Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Exeter-Milligan School Board Meets Discusses K-6 Location

The Exeter-Milligan School Board met Wednesday, April 16th in the Milligan site band room.
Close to 50 patrons attended the meeting as one of the agenda topics included combining all of the elementary which are currently housed at both the Exeter and Milligan campuses.

After the meeting was opened the board addressed the topic that was of immediate interest.  Building and Grounds committee member Tim Pribyl introduced the topic through his report on the building project. “Building and grounds reviewed architects and have decided to work with the Clark Enerson Company, the architects who built the Friend school addition.”

Pribyl wanted to make it clear, “We were asked by the architects why we didn’t have the elementary in one building.  There was no hidden agenda here, we asked because the architect asked.”

Brent Moore, Vice President of the board, chimed in indicating that “The JPA (Joint Public Agency) was a bad process.  We would expect to have full open meetings.  We can do projects without a bond issue if we need to but we feel that it is important to get all of the input from all of our patrons.”

Moore continued noting the many issues that will need to be addressed, “We know that there are concerns including busing and transportation costs and classroom time.  We think it needs to be done quickly. . .we are concerned that misinformation is getting out to the public.  We ask that we have the time, we will present all of the facts and all the options and give the patrons the opportunity to respond.”
The building committee requested that Elementary Principal Laura Kroll prepare a presentation on combining the elementary grades.  Kroll gave a power point presentation outlining the advantages for both the students and the faculty together in one facility.

Kroll emphasized that combining all of the elementary would enhance the students’ educational experience as well as improve the teacher’s relationships by aiding in mentoring opportunities and providing better assistance with technology issues.
After Kroll’s presentation there was time for public comment and questions.  Casey Pohl, currently the third grade teacher noted that, “When the students come to Milligan in third grade there are some challenges in the transition. I would like to make that transition easier for them.”

Moore noted that delayed maintenance at both facilities need to be addressed, “For the past 20 years we should have spent 8 million dollars improving our schools.  We still have functioning facilities but we haven’t kept them up like we should have.”

One parent in attendance, Robbie Petersen, asked, “Have you looked at the option of having just one site?”
Superintendent Paul Sheffield responded, “We would have to make some adjustments to fit everyone in one site.  Would we have enough room for preschool?  Maybe not.”

When the board was asked directly if the elementary was moving to Milligan, School Board President Sharon Kuska responded, “That decision has not been made. We are looking at options with everything from disbanding and letting the kids go where they want to go to keeping what we have with the two sites.”
The board did note that a lot of the expected costs in remodeling the current facilities include updating the heating and ventilation systems which should have been done 20 years ago.  The board did not have any samples of remodeling plans or estimated costs.

Kroll noted, ”We don’t have the facilities that some schools have but we have the technology that most schools don’t.”

Another concern raised by the audience was the decreasing enrollment.  It was noted by an audience member that there was only one baby born this year in the old Exeter school district.

After there were no more comments the board moved on to old business which included the agenda item to combine the kindergarten through sixth grade at one facility.  

Board Secretary Annette Gloystein referred back to the Curriculum report given by Kroll and commented, “I am concerned about why this curriculum report came through the building and grounds committee and not the curriculum committee.” Where does curriculum come in? I’m lost.The board tabled a decision on this subject unanimously.

The next agenda item was in regards to the school discontinuing participation in the free lunch program.  Instead, the district would fund the program in house and not have to abide by the portion and serving rules that the government has set forth.  There would be very little extra expenditure on the part of the district.

Sheffield has been researching this option, “The State thinks that it could affect our Title I funds but they aren’t sure. No one else in the State has done this before. The school lawyer says it shouldn’t affect the funds. We could try it for a year and see if we lose some of our funding and then go back to it.”

Kuska replied, “I’m hesitant to put any federal funds in jeopardy until we can get answers to these questions.”

The board took no action on the school lunch funding.

Sheffield gave an update on the ESU 6 TYKE classroom.  “A playground for 3 – 5 year olds is scheduled to deliver and install the first part of June in Exeter on the east side of the elementary building.  Kristi Most would be the teacher and we can have 22 kids.  The goal is a 50 50 mix of verified and peer students.  There will be no cost to patrons but there is an application process.”

The board declined requests from Meridian and Friend to co-op junior high football as Exeter-Milligan has enough interested students to maintain a team.

The board approved construction bids on the renovation of the field events at the Exeter site track. Work on new pole vault runways, a long jump runway, and a large high jump/multi-purpose practice area will begin around Memorial Day.

The plan shows shows the field event renovation at the Exeter-Milligan track in Exeter.  The plan was designed by Midwest Tennis and Track of Denison, IA.

The board approved contracts for a new art teacher, new K-12 Spanish teacher and a new 5th grade teacher.  Sheffield noted that if the board did not combine the K-6 in one facility before the fall the district would need to hire one additional teacher to fill in for both of the positions left empty by the retirement of Audrey Betka-Magner and Bob Mahoney in Milligan.

The board finished the evening by entering in executive session to discuss principal contracts. The school board will meet again on May 14th at 8 p.m. in Exeter

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