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Cherokee, Aurelia School Boards to meet

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Representatives of the Cherokee Board of Education and Administration will meet January 7, 2009, in Aurelia with the Aurelia Board of Education to discuss the futures of the Cherokee and Aurelia Districts.

Cherokee Superintendent Dr. John Chalstrom informed the Cherokee School Board at their meeting on Dec. 15th that he had been contacted by Aurelia Superintendent Lynn Evans about arranging such a meeting. Chalstrom, Cherokee School Board President Laura Dawson, Vice-President Terri Weaver, and Board of Education Secretary Joyce Lundsgaard will represent the Cherokee District at the 5:30 p.m. meeting.

"i think its a good idea," said Chalstrom. "We will discuss our futures as well as those of all smaller, rural districts in Iowa."

In the general business of reviewing and affirming specific District policies, the Board established the Superintendent's spending authority ceiling of $15,000 for purchases and bids. That figure could have been set anywhere between $1 and $25,000, the maximum spending authority allowed under state regulations.

The Superintendent will not need prior Board approval for expenditures under $15,000, but will need approval for purchases over that amount. Competitive sealed bids are required for purchases, other than emergency purchases, for goods and services that cost $25,000 or more, including school buses.

Speaking of buses, the Board also heard from District Transportation Director Mike Wiederholt about the effects of winter weather on the bus routes and their schedules.

Wiederholt said the bus drivers naturally drive slower when navigating inclement weather and poor road conditions, so the routes may take longer to run at times. Regardless, Wiederholt said the District still fields complaints from parents and others whenever a bus is later than normal.

"We are going to drive slower when the weather is bad, that's all there is to it," said Wiederholt. "If we have to drive five miles per hour, that's what we're going to do. Safety (of the students and drivers) is our #1 issue and weather really affects us."

In other business, Chalstrom and Board member Larry Goodrich recently met with Steve Schuck, who's leading a Booster Club effort to renovate the bleachers and other areas of the District's high school baseball and softball fields.

Chalstrom said the school desires specific plans and details before consenting to participate in the effort, a majority of that would be paid for by a Booster Club fundraising campaign. The Boosters will consult with Washington High School Principal Larry Hunecke to develop a plan and cost estimates, and will meet with the Board sometime in January, said Chalstrom.

Chalstrom also cautioned the Board to "keep their eyes and ears open" regarding possible State action on the specter of mid-year budget cuts in education.

"The economic crunch in our country is hitting State governments and the Legislature plans cuts totaling $60 million," noted Chalstrom.

This could affect the State's allowable growth percentage that is now at six percent, according to Chalstrom, and that could drop to four percent, according to information he has received at the State level.

"We could still live with four percent, but if it gets much lower than three and one-half or four, we'd have problems," concluded Chalstrom.

Chalstrom also informed the Board that the District received a letter of intent from the Cherokee Education Association to begin bargaining labor negotiations. The Superintendent said the Board will begin its negotiations January 5, and have a response proposal ready for the CEA on January 12.

The Board also approved the resignation of Cara Lubeck as WHS junior varsity girls softball coach, and approved a contract for Lubeck as varsity girls softball coach. The resignation of WHS girls tennis coach Jan Tracy also was approved following the 2009 season, pending finding a suitable replacement.

The Board also approved the resignation of Cherokee Middle School custodian Jerry Ebert, and approved early graduation requests for two WHS seniors.

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