AURELIA - The Aurelia School Board met for its regular monthly session on Monday evening, and State Representative Dan Huseman was present to give Board members his impression of this year's Legislative session.
Huseman said that with one month to go in the current Fiscal Year, it appears that the state could be as much as $1 billion short of funds. Despite $321 million of federal Stimulus Package funds being earmarked for education, only a portion of that will go to the K - 12 grades. Huseman said that one of the reasons that the state is short of money is that tax refunds were higher than expected, most likely because many people's incomes were lower than expected. Representative Huseman felt that the state budget will continue to have problems for another couple of years.
Board members Colby Entriken and Jim Hultgren reported on their June 3 meeting with two Alta District Board members. The Aurelia and Alta administrators were also present for that meeting, and Aurelia Superintendent Lynn Evans, Entriken and Hultgren all agreed that the meeting had a very positive tone to it.
The Aurelia Board was very up-front and reported the results of their recent Board workshop to the Alta group, including the pros and cons of sharing with Alta and Cherokee, and the Aurelia Board's preference at this time for sharing with Cherokee. Both groups were candid in discussing the history of some members of each community mistrusting the other community, and the Alta group said they felt that the community of Alta, in general, was more accepting of the idea of sharing with Aurelia now than in the past and were eager to do so.
The Alta Board presented a new two-way sharing proposal which would include high school students being housed in Alta, after their Middle School building is remodeled a bit, and the Middle School students of both districts having their classes in the current high school building in Aurelia. No decisions were made as the result of this meeting, and the Aurelia Board's plan remains to present all the information they have gathered to the Aurelia community at a public meeting - hopefully later this summer - before any agreements are entered into with another district.
In other business, the Board heard a report from a representative of the company which heads the State of Iowa consortium for purchasing office supplies. The Aurelia school district is in need of a change of some kind in regards to their photo copiers and duplicating machines, as they need more modern equipment and also have been paying an excessive amount for leasing their current machines. The Board took no action at this time regarding purchasing new machines or setting up new agreements, but did direct Evans to let the current lease expire in March and they will revisit the issue at a later meeting. Evans did recommend to the Board that, whatever they decide to do, he feels joining the consortium would be in the best interest of the District, as it would save them a good deal of money.
In other business, the Board authorized Business Manager Vicki Kilpin to pay the final bills and claims from the 2008 - 2009 school year, and heard a report from Principal Ann Sandine on the status of the playground. There is a need to remove the current swing set and teeter totter, purchase a new swing set, install the glider they purchased last year, do some grading, construct a small wall enclosure (with PPEL funds) and replace the pea gravel with some sort of rubber mulch. Sandine told the Board that a representative from one of the companies she has contacted regarding these upgrades will be at the school Thursday, and will have a sample of the "rubber mulch" with which they propose to replace the current pea gravel,and she invited Board members to take a look for themselves. The Board may then schedule a special meeting to order the mulch, as it should be ordered soon. Sandine also reported that the Aurelia District was not approved for the Pre-School Grant for which they applied, as also happened last year. She also said that the state sent her information that outlines exactly what Aurelia's proposal lacked, in case they wish to try for the grant again.
Superintendent Evans read a letter from Suzanne Winterhof, announcing her decision to retire from 40 years of teaching elementary school music. The Board accepted the resignation with gratitude for her many years of service, and Evans said he felt the Aurelia District had been "blessed" to have her share her talent and enthusiasm for music with the district's students for that many years.
Evans and Sandine reported the offer of a contract to teach High School and Middle School Family Consumer Services to Jennifer Wittmaack. Wittmaack is a Sioux Central and UNI graduate who has been teaching at Clarksville and recently returned to the area with her husband and family. Wittmaack will replace Linda Peine. who has taken a job in the Denison School District.
The Board also reviewed the school's Wellness Policy, and will re-visit it next year and offer the School Improvement Advisory Committee a chance to provide their input.
The next monthly meeting of the Board will be at the school on Monday, July 13 at 7:30 p.m.