The approval of more than $800,000 worth of improvements and new construction at the elementary school parking lots highlighted Monday’s meeting of the Perry Community School District Board of Education.
Members Marjean Gries, Jim Lutmer, Kenia Alarcon and Kyle Baxter (Dan Wilhelmi was absent) voted unanimously to approve a low bid of $837,443.25 from Absolute Concrete of Des Moines after a presentation from Jason Mathes of project architect Shive-Hattery. Five bids were presented, with Absolute Concrete providing the lowest overall bid.
The initial bid was for $694,285, with the board approving recommendations for additional work and testing that raised the total to the aforementioned amount.
Superintendent Lynn Ubben revealed for comparison purposes revenues and expenses for February of each of the past three years as well as additional monies from the statewide penny tax for March of 2013-2015.
Revenues were (listed as Feb. 2013, 2014 and 2015) were $1,372,129; $1,547,191 and $1,414,488 with expenses (listed as above) of $1,509,005, $1,492,059 and $1,616,578. “Penny tax” monies were $53,425 (including $28,444 from the city), $113,154 and $129,062.
Ken Bultman, Business Manager, presented the results (which was approved) of the 2013-14 school audit report, with the board given a preliminary presentation from Bultman and Ubben for the 2016 budget based upon a possible zero percent growth in state supplemental aid.
Members were also provided with materials for a school board self-examination, with a follow-up expected at the April meeting.
Some discussion was held over classification of monies in the student activity fund and of how to designate financial gifts from Target and Wells Fargo. The board opted to continue using the latter for student reward and incentive purposes after placing the funds in a new category, as suggested by the auditors.
A recommendation to increase student and senior citizen admission fees to $4 at extra curricular events was tabled until the April meeting.
Perry currently charges $3 for students and senior citizens. It was noted that most other schools in the Raccoon River and other conferences charge $4.
“Just because that is what everyone else is doing does not mean we have to,” Baxter objected. “We have reduced fees in other areas for students, so why go up a dollar because everyone else does?”
“I think we want to encourage as much student support at these events as we can,” Gries agreed. “I would like to hear more about this.”
At that point the motion was tabled until the April meeting, with the board to ask for clarification and additional information from PHS Activities Director Tom Lipovac.
The need to hire two additional English Language Learner (ELL) teachers at the elementary school was brought to the attention of the board by ELL Director and PHS Assistant Principal Gary Czerniakowski.
“We currently have four (ELL) teachers for 279 students,” he explained. “There are 103 students in grades 2-3 and another 90 in 4-5 that are ELL, so they need is pretty clear.”
There are 740 students overall in grades K-5.
Czerniakowski noted the district has 20 special education teachers to instruct 230 special needs students, a ratio much more favorable than for ELL needs and highlighting the need for the extra help.
Monday’s discussion, while not ordering the hiring of additional instructors, was meant to inform the board of the current and upcoming ELL requirements facing Perry schools.
Revisions of school board policies were also approved, as were changes to the 28E agreement regarding universal preschool.
A raise of 2.26 percent in medical renewal costs through the Iowa Schools Employee Benefits Association insurance plan was also approved. Costs (to the district) will increase $586 for singles and $1,464 for family health. Rates for life, long term disability, dental and vision will remain unchanged.