BLAIRSBURG - There was a full agenda for the Northeast Hamilton School Board when it met on Monday night as it approved the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, approved a partial day sharing contract with Webster City schools, accepted a board member's resignation and terminated eight teacher contracts.
Preceding the regular meeting, the board held a public budget hearing and approved the 2013 budget of $5,175,805, with a property tax rate of 11.49 percent.
At the regular April board meeting, the board unanimously approved the partial day sharing agreement with Webster City CSD for the 2012-2013 school year in a vote of 4-0.
NEH junior and seniors will take four instructional courses at Webster City High School each day while the ninth- and 10th-grade students will take three classes daily beginning in August.
In March, the NEH board voted to rescind a partial day sharing contract with South Hamilton CSD citing contract disagreements and then voted to renew discussions with Webster City.
On Monday night, District One Board Director Lori Ratzke submitted her letter of resignation from the Board, citing recent action taken by the NEH Board. Ratzke was not present at the meeting.
The Board has 30 days in which to find a school board member replacement, said NEH Superintendent Andrew Woiwood. He told the board that several persons have expressed interest in the position. He also asked persons interested in serving on the board to contact him or other board members.
Before the vote was taken, board President Nate Palmer opened the floor for public comment.
"Webster City is willing to work with us and make this work for both districts," he said. "It is good financially for us."
Woiwood compared the financial differences between the Webster City and the South Hamilton contracts. Based on per pupil cost/per daily period, NEH's tuition cost to Webster City was estimated at $97,514 while the cost to South Hamilton was $123,168.
Several patrons confronted the board and accused board members of not negotiating in good faith.
"The real reason is you didn't negotiate (with South Hamilton)," said one patron, who accused the board of having negotiations with Webster City under the table. "You heard what you wanted to hear."
Palmer responded it was the nature of the negotiations that several meetings were not held publicly while Board Member Roxanne Anderson noted all the results of those negotiations were reported during regularly scheduled public meetings.
"But to say we did not negotiate - we had a negotiating team," said Mike Rapp, board director.
Woiwood reported that NEH received only one offer from both South Hamilton and from Webster City.
Another patron compared the contract process needed to be much like the back and forth negotiation for a home.
Palmer responded that South Hamilton's tuition proposal was not only above what NEH hoped to pay, but did not offer the course opportunities the district was seeking for students.
Rapp said that surveys conducted during the informational meetings favored South Hamilton and that's why he supported South Hamilton initially. But the lack of course opportunities and the cost savings made him change his mind.
"I was blindsighted by the numbers that we could not agree at," said Rapp. "I have no problem with changing my mind."
Anderson addressed the accusation that South Hamilton's administration was not allowed to speak during NEH's March meeting.
"If they would have asked - they had the opportunity to request to speak," said Anderson. "But they didn't take the opportunity to explain."
Anderson noted that her decision to choose Webster City was based on what she felt was the best decision for the district as a whole.
"Now we actually will have money to help keep our district here," she said.
Another item to be determined by the contract will be the situation of students taking Early Bird classes, said Woiwood. Those students would have to find transportation to those classes as the bus route would not run for early morning classes.
Anderson suggested that NEH develop a policy that any student riding the bus to Webster City is required to return by bus to Blairsburg and cannot ride in a car with a student taking the Early Bird classes.
In other business, the Board approved the contract termination for eight full-time instructors. Terminated were: Tarin Bell, Title I; Jody Boyd, Spanish; Kathy Brandt, vocal music; Brandon Frohwein, science; Joan Gelder, art; Brandon Kelley, math; Julie Kramersmeier, business; and Herb Strasser, voc ag and industrial arts.
The teachers had been notified about possible terminations earlier this year, said Woiwood. Two of those teachers have secured contracts with other school districts and one is negotiating a sharing contract.