The Cherokee Community School District Board of Education received good news at Monday's regular monthly meeting when Superintendent Dr. John Chalstrom announced the certified enrollment numbers for the 2012-2013 school year show an increase of 27 K-12 students over last year.
The certified enrollment totals 959.2 students today, eclipsing last year's 932.2 students, for a net gain of 27 students.
What this exactly means financially to the District is unknown at this time until the Iowa Legislature decides on the next Allowable Growth rate which, combined with enrollment figures and the corresponding State funding, determine the next year's school budget.
"This is very good news," said Chalstrom, who attributed the impressive enrollment gain to larger incoming elementary classes the past few years.
Chalstrom and Washington High School Principal Neil Phipps also updated the Board on the proposed plan to renovate the deteriorating George Hicks Field turf, victimized by this year's drastic drought condiditons, a faulty watering system, and the natural evolution of an unsightly, unhealthy blend of grasses creeping into the field turf.
The District has been undecided whether to tackle the nettlesome problem yet this fall after the last home football game, or wait until spring - probably early April - to kill out and remove the existing grass turf, level the football field, re-seed it, and hope for the best that it rejuvenates in time for the 2013 football season.
The project would interfere with track and field events in the spring, but that decision was reached after the Board learned that the watering system under the field also is in disrepair, that it experiences pipe breaks often, and that am inferior quality of plastic piping was used when the system was initially installed about 22 years ago.
A preliminary proposal by an athletic field construction company was previously submitted to the District outlining the renovation process.
The process calls for stripping the turf grass to remove the top layer of unwanted grass and contaminants, along with removing surface irregularities in the process. Grading the playing surface will be done by fully automated, hydraulically actuated laser-guided equipment, with no soil removed or hauled away, all to be followed by seeding.
The proposal carried an estimated cost of $24,700 and the project would take about five working days to complete.
The District's reponsibility would include relocating the long jump pits and runways, killing the existing turf grass, and providing plywood for equipment to cross the track.
The District's additional costs and the cost of a new watering system would be over and above the $24,700 estimate. Monday night, Chalstrom reported that a preliminary estimate on replacing the watering system is $16,000, and relocating and developing a new long jump runway and pits are estimated at $15,000, for a total approaching $60,000.
The new watering system pipe would be a wider diameter with thicker walls for increased durability. The existing piping was installed 22 years ago when the District renovated George Hicks Field with the new all-weather track, bleachers, concessions, and toilets.
Monday, Chalstrom recommended further exploration of the project, including how the funding would fit the District's PPEL (Physical Plant & Equipment Levy) Budget, securing more exact cost estimates, and establishing a proper time line for the work to begin and finish. He and Phipps will report back to the Board at its November Team Management meeting where the Board could possibly take action on the matter.
Under consideration is installing the new watering system in early November and then grading and seeding the field in early spring in time for it to refurbish by the 2013 football season beginning latter August.
In other action, Chalstrom reported that the Parent Teachers Conferences are scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 25, and Tuesday, Oct. 30.
Scheduled classroom Conferences begin at 4 p.m. those days at Roosevelt Elementary School, and 4:30 p.m. at Cherokee Middle School. Washington High School Conferences are from 5-8 p.m. in the gymnasium, with faculty stationed at tables scattered throughout the gym. Private WHS Conferences can be arranged if parents so choose.
Under further action items, the Board Monday night approved a contract for Tom Brader as a custodian at CMS, approved a contract for Korey Stephens as CMS boys and girls basketball coach, and approved a contract for Dianne Klinker as 7th grade girls track and field coach.
Two request for early graduation also were granted, providing the students meet all requirements and criteria established by the District and Iowa Department of Education.