AURELIA - The Aurelia High School Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting Monday evening and in the 'Showcase on Education' portion of the meeting, the Board saw a video presentation about the "Eno By Polyvision" interactive whiteboard, presented by Principal Ann Sandine. The whiteboard is a modern-day technological version of the old chalkboard, but with no mess and clearer writing. The teacher or student projects images from the internet or other sources onto the board and can then use magnets or markers to interact with the image and teach the lesson.
There are no cords or cables involved, and marks can be erased. The cost of one whiteboard, which will be installed in classrooms, is approximately $1500 per board and a projector is an additional $750. Each board comes with a set of 24 responders, which students can use to respond to questions, so teachers can quickly see if the question or information they have imparted to the class is being understood. The responders cost $900 for a set of 24.
Some of the district's teachers have participated in training for the whiteboard, and they are approved to train other teachers now. Teachers were surveyed and 14 teachers, at all levels, submitted a detailed request to the Superintendent outlining how they would use the whiteboard technology in their classroom.
Superintendent Lynn Evans said he felt all 14 requests were well-thought-out and reasonable, and following the demonstration and discussion, the Board approved the purchase of 14 interactive whiteboards and projectors. The tentative cost would be approximately $32,000, but Evans said it is quite possible they may be able to a lower price with the quantity they will be ordering.
Evans will be exploring this possibility further before he submits an order. The money for the boards can be taken from PPEL funds, and a portion of the government's "stimulus money" will be used for related accessories, so the District's General Fund should not be affected by this purchase. Evans felt that delivery and installation of the product should probably take 2-3 weeks after it is ordered.
Sandine also demonstrated the school's updated web site to the Board, and noted it is still a "work in progress," as not all teachers, for example, have completed the web page for their class.
In other business, the Board reviewed the final costs of the Wellness Center. Financial Manager Vicki Kolpin stated that the Center had taken in about $6600 in membership fees and spent $2663.42 on utility bills, $1300 for wipes and other cleaning supplies, and $9 on fuses for the treadmills, leaving the Wellness Center fund about $2600 "ahead." Superintendent Evans said that the Wellness Center was never intended to be a "money maker," so he felt that the current situation is fine. The Board approved leaving the membership fees at $75/year for a family membership and $50/year for a single membership.
The Board also heard a review of the current enrollment count from Evans. He said that the official enrollment count does not have to be submitted until October 15 and approved by October 30. Evans said that as of Oct. 1, the Aurelia School District has a count of 271 students "in the building," and also has 25.6 students who are open-enrolled out of the district (which is added to the enrollment count) and 18.9 students who are open enrolled in (which is subtracted from the enrollment count). To sum it up, the 2009-2010 Certified Enrollment Count is likely to be similar to last year's count - perhaps a little bit lower, according to Evans.
The Board also approved "allowable growth" for a number of open enrolled students who came into the district after the last enrollment figures were approved; appointed the superintendent as the school liaison for Homeless Children; approved continuing participation in the Iowa drug and Alcohol Testing Program, and appointed Board member Brad Rohwer as their representative on the Cherokee County Conference Board. Rohwer also served as the ASD representative last year.
Finally, Superintendent Evans asked all Board members to be thinking of possible nominations for membership on the School Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC). He will provide Board members with a list of the current SIAC members, and they are to submit a list of 2-3 people they think would be good SIAC members. Evans said the committee will need about eight new members.
Evans also discussed the effect on the Aurelia School District of Governor Chet Culver's recent proposal to cut the state budget 10% across-the-board. He felt that the effect should not be as serious as it will be in other districts, mainly because the District has a pretty good cash reserve which it can use if need be. He estimates the District will be cut about $163,000, but that it will be strictly cash, and won't affect the District's spending authority.
The Board meeting opened, as stated on the agenda, with a welcome to visitors and an offer to them to make comments. There were about 20 visitors at the meeting, and Board President Dan Winterhof told the group at the outset that he would would like anyone making comments to please limit their time to five minutes.
A couple of patrons spoke regarding the on-going talk of sharing classes, students, and/or facilities with either the Cherokee or Alta School Districts. The speakers brought up a couple of issues that they had not in earlier meetings, one being a report from the Cherokee Police Department that they had been called to the Cherokee school on eight occasions this school year thus far. The speakers also checked with the Buena Vista County Sheriff's Department,and they report no calls to Alta High School during this academic school year. The speakers also presented the Board with copies of the school catalogs from Cherokee, Alta, Western Iowa Tech Community College, and Iowa Central Community College, showing the post-secondary or Advanced Course class offerings currently available to high school students in both the Alta and Cherokee School Districts.
Board members Dan Winterhof and Brad Rohwer reported that they have arranged separate meetings between themselves and two School Board representatives from both the Cherokee and Alta School Districts to discuss questions and concerns they have about any sharing agreement. The pair were scheduled to meet with the Cherokee group on Tuesday, October 13, and the Alta group on Wednesday, Oct. 14, and they will then report their findings back to the entire Aurelia Board and administration. A tentative time and date for that meeting was set for Thursday, October 22 at 7:30 p.m.