BLAIRSBURG - At its regular meeting Thursday night, the Northeast Hamilton school board declined to add another bus to the current district transportation fleet.
Over the past two months, district patrons have appeared before the board, requesting a resolution to lengthy bus rides for students. Some NEH students board the school bus as early as 6:45 a.m. and are returned home after 4 p.m.
At the October and November board meetings, parents asked the board to review the current bus schedules. Last month, the board asked Superintendent Patrick Hocking to review the district's options and evaluate the costs of adding another bus route.
As requested by the board, Hocking reported that an additional bus route would cost the district between $3,500 to $4,000 per semester.
Hocking noted that even though he understood the concerns of the parents, the three current routes are within state guidelines. He recommended that the board maintain the current fleet and address the issue
"I have a concern that we are not going to satisfy everyone," said board member Mike Rapp.
The proposal for an additional bus died from lack of a motion.
Hocking gave a report on the current status of Partial Day Sharing with the Webster City school district. As stipulated in the contract, NEH is required to issue a report of current progress to the Webster City school
board by Jan. 1.
"It is very positive," Hocking reported to board members. "Transportation continues to be a big concern, but we knew that when we went into this."
Hocking reported that issues with NEH students having lockers and the ability to participate in shared activities have been resolved.
"This has gone extremely smooth and it has been a positive thing with the kids," said Hocking.
Hocking noted that the number of NEH students taking college level courses has doubled since the partial day sharing arrangement was implemented.
"We still have hurdles," said Hocking, noting that inclement weather cancellations will have to be coordinated between the districts. "There will be no late starts, so if there is bad weather we will just cancel and
make up a whole day."
Hocking reported that the two schools will have to coordinate parent/teacher conferences and school calendars in addition to establishing compatible policies pertaining to academic achievement and athletic
Administrative Assistant Dennis Bahr reported that the NEH district is also working with Eagle Grove and Clarion/Goldfield in an effort to offer vocational classes. Ft. Dodge St. Edmond may also join the consortium.
"It has been nothing but positive," said Kim Schaa, NEH School board president. The board approved three modified allowable growth items which increase the district's spending authority. Approved was the Dropout Prevention
Modified Allowable Growth application for $23,593. Also approved was the spending authority limit of $22,216 for increased enrollment and $25,297 for out-transfer open enrollment.
In other business, board member Randy Greenfield was appointed as the Hamilton County NEH School board representative.
In contractual business, the board approved contracts for Jim Greenfield to serve as the junior high boys basketball coach and for Jerry Klaver to serve as the JV boys basketball coach.
In consent agenda items, the board accepted donations from Gary Chamness in the amount of $9,890 for baseball and football field work. Also, the board accepted donations of $55 from the Williams Harmony Club towards
Special Needs and $50 from the Kamrar First Presbyterian Church of Kamrar towards Special Needs.
In Good Sharing News, Hocking noted that a Special Education student is being staffed out due to academic achievement. Also, parents have been contacted that NEH student homework completion is improving.
Hocking also reported that sixth grade students have skyped with US Sen. Charles Grassley R-IA, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad and State of Iowa House Majority leader Linda Upmeyer. The students also conducted an election and Abe Lincoln was elected president.
The board received the first half of the 700 section of board policy for review. The first half will be reviewed in January and the second half will be reviewed in February. The entire 700 section of board policy will be considered for a vote at the February school board meeting. Hocking reported on the status of monitoring the former site in Blairsburg where three underground gasoline storage tanks were located. The tanks were owned by the NEH district and were installed near the bus barn in downtown Blairsburg. The tanks were removed over 20 years ago from the Lake Street location, but prior to that removal, one of the tanks leaked into the surrounding ground and eventually into area groundwater.
The site had been identified as a high risk location due to the fact that two municipal drinking water wells were located in the vicinity.
In February 2008, Trileaf, an environmental and property consultant firm, installed underground monitoring wells at the behest of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Trileaf had expected the site would be removed from the monitoring watch list but Hocking reported that the district will have to continue surveillance at an annual cost of $4,285.
"Hopefully some day we can be taken off the list," Hocking told the board.
The board received the letter of Intent from the NEH Education Association. Kim Schaa will serve as the board's representative in negotiations with the teachers' association which are set to begin in January.
Board members commented on the positive experience of attending the Iowa School Board Conference held in Des Moines in November.
It was noted that the IASB is focused on promoting technology in the schools.
"Our little school is so far ahead of so many bigger schools in the state," noted Board Member Roxanne Anderson, regarding the iPads used in the district.
Hocking reported that the NEH Christmas break will begin at the conclusion of the school day on Dec. 21 and resume on Jan. 3.
Hocking asked board members to review the finance packet from the Iowa School board which explores possibilities of school districts establishing school run day care. Hocking noted that area parents struggled to find alternatives after one local day care closed.
"It was a hardship on many families and we have lost some children in enrollment because of it," said Hocking.
Hocking was granted permission by the board to invite Sarah Binder to speak at the January meeting in regards to establishing a school run day care.
The January NEH school board meeting will be held on Jan 10 at 7 p.m. in the Media Center.