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Cherokee School Board reviews WHS security system, insurance coverage

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Cherokee School District Board of Education Monday night previewed a presentation of a high-tech security system for Washington High School, heard an overview of the District's insurance policies, and listened to an update from Superintendent Dr. John Chalstrom on proposed Iowa Legislation affecting education.

The Board viewed a video presentation from ADT Security personnel of a proposed security camera system for WHS that would include 26 strategically located "infrared augmentation" cameras feeding a digital video recorder (DVR) at an estimated cost of $26,000.

The high-tech, "vandal resistant" cameras would be located inside and outside the facility, with its infrared capabilities making it able to see in the dark and pitch black, and covering every hallway, various classrooms and offices, and all entrances.

The state-of-the-art DVR provides immediate recall of targeted areas, any motion, and/or items, without having to review the entire stored footage.

The District is exploring a security system after last summer's vandalism at WHS costing several thousand dollars of damage.

The perpetrators have not been caught or identified, according to recent checks with the Cherokee Police and school administrators, and apparently the investigation is on-going.

The Board also heard a review of the District's insurance coverage with agent Scott Weber of Central Bank Financial & Insurance Services. Weber advised the Board that Central Bank, through EMC Insurance, carries the umbrella coverage on the District totaling nearly $32 million for property, general liability, workman's compensation, etc.

The matter of last summer's replaced lighting system at George Hicks Field was also discussed. The District and EMC have yet to reach agreement on total replacement costs of the lighting system for the WHS football field and track and field areas after the system was severely damaged in the July tornado that struck portions of Cherokee.

A fly in the ointment is the fact the District had already approved purchasing a new lighting system and that project was scheduled for late summer before the tornado struck.

EMC maintains, according to policy, the old system must be replaced with "like, kind, and quality" and not the costlier, high-tech system the District purchased and is now installed. EMC has issued a replacement check of $99,000 to the District, but, according to Chalstrom, the District is seeking an estimated $150,000 insurance settlement for the $200,000 project.

Negotiations will continue and the District is free to bank the $99,000, according to EMC.

Chalstrom also was quick to point out the outstanding relationship the District has with Central Bank and credited Weber, Vice President of Central Insurance, with the great work he continues to do on behalf of the District and Central Insurance.

Chalstrom also discussed the Preschool Program that new Governor Terry Branstad wants to alter. Chalstrom said there are currently three plans at work in the Legislature - the House plan (get rid of program), the Branstad plan (based on family income), and the Senate plan (keep as is).

The Superintendent also said the House proposes 0-percent Allowable Growth for Iowa schools the next two years, and the Senate favors a 2-percent A.G.. The prevailing thought out of Des Moines is there will be a 1-percent A.G. approved.

A planned WHS band and choir trip to Florida in March has been canceled due to the low number of students signing up for the trip. Instead, a shorter trip to St. Loius is being negotiated for the first weekend in May.

In other business, the Board approved the retirement resignation of Roosevelt Elementary instructor Meribeth Adams, who has served 33 years in the District; approved the resignation of Kami Johnson, special education associate at Roosevelt; approved the resignation of Tara Gunderson as drama director at WHS pending suitable replacement; approved the resignation of Megan Pigott as drama director at WHS pending suitable replacement; and approved a contract for Angelia Agnitsch as special education associate at Roosevelt.

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