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A proposal for upgraded lighting at the athletic complex, the hiring of two new teachers, and routine preparations for the upcoming school year comprised the bulk of the Monday, July 8 regular meeting of the Mount Ayr Community Schools board of directors.
After considerable discussion, the board tabled a proposal by Musco Lighting for a complete replacement of lighting at the football, baseball and softball fields.
Based in Oskaloosa, Musco is the international leader in sports lighting, including installations for the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Astros, and Daytona International Speedway. Other prominent projects include lighting at Mt. Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty.
Zach Strong from Musco Lighting attended the meeting to present the proposal to replace all lighting at the athletic complex with high efficiency LED lighting and installation of 80-foot tall galvanized steel poles at the football field and 60 to 70 foot tall poles at the baseball and softball fields.
Cost of the equipment and installation was quoted at approximately $672,000.
Additional costs for connection to existing power at the complex would be let for bids from independent contractors.
Mike Murphy from Larson Engineering also attended Monday’s meeting with a quote of $35,000 to oversee construction services to include a site plan, letting of bids for the electrical work and supervision over the entire project.
Larson Engineering was the firm responsible for similar planning and supervision with the installation of the synthetic turf football field.
Strong and Murphy agreed installation of the lighting could begin in March or April at the baseball and softball fields and at the football field following the final home track meet next spring.
Board member Craig Winemiller asked for more time to consider the needs at the athletic complex prior to moving forward with any plans. He asked if the current lighting arrangement could be upgraded rather than completely replaced.
Board member PJ West also wanted more information about how best to finance the significant expense associated with the project.
The board tabled the proposal until the August board meeting.
The board accepted the late resignation of language arts teacher Sherry Adams. Adams was required to pay $1,000 to be released from her contract.
The board then hired two new teachers, approving the contracts for Julie Rivera as Adams’ replacement for language arts and Sarah Clark as social studies teacher.
The board also approved a proposal to create the position of a human resources assistant to be shared with the Diagonal school district.
In Mount Ayr the human resource position would be responsible for most employee responsibilities including advertising for new positions, reviewing applications, submitting backgroud checks, setting up interviews, new employee paperwork and orientation, keeping track of benefits and employee time off, updating board policies and a wide variety of other associated administrative tasks.
Under the proposal, the position would carry a salary of $30,000 on a 210-day contract plus another $12,642 in Social Security, IPERS and health insurance for a total cost of $42,642.
However, since the position would be shared with Diagonal two days a week, Mount Ayr would be responsible for 60 percent of the cost – $25,586.
More importantly, the State of Iowa rewards districts for the sharing of certain positions, including a human resources person.
The state incentive provides each district the equivalent of state aid for five additional students. At $6,880 per student, each district will receive additional state funding of $34,400.
Once Mount Ayr’s portion of the human resource position is subtracted from the additional state funding, the district is left with a balance of $8,814 in additional funding.
The board approved moving forward with adding the proposed position pending approval by the Diagonal board to share the position.
Elementary performance released
In his report to the board, elementary principal Chris Elwood shared the news that once again the Mount Ayr elementary has been rated as a “high performing” school in the latest review of student performance released by the Iowa Department of Education.
Formerly known as the Iowa School Report Card, the new reporting tool is entitled the Iowa School Performance Profile. It can be found by going to iaschoolperformance.gov.
A full review of the state’s report will appear in next week’s Record-News.
July is traditionally the month when the board approves several behind-the-scenes recommendations affecting the upcoming school year. At Monday’s meeting the board:
• reappointed Janette Campbell as board secretary and district business manager.
• retained the Ahlers and Cooney law firm as the district’s legal counsel.
• renewed the agreement with the Diagonal district to share the services of transportation director Adam Still.
• accepted the quote from Smith Oil of Mount Ayr to provide fuel.
• awarded the contract to furnish bread products to CGI Foods in Mount Ayr.
• awarded the contract to furnish milk products to Anderson-Erickson Dairy.
• approved 28e agreements for classes through Southwestern Community College.
• approved the professional development plan and Parent-Student Handbook as presented by elementary principal Chris Elwood and changes to the 7-12 Student Handbook as presented by principal Bill Huntington.
• approved a list of depositories for district funds, including US Bank, Great Western Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, Bankers Trust, and the Iowa Schools Joint Investment Trust.
• approved a list of changes to board policies.