In a busy session on Sept. 15th , the Cherokee Community School District Board of Education administered the oath of office to its newly elected members, made annual Board appointments to various committees, discussed at length the District's hot lunch program, and heard from local boosters seeking stadium seating to replace the aluminum bleachers at the Cherokee Washington High School baseball and sofball fields.
The Board welcomed newly-elected member Jack Creel and bid fond farewell to Kirk Sampson, who had served two terms and was seeking a third, but was defeated by Creel in the September 9 school elections. Re-elected to the Board was incumbent Deb Johnson, now in her second term. Johnson totaled 355 votes in the election, Creel 264, and Sampson 240.
The new Board will continue holding its regular meeting the third Monday of each month, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the WHS Library.
The Board also appointed members to serve on various committees for the school year, with re-elected Board president Laura Dawson named to serve as a delegate to the Iowa Association of School Boards General Assembly and Legislative Action Network.
Creel and Johnson will serve on the Curriculum & Instruction Committee; Dawson and Larry Goodrich on the Policy Committee; Dawson and newly-elected Board vice president Terri Weaver on the Finance Committee; Goodrich and Johnson on the Buildings, Grounds, and Capitol Projects Committee; and Creel and Weaver on the Transportation and Nutrition Committee.
Nutrition and al a carte food prices were the hot topic during a report from Food Services Director Linda Frangenberg, who told the board about the on-going problem for students, parents, and lunch officials dealing with recent price hikes in certain a la carte items, and the fact most of the students favor the more expensive a la carte items as opposed to the modestly priced regular school lunches. This creates problems for some when the parents get the bill. Frangenberg estimated as high as 80 percent of the students daily buy a la carte items, some in addition to purchasing regular hot lunch menus.
Cherokee Superintendent Dr. John Chalstom said he was aware some parents were upset over recent price increases in the a la carte items, some of those hikes due to soaring transportation costs for food items. A larger hike in Powerade drinks has also become a concern for students and parents, as the food service officials struggled to keep the sport drinks more in line with the other fruit and vegetable drinks offered.
Board member Weaver asked about elminating the a la carte items altogether. All agreed that they would prefer to see the students eat the regular fare hot lunch, which is less expensive and more nutrionally balanced in accordance with state and federal guidelines.
"Our schools are just about the only place left in society that serves cafeteria style (food)," noted Chalstrom, adding that today we are unaccustomed to cafeteria style food service and perhaps that leads more students to the a la carte line. Food and Nutrition must be a self-sustaining fund, said Chalstrom, with prices aligned with expenses.
Chalstrom said a Nutrition Committee will be formed to examine the school lunch program and come up with some options for the Board to ponder.
Steve Schuck and John Woods asked the Board to support an effort under way to raise funds to install tiered stadium seating that would wrap around behind home plate at the school's baseball and softball fields. It was decided that Schuck will come up with some cost estimates and return to the Board so members know how much money such a project would cost.
Chalstrom also spoke of his concern about fan and player safety regarding foul balls hit overhead from one field to the next, due to their close proximity. The feasibility of relocating the softball field also was bandied about. Chalstrom said this issue also should be taken into consideration when planning new seating that would replace the aluminum bleachers.
It was agreed that the announcer's stands for both parks would also have to be replaced as they are in "deplorable" condition.
Chalstrom lauded Schuck and other volunteers for the recent renovation/expansion of the concession stands at the ball fields, emphasizing how much more convenient and accessible they are. Efforts are also under way to beautify the area between the concessions building and the ball fields. Now its a rocked parking lot dangerous to walk on and very unattractive.
The baseball Braves have been attracting increasingly large crowds the past few years due to their success, earning State Tournament berths in five of the last six years and winning the State Championship in 2007, and placing second this year.
In other business, Chalstrom told the Board that Lakes Conference charter member Sheldon has applied to join the Siouxland Conference and will probably be accepted when the voting's done in late October. That leaves eight teams in the Lakes - Cherokee, Le Mars, Spencer, Storm Lake, Emmetsburg, Hull Western Christian, Spirit Lake, and Estherville-LC.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton has petitioned to join the Lakes in the past, but that was vetoed by certain Lakes members wary of the travel distance. That issue may be revisited, said Chalstrom.
In other action, the Board approved the hiring of Molly Lundell as special education associate at WHS, accepted the resignation of Alice Hare as food service employee at WHS, approved a request for the WHS Spanish Club to travel to Spain in the summer 2009, and approved a field trip for the WHS Science Department for 14 Advanced Biology students to travel to Watertown, S.D. to view a traveling biology exhibit.