DEWITT — The Central Community School Board approved the 2014-2015 school year calendar at its Tuesday meeting.
A public hearing preceded approval but no comments were submitted.
The calendar has a starting date of Aug. 14 and an ending date of May 22. There are 14 early dismissals and six full days set aside for professional development. Weather-related make-up days will be held at the end of the school year.
The state has yet to make a decision on whether school districts can count hours or days to fulfill attendance requirements, Superintendent Dan Peterson said. Tentatively he said he prefers to stay with the traditional method of counting days. He also noted no snow days are built into the calendar and, therefore, plans for no-school days can be made accordingly.
Peterson said he had sent out a questionnaire to faculty and staff concerning making up the six days already lost this year due to snow and extreme cold. He said 140 responses were returned and, with six days listed as possible make-up days, only two days, March 21 (a spring break day) and April 18 (Good Friday), did not receive a majority opinion that they could be used for make-up days.
The board discussed these options but ultimately stayed with the current calendar. Peterson recommended not using any of the days because “it creates a mess” and June 3 is not a bad time to end the school year. The conflict is that a set calendar allows planning ahead for days off activities, such as trips and vacations, that would need to be canceled it the calendar is changed, he added.
Board member Jim Irwin suggested building make-up days in future calendars but as this calendar was planned, he saw no way to change now. Board member Steve Fuglsang agreed and cited many potential conflicts.
The board approved a three-year contract for audit services with Bohnsack & Frommelt LLP of Taylor Ridge, Ill., at a yearly cost of $9,200. The board’s current audit firm, Nolte, Cornman & Johnson, P.C., also bid on the contract and at $2,500 less per year for services.
However, Peterson recommended Bohnsack & Frommelt after a comparison of how the two firms conduct their audit procedures. He said Nolte, Cornman & Johnson has not yet provided a timely presentation of the audit from last year, often uses junior accountants for the work and contracts for fewer hours in the process.
Business Director Tina Bartels added that there is a difference in “expertise” and the district would receive more hours of input from Bohnsack & Frommelt.
Irwin said he struggled with the higher cost when the district is constantly considering cutting expenditures.
Fuglsang said he preferred a one-year contract due to the higher cost but thought it worthwhile “to have another set of eyes” on the process.
A one-year contract, if it even could be negotiated, would be difficult, board member Angela Rheingans interjected.
Eight other accounting firms were sent requests for proposals and did not respond.
The board approved moving forward on engineering specs and estimated costs for the list of capital improvement projects presented at the January board meetong. The first year’s work included replacing the remaining operations facility parking lot and repairing the roof on the certified nursing assistant program building, formerly the alternative school and bus barn site.
In the next year, projects include replacement of Ekstrand playground surface and lights replacement, netting and seating at baseball/softball fields, irrigation of practice fields, level practice softball field, more bleachers for both home and visitors at the football field, and high school boiler room renovation.
The next year would see Ekstrand boiler replacement, high school light replacement and roofing over high school hallways by the summer of 2016.
Operations director Keith Walker said it would be more expedient to replace both boilers at the same time. Board member Jennifer Naeve said she supported moving both projects up on the timeline because it would be cost saving for the district.
Projects will be approved as cost estimates are presented. Some projects are dependent on grant applications.
Activities director Kurt Kreiter presented Kurt McCaulley a plaque for the Football Field of the Year award from the Iowa Sports Turf Managers Association.
High school business teacher Bill Petsche reported on the employment strategies course and the internship program. The strategies course teaches 58 junior and senior students, gains college credit through Clinton Community College and includes job shadowing, mock interviews and a focus on soft skills, he said.
The internship program is for seniors only, is a blend of in-class and on-the-job-site learning, and includes 128 “work” hours, Petsche said.
High school sophomore Claire Campbell and South African foreign exchange student Nathan Swartz reported on their experiences at the World Food Prize Global Youth Institute in Des Moines last October. They were selected to attend the event, which was the beginning of year-long activities extending into the fall of 2014.