Highland school board rejects grant proposal
RIVERSIDE—The Highland School Board approved a resolution for four grants to be submitted to the Washington County Riverboat Foundation’s (WCRF) fall grant cycle at their meeting on Monday, Sept. 23.
One request from The Building Pros of Eastern Iowa for the requested amount of $35,650 was not approved. They wanted the money to have a career expo at Highland High School featuring industry representatives, and would work with the high school and Kirkwood parents to design the lab for the industrial technology program, and offer scholarships to 10 students, the grant application said.
“”I’ve got a question on the Building Pros of Eastern Iowa,” board member Kevin Engel said. “Where will that money actually go?”
Tim Ruth, who teaches industrial technology as a part-time adjunct professor at Kirkwood and is part of McCreedy-Ruth Construction of Riverside, said he was against the grant request personally.
“It’s to have a job fair, the way I understand it, here at the school,” Ruth said. “My first question is why Highland? Why here? My second question is, why the cost?”
Ruth said he met with a representative on Monday from the group wanting to send in the grant request using the Highland Community School District. On the application it said the total cost of the job fair, lab design, and scholarships would be $44,500. Ruth asked the representative why that amount, and he said he was told the majority of the money would go toward promoting the job fair.
“What is the real benefit to our students?” Ruth asked. “The benefit to our students would be if that $40,000 was spent to bring students in to sell the Kirkwood Learning Academy of the Construction Architectural Academy to future students. Not bringing in people to offer jobs to students fresh out of high school. The way this is, I just don’t agree with this at all.”
Ruth said he was told the school district was being used because they could apply for the grant through WCRF, not because that is where the career fair that should be. He told the board if this was something that Building Pros of Eastern Iowa really wanted, then they would find the money elsewhere.
“If they were asking for the money to promote the construction academy I’d be all for it,” Ruth said. “But having the job fair here at Highland, it just doesn’t make sense. I’m sorry.”
Ruth looked at a brochure for the potential job fair and said there wasn’t any mention of Kirkwood Community College, by which the construction architectural academy is sponsored. Ruth told the board members he thought the Builder Pros of Eastern Iowa was losing sight of who and what the program was really for.
He also said if the group isn’t awarded the grant, they wouldn’t do the scholarships or the job fair, which is what the representative told him earlier that day. Ruth said if they felt really strongly about offering scholarships and having the job fair, then they would find another avenue of funding for them.
Board member Megan Allen asked if the 10 scholarships would go to Highland students or Washington students.
“This says Washington County High School and Kirkwood Center students,” said board member Nick Smith.
“Yeah, but it doesn’t really say us,” Allen said.
Board member Mike Golden echoed Allen’s concerns. He said it concerns him that on the grant application nowhere does it say Highland Community School District.
Superintendent Chris Armstrong said after reading the grant application it looked a little different from what he was led to believe.
“Do all of these have to go through us?” Smith said.
“Well, it’s attached,” Armstrong said. “They’ve got to attach themselves to somebody in Washington County.”
Smith asked if they had to approve the application through the Highland Community School District. Armstrong said no but their connection would be from Highland High School offering the construction program to its students.
“I’d be completely in support of this if it was recruiting students to go to participate in the construction academy, but it’s not,” Ruth said. “It’s not doing that.”
A motion was made to approve the WCRF scholarship applications for the Highland Music Boosters for a storage project, for the Keep Kids Alive Drive 25 project to install signs around the schools reminding drivers of their speed, the Highland Athletic Boosters for track equipment and new hurdles, and for the Highland Family Consumer Science Classroom to buy a pregnancy simulation program and three additional dummy babies for its classroom. The motion passed unanimously.
See tomorrow’s edition of The Journal for more on the Highland School Board meeting.