AURELIA - The monthly meeting of the Aurelia School Boardon Feb. 12 included, as have most meetings in the last year or two, discussion about possible sharing of programs, staff, and/or students with other districts.
The Board heard from Michelle Witte, an English teacher from the Wall Lake View-Auburn school district. Witte is on the school's Leadership Committee, and has been involved in the plans for next year's sharing between WLVA and Sac City. Witte was also teaching at Schaller when they formed the Schaller-Crestland District, so she has been involved in two transitions, and told the Board, from her experience, what things have and have not worked well.
The Board also heard a report from Board President Dan Winterhof and Board member Jim Hultgren on a meeting they had with the Cherokee Board President, another Cherokee Board member, and the Cherokee Superintendent in November at the School Board Convention in Des Moines.
The Aurelia Board members reported that Cherokee didn't show any interest in any two-way sharing with Aurelia, be it facilities, students, or staff; their primary interest appeared to be in sharing high school students. Like most districts, Cherokee has experienced a considerable drop in enrollment lately, and is in the process of downsizing staff, so they would not take on any Aurelia staff if a sharing of students happens. Although, they said, if they have any openings, Aurelia staff would certainly be welcome to apply for that position.
As far as a timetable, the Cherokee representatives indicated that a commitment by Aurelia to share students in a year or two would make their budgeting process easier, as they might not have to make any program or staff cuts that they might otherwise do, if they knew that several students from Aurelia would be coming.
Winterhof and Board member Keith Glienke met with two Alta School Board members and their Superintendent recently at the Aurelia school as well, and gave a report on that meeting to the entire Board.
The group took a "walking tour" of the Aurelia facilities, and several compliments were given regarding the facility. Both groups discussed each other's curriculums, and talked about how a hypothetical sharing would work. The Aurelia Board members felt that any sharing with Alta would have to involve some type of "two-way" sharing, and they looked at several possible options to consider.
The general consensus of the Board was that if Alta did not want to do any "two-way" sharing, it would probably work out better for all concerned if they focused on sharing with the Cherokee District.
The Board also reviewed a contract between the George and Little Rock schools to see how such a document should be drawn up. No firm decision was made as to what the "next step" regarding sharing should be.
In other items, Karen Husman , representing the After-Prom Committee, was present to ask permission to have an After-Prom Party, and shared the Committee's tentative plans for the party after the April 21st Junior-Senior Prom. They felt that they will continue the "Closed Door Policy"of last year, in which students attending the Prom change their clothes at the school after the dance concludes at 11:30. They then plan to take the group to the Storm Lake bowling alley, from about 12:30- 2:30 a.m., and return to the school for a show by a hypnotist from 3:30-5 a.m.
Husman asked for permission to use three school buses to transport the students to-and-from Storm Lake, and this was approved. The committee will handle finding approved drivers.
The Board approved the hiring of T.J. Schaefer to be the head coach of the High School baseball team this summer. Options for hiring an assistant coach were discussed, as well as the fact that, at this point, there have been only 11 "definites" and two "maybes" among the grade 9-12 students when they were asked about their intentions to play baseball this summer.
Vint discussed summer maintenance projects with the Aurelia School Board at its monthly meeting on Monday.
Vint would like to see the gym floor refinished this summer, and presented a bid he had received from Shadran Industrial Supply in Jefferson, Iowa. The company submitted a bid of $6,500 to sand, refinish, and paint the gym floor. Though the floor will have to be refinished periodically because of the constant traffic it receives, Vint feels the painting and sanding should last 15 years or more. The Board approved the hiring of the company for the project.
The lunchroom floor will also be replaced, though the surface Vint and the Board would like to see used is cost-prohibitive. Vint will check with Maple Valley Hardware in Aurelia for a bid. Maple Valley bid $11,000 last year, but he project was put off.
Another project to be considered is the replacement of the wooden bleachers on the west side of the gym with plastic bleacher seats like those in use on the stage. Board members may go to Kingsley-Pierson Schools to see the job they had done last summer,
A public hearing was held to hear any comments about the plan to start school on August 21 this year, as Iowa law requires a hearing if schools plan to start before August 27. No objections were raised, so the school will plan to proceed with the August 21 start date.
Vint reported that Welmark BC-BS has informed him that the school's health insurance annual premium will increase 1.84 percent, which is in line with the amount of increase that the majority of schools will see this year.
The Board approved Out-of-State travel requests for a group of High School students to go to Houston, Texas, for a NASA Project, organized by the Area Education Agency. Aurelia has sent students to this meeting for the past 4-5 years.
Also approved was a trip for the Jazz Band and Swing Choir to Vermillion, SD, which these groups have done for approximately the last 10 years.
Superintendent Vint reported that the District's current in-building enrollment is 304, up from the 298 reported to the Department of Education on "count day" last October. Vint also said he had received a call indicating that EMC Insurance has decided to defend Maria Bowen and the Post-Prom Committee in a lawsuit filed against them in the 2005 death of student Kay Ann Kruckenberg . EMC will defend them under the school's insurance policy, and if there is a settlement, will make the payment through that policy.
High School Principal Dave Hickman reported that high school attendance is down slightly, but attributed that to the large number of students missing due to illness in recent weeks.
Hickman reported that Jason Hohn is currently student teaching in math with Tim Limbert, and that Ryan Rager will be working with band director Jason Heeren beginning the last week in March. Since the solo/ensemble contest is being hosted by Aurelia this year, the extra help that Rager can provide for the Music Department will be greatly appreciated, and he will also still be at Aurelia during the large group contest in early May, where once again the "extra hand" should help out.
Hickman also provided a report from the Dept. of Education which shows that the Aurelia High School is meeting or exceeding all Department requirements for the number of credits offered to students. Upcoming events include Parent/Teacher Conferences on Feb. 15 and the Academic Club Banquet on March 6.
Elementary Administrator Ann Sandine reported that grades TK-4 celebrated the 100th day of school on January 24th, and collected approximately 150 items to be donated to Mid-Sioux Opportunity. Sandine also said that BVU student Misty Baker began student teaching in the Resource Room with Deena Jones a couple of weeks ago.
Sandine also said that work is being done on two of the conditions required in the grant the District recently received - the formation and organization of a PTA, where an informational meeting is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 26, and the Parent/Family Night.
A decision has been made to incorporate a "Family Science Night" into the annual "See What You Can Do" Night on March 26. Each elementary teacher will be in charge on one "hands-on" science activity that can be done as a family.
Parent/Teacher Conferences will be held on February 15, and there will be an afternoon in-service for teachers on standardized tests on February 23. TK/K Early Childhood Assessments will be held on March 30.