A-A school board prepares for fall, approves preschool tuition

Friday, June 12, 2020

Superintendent William Walters discussed reopening of schools in the fall at the June 8th Alta-Aurelia School Board meeting via livestream. He spoke about the Iowa Department of Education’s “Return to Learn” initiative which provides guidance and information in response to COVID-19.

“We do have a plan in place. We are prepared to do what we need to do,” Walters said. A plan exists if the district begins the school year face-to-face, another if teaching remains online and another is a hybrid piece which is more difficult, Walters said. Hybrid involves having half the students attend school every other day.

If the plan is face-to-face, nurses will likely provide masks for staff and students. Another question is how to bus students, including with baseball, softball and other extracurricular activities. Decisions have not yet been made.

Walters works with a “Return to Learn” team from various areas of the district, and they are dealing with a variety of issues for the first time.

If there are teachers who are nervous about returning to teach, such as those with a fragile child, the district has provisions for them. Another impending decision rests with some parents not wanting to send their kids back to school, Walters said. Truancy laws exist, so he asked board members how that should be handled.

In other school board news:

Preschool program

After discussion, the board voted to approve a tuition-based program for 3-year-olds. There are 19 3-year-olds who did not qualify for Head Start, so they would need to enroll tuition-based, Walters said. He had discussions with others familiar with this type of program from various districts and calculated figures on costs. There are scholarship options.

He said 23 or 24 students are signed up for the program. “We’re trying to keep our kids in district. This is one of the ways to do that,” Walters said. “We want to make it an exemplary program.”

Generous Donation

Board members voted to accept a nearly $124,000 donation to the school district from the Brune family. The family member who made the donation formerly lived in Aurelia.

Custodian Realignment

The board approved a realignment of custodians in the Alta and Aurelia school buildings and the Roxy Theater. Walters said custodians work as two different entities and he would prefer more cohesion. He plans to change some start times and schedule night custodians. The goal is to streamline resources which will improve efficiency and cost-saving, he said.

Dance Team

A board member asked how the school district can financially assist the dance team due to its big fundraiser having been cancelled in the spring. Financial numbers will be reviewed at the end of June, then a determination can be made. The fundraising money is used for state competition the following year, a board member said.