A-A school board discusses senior year schedule, budgets

Friday, April 17, 2020

Prom and graduation plans in the Alta-Aurelia school district are on hold until Gov. Kim Reynolds announces whether to re-open Iowa schools on May 1st or extend school closures due to COVID-19. The matter was discussed at the April 13th school board meeting.

Principal Tom Ryherd of Alta-Aurelia High School said, “As for graduation, it is still on for May 17. Again, if the governor closes schools down for the remainder of the year, we will have to adjust. It is still our goal to provide a commencement for our seniors. Whether that be on May 17 or later, that is our goal. Obviously, this is all dependent on how long the COVID-19 restrictions are in place. As of now, graduation is May 17 and we hope that is the date we can count on.”

Other school matters are also at hand. “We will continue our voluntary learning opportunities for our students through April 30 and beyond if necessary. My staff has been doing a phenomenal job providing opportunities to kids. Our focus has not been solely on learning, but keeping kids connected to school as well,” Ryherd said.

In more board meeting news, Superintendent William Walters said that emergency COVID-19 school board policy was approved allowing pay to school support staff through the closure. It also approves the voluntary distance learning program during closure which is overseen by Walters and the school principals. “Our distance learning is going well. It started the first week of the closure,” Walters said.

Board members also approved the following items at the meeting: The 2020-2021 school budget to include an $83,000 purchase to upgrade Chromebooks for K-12 students for the 2020-2021 school year; garage door replacement and repair at the Alta bus garage; Lawncare at Alta (Mike’s Lawncare) and Aurelia locations (Lawn Care Solutions); milk and bread bids were approved for milk (Dean’s Dairy) and bread (Bimbo Bakeries).

Principal Ryherd announced he will resign at the end of the academic school year. “I have had the honor and privilege of working for both districts over the last 14 years,” he said. School Board President Brad Rohwer said that at the meeting, “All board members expressed appreciation for his excellent service.”

In other school news, Stacy Mueller, Principal of Alta Elementary School, said Gov. Reynolds’ decision about when schools will re-open will let educators state-wide know what is their next step. “Once we know that information, then we will proceed how we know best! Since the close has happened ALL employees, in the A-A district, have gone above and beyond to do what is best for kids! We have sent and delivered packets of work to almost every child at Alta Elementary several times!,” she said.

Mueller said they have discovered several new websites and have set the students up with new accounts. The staff is trying to use Zoom with their students as much as possible, each teacher has their own Facebook and are doing wonderful activities on their personal pages. The cooks have been fabulous, she said, but unfortunately had to shut down the meal service for the safety of staff, students and parents.

“We love our kids and are just trying to do the best we can during this difficult time! We will continue to support families through the backpack program while the meal service is shut down,” Mueller said.