ALTA - The Boards of Education for the Alta and Aurelia School Boards met in a joint session here on Tuesday to discuss several aspects of their sharing agreement.
One concern was the future responsibility for handling the duties of Board Secretary and Business Manager, as Connie Jensen, who has been handling those duties for the Alta District, has decided to return to her former position at Methodist Manor in Storm Lake.
Board Presidents and School Administrators from both Districts have spoken to Jensen and Aurelia Board Secretary/Business Manager Vicki Kolpin about the situation, and Kolpin and Jensen have also had extensive discussions between themselves.
Kolpin has determined that she could handle a Shared Business Manager/School Board Secretary position, with some assistance from current employees in both Districts. The creation of the new shared position will result in cost savings for both districts. No decision was made at Tuesday's meeting, but both Districts have Board meetings scheduled for this coming Monday and the decision to hire, and determination of a salary for the position, will be on their agendas.
The Boards elected to fund the position on a 60/40 (Alta/Aurelia) basis until sharing incentives from the State expire, and then review how the 60/40 split has worked out and determine whether 60/40 is appropriate for that position or perhaps change it a 50/50 split at that time.
Alta Superintendent Fred Maharry and Principals Tom Ryherd of Alta and Ann Sandine of Aurelia presented reports to the Joint Board on the progress of sharing plans for next year. Maharry reported that the progress on the school addition is on schedule and should be done by December 2011 as planned. Maharry also reported on a five-year-plan for technology, and possible locations for the Central Office when the school addition is finished.
Ryherd and Sandine reported that staff from both districts have been working together on the curriculum for the future and have found that the two districts' current curriculums have "more similarities than differences." The Core Curriculum, mandated by the State of Iowa Department of Education, will be the focus of curriculum planning.
The principals also stated that the Alta District has a graduation requirement of 54 credits and Aurelia 46 because Alta has a nine-period day and Aurelia eight, and that graduating seniors for the first couple of years of the sharing will have a slightly lower number of credit requirements due to this discrepancy. They did say, however, that many students will meet the higher standard, simply because of their switch to a nine-period day next year, which will allow the students to choose more elective courses.
They also said that next year's Middle School students will have a visit to the Aurelia school on April 20 to get a little preview of what to expect next year. Students will have home room activities in small groups, meet students and teachers and get a little sample of their next year's scheduled classes.
On the same date, next year's high school students will have a similar visit day at the Alta school, and a week later, on April 27, there will be Open Houses for students and parents from 5-7 p.m.
Interviews will be held this weekend with candidates for the new Shared Elementary Principal position, and the Boards discussed what salary should be offered. General agreement was that it should be based on experience, with a maximum ceiling.
Activity Directors Terri Zimmerman and Grant Peckenschneider also gave reports to the Boards on their programs. Peckenschneider, who is the Activity Director for the Middle School in Aurelia, said that there are 60 athletes out for track this year, which he called "a very good number." Athletes are using both facilities for practices, but meets will be held on Alta's all-weather surface. They have eight meets scheduled, but may divide the teams equally for two meets to allow more students to participate in at least one meet.
Peckenschneider also said that he will be interviewing two applicants in the next couple of weeks for a position as Junior High Cross Country coach. He stated that their meets will be held on Saturdays, so as not to interfere with students who also want to participate in football or volleyball. The students will run in the annual Alta Cross Country Meet, though.
Peckenschneider also thanked the board for the 24 football helmets which were recently purchased, calling it a "much needed upgrade." He will also be approaching the Booster Club about purchasing "all-in-one" game pants for the Middle School football team. He also said that the state has approved the school to have a sixth football game next fall, and he has scheduled a game with Manson Northwest Webster, which will give Alta-Aurelia three home games and three away games.
Peckenschneider said he will be sending a survey to all Alta and Aurelia sixth graders to see what, if any, sports they plan on participate in next fall, so that he will have a better chance to prepare a schedule to match A-A's numbers.
In conclusion, the AD stated that he feels the Junior High sports sharing has gone extremely well this year, with great numbers and participation, and he is very much looking forward to "being under the same roof" next year.
Zimmerman, who is in charge of High School activities, said that a few students had inquired about a possible swim team or soccer team, but that these don't seem to be a viable option at this time. She also said that Ridge View High School had inquired about the possibility of sharing wrestling next year, but that she hadn't heard any more recently, and that such a decision would need to be made by April 30 to meet state requirements. Zimmerman said that such a shared program would still be considered a 2A program, but she also said that the state is going to be doing some re-aligning of class designations because of the large number of school sharing programs that are occurring due to dropping enrollments in many districts.
She also reported that A-A will probably only have 45 students out for football next fall as opposed to the 65 they had last fall, and suggested the Boards may want to examine the possibility of reducing the number of assistant football coaches. She also said that Alta-Aurelia had been given permission to schedule a 10th football game this fall to help Akron-Westfield alleviate a change in their schedule. The non-district game will be played in "week 0," the first week of the season, in Akron.
Zimmerman also said that with the school's entry into the new Twin Lakes "Super Conference " next year, that conference is planning on playing volleyball games on Thursday, and they have recommended that Alta-Aurelia have their Homecoming activities on Wednesday evening this fall instead of their traditional Thursday evening. The Boards will need to discuss this before making a decision.
Alta-Aurelia High School has several coaching vacancies at this time. Both the Head and Assistant Volleyball coaches have resigned, pending the finding of suitable replacements, and there are also vacancies for all three boys' basketball and two girls' basketball positions. The positions have been posted in the paper, and the deadline for applying has passed.
In other business, the Boards discussed how laptops and other electronic teaching aids will be used by staff who will be teaching in a different building next year. Both districts will work on developing a policy to cover this situation.
The Aurelia School Board will have its regular monthly meeting on Monday, April 11, at 6:30 p.m.