AURELIA - The Aurelia School Board met for its regular monthly meeting on Jan. 16th, and Board members heard a presentation about progress made on the implementation of the Iowa Core Curriculum program, which has been mandated by the Iowa Department of Education.
Aurelia teachers Lee Langlitz and Kate Westphal, who have been undergoing training on the new curriculum, presented to the Board. In a nutshell, Iowa schools have been mandated to offer a curriculum which will teach students to extend and refine their acquired knowledge to be able to use that knowledge automatically and routinely to analyze and solve problems and create solutions in the 21st Century.
High schools must have their core curriculum developed by July 1, 2010 and implemented by July 1, 2012, and Grades K-8 must have their curriculum developed by 2012 and implemented by 2015.
Langlitz said that this plan is "not going away," and that she and her fellow educators need to keep learning more about the ideas behind the curriculum and developing their plan.
In other business, the Board approved the second reading of the school's Early Retirement Policy. This policy will be in effect for the current Fiscal Year, and will be re-evaluated next year. Superintendent Lynn Evans said that in all likelihood, the current policy will most likely mark the last year that the District will be offering health insurance as part of the incentive for early retirement. All staff who wish to apply for the Early Retirement this school year will be reminded that they need to submit their request to the Superintendent by March 1, 2009.
Board Secretary Vicki Kolpin read a sharing proposal from the Alta School District. The Alta Board had two meetings in December, 2008 and have proposed a two-way sharing plan, in which the High School students would be schooled in Alta and the classes for "some grades" would be in Aurelia.
After some discussion, the Board decided to send a "thank you" to the Alta Board for their proposal, but felt that any sharing for the upcoming school year was out of the question at this time. Sharing proposals have to be submitted to the state by February 1 and the Aurelia Board wants to allow time for community meetings to discuss the proposal, as well as to get a more specific proposal from the Alta Board, making a sharing program for 2009-2010 out of the question.
Board members stressed that they don't want to act too quickly, and want to "take the time to do it right" for the students and communities involved.
Two members of the Aurelia Board also met with members of the Cherokee Board and Administration on Jan. 7, and the group had a good discussion about trends, each school's strengths and weaknesses, and discussed possible sharing. One position sharing suggestion which seemed like a "win-win" situation was sharing a Transportation Director, which would probably cut the Aurelia District's maintenance costs, as the District wouldn't be outsourcing all repairs as they do now.
The concept of a "Regional Academy" was also discussed, in which Cherokee would serve as the "host" school and offer shared classes to two other districts (Regional Academies must share with at least two other districts). No decisions came out of that Jan. 7 meeting, but participants feel it did open a line of communication and idea sharing.
At the Friday meeting, Board members discussed the possibility of the Board visiting a school (s) who have participated in a "Core Plus" sharing program, such as the Jefferson-Scranton and Paton-Churdan Districts, in an effort to find out more about the pros and cons of such a system.
In other business, Principal Ann Sandine reported that the BVU "Magic Theatre" will be presenting a short play for the elementary students on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m; the "100th Day" celebration is currently being planned for January 27. Students have been collecting $1 bills to contribute to the purchase of playground toys; the PTA is planning to sponsor baby-sitting services during the Feb. 11 parent-teacher conferences, and will also be sponsoring a Middle School dance in February. The organization is also planning to purchase some guided reading and AR books to add to the school's library.
School will dismiss at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 11 for conferences.
Superintendent Evans said the NW Conference Athletic Directors have talked about the possible need to restructuring the conference. Pomeroy-Palmer has left the conference already, and there was some concern that Schaller-Crestland might want to also, since they have increased their sharing with the Galva-Holstein District, which is in the Western Valley Conference. Also of concern is the Sioux Central District, which has a considerably higher enrollment than other conference members.
In other business, the Board approved a $230 fee for Aurelia students taking the Drivers' Education course and a $330 fee for out-of-district students. These fees both represent a $10 increase from last year's fees.. The Driver's Ed. instructor will be paid $150/student, a $5/student increase from last year; the District's Fine Arts and Club participation were reviewed and discussed; and Sandine presented high school course participation and teacher utilization data for review and discussion.
Superintendent Evans will distribute forms for evaluating the Superintendent to Board members for their review. The Board will evaluate the Superintendent in a closed session at the February Board meeting.
The Board also set a date for the afternoon of Jan. 29 to hold a Board retreat. The next regular Board meeting will be on Monday, February 9 at 7:30 p.m.