). Students who score above the 85th percentile on ITEDs, or improve their National Standard Score by the amount necessary to show a year's growth for that student, earn a "blue slip", which allows them to have one semester test not count against that student's grades. This year, Hickman reported, eighty-eight students in grades 9 -- 11 took the ITEDs, and fifty of them received the coveted "Blue Slip." Hickman was particularly impressed by the fact that thirty of the fifty students showed two years or more of academic growth in their National Standard Score. Both the sophomores and juniors had class averages of 55th percentile or higher, and thus earned a one day field trip.
Semester tests will be given to all high school students on Dec. 20, 21, and 22. The test schedules are on the Aurelia School website. Hickman displayed the website, and showed that it also contains monthly school calendars for the remainder of the school year and up through October of next school year. The schedules are updated often, as changes are made, and he encouraged students as well as families or other interested community members to check the website if they have questions about upcoming events.
Vint reported that fuel costs are up 25 percent, but that total transportation costs have increased only 3.1 percent.
He also noted an odor problem that had been discovered in the gymnasium, and several people have been working to resolve the issue. A cracked pipe was feared, but Lundell Construction used a camera in the drain system and it did not show a crack. There is, however, water backed up and standing in the Southwest corner of the gym. It is believed this may have been caused by tar which came loose from the roof and got into the system. They hope to get the drain cleaned out over the Christmas break, but for now have been putting an enzyme down the drain to clean out bacteria.
Vint also reported an offer by the Special-Lite Door Company to provide two free doors if the school would purchase the frame and hardware to go with the doors. The board agreed to the purchase, and the installation will be done over the Christmas break. This will be on the front doors to the high school. The school has three doors there, so the school will purchase the third door. Total cost for all three doors, frame, installation and hardware, is $3520, less than half the normal cost for the project.
The School Foundation Board had two members, Jack Galvin and Rhonda Handy, whose terms have expired. Vint reported that Butch Sleezer and Jon Smith have agreed to fill those positions on the Board.
Vint closed his report with some disappointing news. The Aurelia football spectators drew a very low (bottom 10 percent of the state) rating in the annual Sportsmanship Ratings by the officials. Some Board members wondered if perhaps there are too many spectators standing on the field (behind the barrier). Coach Radke is quite disturbed by this rating, and has vowed to emphasize improvement in this area next fall.
In other business, student Nathan Anderson represented the Senior class in requesting that the class be allowed to continue in the Senior Release Program for the second semester. Hickman said that the students have done a very good job following the guidelines and rules of the program this semester, and he recommended it continue. The board voted to approve the recommendation, providing the student has been maintaining good attendance and at least a 2.0 GPA.
The auditor has recommended that the school set a maximum depository amount for all accounts at the local banks. The board approved a maximum of $400,000 per account.
The board also approved renewing participation in Iowa Association of School Boards' Drug and Alcohol Testing Program for the mandatory testing of bus drivers. The cost is $40 per driver, which Vint said is much better than the school would be able to negotiate with any clinics or hospitals in the area.
The board approved the resignations of Kim Conover as varsity volleyball coach and John Hill as the varsity baseball coach. The school plans to post both openings for current staff to see if there is any interest. If not, the openings will be posted in the local papers.
The school has membership on the Buena Vista County Conference Board, which appoints an assessor for the county, appoints members of the Board of Review and the Examining Board, and sets the budget for the office of the Assessor and the Board of Review. Only Buena Vista County residents may be on the board, and the current school board has two members that meet this qualification. Board member Susan Corderman was appointed to continue as the school's representative on the Buena Vista County Conference Board.
A second reading of School Policy # 606.3, "Dogs and Other Animals On School Grounds" was discussed and the policy was approved. It was recommended that the policy be published in the school newspaper, and posted at athletic venues and at the doors of the school, so that everyone is aware that animals are not allowed on school property unless approved by the principal, and, if approved, there must be adequate supervision of the animal.
A discussion was held concerning the school's Early Retirement Policy, and it was decided to leave it as is for now, pending additional guidance from IASB.
As a final topic, the board agreed to participate a retreat, tentatively set for Jan. 18, to discuss issues. Vint is hoping to bring in a consultant to lead a discussion about several aspects of any sharing programs with neighboring districts.