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Alta, Aurelia Boards process busy agenda

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

AURELIA - The Aurelia and Alta School Boards met in Aurelia on Monday for their regular monthly meeting.

Following the approval of minutes, bills and claims and the Financial Report, Board members heard a multi-media report on the High School's "Introduction to Video Communications" course from instructor Brad Nesbitt and several of the students in the course.

The course is a one semester elective course for 11th and 12th graders, designed to provide students with exploratory and investigative techniques dealing with camera functions, filming techniques, composition, editing and computer animation/graphics.

The course is very popular, though limited in size because of the number of cameras and computers required. All of the students expressed great satisfaction with the course, even though some had limited experience with computers going in, and they weren't quite sure what to expect. Past classes have submitted video ideas for commercials to some well-known national companies and had them accepted for airing. Part of that process has also involved the students' communicating with executives at these companies.

In Old Business, Superintendent Lynn Evans summarized the bids he had received on a two-way radio system for both schools, and the Boards tentatively approved pursuing the bid from Alpha Wireless for a narrow banded digital system, which would provide coverage throughout all of the district's widespread geographical area and beyond. Evans will be in touch with Alpha and present the exact cost to the Board before the school proceeds with approving a contract.

Middle School Principal Ann Sandine reported that students are working on a unit on 'Communities,' and they will have a service project dealing with that theme. She also said that the 6th Grade has two exciting Field Trips coming up soon - one to Silver Sioux Park and the other to the Sioux City Symphony, where students will not only get to hear a concert, but will also learn more about instruments and other Symphony-related topics.

High School Principal Tom Ryherd reported that High School and Middle School parent-teacher conferences will be coming up in two weeks, and that the conferences will be scheduled. He also reported that rehearsals are under way for the High School Musical, "Schoolhouse Rocks Live," to be presented on November 11, 12 and 13.

The Board reviewed the Joint Board Goals that they established at a recent Work Session. The four main goals are : Developing a Shared Culture; Providing Innovative Education; Unifying a variety of financial issues, including fundraising policies, booster clubs, funding of extracurricular activities and building issues, including the move and transition to the new building in Alta, the future of the old Alta building and remodeling of the Aurelia buildings; and Communicating effectively with staff and community members in both communities.

In other business, both Boards selected the members for the following Board committees: Transportation; Buildings and Grounds; Finance; Curriculum and Staffing; and Policy and Public Relations.

The review of Bus driver training expenses was tabled until the next meeting; the Boards approved Superintendent Evans applying to the State for Modified Allowable Growth (Spending Authority) for newly-enrolled "open-enrolled out" students who moved into the district after last year's count date. Alta has identified approximately 15 students who met that criteria and Aurelia has three.

The Aurelia Board heard bus bids from two vendors to replace one of their buses with a new 59 passenger bus. After much discussion with Evans and Transportation Director John Hill, neither bid was accepted, and the Board approved Evans seeking new bids on both a 59 passenger and 65 passenger bus.

The Boards discussed the possibility of providing mileage reimbursement for teachers who have to move between the districts during the school day to fulfill their job expectations, and no action was taken at this time. the policies and past practices of each district will be reviewed and the issue will be discussed further following that review.

In a personnel matter, the Aurelia Board approved a contract offer to Kristi Langschwager as a 4th grade teacher.

Evans reported that the construction of the High School continues to run ahead of schedule. He and Principal Ryherd will do a review of items which need to be done yet on Wednesday, and many items have been moved to the new facility already.

Another issue is what to do with the old high school building, and this discussion will begin at the meeting of the Alta School Improvement Advisory Committee on Tuesday (October 11). At this point, it appears that the move from the old school to the new school will likely be in late October, with opening day for classes in the new building tentatively set for Monday October 31. Open Houses at both the old and new buildings will also be held, but all of these dates are uncertain at this time. The dates will be announced as soon as they are arranged, as will instructions for anyone who would like to assist with the move in any way.

Evans reported that in speaking with people at the State Department of Education, it appears that the Aurelia district will not have to file for permission to do the planned renovations to their building, because the renovations are all either in response to federal law or renovating existing space. Evans said he will share the architect's drawings and ideas with the Aurelia School Improvement Advisory Committee at their meeting on October 18 to get feedback and listen to any ideas that the administration and board may not have considered.

Evans also presented a brief report on the future enrollment. The certified enrollment will be submitted to the state before October 15th, but at this time it appears that the combined enrollment of the Alta and Aurelia districts is 755 this year, and should remain pretty close to that figure for the next few years.

Both Boards reviewed the "100" series of policies in their Policy Manuals, and there was also considerable discussion about the Early Retirement policies, which sunset each year and are not necessarily offered each year. Evans will develop a possible policy regarding this matter for review by the Boards at their next meeting.

The Board then went into Closed Session to discuss the Superintendent Evaluation process, in accordance with the Iowa Code.

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