The Cherokee School District Board of Education, following a recommendation by Superintendent Dr. John Chalstrom, Monday night approved pursuing a new lighting project at the Washington High football field and track at an estimated cost of $180,000.
In other business, the Board approved resignations from five longtime teachers, each retirement hastened by the Administration's and Board's prior decision to eliminate the District's early retirement package after this school year.
The aged lighting system at George Hicks Field at Cherokee Washington High School, more than 50 years old and in a state of decline and disrepair, desperately needs replaced, according to Chalstrom, other school officials, and a spokesman for MUSCO Lighting based in Oskaloosa and Muscatine.
The project, which will be funded from the District's PPEL (Physical Plant & Equipment Levy) Fund. An engineer will be hired to draw up the specifications for bids.
According to one company involved in athletic lighting, the project is an estimated $180,000 to replace the system with new, high-efficiency MUSCO Lighting. That figure would be for 50 candle power, which would be easily enough lighting for the track and football field, and the corners. A MUSCO representative said 40 candle power lights also would do the job at a cost estimated at $150,000. Those figures do not include removal of the existing poles and wires, the recommended architect and engineering fees, estimated to be 10-percent of the total project cost, according to Chalstrom, or any fees associated with the electric provider.
The MUSCO rep advised the Board two weeks ago that the new MUSCO lighting would include four 80-foot tall poles, rather than the six now utilized, and that the new "green" lighting structure, because of its efficiency, would save the School District 50-percent operating costs and reduce spill and glare 50-percent.
The targeted system also eliminates spill and glare from lighting up area neighborhoods, and includes security lighting on the back of the poles.
MUSCO furnishes all materials and technical instruction only, and the District would have to bid out the installation to a contractor.
Included in the project is a 25-year warranty by MUSCO covering any materials and labor for repair, except for any "acts of God" such as storms. lightning strikes, etc. MUSCO monitors its systems by remote from Oskaloosa and can determine any problems that crop up or may be forthcoming.
Chalstrom told the Board that the District's PPEL Fund will have an estimated $120,000 in it at the end of this school year and next year would be replenished to $267,000. The District spent $80,000 of PPEL Funds this school year for two busses.
Chalstrom also advised the Board that he will explore the pros and cons of utilizing volunteer labor and District employees to install the lights as was done for the WHS baseball and softball fields, or whether liability issues might force the District into hiring a contractor to install the lights.
"This project is doable with our PPEL Fund," said Chalstrom. "By doing that we can dodge interest payments (on a loan) as much as $7,500 per year. I am convinced there is an immediacy to get this project done. The existing lights are basically shot."
The project would be done this summer in time for the fall football season.
The Board approved the resignation of five teachers who have chosen to retire to take advantage of the District's early retirement incentive, in its last year of existence. The approvals included the District's appreciation of their years of service.
They are Dave Zelle, WHS math Instructor and boys tennis coach; Gayle Cedar, WHS Spanish Instructor; Kurt Reynolds, Roosevelt Elementary Instructor, varsity football coach, and Middle School wrestling coach; Jan Cook, WHS Language Arts Instructor; and Dianne Gordon, Elementary Vocal Music Instructor.
In addition, the Board approved the resignation of Nancy Younie, CMS Secretary; Jodi Skadeland, ECLE Associate; and Jon Larson, freshman girls basketball coach.
The Board also approved a contract for Deb Hankens as the WHS Student Council Sponsor for the remainder of the school year. She replaces Teri Hockenson, who resigned in December when her family relocated.
Chalstrom also advised the Board of his concern for the mounting number of snow days that will have to be made up at the end of the school year. Chalstrom suggested the possible use of the three remaining scheduled professional development days, with students attending classes until 1 p.m. those days to count for snow day make-ups. He will explore all the options and report back to the Board in the future.
WHS Principal Larry Hunecke also reported on the lack of parental participation in the high school Parent/Teachers Conferences, and suggested moving them from 2-6 p.m. to 4-8 p.m. in an effort to attract more parents.
The Board agreed with Hunecke and also approved continuing the conferences in the WHS gymnasium, rather than the teachers' individual classrooms that bottle-neck the event and become cumbersome and time-consuming for all involved.
Hunecke also expressed concern over a growing trend of senior girls wanting to bring boyfriends age 21 and older to the Prom. Hunecke also said he had a controversy recently when an 8th-grade girl's mother wanted her daughter to go to the Prom with a high school boy.
The Board agreed to study the matter further and report back to Hunecke.