Money was the name of the game at the special meeting of the Cherokee School District Board of Education Monday night, as the District will soon realize $200,238 in Federal dollars through the Obama Administration's initiative to save jobs in education.
Also, the Board approved an inter-fund loan from the District's Capital Projects to the newly formed Disaster Recovery Fund to pay a $188,000 invoice for the recent new lighting project at George Hicks Field on the Washington High Campus.
The object of the Education Jobs Act is to create or preserve jobs in education, according to the Obama Administration's initiative. Federal monies have been dispersed to each State, which then determines the local distribution of said funds. Iowa chose to disperse them to school districts on a per-student basis, which means $200,238 for the Cherokee District over a two-year period.
It is hoped that after the two-year period, District economies will have rebounded and such State aid tools as Allowable Growth kick back in to help perpetuate the new jobs.
The funds can only be used for "building specific personnel" and not for administration, department heads, or school clerical staff, according to Cherokee Superintendent Dr. John Chalstrom.
Chalstrom anticipates that the monies will be attached with the regular State Aid payments to districts several times each year.
The Cherokee Board Monday discussed various ways to apply the monies to preserve existing jobs, to create new, or replace past job cuts within the District.
In regards to the inter-fund loan to cover the cost of the lighting project, the Board approved a $212,000 loan transfer from Capital Projects to the newly formed Disaster Recovery Fund specially formed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) following the July 22 tornado that struck portions of Cherokee and severely damaging some of the District's facilities, including the existing lighting system at George Hicks Field.
From that Disaster recovery Fund, all invoices for storm damages in the District will be accounted for, including the lighting project. All FEMA dollars and insurance payments will be deposited in that fund.
Chalstrom said that he is continuing negotiations with FEMA and EMC, the District's insurance carrier, and will be doing so until all matters are resolved concerning the storm damages inflicted on the District's facilities.
The $212,000 inter-fund loan approved will be repaid when all FEMA and EMC dollars are paid to the District.
In other action, the Board approved the resignation of Dan Mourlam as the Director of Technology, and approved a contract for his replacement Sam Oppel. Mourlam has accepted a tech position with the University of Northern Iowa. Oppel comes to Cherokee from the Carlisle School District.
The Board also toured the Cherokee Ironworks weight room to view the recent renovations and an estimated $46,000 upgrade in weight training equipment. The District contributed $10,000 for the project and the Boosters generated the balance.
That $46,000 includes installation of the new equipment, and a credit for the existing used equipment that was traded in. The new interior paint job - estimated at about $10,000 - was donated by a "local business" according to Superintendent Chalstrom, who was not at liberty to identify that local business.
The District had previously earmarked $10,000 for an earlier Boosters' project that would have refurbished the seating and press boxes at the high school baseball and softball fields. However, drainage woes, geography, and space requirements made that proposed project a major, price-prohibitive undertaking, so the District and Boosters have redirected their attention to the "Cherokee Ironworks" weight room project located in the former U.S. Army Armory adjacent to Washington High School and used for weight training classes and by the athletic programs. An estimated 220 students daily use the weight room.