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Aurelia School receives $50,000 bequest

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

They "saved the best news for last" at the monthly meeting of the Aurelia School Board on July 14th, when Board President Dan Winterhof told the Board the school had just received a letter notifying them that recently-deceased Aurelia citizen Merle Brune had left the Aurelia school 50,000 for "furtherance of the grade school program." Board members expressed appreciation at the surprising news, and will consider the best use of these funds at a future meeting.

The school was also just notified that the lawsuit against the District, involving the death of a student several years ago, has been settled, and the District will be paying $25,000 to the plaintiff.

In other news, K-12 principal Ann Sandine reported on the progress of the playground resurfacing project. She stated that the surface has only been "rated" as safe for falls from seven feet or less, and as a result, the 10-foot slide currently at the playground will be moved and placed in storage for now. A new slide, with an acceptable safety rating, will need to be purchased to replace the old slide.

The Board approved the Building and Grounds Committee to pursue purchase of an acceptable slide, with a spending limit of $6000. John Palz of Paltz Construction in Aurelia has been contracted by the company which will install the new surface to do the preparation work at the playground. and he has been working on that. A decision was made to have the Board Building and Grounds Committee look further into possible volunteer laborers to install the playground tiles, with supervision by the tile company. The Aurelia Fire Department and/or the Junior Class were two oeganizations mentioned as possible sources of volunteer labor for the project.

Sandine also reported that Rick's Computers of Danbury had installed a computer server update last week, and had recommended the Board consider buying a maintenance program for a $750 annual fee, which would include remote access assistance. After some discussion, the Board approved purchasing this service from Rick's.

Sandine had several recommendations for future technology purchases, and these will be taken under consideration by the Board. Several purchases were made this summer, including a laptop lab with 13 computers for the elementary and middle school special education program and a printer, projector and laptop lab with 12 computers for the high school special education program.

Sandine concluded her report by saying the District has 18 kindergarten and 14 Transitional Kindergarten students enrolled for the 2008-09 school year.

In other business, the Board approved hiring Betty Resch as part-time librarian at a daily rate of $110, a $5/day raise from last year's salary. Resch works two days a month. The Board also approved raising the substitute teacher salary from the current $90 a day to $95, to keep up with increased competition in hiring substitutes, and raising the current mileage rate from the current .34/mile to meet the state employee rate of .39/mile.

The following annual appointments were made : Vicki Kolpin - School Board Secretary, Treasurer and Business Manager; Jim Hanks of Ahlers Law Firm - District Legal Counsel; Ann Sandine - Level I Child Abuse Investigator; Cherokee County Sheriff - Level II Child Abuse Investigator; Heritage Bank and First Trust and Savings Bank of Aurelia - District Depositories; Aurelia Star - District Newspaper of Record.

The Board also approved the low bid of Dean Foods (the company that owns Well's Blue Bunny) of Le Mars to supply dairy products for the school during the upcoming school year and for Wonder Bakery to provide bread products. The Board also approved the district's continuing participation in the free and reduced lunch program, with the notation that the government has made minor changes in the forms and the process for qualifying students for the program.

The following fees for 2008-2009 were also approved upon the recommendation of head cook Deb Hull : Student breakfast - $.80 (increase of $.10); Student lunch - $1.60 (increase of $.20); adult breakfast - $1.25 (increase of $.25); adult lunch - $2.50 (increase of $.55); extra milk - $.30 (increase of $.05); there will be no change in the $45 book rent fee for grades K -12.

It was noted that State requirements have changed regarding the wording of 28-E sharing agreements, and a revised agreement for the Cherokee League of Schools was approved by the Board.

The Board went into a closed session to hear a report from Les Douma on the Superintendent search. The Board had contracted Douma, a former school superintendent and AEA director, to assist with the search. Douma reported to the Board on possible candidates and after discussion, the Board decided to have Board members Dan Winterhof and Paul Pingel pursue further discussions with the Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn District Board about sharing the services of their Superintendent. Discussions would center on the Boards working out a mutual agreement concerning the individual's time, salary and duties. No voting action was taken at this time.

In other business, the Board approved, after considerable discussion, a bid by Pro Elect of Alta to install two more security cameras in the Fitness Center. Cost of the project, including installation and all cables, connectors and accessories, is $1786.40.

Proposals from R.L. Craft Co. of Denison for fixing roofing problems on the 1920 building were presented and discussed at length by Board members. The company submitted proposals for 1) repair only; 2) repair and top coat; 3) additional aluminum coating over the top coat; 4) capping the entire roof, reusing the existing flashing and t-bar' or 5) and capping the roof, replacing the flashing and t-bar , with the new materials covered by a 10 year manufacturer's warranty. The Board elected to table the issue while they pursue more information from Craft about the proposed warranty and other matters.

A proposal from BLI Lighting Specialists of Minnetonka, Minn., regarding replacing lighting in the gym and lunch room was also reviewed and discussed. The proposal, which includes installing 24 fixtures in the gym and five in the lunch room, was approved. According to figures from BLI, the new lighting will be much more efficient, saving an estimated 51% on electricity consumption, and is also supposed to double the light level in the gym, and increase the light level in the lunch room by an estimated 35.7%. Cost of the project is $9,573.55.

The Board also approved the purchase and installation of new flooring in the lunch room from Maple Valley Hardware of Aurelia, at a cost of $23,012.64, including labor.

Most of the approved maintenance projects can be funded by funds from the PPEL and/or SILO funds, which are established for that purpose. These funds showed a balance of $331.252.71 on June 30, 2008. $91,663 is committed to the current projects of purchasing new bleacher seat covers, new vibes for the band, air conditioning for the music rooms and the playground tile project, leaving $239, 589.71 in available funds for the projects discussed and/or approved at Monday's meeting. If the maximum roofing project is approved and a new slide is purchased for the maximum amount of $6000, there would still be approximately $175,000

remaining in these accounts for any other projections under consideration. Some projects being considered include new scoreboards; a voice mail system; a new fitness center door lock; new doors for three school entrances; a panel display for the graduating class composite photos; and the additional computers and printer suggested by Mrs. Sandine. It is also possible that the School Foundation may be interested in providing funding for one or more of these projects, and a representative of that group will be contacted to see if they have any interest in this.

The next regular session of the Board will be Monday August 11 at 7:30 p.m., and August 11 is also the date for school registration for students.

Other school dates to remember:

Teachers will have in-service on August 14,15, and 18

The second annual "Meet Your Teacher Night" takes place on August 18th at 5:30 p.m., followed by a High School Student/Parent Good Conduct Meeting at 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday August 19th will be the first day of school for students, and there will be an early dismissal at 2:30 p.m. that day.

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