Hickman, Radkes retire; Heeren, Limbert take new positions
AURELIA - There was a lot of business discussed at the Aurelia School Board Meeting on April 14th, most of it dealing with finances and personnel - probably the two biggest issues facing the District at this time.
At the Budget Hearing prior to the regular meeting, Superintendent Tom Vint outlined and reviewed the Budgetary Process, budget outlines of the past few years, and the proposed budget for the 2008-2009 school year. The official school enrollment on which the 2008-2009 budget is based, is 293 students. The "allowable growth," determined by the Iowa Legislature, is 4%, and the per pupil cost will increase $213 this year, to a cost of $5613 per pupil.
The regular program costs, with the Budget Guarantee, will be $1.703 million. Because of an increase of $85,000 in the Cash Reserve, a $32,000 increase in the Management Fund and the $46,152 Allowable Growth, the tax rate for FY09 will increase from $10.55 to $11.46. The net valuation of the FY09 budget is $124,417,681. Expenditures in FY09 will be $3.191 million.
The first item of business at the regular meeting was the approval of the budget, and this was approved, after considerable discussion. The 2008 Budget was amended to include the recent purchase of a new school bus.
There were nine Aurelia School teachers present throughout the regular meeting, some of them members of the teacher's salary committee, which had met with the School Board Financial Committee last week and heard the salary/benefit proposal for the 2008-2009 school year at that time. The offer made to the teachers was a 3% increase to base salary, a change in health insurance which would increase the deductible from the current $1000 to $1500, and increase the maximum out-of-pocket expense from $2000 to $3000. It has been estimated that the new policy will save the District roughly $15,500.
After much discussion and dialogue among everyone present, the Board approved the salary/benefit proposal, with the noted exception that the three staff members who signed forms to take the early retirement proposal would continue to pay the previous deductible amount, since they signed their intent before this change came about.
There were six staff eligible for the Early Retirement package offered by the District, and three of those teachers have chosen to accept the Early Retirement package - High School Principal Dave Hickman, second grade teacher Sue Radke, and Middle School Social Studies teacher Myron Radke. Radke, the veteran Aurelia football coach, told the Board that he will coach the Bulldog varsity football team one more season, on a volunteer basis. The Board accepted these decisions with commendation to all three educators for their dedicated years of service. These early retirement payments are paid from the Management Fund, and will decrease costs for the General Fund.
In other personnel business, letters of resignation from two instructors were accepted with some reluctance, and commendation for years of excellent service.
Tim Limbert, who has served as a math instructor for more than 15 years at Aurelia, as well as the Industrial Technology Director for many years, has resigned to take the position of Technology Coordinator in the Newell-Fonda School District, and Jason Heeren, who has served as the 5-12 Band Instructor and Director for six years, resiged his position to take the job of High School Band Director at Storm Lake High School. Heeren also served as the Aurelia girls softball coach and will complete the terms of his contract by coaching the team this summer.
Heeren and the Aurelia Jazz Band left for Des Moines the day after the Board Meeting to defend their Class 1A State Jazz Championship - the 11th year in a row the Aurelia band has qualified for the State Jazz Championships.
The Aurelia Board of Education approved the list of 38 spring graduates presented to them by High School Principal Dave Hickman at their meeting Monday evening, conditional on the students having successfully completed their degree requirements.
In other business, the Board was notified that Bob Mikos, who had been hired to coach the High School baseball team this summer on the condition that he complete work on his coaching authorization, has completed his work and has the coaching authorization. The Board then approved his hire.
The Board also approved the continuation of the 28E cooperative agreement with Western Iowa Tech Community College to provide facilities and staff for the vocational-technical programs in which Aurelia students are enrolled in for dual credit. The Aurelia school pays for a share of the faculty cost, credit services, textbook costs, and course supplies/materials. Other participants in the program are Cherokee Washington, Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn, and River Valley.
Courses to be taught in Aurelia next year include Introduction to Early Childhood Education and Computer Hardware Basics.
In administrative reports, Superintendent Tom Vint reported that the District has two snow make-up days this year, which will be May 22-23. The District also had seven weather-related late starts and five early dismissals this winter.
Vint also reported that 28 students participated in the March 31 Kindergarten Roundup. The District will have 18 new students next year, as 10 of the participants at the Roundup were in TK this school year.
Vint also gave a report of the projected participation in sports by the 2008-2009 junior high students. His projection showed seven 7th graders and seven 8th graders for volleyball; seven 7th graders and seven 8th graders for football; five 7th graders and eight 8th grade girls for basketball; four 7th graders and six 8th graders for boys' basketball; one 7th grader and no 8th graders for wrestling; seven 7th graders and seven 8th graders for girls' track; and five 7th graders and six 8th graders for boys' track. Cross Country, which has traditionally had the lowest numbers at the high school level, had 15 junior high students who competed this past season.
High School Principal Hickman reported that high school students will be participating again in the annual community clean-up this Wednesday. Seniors will be walking the ditches on Highway 7 for the Kiwanis; juniors will help clean the cemetery; and freshmen and sophomores will spruce up the city park.
Hickman cited the Aurelia Jazz Band, which earned its 11th consecutive trip to the Iowa Jazz Championships. The band gave a concert Monday morning, featuring the three numbers they'll be performing in Des Moines. They were then given a send-off by the entire school and several community members, including a group of elementary students who went through a receiving line of jazz band members, "giving five" to the musicians. The band left Tuesday morning and played in the Class 1A finals against Southern Cal Tuesday afternoon, placing second in the state, just missing a chance to defend the Class 1A championship they won last year.
Hickman also mentioned the Junior-Senior Prom April 19tht from 6:30-11:30 p.m., and the Iowa Collaborative Assessment Modules, a standardized test given each spring to 4th, 8th and 11th grade students. Those tests will be administered on April 22, 24 and 29.
Elementary Administrator Ann Sandine reported that Jennifer Woodford, a BVU student, is student teaching with Sue Radke in the second grade for the final nine weeks of the school year. Woodford started at the end of March.
Sandine also said the Scholastic Book Fair, held during he first week of April, netted more than $500 profit - money which will go toward the purchase of additional books for the guided reading and accelerated reading programs.
Sandine said the 28 students who participated in the TK-K assessment on March 28 visited five different assessment stations, with the assistance of 8th grade student helpers. She praised the work of teachers Amy Rohwer and Tanya Wilkinson in organizing the day's activities.
The second annual Family Night held on March 28 in conjunction with "See What We Can Do Night," had about 60 students and families take part in a fun activity, and many students and parents made positive comments about the experience.
In other business, the Board approved the second reading of series 505-508 of the Board Policy Manual, so these policies, including any changes made, now become part of the Board Policy Manual.
Board member Jim Hultgren put a focus on education early in the evening, presenting part of a DVD program entitled "2 Million Minutes" for group discussion. The program explained the differences in today's Global Economy between the "2 million minutes" of a student's High School career in the United States, China, and India, and stressed the importance of preparing our students for this changing world.
The Board concluded the meeting with discussion on the need to come to a decision soon regarding the future course of the District, in light of continuing budget and enrollment problems, and particularly the need to give adequate advance notice of any significant planned changes in operation of the District to both school staff members and to the community at large.