DEWITT — Both the Central Community Schools retiring board meeting and organizational meeting of the new board last week concentrated on facilities updates.

District architect Steve Zbylicki set a timeline for construction of the career and technical addition, gym/auditorium construction and middle school addition at the retiring board meeting. Improvements were recently made possible by passage of a $13 million bond issue.

Zbylicki said the schematic design phase is scheduled to be presented to the board in October, with the design development approval the next step. Four months were allocated for construction document development and can possibly be approved in March 2010. Bid letting will be April 2010 with construction starting in May. All construction should be completed by 2012.

Despite heavy summer rains, work on the new athletic complex facilities has made progress.

Buildings and Grounds Director Keith Walker reported that Rittmer Construction of DeWitt “has been moving right along since it’s been dry.” The baseball and soccer fields will have topsoil completed with the waterlines staked out and final grading the next step.

Further discussion on seeding was continued by the reorganized board.

The retiring board approved personnel changes beginning with amendments to the teaching contracts, due to salary schedule moves, of Stefanie Ahrens to $30,296; Linda Craddick, $49,039; Kevin Moore, $31,580; and Leigh McEwen, $40,309. In support personnel, increased hours were approved for teacher associates Paula Weinschenk and Jana Murray. The board hired Carla Baxter as a general food service worker at $11.10 per hour, Michelle Hagens as a teacher associate at $10.22 per hour, and Jimmie Clark as an associate for the new Pre-K bus route at $10.22 per hour.

The retiring board was informed that all handrails for the football stands should be in and installed this week and the one cent sales tax money is expected to decrease slightly. Also the board approved appointments to the School Improvement Advisory Committee.

The new board convened by swearing in Bill Turnis and Kurt Rickard for second and third terms respectively. Rickard was re-elected as board president and board member Dennis Campbell as vice president. Roberts Rules of Order were approved.

The district’s annual progress report, presented by Superintendent Dan Peterson, reflected only one goal not achieved; that was for eighth-grade math. Peterson said the district’s new goals state that students will improve in proficiency but do not set a percentage increase.

The board discussed at length seeding or sodding the new competition baseball, softball and soccer fields, including seeking advice from other districts and facilities that have done this kind of work. Cost of sodding the baseball field is estimated at $16,848, the soccer field $14,227, and the softball field $6,144.

Board member Jim Irwin said he would definitely hold back on the softball and soccer fields and questioned sodding the baseball field.

“As one board member I’m not comfortable with moving forward. I’m not ready to make a commitment to that,” Irwin said, and asked for alternatives to sodding.

To provide more time for seeding, the board considered playing all home games away next year, possibly on other schools’ fields or on DeWitt’s recreation fields. Peterson said he considered DeWitt’s fields the best possible option.

Walker said the sod the district would acquire at this point would not be quality sod. “It’s a fast fix for right now, but it isn’t good long term,” he said.

Rickard said the board needed to know each step of the process and cost; it needed to have time to plan the whole project.

The board decided to pursue seeding the field and approved project change orders for rock excavation of $32,055 and a credit of $1,580 for underlayment or “turf mat.” Business Director Jan Culbertson said the district has about $107,000 left to use for the development project.

In other business the board authorized school district treasurer Patti Waack to sign wire transfers at DeWitt Bank and Trust and approved the deposits of box tops for education donations into the activity fund, three early graduation requests, the Title One application for $99,819 ($119,000 last year), the Individual Disabilities Education Act Part Two application for $83,285, and the Safe and Drug Free Schools and Community Act application for $3,600.

Also approved was renewal of a cooperative sports agreement with Calamus-Wheatland for high school football and boys and girls soccer and middle school wrestling.

Board member Christy Kunz was appointed 2009 Iowa Association of School Board delegate assembly member.

Central High School Principal George Pickup reported that enrollment was steady at 542. Ekstrand Elementary Principal Terri Selzer said enrollment was 642 and the board needed to think about the possibility of hiring two teacher associates.

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