The Aurelia School Board approved contracts for the 2008-2009 school year for six people who will be serving in positions as teachers, coaches, or administrators at monthly school board meeting on May 12.
Ann Sandine, who has served as High School Guidance Counselor at Aurelia for several years and took on the added responsibility of Elementary Administrator a few years ago, was hired for the new position of TK-12 Principal. High School Principal Dave Hickman will be retiring at the conclusion of this school year.
The other new hires are all newcomers to the District. Sarah Smith, who will graduate from Augustana College this month, has been hired for the High School Math position and will receive a $2000 stipend for "Market Value Pay," in addition to her regular salary. Superintendent Tom Vint was very pleased that the District was able to find someone for this position so soon, as he thought it was going to be difficult to fill. Sarah Smith's fiancee, Todd Walter, who will graduate from Waldorf College this month, was also hired to fill another recently-created vacancy, that of 5-12 Band Director. The couple are engaged to be married in August of this year.
Ann Dornack was hired to serve as the Head High School volleyball coach and the Board also approved a contract for Kendall Barnes to serve as the Assistant volleyball coach. Both of these hirings are contingent on the District receiving confirmation of the appropriate coaching credentials.
The final new contract approved was for Keith Gaes to serve as Assistant High School Baseball Coach, as he has completed the necessary coursework for coaching certification. Gaes will be assisting Bob Mikos, who is also in his first season as Head Coach.
Three positions remain to be filled for next year - a second grade teacher, a Middle School Language Arts/Reading teacher, and School Superintendent. There have been 40+ applications for the 2nd grade position, and there have been several candidates interviewed, with more interviews scheduled, so it is not felt that hiring a good second grade teacher will present problems.
One position which was NOT filled Monday was that of Superintendent. Board President Dan Winterhof shared the results of recent conversations he has had with a possible candidate for a part-time Superintendent's position, but the latest feeling of that candidate is that he is happy with the part-time he currently holds and doesn't feel he wants to add an additional job responsibility at this time. The Board appointed a committee of Winterhof and Board member Colby Entriken to meet with Principal Sandine - and perhaps Hickman and Vint as well - to write up a "job description" of what duties the Board would expect a part-time Superintendent to perform, and send this out to area Districts who have indicated an interest in sharing staff and perhaps individuals who have expressed interest in the position as well. Vint and Winterhof will also look into the state's incentive program for sharing superintendents between schools - something that the two schools (Boyer Valley and Woodbine) to which Vint is going have done.
In other business, Vint sahred the financial reports, and pointed out that transportation and utility costs have been higher this school year, certainly not a surprising fact. He also presented current projected figures on Open Enrollment into and out of the Aurelia District, which indicate Aurelia will have 23 students open-enrolled out next yar and 11 open enrolling in, meaning the school will show a deficit of $56,408 ($5128 per student). Aurelia is also graduating 39 students on May 18th, and has 18 new students in TK-Kindergarten - a deficit of 21 students at $5163 per pupil, or $117,873 total deficit - something that will impact the school in the 2009-2010 school year.
Vint told the Board he was pointing these things out because he feels the Baord still needs to be working on balancing the budget next year so reductions still need to be planned in the General Fund Budget. Vint's advice is that the District not any new positions and look at early retirement and attrition again next year to continue reducing expenses.
Vint also said that the District's application for a preschool went into the State Department on May 5, with a proposed budget of $45,000 for 14 prospective students. He said the District should hear sometime in June if their application has been approved or not.
Vint also mentioned that an adult motorcyclist lost control of his motorcycle and crashed into the gate behind the school and the parked band trailer on April 19th. Damage estimate was $1,014.31, and this has been turned into the the motorcyclist's insurance company.
Vint also said that a mediation hearing has been scheduled for July 29 on the Krukenberg lawsuuit. A mediator will try to negotiate a settlement at that time, and if he is not successful, the case will probably go to trial in October. Vint said he would turn over all the material in the case to a new Superintendent, but also said he would plan to be at the hearing in July himself and "see this thing through to the end."
Ann Sandine reported that the students in grades 4, 8 and 11 recently took the ICAM tests in reading and math, and that students in all of the elemetary gradeswere given individual reading assessments. The students in TK-4 particiapted in the "Go the Distance Day" for the fifth year in a row, on May 5, This is an event sponsored by the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Iowa Games and Iowa State University Extension. Students are encouraged 30 minutes or more of continuous exercise, and on Go the Distance Day, students participated in hurdles,a 25-yard dash, a three-legged race, crab walk, shuttle relay and obstacle course. Monday alos marked the anual Puppy Relays for the elemrntary school, where students participated in many of these same events. ON May 9, said Sandine, the TK-K students also hosted a "Fun Day" for next year's students and showed them around the school where they'll soon be attending classes. The elementary grades have many fun field trips planned for this last month of school including a trip by the 3rd graders to the Lily of the Valley one-room schoolhouse on Wednesday May 14.
Principal Hickman said the recent Community Clean-up Day went very well, and also talked about the surprise assembly recently at which Band Director Jason Heren was presented with a "Favorite Teacher" award by Channel 9, KCAU. Heeren was nomnated for the award by students Kayla and Kyle Bruns.
Hickman also mentioned that Jodi Husman was the top senior academically, and has been nominated for the Des Moines Register's All-State Academic team. Husman was also selected for the KCAU "Best of Class" awards, presented on April 30 at Morningside College, and received recognition at the Governor's Recognition Ceremony in Des Moines recently.
May 23 will be the students' last day of classes, and the teachers' last day will be May 27.
Board members were presented with a report on the new "Reading Naturally" program, in which 21 students participated this year. Title I instructor Kate Westphal said the participating students showed "exceptional growth" in their reading levels. Reading Recovery instructor Mary Ann DePuma reported on the first grade students' involvement in her program, which is in its 9th year. The program works with students who have been identified as having below average reading abilities 30 minutes a day for 16-20 weeks, with the goal of having those students' reading abilities get to, or above, the average level. DePuma said seven of the students in Reading Recovery were able to be discontinued from the program and assimilated into the regular classroom reading program this year.
In other business, the Board approved additional out-of-state travel expenses of $500 and the planned itinerary for this year's Senior Class trip, which will take place May 27-31. Trip coordinator and chaperone Tim Limbert said that 29 of the 39 seniors have indicated that they will be going on the trip to Chicago. The group, with chaperones Limbert and his wife and former Aurelia teacher Jolene Hultgren, will leave Aurelia late on May 27 and ride all night in their chartered bus. They plan to visit the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, Lincoln Park Zoo, a Cubs-Dodgers baseball game, the Sears Tower, Architectural River Cruise and Medieval Times on the first two days, then go to the Six Flags amusement park on Friday, before heading back home and arriving in the early morning hours Saturday the 31st.
School insurance carriers Jerry Jensen and Brian and John Lockin updated the Board on the status of the school's various insurance policies, and almost all the news was "good" for the District. Their membership in the EMC Group policy for property/casualty and liability insurance has been a real cost-saver for the District over the years, said both Brian Lockin and Superintendent Tom Vint. The school will receive a dividend of $5372 in May, and this will go immediately into the Management Fund.
In other business, the Board approved a 3% salary increase for support staff, the same percentage of increase approved earlier for certified staff, in keeping with past precedent. The Board also approved a salary of $75,000 and single insurance coverage for Ann Sandine, who will be the sole full-time administrator (K-12) in the District this year. Superintendent Vint said he felt that salary was quite reasonable for the duties for which Sandine will be responsible. Salary for the next Superintendent, whether part-time or full-time, will need to be negotiated with that individual when the position is filled.
The Board was presented with an updated list of this summer's proposed school maintenance projects, which will begin with the installation of plastic covers on all the bleachers in the high school gym and the air conditioning of the band and chorus rooms. several other maintenance projects will be done, moving from the third, to the second,o the first floor of the Elementary building and the Athletic wing. The high school, kitchen, and lunchroom will be the last summer projects. A professional company will re-do the gymnasium floor, beginning June 6.
In other business, the purchase of playground equipment from Boland Recreation was approved. Purchased were an Overhead Glider, at a delivered cost of $2,581; a "wiggle walk," at a delivered cost of $4,600; and an "x-wave," at a delivered cost of $4,100. Two of the three new pieces of equipment will be installed on the upper half of the school playground where the other recent additions have been installed, and one will be installed on the lower half of the playground.
The Board reviewed bids on the resurfacing of the playground with material which will be safer for the students than the current pea gravel. Samples of two types of surface were passed around the room so that visitors, which included several elementary teachers, could see and feel the texture of the proposed playground surface material. No decision was made at Monday's meeting, and Board President Dan Winterhof and Board member Paul Pingel, the members of the Board's Building Committee, were assigned the task of doing some more research on the offered products, including visiting other area schools which have installed either of the two surfaces. Whichever bid is accepted, SILO and/or PPEL funds will be used for the project, so it will not affect the general budget.
In other business, the Board approved the School Audit, which was done earlier this year.
The most time-consuming, and difficult, issue with which the Board dealt was concerned the hours and pay for the three-person custodial staff for the upcoming school year. Custodian Linda Hines was present at the meeting, and addressed the Board, saying that while she realized the school has some tough financial decisions to make, she hoped that custodial hours are not cut, because a lot of time is required after evening or weekend sporting events or other activities to keep the school looking good when classes resume on the next school day.
After two motions regarding custodial hours were defeated for a lack of a second, the Board approved, by a split vote, the reduction of custodial staff hours from their current 50 hours a week during the school year and 45 during the summer to a schedule of 48 hours a week during the school year and 43 during the summer. This is expected to save the District several thousand dollars a year, but it was also noted that other staff will be expected to do a little more cleaning of their own areas to ensure that the students have a clean, safe environment at all times.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board will be on June 9 at 7:30 p.m.