One of the main items on the agenda at Monday's Aurelia School Board meeting was to set up a time, place, and agenda for a "Report to the Community" meeting.
At this planned meeting, the Board will report on budget concerns; explain the different funds available to the Board, and how each fund may be used; discuss how enrollment affects the amount of money a school is allotted; talk about the positives of the Aurelia School District and summarize talks the Board has had with neighboring Districts regarding sharing.
The meeting would then break into small groups to allow for more discussion, and after these groups meet, the entire group would get back together to hear reports from each group. Further group discussion would follow. The Board approved holding this meeting and set a tentative schedule of 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4 in the school gymnasium. Reminders about the meeting will be published in the newspaper and school newsletter.
The meeting of the 2007-08 Board began with Board Secretary Vicki Kolpin swearing in new Board member Paul Pingel, who was unanimously elected at the Sept. 11 election. Board officers were then elected, and Dan Winterhof was re-elected as Board President. Jim Hultgren was elected to serve as Vice President.
Superintendent Vint reported that the "Bigger, Faster, Stronger" (BFS) company, which is supplying the free weights for the Wellness Center, notified Wellness Center Director Myron Radke that they could not bring the equipment this weekend as scheduled, and it will be at least two weeks before they can. When they do, they will install the equipment and provide instructions for use. The public will be advised of the new delivery/set-up date. The aerobic exercise machines have been moved into the Center, and the flooring for the Center was completed Monday. The fire alarm equipment will be installed Friday. The coaches room has been carpeted, and the restroom and storage room floors have been painted with epoxy paint.
Two Senior Class leaders and teacher Tim Limbert met with the Aurelia School Board at its regular monthly meeting Monday evening to discuss next spring's senior class trip.
There had been some concern expressed about the trips, which Aurelia has been doing for at least 14 years. It was noted that Aurelia is one of the few, if not the only, school still scheduling a senior trip, with other schools choosing to stop the practice, for a variety of reasons.
Issues which concerned the administration included faculty sponsors being gone during student preparation time for semester tests, the distance of the trip, liability issues, and cost.
Limbert, who has been a chaperone on the trip for 14 years, felt that the trip has been a good educational experience for the students, giving them a chance to experience the world outside of Iowa for a few days. He agreed that the teacher/chaperones ideally should be available for students seeking help preparing for semester tests, and also agreed that the trip should be within a day's drive, a standard with which the sponsors have always agreed, and used last year when the class suggested San Diego as a destination.
The senior students have always raised money for the trip through a variety of fundraisers, and the Board has approved some additional funds in recent years due to an increase in the charter bus fees. This year's class came to the meeting because they wanted to know if there was going to be a trip before they got any more involved in the fundraising process.
After considerable discussion, the Board approved a trip in principle, with recommendations that the destination be within a 10 hour radius from Aurelia, that both a male and female chaperone go on the trip, and that the teachers' time away from test preparation be kept at a minimum, if at all possible.
In other Board business, the Board approved the purchase of a new 12-computer mobile lab to be kept on the second floor of the 1921 building for use by TK- 4 students. The mobile labs have been a great success in the High School and Middle School, and the current commuter used by the elementary grades is very outdated.
The terms of several members of the School Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC) have expired, and Board members brought several suggestions for new members to Superintendent Vint, who will send a letter to the suggested people, explaining the SIAC and asking them to consider joining the committee. The committee meets five times throughout the school year to make recommendations for school improvement to the Board.
In other business, the Board accepted the resignation of Tom Bohnenkamp as Activities Director, effective at the conclusion of the fall sports season. Vint felt there was some in-house interest in filling the AD position. The Board also accepted the resignation of Marv Munden as assistant softball coach, provided the District is able to find a suitable replacement.
In other business, the Board approved Wellness Center Committee recommendations for the use of the Wellness Center. The hours will be 6 a.m. - 8:30 p.m., and the membership fee will be $50 for an individual and $75 for a family. Current Aurelia students and faculty will not have to pay a membership fee. For the time being, the school custodians will open and close the Wellness Center Monday- Friday, and coaching staff on weekends. Superintendent Vint is still looking into using a card entry system for members, and issuing a card to members when they join. The charge would be included in their membership fee.
Vint distributed a report from the High School Athletic Association on baseball sportsmanship in 2007. The Aurelia players, coaches and spectators were all rated in the "middle of the pack" among Iowa schools for their sportsmanship.
Elementary Administrator Ann Sandine reported on the first "Back To School" night, held on the evening prior to the first day of classes. She was pleased with the attendance and positive feedback from parents. She felt the meeting helped the first day of school go much smoother for students and hopes to have the event next year as well. Sandine also reported on the implementation of an anti-bullying program called "Stand Up Against Bullies" in the 3rd and 4th grade. She will be the primary instructor, with support from the classroom teachers.
High School Principal Dave Hickman reported that the High School daily attendance figures for the first 15 days of school are the best they've been in three years. He also said that 70 parents and 25 students have signed up to get access to the student's grades, attendance, and assignments on the web site. Teachers are required to keep their grades on the program and encouraged to post assignments there also, so they can see what they missed during absences.
Hickman also said the High School has a record number of students taking advantage of the Post Secondary Enrollment Option (PSEO) classes. Six students are taking the "Brakes" class at WITCC, one student is taking Photography at Iowa Central at Storm Lake, 12 students are taking classes online during study halls, two are taking Animal Science at Alta High School, two are taking Anatomy and Physiology at WITCC and 11 are taking two auto classes at WITCC.
The Homecoming Parade and Pep Rally will be held on the evening of Thursday Sept. 27, and the Homecoming football game with Remsen St. Mary's is on Friday Sept. 28. The Student Council has again chosen to forego a Homecoming Dance after the game in favor of a mid-winter "dress up" dance, to be held in December or January.
Superintendent Vint reported on the initial meeting of the Teacher Quality Funds Committee. This committee has two tasks - to examine the current formula for allocating teacher quality funds, and to make recommendations on how professional development money is spent. Vint said the District has some flexibility on how the money is spent, but the priority will be to fund activities that improve student achievement.
Vint reported that the District has three home-schooled students this year, as well as a home-schooled student from Alta who has open-enrolled to the Aurelia District because the Aurelia District provides more financial assistance than the Alta district. Aurelia has 23 students who are open enrolling into the District and 24 who are open enrolling out - six more than were expected when the District submitted figures to the State last spring. Superintendent Vint is going to appeal to the State Board, requesting more "allowable growth" funds. Aurelia's overall enrollment count this year is 292, a decrease of eight students from last year.
Vint reported that NU-Telecom has requested the use of the school gymnasium for its annual Customer Appreciation Day in October. This event is usually held at the Community Center, but that is not available this fall. They expect to serve 300 - 400 people between 5 and 7:30 p.m. on a date which is yet to be determined.
They prefer the Main Gymnasium, but after discussion this request was denied due to concern over having all that traffic on the newly re-surfaced floor. The Board did offer to let NU-Telecom use the lunch room, acknowledging that the location, and the need to reach the room using stairs, are not ideal. St, Paul Lutheran Church has reportedly offered the use of their kitchen and dining areas to NU Telecom, and they may accept that offer over the lunchroom offer.