The Cherokee Board of Education learned Monday night that the Cherokee Community School District remains in a holding pattern as it hammers out settlement negotiations with its insurance carrier EMC for the replacement of the lighting system at George Hicks Field that was severely damaged in the July tornado that struck portions of the City.
According to Cherokee Superintendent Dr. John Chalstrom, EMC has offered a $99,960 settlement since its initial settlement offer of $75,000 for damages incurred in the tornado to the 50-year old lighting system consisting of out-dated lights and wood poles.
A snag in the settlement talks is the fact the District was already planning to replace the old lights with a new, $200,000 system, including new lights, metal poles, wiring, and a monitoring system from the provider that alerts the provider of any problems.
Chalstrom told the Board that the District was not going to settle for less than a $150,000 settlement, which he termed a "very fair" settlement price. He said the District is working diligently with the local EMC agent Scott Weber to reach an agreement. Chalstrom said that Weber has been "wonderful to work with" and lauded him repeatedly for the "great job" he is doing to help both parties reach an agreement.
Also according to Chalstrom, EMC maintains that the District did not replace the old system with "like, kind, and quality." The Superintendent said systems like the old one are no longer available, including wood poles, so the District had no choice but to proceed with such an upgraded lighting system, which was installed and operational in time for the 2010 fall football season that began in September.
The Board also discussed the possibility of changing insurance carriers after hearing from Chalstrom that the District pays annual premiums totaling an estimated $240,000 for all of its insurance coverage.
Board member Jack Creel said the discrepancies in the EMC settlement offer and the actual replacement costs should lead the District to question EMC's coverage on everything, including total building replacement in the event of a catastrophe. such as a school burning down, that would far exceed the cost of the lighting project.
The Board could seek bids from other insurance carriers when the time is right.
Chalstrom also informed the Board that the District is exploring installing security cameras at Washington High School since the extensive vandalism and theft there in September, which has yet to be resolved and is still under investigation, according to Chalstrom. A complete camera system consisting of 23 interior cameras and three exterior cameras would costs more than $25,000, said Chalstrom. The District is now seeking other estimates.
In other business, the Board approved several new contracts for faculty, including a voluntary transfer for Mike Rundall who was 1/2 time at WHS and at the Cherokee Middle School, to WHS full time for history/government, replacing Jessie Van De Wall, who has moved from the District.
The Board also approved contracts for Tyler Youngers as a social science instructor at CMS/WHS to replace Rundall; for Jessica Hunecke as special education associate at CMS, and as 8th grade girls basketball coach; for Marshall Peterson as special education associate at CMS; for Jeff Groves as Assistant Instructional Technology Coordinator (new position); and Chad Osler as head varsity baseball coach.
The Board also approved the resignation of Katie Leonard as basketball cheerleading sponsor, pending finding suitable replacement.
The Board also approved a travel request to Florida by the WHS vocal and instrumental departments; and to Houston, Texas to the Johnson Space Center for selected WHS students. The Cherokee Education Foundation finances the Houston trip.