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Alta-Aurelia Boards hold joint meeting

Monday, July 18, 2011

ALTA - The Boards of Education of the Alta and Aurelia School Districts met in a joint session here on Thursday - the first joint session since Superintendent Lynn Evans officially began his duties as a Shared Superintendent on July 1.

Items pertaining to issues in each district were dealt with at the meeting, as well as issues pertaining to the two districts' shared interests.

School Board Policy No. 701-4, pertaining to General Accounting Practices, was given a first reading at this meeting and, following a second reading, both Districts, if approved by the Boards, will enter the policy into their Board manuals.

The policy came about as the result of the recent issuing of GASB Statement no. 54 by the Iowa Association of School Boards, in which new classifications were given to governmental fund balances.

In personnel matters, the Alta Board approved the resignation of Ellen Wood Cook as a part-time (3 hrs./week) cook, and The Aurelia Board then approved extending a contract for a 5.5 hr./week cook position to the same individual, who had expressed interest in that position.

The Alta Board corrected an oversight by issuing a contract to Terri Zimmerman to remain as Activities Director at an estimated 2.5% increase, in line with other staff raises. This brings the amount of her contract for that position to $5,960/year .

Lyn Wunschel was also approved for a one-year contract as 9th grade volleyball coach.

The Boards discussed the possibility of sharing a librarian position. Aurelia has had a five hour/week librarian, but will need more library services with their increase in the number of students this fall. The Alta district has had someone working on a .80 contract, and the recommendation was that this person be approved as a .7 employee, with .5 of her contract being funded by the Alta district, which will hold the contract. The Aurelia district would then reimburse the Aurelia district for the time spent at the Middle School in Aurelia. A contract will be extended at the next Board meeting, by which time specific details will have been formalized.

The Boards also discussed the School Nurse situation in both districts. The full-time nurse in the Alta district has retired, and the Aurelia District currently has a half-time nurse. The Boards agreed that Superintendent Evans will speak to the Aurelia School Nurse, Sonia Galvin, who has been in that position for several years, to see if she would have any interest in working full-time and splitting her time between the two districts. If she is not interested, the Aurelia district will continue their contract with her for her part-time services, and the Alta District will then pursue the hiring of a part-time nurse to serve students in their district.

In other business, the Alta Board approved the hiring of a pre-school teacher. Shared Elementary Principal Stacey Cole was present at the meeting and expressed concern about having adequate staffing for the size of the incoming pre-school class. At this time there are a projected six 3-year-old students, with a possible seventh, in addition to several 4-year-olds. State law requires that 3- and 4-year-olds have separate classrooms. Several proposals were discussed, including having a "true 4-year-old program" and a special education program for pre-schoolers who qualify for special education. Principal Cole was instructed to post an opening for the position of a half-time Special Education teacher.

In other business, Shared Transportation Director John Hill presented his recommendations for driver salaries to the Alta Board. He had presented these to the Aurelia Board at an earlier meeting, and the Board approved the recommended rates for drivers. Hill also discussed a Good Conduct Rule for students riding on school buses, and it was suggested that these rules and regulations be made part of school handbooks and that Hill also be available at the time of school registration to answer any questions students or parents may have about these rules and regulations and the consequences of violating rules.

Several members of the Aurelia Daycare Program, which has been operating for 12 years out of the United Methodist Church in Aurelia, were present to express concerns they had. The organization members said that they could no longer afford to pay the $450 rent being charged by the church, and wondered about the possibility of operating the Daycare out of the Aurelia elementary school. Evans indicated that there is probably a first floor classroom that could be used for this purpose and most likely the children could have access to the school cafeteria services.

The School Board members stated that they felt it was important to continue to have certified daycare services available in Aurelia, and if they could help to maintain those services in any way, they were certainly open to the idea. No action was taken at the meeting, but the Daycare Board members were encouraged to check with the Department of Human Services for approval, and more meetings with school officials and DHS will be held if it appears that the possibility of school facility involvement can be a reality.

In other business, the Alta Board approved a change order adjustment for their building project, involving a $4,726 cost for the tie-in between the new roof and old roof.

The following cost rates were also approved by the Alta Board - Fuel Bid at 5 cents under the pump price; Registration fee - $35; extra milk at lunch - 35 cents; extra entree, $1. The current fee paid for substitute teachers is $105/day in Aurelia and $95 in Alta, and the Alta Board approved standardizing that rate at $105 for sub teaching in both districts. Both Boards approved the submitted bids from Interstate Bakery and Dean Foods for bread and milk products, respectively.

Superintendent Evans recommended mileage reimbursement at the legislated state rate (currently $.51/mile), and this was approved by the Aurelia Board. The Alta District's rate is already set under the Master Contract.

In other business, the Aurelia Board had requested that Invasion Architect

give them a cost estimate for proposed remodelng/handicap accessibility projects for their facility. To date, the estimate was "an hourly rate, with the total not to exceed $16,000," and the Aurelia Board approved spending no more than $16,000 for the project, but instructed Superintendent Evans to get a more exact figure on hourly rates before the District lets a bid proposal for the project.

Evans said that a common "summer newsletter" for both districts has been proposed, providing community members with information on such items as busing, shuttles, school start and dismissal times, pick up and drop off points, lunch prices, registration days and procedures, etc. He said he thought that was an excellent suggestion and will work to get this out prior to August 1.

He also said that the cleaning and moving of rooms is proceeding on schedule, and after meeting with the custodial staffs in both districts he feels things are in good shape.

Registration for school in both Districts will be on August 9, from 7:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m., and if parents have children who will be attending in both districts, they may apply for both in one District office, and the registration information for the students(s) in the other district will be forwarded to that district. Online registration will also be available.

In conclusion, Evans encouraged current Board members to seek re-election this fall, as seven of the 10 Board seats will be up for election this year, and he felt that board stability and unity will be a key to a successful partnership between the districts.

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