M-P honors retirees; learns enrollment up
WELLMAN — Two retiring employees, bus driver Richard (Dick) Schlatter and high school cook Linda Smith, were honored by the Mid-Prairie Board of Education at the start of Monday’s meeting. Schlatter was present to accept his plaque, but Smith was unable to attend.
In noting Schlatter’s decade of service, all four principals and Superintendent Mark Schneider noted his concern for the students he transported and Schlatter himself admitted, “I will miss the kids.”
Following a special presentation about the Safe Surface Playground Project for Wellman Elementary School, the board unanimously approved $20,000 for the project. The figure represents what the district would spend on mulch in five years and is identical to what was done for a similar project at Kalona Elementary.
Total cost for replacing the mulch surface with a solid rubber one is $120,000 ($80,000 for the surface and $40,000 for concrete). Besides the district allocation, the project expects to have $25,000 from the school PTO and from possible grants from Lowe’s Toolbox, Alliant Energy Community Grant, Casey’s, Proctor and Gamble, the Iowa DNR and more. There also will be a number of local fundraisers including sponsors for blocks on the new playground.
The timetable for the project calls for work to start in June or July 2014 and be done by the end of August. Aside from safety for all students, the new playground would make it accessible for the handicapped, including those in wheelchairs.
Wellman Elementary has, this academic year, 235 students, and the district itself has an increase of 25 students for a total of 1,249, the board was told. Enrollment was certified Oct. 15. The range is Kalona Elementary, 248; Washington Township, 112; middle school, 293; high school, 337 and the Alternative Learning Center, 24. The Home School Assistance Program, one of the largest in the state, has 265 students.
During a short work session, board members discussed the district building project for which a $2.5 million grant application was made to the Washington County Riverboat Foundation. The grant seeks funds to aid with a proposed $7 million auditorium, although at this stage no final decisions on project inclusions have been made by the board.
Schneider, noting that the WCRF grants will not be announced until probably November, said, “We are at a standstill now.” The district likely will seek a bond issue in April to fund the districtwide improvements that may include a new central administrative office, a second gym at the middle school, numerous classroom and safety improvements and the new auditorium.
During the discussion, board member Jeremy Peck noted that the bond issue could have separate questions on the ballot, that, in essence, voters could choose what they wanted to see done.
Estimates for the total project have ranged from $8 million to slightly more than $15 million with bond issue figures reflecting the range. The board expects to finalize the plan in mid-December.
In other business, the board:
• discussed having a joint committee with the Keota School District (that has a sharing agreement with Mid-Prairie) to form a Teacher Leadership & Compensation Committee as set in the recent state Education Reform Law;
• approved a special education associate at Kalona Elementary School to aid with severely disabled students;
• approved part-time Physical Education support at Washington Township Elementary at a cost of $9,000; and
• approved board president Jim Hussey as its delegate to the Iowa Association of School Boards for delegate assembly in Des Moines.