AURELIA - The Aurelia School District Board of Directors met in special session on Tuesday to take care of a few items that were tabled at the last meeting, and to discuss recommendations received earlier from an architect and contractor in regards to remodeling or expanding the school facility to bring the school into compliance with all applicable standards.
Lynn Evans, who will assume the Shared Superintendent position of the Aurelia and Alta School Districts on July 1, was present at the meeting as a guest, as was architect Brad Leeper of Invision.
The Board approved raising the current meal fees slightly for the coming school year, with the understanding they may need to be raised a bit more again next year to bring the fees more in line with those assessed by the Alta School District. Alta and Aurelia will begin whole grade sharing of their students this fall.
For the 2011-12 school year, the fees for students in the Aurelia District will be :
Breakfast, $.90 (up from $.80); lunch, $1.70 (up from $1.60); Adult breakfast, $1.70 (up from $1.60); Adult lunch, $2.60 (up from $2.50); extra juice, $.30 (up from $.25); extra milk, $.35 (up from $.30), and second entree, $.75 (up from $.50).
The Board also approved keeping the registration fee at the current $45.
Acting Superintendent Jack Johnson, presiding over his final meeting of his one year of service, presented the Board with a brief overview of the findings of the Department of Education on accessibility issues within the district when they visited last spring. The main issues of which were the steps from the elementary section from the lobby, the location of the cafeteria in the basement, and the inaccessibility of the 2nd and 3rd floors for elementary students who are involved in art and other activities being taught there.
Johnson also briefed the Board on the four options for funding school infrastructure projects in Iowa, which include cash or grant money; general obligation PPEL Capital Loan Notes; General Obligation School Bonds; or Sales Tax Revenue Bonds; and discussed the pros and cons of each method, as well as what amounts would be available under each of the fund-raising methods.
An architect from Invision Inc. and a contractor from Estes Construction were at the school recently and made some suggestions and recommendations for renovations and remodeling, and the Board "brainstormed" about those suggestions with consultation from architect Leeper.
The Board first reviewed suggestions which had been made, and following discussion, proceeded to prioritize the suggestions, weighing "need" against "wishes" as well as financial considerations.
By Board consensus, the number one priority was felt to be the construction of an elevator and ramp to provide easier access to the upper floors. The number two priority was determined to be relocating the kitchen and cafeteria to the location presently occupied by the shop and wrestling room, providing better access for students and visitors and also providing up a new "Commons" area, which would present a more attractive entry area to visitors.
The expansion/remodeling of the gym was listed as the third priority, including the removal of the current bleachers and replacement by retractable bleachers, and the fourth priority was the renovation of the current high school to a middle school. Construction of a floor across the upper part of the current cafeteria, to allow that space to be used as a Media Center, was considered the fifth priority.
Seven other recommendations were discussed, but were all dismissed for the time being because of alternative solutions or inadequate funding.
With the realization that these projects would take some time to accomplish, with various meetings and possible voting, depending upon the funding method chosen, and also the fact that much of the work would have to be done in the summer, when school was not in session, the Board gave architect Leeper a goal date of 2012 or 2013 to have construction completed.
He will report back to the Board in an estimated 4-5 weeks with more exact drawings of the facility than he currently has, and with a closer estimate on the cost of the top five prioritized projects. Leeper will also provide the Board with an estimate for the cost of his services before the Board's July 11th meeting.
The next step for the Board will be meeting with the School Advisory Committee for their input, and then when plans are closer to being finalized, presenting the plan to community members, including explanations of school funding and other issues which may not be clear to the general public.
The Board's next regular monthly meeting will be Monday July 11.