The Cherokee Community School District Board of Education Monday night approved new employee contracts and resignations, and discussed at length the District's position in the proposed seating renovation of the Washington HIgh School baseball and softball fields.
The Board approved contracts for Tricia Koster as an instructor at the Early Childhood Learning Center. Koster (Langholdt) is a 2003 WHS graduate and replaces Emily Shuberg, who resigned to accept a position with the Area Education Association (AEA).
The Board also approved a contract for Mike Rundall as 7th grade boys basketball coach, and 8th grade girls basketball coach.
The Board also approved a contract for Quinn Woods, a former District employee, as Director of Food Services.
After some discussion, the Board addressed the continuing saga of what to do to increase the safety of fans attending the WHS baseball and softball games who may be in the "line of fire" from foul balls traveling into each ball field from the other field.
The on-going problem was created when the Lakes Conference established home and home simultaneous baseball/softball games several years ago, after the Cherokee ball fields were developed in the Sam Douple Complex. Prior to that, the teams usually played on different nights.
The matter surfaced last year when the Cherokee Athletic Boosters began a fund-raising campaign to install stadium seating at both fields to replace the aluminum bleacher seating at the WHS fields and to better fit the geography of the fields' layout.
Additional problems arose when consultants pointed out erosion problems in the seating/parking areas, the lack of sufficient space to refigure the softball field alignment, the dilapidated state of the existing press boxes and the dugout roofs, and the high cost of the extensive dirtwork necessary to help remedy the landscaping problems.
The District has pledged $10,000 to the project and the Board and Superintendent Dr. John Chalstrom have assigned fact-finding duties to Activities Director Neil Phipps.
After discussion, the Board and Chalstrom decided that the best option was to make the existing sites the focus of resolving the problems, rather than moving the softball field to alleviate the problems.
Among the options explored were to relocate the softball field to the site now containing the Cherokee Middle School practice football field and track, renovating the existing Cherokee Youth Summer Ball Association (CYSBA) Senior League Field south of the CMS, or to formulate a plan to use the existing softball field site.
Phipps will meet with consultants to put a pencil to the existing site proposal, as relocating lights, water, utilities, and developing a new softball field if it were to be relocated would be cost prohibitive.
Phipps also discussed the possibility of safety netting on a pulley system being installed between the existing ball fields that would be raised for games, and then lowered to avoid any possible wind damage, etc. A combination of individual seating behind the home plate areas of both fields, and additional bleacher seating raised above the dugouts at the softball field also will be explored.
Phipps and Chalstrom will meet with the Boosters in the near future to get their input.
Chalstrom favored the idea of utilizing the existing softball field site for improving the situation, maintaining that other available land in that CMS sector may be needed for future expansion, including the possibility of a new high school there in "15 or so" years.
Chalstom also emphasized to the Board the need to resurface the six tennis courts adjacent to the ball fields in the near future, and repairing the lights at George Hicks Field for football games and track and field meets. Preliminary bids for the tennis courts resurfacing total an estimated $124,000, with the City and District each paying half as per original agreement.
"We have some wonderful athletic facilities here," said Chalstrom, a former prep and college athlete. "We need to maintain them."
In other action, Chalstrom advised the Board to keep its eyes on future State tax revenues, as the growing deficit is putting a great strain on the State that will ultimately affect education funding. Chalstrom predicted a 1.5-percent across the board cut in the fall, based on the pessimistic tone educators are receiving from State Government. "There's gloom and doom in Des Moines," said Chalstrom.
However, Chalstom emphasized that regardless of the stimulus monies' impact on the District, that Cherokee's reserves were sufficient to cover any shortfalls at this time.
He also spoke glowingly of the possible economic impact of the "100 new jobs" created at Tyson Deli in Cherokee since the first of the year that will bring families to town and possibly buttress the enrollment figures.
The Board also approved the District's goals for the 2009-2010 School Year - the creation of a differentiated instructional environment that will increase achievement for all students; and to develop all students to become contributing members of a global society through the development and implementation of the Iowa Core Curriculum.
The Board also designated the Chronicle Times as the official newspaper for the District.