Mid-Prairie reviews home school assistance program
WELLMAN — Part of the proposed $10.6 million April 1 Mid-Prairie bond referendum includes a major addition to the middle school for the district’s Home School Assistance Program (HSAP). Monday, the board members learned why providing about $1 million for the HSAP’s future is a good investment.
The Mid-Prairie program, which dates to 1989 when home schooling became legal in Iowa, provides support to families who elect to home school their children. This year, the M-P HSAP has 290 students, including 148 open enrolled from other districts and 142 in M-P, with a resulting $675,122 of funding authority brought to the district. Of that, $357,659 is income paid directly to Mid-Prairie from the other districts. Superintendent Mark Schneider noted the HASP easily generates enough income to pay for all HSAP students, salaries, benefits and equipment. In other words, he said, the program is self-supporting.
However, HSAP funds cannot be used for new building construction or additions; but the board last year agreed that adding classrooms, parent resources center and office for the HSAP was a good fiscal and educational move, noted Schneider. Currently it is crowded into limited facilities at Washington Township Elementary School. The proposed move to Kalona met with 100 percent approval from the families.
During a presentation about the HSAP by coordinator Jan Childress, the board learned a number of HSAP students have received M-P diplomas, that some later enter regular classes and that the HSAP with 11 certified teachers and three support staff provides “above and beyond the minimum” in support, resources and assistance to parents.
The M-P HSAP also offers parents options of standardized tests, standardized texts and a diploma program for home-schooled students. It is the second largest HSAP in the state.
If the referendum passes, the proposed property tax levy will be $2.08 per $1,000 taxable value, an increase of 60 cents over the $1.48 tax levy for the 1996 bond issue that retires next year. For a residential home, assessed at $100,000, that would be $30.71 after rollback and homestead credit is applied, and $56.87 for a $100,000 commercial property. Agricultural land is estimated at 31 cents per acre, based on $1,200 productivity value per acre.
Other projects involve geothermal heating and cooling system, additional kindergarten classrooms, a new central administrative office (to replace the construction trailer where it is currently housed), a new Alternative Learning Center, preschool classroom and relocating the high school main office.
In other business, the board approved the second reading of the board policy regarding graduation requirements;
• tabled, after some discussion, action on a resolution asking the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to deny a license for the proposed casino in Cedar Rapids, that it would have a negative effect on employment and Washington County Riverboat Foundation funds in the county. The board, which had only a four member quorum, wanted all seven present; and
• approved application from High School FCS Teacher Glenda Seward for a $22,000 Discover Pathway to Financial Success grant for a classrooms et of iPads to be used in the Life Skills and Parenting and Life Management courses.