Alta School Board discusses a number of issues

Thursday, January 15, 2004

The Alta School Board met Monday with an array of items to discuss.

Middle school/elementary administrator Maxine Lampe approached the board with several items.

In talking with the seven teacher associates at the middle school, she requested some benefits be made available to them. The associates now have two sick days - they would like to have two additional sick days put into their contracts. They also would like one additional personal day off, bringing that number to two. The associates also asked for one day off that could be used, if need be, for a funeral in the immediate family.

"On behalf of the associates, I would like to say they are wonderful and do a tremendous amount of work for us. If we want to keep good associates we need to do a few things for them," Lampe said.

No action was taken. Costs of these additions will be gathered and presented to Superintendent Maharry.

She also discussed the exploratories that are offered to the middle school students throughout the year. Currently there are four classes offered, one for each quarter. Lampe said that she would like to see a Spanish class for the eighth graders - if a teacher can be freed up to do so. The board said they liked the exploratory classes. It was suggested that the students be asked what classes they would like to see in the exploratory series.

Recommendations will be brought to the board in February or March.

* Principal Larry Martin told the board that it will soon be time for the driver's education program again. Last year's cost to the students was $120. That price will be reviewed and a definite cost will be presented in a future meeting.

He also commented that he had visited with Athletic Director Larry McNutt who had recently attended a meeting with other athletic directors. It was suggested there that some schools would like to see athletic events played if a snow day clears and provides a safe environment. Now, if school is dismissed in the early morning, all athletic events are cancelled. Often, the day clears by afternoon. The athletic directors said it is difficult to squeeze in a date for those games to be made up. Consideration will be given to this request. Safety will continue to be the key issue. "We don't want to be putting the students or participants in any danger," it was said.

* Superintendent Maharry discussed the uses for the recent $25,000 Fire Safety Grant that the school received. It was decided to complete a number of projects that the State Fire Marshall cited the school for. Being completed will be the fire alarm system in the gym, lunch room, east/west and north/south hallways; panic hardware for the doors; door closers on high school gym doors, teachers' lounge, home ec room and art room; and repair/replace defective exit signs. The cost for all those items will be $29,914.60; which means the extra $4,914.60 will come out of the school fund. It is important to get these items taken care of, Maharry said, adding all of the projects are equally important. It is possible that another grant could be received next year which would help pay the costs of such things as installing smoke and heat detectors in a variety of areas.

He told the board that a resignation had been received from high school assistant baseball coach Alan Rahe. The board accepted the resignation. There are now vacancies for the assistant baseball coach, freshman baseball coach, head softball coach and assistant softball coach. These jobs have all been posted and ads have been placed for them.

* Maharry congratulated Robert Maharry, 7th grade, and Austin Delp, 4th grade, on their participation in the geography bee.

* The first day of school for next fall was discussed. Most schools in the area will be beginning Aug. 23, 24 or 25.

* High school football coach Kevin Hammer approached the board and asked the board to make improvements to the football field. He stressed that the school could save some money by completing this project with dirt that may be available if the board approves the purchase of some land. He suggested that the because the current field is "wavy" in areas, that the field be stripped of its sod and a new "crown" be created. He also suggested that an irrigation system be placed on the field and finally the area be totally reseeded.

The goal posts will also be taken down and given a fresh coat of paint.

The estimated cost of the project is $28,000 and man hours have already been volunteered.

The board agreed that the project should be done. Hammer will continue to make contacts and try to bring the costs down. He will meet with the board again. He told the board that the project should get underway by early May if it is to be ready for the next football season.

* It was suggested that instead of shortening the first two days of school, which has occurred for the past several years, that the first day be shortened up but that the full swing of classes get underway on the second day. More discussion will be held before a decision is made.

* A wish list for the sales tax funds, which begin coming in to the school district this fall, include purchasing additional land, reroofing the Roxy Theater, updating wiring for technology in schools, updating technology at the high school, updating and repairing bleachers at the football field, chipping in for the crow's nest at the football field, making the elementary playground equipment more handicap accessible, possibly contributing to the cost of a sound system for the gym and funding the crowning of the football field and installing a sprinkler system.

"I want everyone to mull over the ideas and decide which are the priorities," Maharry told the board. "We're very thankful we'll have this sales tax. It will allow us to do some things we may not otherwise be able to do."

* Two members of the Facilities Use Committee attended the board meeting and discussed public use of the buildings. A number of rules and regulations are being drawn up for those people wishing to rent a portion or portions of the facilities. The members were quite adamant about not letting the public using the kitchens or classrooms in the elementary or middle school. No food will be allowed to be served in either of the gyms.

There is still a question of what the rental fees will be.

It was discussed what hours walkers may be allowed to use the facilities. The elementary/middle school will be open from 6:30-7:30 a.m. and again from 4:15-5:15 p.m.

Times will be put on community television, on the school web site and posted on the door of the school. There will be no walking on game days.

Principal Lampe said if anyone would like to know the mile mark, to call her at the middle school (200-1401.)

* Two representatives from Septagon Construction were present to discuss a few concerns that the board and administrators have with the new middle school building. There are several "dead" spots on the gym floor which the coaches have complained about. The administrators are requesting that these areas be looked at and remedied before Feb. 17. It is hoped that the last two high school basketball games (Feb. 17 with Battle Creek-Ida Grove and Feb. 19 with Aurelia) can be played in the new gym.

Other areas of concern are that the new music room has not been soundproofed, the locker rooms need some work and the backboards of the basketball hoops need adjustments.

The board members commented that they aren't sure if they are responsible for the cost of these items. Septagon Construction representatives will look into the situation.

* A lengthy discussion was held on the requested National Honor Society trip to the Twin Cities. A recommendation was made at the December meeting to allow an overnight trip for the NHS members as a "reward for being top-notch students."

Some board members showed concern over first the expected $2,200 cost of the trip for the approximately 25 students and secondly for the purpose of the trip. Being selected to be a member of the NHS is a reward in itself, it was commented by a board member.

Curbow said that possibly the trip could be shortened into a one-day trip and that possibly students could subsidize a portion of the money.

The board concluded this discussion by saying that they need to be "consistent" if they decide to approve the trip and they also need to justify the financial side of it.

Further discussion will be brought up.

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