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Alta-Aurelia Boards discuss alternative diploma

Thursday, March 15, 2012

ALTA - Much of Monday's business at the monthly school board meeting here concerned alternative programs for students in a changing societal structure.

High School Principal Tom Ryherd and Guidance Counselor Belinda Shea presented information about the Bridgewater Academy online courses, which are taught by accredited teachers with e-mail access for students who have questions or concerns about their assignments. Students taking these courses cannot move on in the coursework until they have achieved at least a 70% score.

Ryherd also continued his presentation from a previous meeting concerning an alternative program and diploma for students in special situations. Ryherd said that his idea was to offer a diploma for students who will be unable to achieve the required 54 credits for graduation due to circumstances beyond their control, such as an illness, geographical move, or dissolution of a student's parental/family situation.

Ryherd's proposal would allow these students to graduate with 36 credits, provided they included all of the required core courses. The difference would be a smaller number of elective credits. Ryherd said the program would only be applicable to second semester juniors and seniors and the decision to offer the alternative program to select students would be strictly an administrative decision.

Ryherd said that this year's senior class has as many as 12 students who could be candidates for such an alternative diploma, but he emphasized that this number is a real anomaly, and that in his five previous years on the job, there were only two students that he might have considered for this alternative program.

The Board will discuss this idea further at their next meeting.

In other old business, Superintendent Lynn Evans said that no bids have been received yet on electrical service for the Aurelia Bus Garage and the costs of a proposed soccer program and the scheduling of games are still being investigated.

In new business, both the Alta and Aurelia Boards approved the Budget Guarantee Resolution, the resolution for the regular PPEL and the Management Levy. The Boards also discussed each school's Instructional Support Levy.

The Alta District currently has a 9% income surtax as part of their program, which generates $224,903, and the property tax portion generates $23,462, fir a total of $248, 365. The Aurelia District has a 3% income surtax, which generates $44,501, and the property tax portion generates $94,049, for a total of $138, 550.

The Master Calendar for the 2012-13 school year was developed by the District Leadership Team, comprised of teachers and principals. The proposed start date for students is August 16, 2012, which allows the first semester classes to be completed prior to the Christmas break. Four full days of professional development have been built into the schedule and will be used for Iowa Core Implementation, where the District will participate in a consortium of six area schools. All six schools will reserve the same four days for the developmental meetings.

The Aurelia Board discussed the budget for the Aurelia Fitness Center and the condition of the heavily-used treadmills. A technician will be contacted to inspect the machines and make recommendations for replacement. It is felt that at least two of the treadmills will probably need to be replaced.

Curriculum Director/Elementary School Principal Stacey Cole reported that standardized testing scores have been a little lower this year, but stated that the tests have changed and been re-normed, so comparing scores is not an accurate indicator of progress this year.. Cole did say that she likes the new tests because they provide teachers with a better system of looking at student trends, allowing them to see exactly which questions students missed and enabing them to work on specific areas of improvement.

Middle School Principal Ann Sandine reported that authors Bruce and Jeanette Hopkins recently spoke to the students about their experiences as authors, and the students learned a lot about that occupation.

Sandine also reported that the Middle School musical, "Doo Wop Wed Widing Hood," would be performed for the public in the Aurelia gymnasium on Thursday evening March 22.

Ryherd reported that spring activities in sports and music are getting into full swing and the High School's Spring Play will be performed on March 23 and 24.

Both Ryherd and Cole had positive comments about having the High School and elementary school in the same building, feeling that this has been very beneficial for both levels of students. Some high school students have been acting as mentors for elementary school students, and high school students who are interested in possibly pursuing a career in teaching have had a chance to meet with and observe some elementary teachers in their classroom setting.

The Boards approved a first reading of the policy on High School Graduation Requirements, and will have a second reading at April's meeting.

The Aurelia Board approved the resignation of Instrumental Music Instructor Ryan Meyer with regret, and thanked him for his years of service to the District. Meyer has accepted a position at another school.

Superintendent Evans said that he is trying to get some "loose end" projects completed before the expected major construction at the Aurelia school this summer. These minor projects include replacement of the doors in the concession stand at the football field for increased security, increasing the lighting around that facility, and replacement of four interior doors in the main building to address a request by the Fire Marshal

The Aurelia Board will conduct a public hearing on the proposed 2012/13 school budget at 6 p.m. on Monday April 9th in the ICN Room at the Alta-Aurelia Middle School. The Alta Board's public hearing will be held on April 2nd.

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