SH board discusses start date for school

JEWELL – The early start date hearing at the South Hamilton school board meeting Monday generated interest from a number of visitors.

At the hearing, the board considered when to start the 2013-2014 school year.

“The Department of Education says the earliest date we can start is Aug. 26,” Superintendent Tim Johnson reminded the board. “So 99 percent of the schools in Iowa do a waiver to start before that.”

The board agreed to submit the waiver but discussed at length whether to start school on Aug. 15 or Aug. 22. One parent, Jackie Reiter, said her children are involved in several school activities, but August is a time when very little is scheduled at school, so there is opportunity for family time.

“How do you justify continuing to take more of our August?” she asked, adding that since the school buildings are not air conditioned she is not sure of the educational atmosphere there during those potentially very hot days.

Another interested parent at the meeting shared her concerns about starting school before the state fair ends, making it difficult for FFA and 4-H members who exhibit at the fair.

“These kids work hard, do well, and so many are so involved and do a good job,” said Stephanie Nicholson, who was concerned about fall sports practices that start in August.

“Asking them to make a choice between the state fair and school activities in August is like asking someone who has qualified for the state tournament in a sport to leave that tournament. We’re very proud of what they do, but we’re infringing on them a lot.”

In the end, Johnson was directed by the board to revise calendar options to start on August 19, 2013. A week-long spring break will be included in the calendar. Plans are for the revised 2013-2014 calendar to be presented for approval at the board’s February meeting.

Another calendar issue on the agenda was scheduling two snow makeup days from the blizzard in December. The board set those days on February 25 (scheduled for professional development) and March 29 (Good Friday). Any additional snow days this winter will be made up at the end of the school year.

Jim Kubichek, middle school/high school science instructor, was at the meeting to submit his retirement request for the end of the current school year. Kubichek has been in education for thirty years, 17 of them on the staff at South Hamilton. The board thanked him for his contributions to the district and approved the retirement request.

Athletic director Todd Coy reviewed the current coaching vacancies, which are listed on the school Web site.

Also on Monday, elementary principal Paul Hemphill reported that the Elementary Boosters have donated $5,500 toward new musical instruments and another $2,500 for document cameras. He also told the board that the Department of Human Services came and rated the preschool program.

Middle school/high school principal Scott Dryer updated the board on the Silver Cord Project, a new opportunity for community service for high school students. He commended the music boosters for their outstanding planning and communication of the spring trip to Chicago in April. There will be 107 high school band and chorus members on the trip.

Transportation director Gene Greenfield attended Monday’s meeting to give the board a summary of the bus/vehicle fleet mileage and condition. He will also be at the February meeting with specifications and recommendations for the purchase of a new bus.

Food service director Terri Cook was also at the meeting to give the board a report on the newly renovated kitchen. “I could not be more pleased. We are very happy with everything,” she said.

The board approved giving away an obsolete kitchen stove.