The Cherokee School Board unanimously approved salary/benefit recommendations for the Administration and Support Staff, and also ratified the Master Working Agreement with the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 234, for the 2009-2010 school year at Monday's regularly scheduled meeting.
The Board approved a 3-percent increase for the Administrators' salary/benefit package, excluding Superintendent Dr. John Chalstrom, who voluntarily requested a zero-percent hike.
The Board approved a 3.7-percent increase for Support Staff, and a 3.5-percent salary package hike for the IUOE Local 234, which follows
previous approval in April of a 3.7-percent increase for the Cherokee Education Association bargaining unit.
Regarding his request for a zero-percent increase, Chalstrom said it was the feeling of all Lakes Conference Superintendents to consider the budget crunch currently experienced by all Iowa schools and to stay status quo on their salaries at this time to help alleviate the situation.
The Board also approved a contract for Bob Lee to be the new Cherokee Washington High boys varsity basketball coach and sixth grade Mathematics instructor. Lee is a Cherokee WHS graduate and has served in similar capacities at Galva-Holstein the past eight years.
In other action, the Board approved six resignations in the District. They are Vicki Allbaugh, education associate at Roosevelt Elementary; Cheryl Brewer, special education associate at Roosevelt Elementary; Betty Thoma, special education associate at Roosevelt Elementary; Marcia Florke, bus monitor at ECLC; Jill Kelleher, special education associate at WHS; and Linda Frangenberg, Food Services Director, who is relocating to Kansas with her family.
The Board also discussed at length the plans for proposed renovation of the District's baseball and softball fields.
Several months ago, the Cherokee Athletic Boosters proposed to participate in a project restructuring and modernizing the seating, parking, and landscaping for the two fields at the Sam Doupe Complex on East Indian Street.
However, due to concerns about the geography and other complexities arising with the project, the Administration contacted a consultant who pointed out three major issues the project must contend with - (1) There are significant grading and excavating issues involved, especially at the softball field; (2) Safety concerns for foul balls from both fields hazardous to fans and players at the other field; and (3) The existence of a significant watershed north to S/SE where water drainage could undermine structures in the event of significant rains.
These problems would add considerable cost to the project, according to Chalstrom, who suggested to the Board that it would be more appropriate for the District to hire an engineer and architect to come up with a proper design and associated costs "so we know what we're looking at. Then we could let bids and have it done professionally."
A fund-raising campaign would also be necessary to help pay for the project, according to Chalstrom.
The downside to this plan would be no construction this year as the design, bidding, and fund-raising played out, explained Chalstrom.
One discussed proposal would have the District swapping the softball field for the Cherokee Youth Summer Ball Association's Senior League field located south of the Cherokee Middle School, west of the existing softball field.
The District and CYSBA have established a commendable and solid working relationship through the years, with the CYSBA fields located on school property. Currently, CYSBA maintains the ball fields inside the fencing, and the school maintains the areas outside the fencing, said Chalstrom.
The original plan presented by the Boosters was to raise local funds for the project, and to install stadium seating at both high school fields, using mostly local volunteer labor and equipment.
Chalstrom reiterated Monday that both fields must receive equal consideration regarding any renovations, and that there can be no inequity in the seating, regardless of which sport attracts more fans.
Chalstrom said he would continue communicating with CYSBA officials and report back to the Board.
The Board, Chalstrom, and WHS Principal Larry Hunecke also toured the fields after the meeting, which was held at the Cherokee Middle School Library to better accommodate the tour, and also the snacks and refreshments served in honor of School Board Recognition Week last week.