The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

September 19, 2013

Central mulls over closing Low Moor bus stop

By Jan Huffman Herald Correspondent
The Clinton Herald

---- — DEWITT — The DeWitt Central School Board discussed closing off the bus stop in Low Moor to outside districts at a meeting Saturday.

The Camanche district has used the stop for as many as 20 years. According to Camanche Superintendent Tom Parker, the number of students open enrolling to Camanche includes 10 families with 19 students who are transported. DeWitt Superintendent Dan Peterson said this needs to stop but difficulties arise after so many years. If it is changed, families should be notified.

He said the district needs to address closing its borders as surrounding districts have.

Board member Jim Irwin said he was inclined to let the busing continue until the end of this school year and noted about $114,000 in funding lost for those open enrolled students. He also said originally there was no blacktop to Camanche and students generally are open enrolled for parents’ convenience.

Steve Fuglsang said the district should do “what is legal” as well as recognize choice and safety of students. Other board members agreed the busing arrangement should be curtailed.

Peterson also noted that Camanche had never filled out the required form (with renewal every year) for the busing. He said involved parents would be sent a notification letter that the district is considering the situation. To better receive input from district residents, the October board meeting will be held at the Low Moor Community Center.

After reviewing election results, Central Community School Board business director Tina Bartels swore in returning board member Steve Fuglsang with 159 votes and new board member Angela Rheingans with 146 votes.

The recent election was uncontested.

In the retiring board meeting, Bartels also presented the year-end financial report. She said yearly revenue exceeded expenditures by $360,000 and the district’s solvency ratio was up to 6.47 with a goal of 7. The ratio indicates the district’s ability to pay its bills. Bartels added the unspent balance has dropped some because of lost enrollment.

The new board re-elected Christy Kunz as president, elected Fuglsang as vice-president and adopted Roberts Rules of order as operating procedures. Regular board meetings are scheduled at 6 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month.

In addition the board appointed Brett Nitzschke of Lynch Dallas law firm of Cedar Rapids as legal counsel, Fuglsang as legislative liaison and Iowa Association of School Boards delegate, and the members of the School Improvement Advisory committee.

The board approved several contracts. Buckets Construction Services, LLC, of Grand Mound submitted the low bid of $65,787 for tearing out the asphalt on the east side of the operation building on 11th Streeat and replacing it with a 50-foot wide strip of concrete six inches thick. Holst Construction of DeWitt also bid on the project.

A contract for metal roof and siding on the maintenance building with Connor Construction, LLC, of DeWitt was approved at a $27,000 estimated job cost. Holst Construction also bid on this project.

Two new school buses with 65-passenger capacity will be purchased from Hoglund Bus Co., Inc., of Marshalltown. Cost is $78,649 per bus. School Bus Sales Co. and Thomas Bus Sales, Inc., of Des Moines also submitted bids.

Previously in a facilities report, Superintendent Dan Peterson had told the board sale of portions of the operations building property would again be discussed at the October meeting. He noted that once sold, the district could not get the property back.

The board reviewed the annual yearly progress report from the Iowa Department of Education. Central High School and Ekstrand Elementary have met annual measurable objectives. Central Intermediate School has been designated as a school in need of assistance for the first year, and Central Middle School has received the SINA designation for the third year. Principal Jim Wichman said a number of methods to resolve the designation have been implemented. The goal this year is 100 percent proficiency at all schools.

Also reviewed was the district and state ACT results. Principal George Pickup said he would present further information on these scores. In his administrative report, Pickup said a memorandum of agreement for dual courses with community colleges was in force. There are 300 students enrolled in the course.

The board approved a retirement incentive plan for teachers which is the same as last year’s requiring 55 years of age and five years of experience in the district. This is a cost-effective measure, Peterson said, that should be up for consideration every year.

Irwin said he did not want teachers to think it would be offered every year because it is not a cost-saving effort when the teacher is older 65. In that event, funding does not come from the management fund but from the general fund.

The board approved employment of Maria Cibula as .58 intermediate school music teacher at $19,797, Alyssa Maher as assistant varsity girls track coach at $2,553, and Japatra Person as Ekstrand teacher associate at $11.28 an hour. The resignation of associate Ann Peterson was accepted.

The contract of middle school band teacher Brittany Manning was increased to .75 time to meet demands of increased participation, and the contracts of intermediate teacher associates Tiffany Barr, Dawn Wright, Cheryl Brackey and Sharri Block were amended to meet increased time demands.

The resignation of Don Salyars as assistant varsity wrestling coach was accepted with regret and thanks for his dedication and time.

Music teacher Josh Greubel gave a report on the sixth grade summer band program and received approval for a New York band trip in the spring of 2015.