The Aurelia School Board approved a resolution, subject to annual renewal, that authorizes the superintendent to determine specific areas of personnel shortage and the funds available to offer a pay incentive for teachers seeking these positions. This is in accordance with a new legislation on market factor pay. The Aurelia district will receive $2,361, to be used for unfilled positions, positions with limited applications, and pending retirements in teacher shortage areas.
In other items of business at Monday night's monthly Board meeting, the Board approved the resignation of high school volleyball coach Tim Ireland.
Coaches Myron Radke, Scott Phelps, Mike Fry, and Grant Peckenschneider, along with local contractor Rob Kannegieter, were present at the meeting to participate in a discussion with the Board and contractor Debbie Witt regarding a specification sheet Witt had presented for the proposed Wellness Center. After considerable discussion, it was decided to table approval of the spec sheet until some fine tuning can be done after meetings between the Building Committee, Witt, and the coaches.
It is hoped that a new, final version of the spec sheet can be presented at the December board meeting or perhaps even at a special meeting on an earlier date. Once the spec sheet is approved, the district can publish a notice that they are accepting bids for the project.
Elementary Administrator Ann Sandine reported that Parent Teacher Conferences, held on Oct. 30 and Nov. 2, had an attendance of more than 90 percent of parents. She also said that the Elementary Music Program will be presented this Thursday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m.
The "Grandparent's Program" with Sunset Knoll residents has begun, and one or two of the classes will be going there on Nov. 21 to make simple Thanksgiving decorations with the residents. The third grade music class will also be going to Sunset Knoll on Nov. 28 to present a program.
High School Principal Dave Hickman reported that the high school had more than 60 percent of student families participate in Parent-Teacher conferences, down slightly from last year, but Hickman felt that might well be attributable to the excellent weather causing farmers to be out in their fields getting the crops in.
Hickman also said that several students who have requested Senior Release in the second semester will be present at the December meeting to present their requests.
Superintendent Tom Vint reported on the lockdown drill held on Oct. 26, and said the students and staff did a good job during the drill. He is going to get a bid to install an intercom system in the school, as that would give the district some options in situations like that.
The Board also approved a request for early graduation from student Jon DeYoung, who has been an open-enrollment student from the River Valley District. He will have enough credits to graduate at the end of the first semester.
The Board also gave a tentative approval to a request from Coach Fry and Coach Phelps for the Aurelia Junior High wrestling program, which has only five participants this year, to share with the Galva-Holstein and Schaller-Crestland programs. The wrestling season does not begin until after the basketball season is completed. Coach Phelps said there will not be any practices on Wednesdays (church night). Several options have been considered for transportation of the Aurelia students to Galva, where the practices will take place. The tentative approval is dependent upon a more firm plan being in place.
The Board learned the details of an $11,000 grant proposal .The proposal targets four areas to increase communication with the parents of students:
1) Establish a Parent Teacher Association (PTA) in the district.
2) Purchase a software program whereby parents can access student information, including grades and assignments, which could lead to increased student achievement.
3) Establish Early Bird Conferences, where the main teacher for each student will personally visit with the parent/guardian prior to the first day of classes. The grant allows for a 30-minute visit with each child.
4) Establish a "Parent Night at School" each semester, to encourage parents to become actively involved in their child's education.
The grant application was submitted to the Department of Education on November 3, and the District will receive a response in December.
The Board also heard a report on the year's first meeting of the Student Advisory Committee (aka School Improvement Committee), and approved a survey that Board President Dan Winterhof developed, and would like to distribute to Committee members at their December 4 meeting. Members would break into small groups and discuss their answers. The questions deal with people's ideas about their wants and needs regarding a school sharing program.
Superintendent Vint said that the Alta Superintendent had been in touch expressing interest in a meeting between two Board members from Alta and two members from Aurelia, along with each District's Superintendent. Alta has also received a letter from Newell-Fonda and Schaller-Crestland requesting a joint meeting about sharing, but has sent a letter back to these schools saying they are not interested at this time. Cherokee's Board President and Superintendent have also indicated an interest in a small group meeting.
The Board agreed that they need to continue talks with both Alta and Cherokee, but want to wait until they have had a chance to review the Advisory Committee's answers from their December 4 meeting. Any talks with other districts will most likely be held after the first of the year.
In other business, the Board members approved the Series 800 policies (buildings and sites) on their second reading, and discussed the date for the annual Board members' visit to classrooms. This will most likely be in December again this year.
Superintendent Vint presented a list of some possible future maintenance projects for the school, so these could be kept in mind as the Board makes any decisions on large expenditures, such as the weight room/wellness center.
Items mentioned included the 1985 roofs over the shop and south of the gym; the North doors at the High School; the South entrance doors of the elementary building; the East parking lot entrance doors; replacing the lighting in the High School classrooms; replacing the lunchroom flooring; replacing the drainage system along the East wall of the gym; and replacing the pea gravel on the playground with a synthetic rubber surface.