AURELIA - At its monthly meeting on March 12th, the Aurelia School Board learned from Elementary Administrator Ann Sandine that an organizational meeting has been held to establish a local P.T.A.
The school has not had a PTA group for many years, but establishment of such a group was one of the self-imposed conditions of a grant the school recently received.
The people who met for the organizational meeting were very fortunate to have Kim Winterhof, the President of the Iowa PTA , speak to the group. She was very helpful and brought a sample charter the group could look at. They have made a few changes, and e-mailed it back to Winterhof to see what she thought of their efforts. Winterhof is the wife of Aurelia native Gary Winterhof, and the sister-in-law of Aurelia Board President Dan Winterhof. The group had 21 people sign up as members, and elected officers. Susan Entriken is the President, Kathy Handwork Vice President, Kim Vint Secretary, and Lynn Winterhof Treasurer.
The next meeting of the Aurelia PTA will be Monday at 7 p.m. at the school. All parents are encouraged to attend, and hopefully join the organization, if they choose.
Sandine also reminded the Board that March 26th will be the annual "See What You Can Do" Night at the school. All elementary grades will be involved this year. Students in grades 4-6 will have individual projects to show, and the TK-3 students will have a Family Science Activity with their parents. This activity is also a result of the grant.
Monday, March 26 also marks the start of the Scholastic Book Fair. This event will be open to the public that evening, but will run for students through March 30th. Profits from the Book Fair will be used to purchase new books for the elementary Guided Reading and Reading Recovery programs.
March 30 will be the date for the Early Childhood Assessment for grades TK-K, also known as "Kindergarten Roundup." Sandine feels there may be 28 or more students to be assessed, including 11 students who are currently enrolled in the TK program.
High School Principal Dave Hickman reported on a group of 10 speech students who finally competed in the District Speech contest, following postponement due to the recent blizzard. The 10 students took 18 programs to the District, and earned 14 I's, "almost unprecedented for any program," in Hickman's words. All 10 students earned at least one I rating, so all 10 will advance to State Speech in Sibley this weekend. All of the students in the recent District Large Group Contest also were in at least one group that earned a I, so all of those students also advanced to the state. Hickman was very proud of the students and their coach, Denise Nicodemus, for their efforts and accomplishments this year.
Hickman said that wrestling coach Scott Phelps told him that the driver of the chartered bus and the coach of the opposing Clear Lake wrestling team were very complimentary about the Aurelia wrestlers' behavior, and their determination to win at the recent Team Duals meet in Cedar Rapids.
Aurelia Athletic Director Tom Bohnenkamp received a letter from the team of officials who worked the Alta-Aurelia basketball tournament game, and they, too, were very impressed with the Aurelia coaches and players.
The letter said that the officials, in 20+ years of officiating games, could not think of a single instance where they saw a team "play with as much heart and soul as your kids from Aurelia." They went on to say that any questions directed at them by Coach Grant Peckenschneider and his staff were respectful , and feel that that behavior carried over to the players, as "they were the same way.
"That game alone was a great tribute to all of you, and the parents who certainly must teach these values at home - that good sportsmanship and hard work equals success."
In conclusion, said the letter, "It certainly was our honor to have been part of this contest - one of the great games of our careers. (And we would work for you anytime). Aurelia - truly a school, faculty, coaching staff, and kids to be proud of."
Principal Hickman also reported that a group of students returned that day from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, and that Courtney Glienke was one of 12 students selected to a national competition.
DECA students Steven Rupp and Tara Fordyce have qualified for the DECA National Conference, to be held in Orlando, Florida. Rupp qualified in Automotive Services Marketing, and Fordyce in Apparel and Accessories Marketing.
Senior Class sponsor Jolene Hultgren said the class is planning on going to Colorado shortly after graduation. She will present their final plans at next month's meeting. The Board approved the trip, but will approve a specific itinerary and dollar amount at that meeting. Hultgren said nearly 100% of the class plan on going on the trip.
DECA sponsor Tim Galvin requested approval and assistance for the two DECA students, Steven Rupp and Tara Fordyce, and himself for the DECA National Convention in Orlando. The Board approved the same amount as last year - $350 for each student and $850 for the sponsor, to help cover their expenses.
The 5th - 8th grade students asked for permission to attend an Omaha Royals' baseball game in Omaha on May 5th. The one-day trip was approved for the students, who will travel to Omaha and back in two school buses. The Middle School teachers and Superintendent Vint will also be on the trip. This request was approved by the Board.
The school has received requests for resignations from Marv Munden, head girls basketball coach; Aaron Ware, assistant girls basketball coach; and Susan Corderman, Drill Team sponsor. All three requests were approved, with the acceptance of Munden's resignation contingent on the school's finding a suitable replacement.
Johnny Johnson from Maple Valley Hardware presented bids on three different types of flooring for the lunchroom/gymnasium. One option is replacement with 12" tiles, similar to the current flooring, with an estimated cost of $9,932.88. A second option would be replacement with linoleum, at a cost of $20,213.81; and the third option, which seemed to be the preference of the Board, was replacement with Protect-All Sport flooring, a "rubber-type" flooring, for which the installation cost would be anywhere from $46,444 to $58,000+, depending upon the finish.
The Board tabled the matter for now, and will decide in April, after gathering more information. Cost is also a factor, depending largely on what the final cost for the new Wellness Center will be. Funding for both of these projects will be taken out of the SILO and PPEL funds, which both have a healthy balance.
Board members Keith Glienke and Dan Winterhof reported on a March 8 meeting they and Vint had with two Alta Board members and the Alta Superintendent. The group toured the Middle School at Alta, and met in the High School. Both boards felt there might be more community resistance to any sharing plans they might propose, and felt that bringing in an outside, "third party" facilitator to analyze the schools' situations and make recommendations might be the next best step in pursuing any two-way sharing of staff, programs, or facilities.
Board members were all in agreement that a timeline must be set for any sharing plan that may be presented. They plan to make a decision about hiring a third party to make recommendations at the April Board meeting.
No one on the Aurelia Board or Administration has heard anything further from the Cherokee Board or Administration, though they had indicated that they planned to contact the Aurelia school again about possible sharing.
Elementary Administrator Ann Sandine presented a demonstration of the HEART program (Heartland Educational Assessment Resource Toolbox), which allows teachers to quickly access student scores on ITBS or ITED tests, and provides a tool for improving student academic achievement.
The Board approved the continuation of the Budget Guarantee Resolution, which the school district has been doing for several years, This guarantees that the school district's spending authority is not less in the coming year that it is in the current year. The amount of budget guarantee for this year is $85,141, and the Board approved a resolution to levy property tax for the fiscal year 2007-2008 for the regular program adjustment, as allowed under Iowa Code section 257.14.
In other business, the Board approved the Instructional Support Program (ISL), which provides additional funding for school districts. The funds are deposited in the general fund, and may be used for any purpose allowed under that fund. Aurelia's ISL is funded by a mix of property tax and income tax. After discussion, the Board voted to approve a nine percent income surtax, a one percent increase from last year. This rate compares favorably with area schools and the State average. Aurelia's ISL expires in Fiscal Year 2008, and will need to be renewed next year.
Superintendent Vint discussed staffing plans for the 2007-2008 school year. Several adjustments will be made, based on the size of classes. These changes were made with the approval of the teachers, and will not involve hiring any new teachers.
Vint also reported that the school's main boiler, which was installed 33 years ago, developed a leak about a month ago. They have been using a back-up boiler, and that should be fine, according to Vint, unless another sustained cold stretch (temperatures 10 degrees or lower for 2-3 days) could present a potential problem.
Control Specialists looked at the problem on March 8, and determined that the crack in the boiler is in the back panel, They were unable to find a replacement one, as the boiler is 35 years old, and recommended purchasing a new boiler. The estimated cost of that is $35,000. Control Specialists will provide the school with the exact amount, but Superintendent Vint also plans to contact one or two other vendors to get some additional options and prices. The new boiler would be installed thus summer.
Vint said the teachers have formed a negotiating team, and will be presenting a pay proposal to the Board. When they are ready with their proposal, Vint will schedule a meeting with the Board's finance committee.
In other business, the Board approved continuing the cooperative wrestling program with Galva-Holstein. A form must be completed and sent to the Iowa High School Athletic Association.
The Board also approved the District's continuing in the IASB Group Insurance Plan, which is offered through Employers Mutual Company. The Board will contact people about filling the positions of two resigning members of the School Foundation Board, and approved the first reading of the "900 series" of school policies. Most had no changes.
Vint said that the two school days missed because of sow (March 1-2) will be made up on Monday, April 9 and Friday, May 25. If there any additional days which will need to be made up, this will be done at the end of the school year.
The next regular meeting of the School Board will be Monday April 9 at 7:30 p.m.