AURELIA - The Aurelia School Board, meeting Wednesday at a special "retreat" between regularly-scheduled monthly meetings, approved a contract with Cannon, Moss, Brygger and Associates architect Paul E. Maurer for the proposed new Wellness Facility.
Maurer will be paid on an hourly basis, which he suggested, feeling it would be less expensive for the school. Maurer will meet with the selected contractors on a regular basis and also maintain regular communication with Superintendent Tom Vint at the school.
CMB, a Spencer firm, will also be working on the proposed Aurelia Community Center, though a different architect will be involved in that project.
In other business, NW AEA Administrator Les Douma spoke to the Board about school sharing agreements, and suggested some approaches to the sensitive subject.
Douma has just gone through the merger of AEAs 4 and 12 into the new NW AEA, and was also an administrator at MOC-Floyd Valley shortly after their re-organization, so he shared some insights and observations about the subject.
The Board had been discussing a "plan of action" on sharing prior to Douma's arrival, and he felt that the plans were on the right track. Douma stressed the importance of communication and involving others in the process.
After small group meetings with all schools with whom the District might want to consider sharing activities and/or personnel, and "laying it all on the line" with the other district(s) regarding the Aurelia district's desires and concerns (including the importance of respecting some of the traditions and history of the Aurelia district), the Board plans to hold meetings with school personnel for their input, and then hold an open public meeting, at which they will discuss their findings, including enrollment trends and curriculum offerings.
The Board plans to set a timetable for any sharing it might do, rather than leaving things in an uncertain state. Board members were in agreement that the 2008 -2009 school year would be the earliest date for any possible sharing, and it might even be 2009-2010. They will set a definite date when all plans are more fully developed, and not sign any agreements for sharing before having the public meeting to fully discuss options and allow community members to express their opinions and feelings on the subject.
In other business Wednesday, the Board approved the second reading of the Early Retirement Policy, and will plan to continue reviewing the policy periodically.
Superintendent Vint presented financial projections for the School District and felt that the District was financially sound enough to be able to run the same programs, with the same staff, until 2010. Vint also presented Board members a summary of the recommendations from the Institute for Tomorrow's Workforce (ITW), a 15-member panel which has been meeting to discuss Iowa students' educational future in the 21st Century.
The ITW basically made three recommendations to support student learning and achievement : 1) Establish standards for business operations and for "opportunity-to-learn" standards for pre-kindergarten through post-secondary; 2) Establish learning standards and assessments for pre-kindergarten through post-secondary education; and 3) Implement a "career ladder" to provide teachers compensation for career advancement, starting with a raise in Iowa teacher salaries to meet the national average. This initiative, they feel, will allow Iowa to be competitive in recruiting and retaining talented professionals.
Vint said he is not sure what will be done with these recommendations, or if and when they will be implemented.
The February School Board meeting will be held on Monday, February 12, and will begin at 4:30 p.m., because of the Girls' Regional basketball game between Aurelia and Alta in Alta that evening.