Santa cams, lopsided sports among school board December discussions

Friday, December 13, 2019

The Alta-Aurelia elementary school has pulled a bit of a swerve on its youngest students. The principal installed a dozen “Santa Cams” - inexpensive pretend gadgets with a blinking light that she purchased herself. The project was just for fun, but students believe the cameras are reporting back to the North Pole, and have been on their best behavior. While there were some doubters, students who have visited the principal’s office have seen the school’s actual security cam monitor, and reported wide-eyed back to schoolmates that indeed, the system is real.

In other school board business this month:

• Superintendent William Walters expressed concern over the system of classification for sports, that can push a school like Alta into and out of a higher class based on borderline changes in school population. In football especially, such changes can force a smaller school into competition against much bigger ones, he said, resulting in lopsided blowout games, and some students possibly fearing to go out for sports. He cited Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s destruction of smaller Fort Dodge, 63-6 in a class 4A playoff game. The board agreed that class changes should not be based simply on numbers, but with information “inside the numbers” such as the level of poverty in a district. AA is often near the top of its class in football and basketball, but the issue “should be important to everyone around here,” Walters said of other schools.

• The board agreed to raise rent in the former high school building by $25 per room, to $125 per month.

• The district moved funds to a different bank recently. The process went smoothly, and payroll two days later went off without a hitch, the board was told.

• The board and superintendent thanked Gigi Nelson for her service on the school board, as she ends her term at the end of the year. Nelson spoke of her tenure, which included the era of whole grade sharing and eventual consolidation of the Alta and Aurelia districts, as well as expanded curriculum and building improvements in the district. Had things not progressed as they did, Aurelia could well have gone into the Cherokee district instead, she said, praising the two communities for their positive attitudes throughout the process of coming together.