Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 1, 2014

Mid-Prairie Board backs bonds, books and more

By Mary Zielinski | Apr 16, 2014

WELLMAN — Language, lights, LIDS and a dog gave Monday’s Mid-Prairie Board of Education meeting something from A to T, as in athletics through therapy.  Crowd pleaser was Marley, the assistance (therapy) dog from Prairie View Elementary, who was an on-hands “report” of how these trained animals work with students in numerous ways.
Accompanied by handler/owner Jennifer Nesti, Marley in person and on video showed “how she helps us build relationships,” as well as provide unconditional love” to the school’s 525 students.  The demonstration is part of the information being gathered by M-P elementary principals Bill Pooch and Teresa Beenblossom for a similar program in Mid-Prairie.  Goal is to purchase two dogs from Canine Assistance Rehabilitation Education and Services (CARE) of Concordia, Kan.  Cost is $2,500 per dog, which includes training on how to handle the animals and private fundraising is being considered. Board decision about the project is expected in May.
For Marley, who goes to work at the school every day, duties include joining small groups including those dealing with anger management, helping celebrate holidays, being part of assemblies and taking part in classroom lessons.  She also has been very effective in helping kindergartners overcome fear of school.
Like the other four dogs in service for the district, Marley “is a  celebrity,” said Nesti, adding that the dog was obtained with a grant, something quite possible for Mid-Prairie as well.
Following detailed presentations from the district’s language teachers, the board approved $30,165 for books and related materials to continue teaching Chinese, Spanish and English.  The materials range from textbooks through CDs and DVDs and will allow for innovation and expansion of the language program.  In the case of English, the English Language Learners materials is a complete curriculum.
As for the lights and LIDS, both will benefit the district’s athletics program with the latter aimed at Team Sports apparel and equipment.  In simple terms, M-P will receive a 35 percent retail discount on apparel and stock uniforms and 25 percent off retail for digital
tal uniforms and equipment.  Nike custom uniforms are 20-35 percent off, depending on order date.  There are other benefits including shirts of various kinds given to the coaching staff, and to the Mid-Prairie Booster Club (a $4,500 value) to aid with fundraising, as well as banners and two $1,000 LIDS team sports scholarships.  The board approved the contract.
The lights are new baseball field ones from Musco Lighting of Muscatine, a $125,000 cost discounted to $85,000 for the district. There is additional cost for pole installation, figured at $9,000.  Ace Electric of North Liberty gave a cost of $29,605 for the electrical materials and labor to the wire the lights.During the meeting, the board learned that the Athletic Boosters will assist with the cost on a 70-30 basis (the latter is the district’s share).  There could be a further donation to the district from the companies involved.  The board approved the move that could see the lights fully installed by midsummer.
In other business, the board:
•approved an elementary guidance counselor position.  Currently, there is only one to serve all three schools;
•approved a 28E agreement with the Keota School District (with whom Mid-Prairie already has a long-standing sharing arrangement) for a school nurse and Human Resources Coordinator;
•approved the 2014-15 school calendar that will see classes start Aug.20 and end May 26.  The calendar includes spring break from April 2-7 and make-up days for cancelled days of Jan. 19, Feb. 16 and April 7;
•approved the 2014-15 budget of approximately $34 million which includes the recently approved $10.6 million bond referendum;
•accepted the election results and set a bond sale timeline that includes a financial services agreement with Piper Jaffray of Des Moines which will handle the bond sale for the district;
•learned that architect/engineering firm Shive-Hattery of Iowa City, should have tentative designs and construction timeline available in May;
•approved seeking proposals from different firms to serve as construction management for the districtwide construction project; and
•recognized and acknowledged the work done by the volunteer committees who worked for passage of the bond issue, specifically noting co-chairmen Jean Stout, Tim Heisdorffer, Bill Kinneer and Doug Yotty.

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