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Cherokee School Board OKs contracts; mulls Education Reform Plan

Friday, October 21, 2011

Also hears CYSBA road update

The Cherokee School District Board of Education Monday night extended a series of teaching and coaching contracts, and heard updates on Iowa Governor Terry Branstad's proposed Educational Reform Plan, and the on-going road project for the Cherokee Youth Summer Ball Association (CYSBA) ball fields in the Sam Doupe Complex off East Indian Street.

Among the new coaching contracts approved by the Board were to Mitch Knippel and Jessica Knippel as Cherokee Middle School 7th grade boys basketball coaches, to Korey Stephens as CMS 8th grade boys basketball coach, and to Kara Nelson as CMS 8th grade girls track and field coach.

Teacher contracts were approved for Tyler Youngers as assistant Washington High speech coach, and Jeri Elder as hearing interpreter at the Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC).

The Board also accepted two resignations, including Jayme Skadeland as special education associate at CMS, and Jody McQueen as an associate at ECLC.

In his regular monthly report, Superintendent Dr. John Chalstrom walked the Board through the proposed Educational Reform Plan being proffered by Gov. Branstad and Iowa's new Director of Education, Jason Glass.

Chalstrom explained that the plan is entirely speculative at this time and would require changes in Iowa Code and Legislative action before it ever would be implemented. The plan leaves "way many" unanswered questions, but does serve as a starting point, according to Chalstrom.

Chalstrom also advised the Board that this year's K-12 enrollment figures yet to be finalized show 933 students, up one student from last year. Chalstrom also said there may be a possible leveling off of the enrollment numbers with more classes with balanced numbers year to year on the horizon, and not some drastic lower class numbers surfacing as in the past.

The Board also heard an update on the CYSBA ball fields roadway that is being constructed to better serve the four CYSBA fields and the Cherokee School District tennis courts off East Indian Street. CYSBA President Rick Mongan addressed the Board.

Organized and funded by CYSBA and its fund-raising efforts, the project will extend the existing road north and then east to empty onto North Roosevelt Avenue. With the entrance off East Indian Street, the new road will be a one-way thoroughfare north and then east to North Roosevelt Avenue and will alleviate a serious traffic/parking dilemma that has plagued the CYSBA fields and attending motorists for several years.

Mongan said through several private donations, materials discounts, donated and/or discounted labors and materials by participating contractors Lundell Construction, RJ Thomas Manufacturing and Pilot Rock Signs, GCC Alliance Concrete Inc., and donated culverts for proper drainage by Cherokee County, the project is being done for less cost than originally anticipated.

Additional CYSBA plans for ball fields, dugouts, and concession facility improvements are still forthcoming and CYSBA is still gladly accepting donations through a special fund established at Central Bank in Cherokee.

Mongan said CYSBA saved about $7,000 for rock cover for the new road by working with the City to crush the old concrete from the West Cherry and North 11th Streets renovation projects, and apply that to the finished road.

Mongan also said that CYSBA fights the continuing battle of too many inconsiderate residents using the ball fields complex to walk their dogs and do not pick up or clean up after their pets.

"Using the ball fields as a dumping ground is a real big problem for us," said Mongan. Chalstrom concurred, adding that the same problem is steadily inflicted on school properties.

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