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Board tables facility usage policy pending research

Amid rumors of changes to facility fee schedule, community members pack school board meeting

About 20 local residents turned out for the Webster City school board meeting Monday night to voice concerns about a possible change in the fee structure for groups using district facilities.

The turnout was apparently in response to rumors circulating about changes to how groups would be charged to use school district facilities.

Before opening up the floor to public comments and questions, Board President Beth Van Diest read a statement from the board, outlining that no changes had been proposed to the fee structure or usage of district facilities.

“As a matter of routine, the board reviews board policies each year. This year that included the 900 series which addresses a variety of items including policy 906.1 which is the community use of district facilities and equipment,” she said.

That particular policy has always included language which allows the district to charge entities for the use of facilities, according to Van Diest’s statement. She added that the district staff had been seeking information on what other districts charge for the use of school facilities.

“The first reading of this policy on Feb. 5 was simply looking at the language of the policy because the research about potential fees is still ongoing,” she said. “At this time, the board has not received any recommendations about any changes to the fee structure for using the facilities.”

She told the audience that the district didn’t expect to have any discussion on potential fees or changes until April. Further action on the policy was tabled until the board could discuss the policy and fee structure.

“I guess judging by the amount of people here, it shows how important and how big an issue this is,” said Todd Lovelace. He said that there have been rumors and miscommunication circulating in the community about a possible policy change.

“This is testament to the fact that we truly do care and would like some input when the board does talk about it,” Lovelace said.

“We’re just collecting information at this point,” said Superintendent Dr. Mandy Ross. “It won’t going anywhere until it goes before the board. We’ll make sure that when it’s on the agenda that it’s very clear that’s what the topic is.”

“We’ll be very transparent and we’ll get accurate information out when the time comes,” she said.

Board Member Marlin Pruismann said he had received a few phone calls.

“We haven’t even talked about the fee structure. I knew nothing about it until I heard from two parents after a letter or email was sent out last week,” he said.

Currently, most nonprofit organizations, such as Boy Scouts, 4-H or Fuller Hall, are able to use district facilities at no charge. For-profit groups can use the facility for a fee, according to Board Member Rich Stroner.

Others in the audience talked about the youth sports programs that use the district fields and facilities. While activities like youth soccer do charge youths to be involved in the program, the funds raised go back into the program to pay for nets, balls, seeding of the soccer field and other expenses, said one audience member.

“That’s why a conversation around this will be beneficial,” Ross said, “so that the information that goes out is accurate.”

Contract proposals

The Webster City Education Association presented its initial proposal to the board Monday night. The proposed changes to the agreement included allowing patients who have worked for the district for at least five years to be paid $5 per day for any unused sick days after leaving the district. The proposal also asked for an additional five non-accumulative days that could be used for family illness and would be deducted from sick leave days.

The proposal also calls for an .25 percent increase on vertical steps of the salary schedule. The agreement also proposed a 4.72 percent yearly salary increase, including a raise of $1,000 on base pay and the proposed career increment increases. With the addition of insurance increases, the total salary package increase would 4.80 percent.

The WCEA also proposed that the new agreement be in place for three years.

The Webster City Educational Services Association also presented its initial proposal. The proposal calls for the following wage increases: All salary schedules would increase $1 on base for food services, secretaries, paraeducators and custodial; and $100 for bus drivers. The proposal also would advance workers a step for 2020-2021.

All other contract language would remain the same as the current agreement.

Ross said the board would provide its response to both proposals at the March 9 board meeting.

A fundraising request for a bowling marathon to raise funds for prom was approved.

The board also approved the appointment of Kathy Biere as the school business official/board secretary. She will assume her duties July1. Current Board Secretary Cathi Hildebrand is retiring at the end of this school year.

The board accepted the resignation of 7th grade assistant volleyball coach Megan Ginther and approved the voluntary transfer of Deb Dunham from kindergarten to the vacant Title 1 position.

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