ALTA - At their monthly joint School Board meeting here on Monday, the members of the Aurelia and Alta Boards took part in a brief activity facilitated by Superintendent Lynn Evans.
The Boards were presented with five real-life scenarios and asked to answer the questions "Whose Job Is it?" and "What are the School Board's Responsibilities?" in response to the scenarios presented. The Boards discussed three of the scenarios at the meeting and were encouraged to take the other two scenarios home with them and answer those same questions.
Both Boards approved the final year-end payment of bills, pending the final receipt of all outstanding bills.
In new business, the Aurelia Board formally approved an $88,880 purchase of new kitchen equipment from Refrigeration Engineering out of Sioux City, and a $49,305 purchase of gym bleachers from Iowa Direct Equipment. All costs include installation and removal of old equipment.
Both of these purchases were made outside of the general contractor bid for the current remodeling project, so that the equipment could be ordered and delivered to meet timelines.
The Alta Board approved disposing of a 1980's bus which has not been used for a year due to an hydraulic brake problem which Transportation Director John Hill said would be "more expensive to fix than the bus is worth." Any useable parts will be removed before the bus is disposed of.
A Registration fee of $45 per student was approved by both Boards, with a reduced rate of $18 per student for those students who meet income-based eligibility requirements. All other fees and rentals for both districts will remain the same next year.
Superintendent Evans and Elementary Principal Stacie Cole discussed the on-going search for a Sign Language Interpreter. The District has been contracting the services of an interpreter from Lake Park for the last four months and the student involved really benefitted from her services, as did staff. This interpreter's charge of $45/hour plus travel expenses is seen by the administrators and Boards as cost prohibitive for the future, however, as the student involved is just nine years old and will require sign language interpretation services for several years to come. With this in mind, the position has been advertised and interviews have been set up. The Alta Board, which would have the contract, as the student attends the elementary school in Alta, approved setting a base salary rate for a full-time Sign Language Interpreter, so that this information would be available to applicants.
Middle School Principal Ann Sandine presented a request to the Aurelia Board for the purchase of several modules for the Synergistic Industrial Technology Lab, and after prolonged discussion, the Board approved the purchase of the Synergy Management Package, one Dell Server System, the Engineering Bridges Module, CNC Manufacturing Module, Engines Module, and Robots Module, for a cost of $25,423.
Sandine also reported that the District is in "desperate need" of textbooks for 6h Grade Science, as the ones the District has are outdated and the teacher has had to be creative the last couple of years and using a lot of online material. Sandine presented information about some available Science Course textbooks and online materials, and after discussion, the Aurelia Board approved the purchase of the online version, which is very interactive. The cost will be approximately $5000 for several online versions and a few textbooks, which will be made available to students who for homework assignments if they do not have access to a computer at home.
Evans reported that the Eastern Star group had requested a possible reduction in the fee for rental of the Roxy Theatre in Alta, which is owned by the Alta School District, for their upcoming benefit "Touch of Broadway" show this weekend. Normal rental fee is $200, but the Alta Board approved waiving the rental fee for this one-time event as "payment in kind" for a donation the organization had previously made for books for the Alta Elementary school.
Curriculum Director Cole reported that several teachers are taking courses on teaching the new Core Curriculum this summer. Sandine reported that that this coming school year all classes - not just the core classes - will need to be passed for students to maintain eligibility for activities.
High School Principal Tom Ryherd said there will be minor changes in the School Handbook this year. He said the day for extra student work will be changed to Wednesday late afternoons from Saturday; an Alternative School Handbook has also been developed, based on the regular handbook; Ryherd also said that he has spoken to a couple of companies about providing security cameras for the school hallways.
First readings were done on several School Board policies - the Equal Opportunities in Education Policy, and the Post-Issuance Compliance Policy (all Aurelia Board policies) and the Internet Safety Policy (Alta Board policy). In personnel matters, Jennifer Wittmaack, Consumer Science and Health teacher at the Aurelia Middle School, has resigned to take a position elsewhere; the Aurelia Board approved offering a 0.5 FTE contract to Tiffany Miller for Title I/Reading; they also approved a contract for Luke Miller as Middle School football coach; and for Brian Henley as Custodian. Tiffany Miller was also approved by the Alta Board for a 0.5 FTE contract for English Language Learner instructor, and the Alta Board also approved a contract for Kacee Jensen for an Early Childhood Special Education teacher position.
The meeting concluded with Evans giving an update on the Aurelia Elementary/Middle School renovations. Evans said the gym bleachers have been removed and the wall between the gym and the former shop area, which will be the new kitchen and commons area, has also been removed. Evans said the project is "a little ahead of schedule," and he also said that visitors are welcome to visit the site, but they should call the school ahead of time.
The cleaning projects at the Alta school are also ahead of schedule, and Evans said that the District has responded to an ADA compliance concern about accessibility at the Roxy Theatre. They are currently using a "stair-climber," and Evans said it seems to provide good access, but it remains to be seen if the ADA people will find this acceptable.