NEH school board holds final meeting

Reorganization with Webster City Schools becomes official on July 1

— Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Teresa Wood
The Northeast Hamilton School Board, which met for the last time Wednesday night, posed for a final photo. Pictured are (front row) Sara Zorn, Marlin Pruismann, Eric Patterson, (back row) Sally Greenfield and Tyler Burton. Sally Greenfield's father, Raymond Rigter, was a member of the first NEH School Board in 1963-1969 and she is a member of the school's last board. NEH district patrons voted in 2018 to reorganize with Webster City CSD and that partnership begins on July 1.

BLAIRSBURG — Accepting the resignation of Superintendent/Principal Mike Kruger was one of the final acts for the Northeast Hamilton School Board which met for the last time on Wednesday night.

“You’ve got some big shoes to fill, Mike,” NEH School Board President Eric Patterson told Kruger. “You did a good job.”

“We wish you well,” echoed Vice President Marlin Pruismann who recalled that Kruger came to the district five years ago at a time when it was struggling with declining enrollment and facing tough decisions about the future of the school.  

In 2018, Webster City and NEH district patrons voted to reorganize the two districts into the Webster City Consolidated School District with the Learning Center at Northeast Hamilton.  The reorganization takes place on July 1.

Kruger will be leaving NEH to become the superintendent of the West Fork School District in Rockwell and Sheffield.

Kruger delivered his final report, noting that May was a busy month with the Sixth Grade Graduation and the Track & Field Day closing out the school year on May 31.

Kruger also reported on the Community Childcare Community Collaborative which met earlier this week at Briggs Woods and discussed the need for additional child care services in Hamilton County. In Iowa, there is a shortfall of 361,000 spaces for child care, he said. NEH has an after-school program and the Mighty Trojan Day Care is located in the school.

“At NEH, I feel we are pretty fortunate with our center,” said Kruger.

NEH Board President Eric Patterson, who also serves on the Webster City/NEH interim board, reported that child care was a concern at that recent joint meeting.

“Three of the four day care centers (in Hamilton County) have waiting lists,” said Patterson.

“Our day care center is a good partnership (with our school) that serves as a business model,” said Kruger. “It brought kids back to our district because of the day care.”

One concern that needs to be clarified before the July 1 reorganization deadline is the transportation of pre-school three-year olds, said Kruger.

Delivering the final Facilities Update, Kruger said that a bill for $15,000 will be submitted to the district before the end of the month. The Board passed a motion to allow Patterson to pay the bills for NEH without reconvening the entire board.  Patterson, who sits on the interim board, explained that as of July 1, the interim board will become the official school board of the reorganized district.

With the construction of the green house, the STEM classroom, a kitchen update, a new roof on Old Main, new carpet, a new A/C and heating system in the upper grade classroom and water proofing the basement, Kruger said the building is “in good shape.”

“I am working to make it as smooth of a transition as I can make,” Kruger told the board about handing the reins to a new principal. The name of the new NEH principal is expected to be announced on Friday, he said.

Kruger reported that interviews are being conducted for the media center director, a guidance counselor, Title I and Physical Education instructors.

Before adjourning for the final time, Kruger thanked the Board for its hard work and support.

“I’ve really enjoyed working at Northeast Hamilton and for your support as board members,” said Kruger. He credited the hard work of the entire staff on the school’s success and thanked former superintendent Mike Sherwood, who served as a “wonderful mentor.”

The meeting adjourned at 6:35 p.m.