Stratford school board ups wages

Teachers in the Stratford community school will see a 4.46 percent increase in their wages, following approval of the 2013-14 master contract by the school board at their regular monthly meeting Wednesday evening. The total salary package includes a 4.71 percent increase, including health fees.

Regarding the new contract, Superintendent Sarah Binder told the board, “I’m sure the teachers would have liked a little more, and the district would have liked to pay out a little less, but that’s the process. It’s a fair settlement.”

At the lengthy meeting the board also considered options for security cameras and keyless entry for the school. Chad Nieland of Modern Sound Engineering of Fort Dodge was at the meeting to make a presentation for the board regarding equipment and services available from his company. The board also had information from three other companies and discussed various options.

Although consensus was to move ahead with installation of a security system at the school, no decision was reached on which system met their needs best. Board members Vance Cook and Eric McGlynn agreed to review the information and make a recommendation to the rest of the board at their May meeting.

Another property matter under consideration Wednesday evening was the parking lot project. Binder had obtained bids from two companies, although the bids had wide variation because they were not based on the same specs-one to simply grade the area and one to install storm sewer and intakes.

While the city recommends that drainage from the area should be piped to the city sewer, there is concern for other homeowners’ property in the area that their drains could not handle drainage from the parking lot and school roof. “We just need to look at it, to find other options. One might be not to pave the parking lot. Dirt drains,” Binder told the board. “We will have to resolve the water issue so that we don’t damage our property. We’ve invested heavily in our building, and not to have a parking lot that works is a problem.”

The board reached no decision on the matter Wednesday, but Binder will be checking with three other companies regarding options for the parking lot project and may also consult with the architect.

Binder reported to the board that ground was broken on Monday for the ELC project. The construction trailer and security fence have been installed.

Also, the superintendent told the board that the school received the Paint Iowa Beautiful Grant of 20 gallons of paint from Diamond Vogel Paint. The board approved making application for P & C’s School of the Year grant of $5,000, to be used for gym paint if the grant is awarded.

The project also received a boost via a donation from Stratford Stride, which hosted a community spaghetti dinner that profited $670. The group added another $1,000 to that for their total gift.

In financial matters on the agenda, the board approved Binder’s recommendation to increase rates at the ELC starting this fall to cover the cost of meals, which will be included in their rates. Then a transfer from the ELC fund to the nutrition fund will be made in order to cover costs in the school’s nutrition program. Breakfast and lunch prices have been increased the past two years, following federal regulations.

Tentative numbers from the early childhood open house and kindergarten roundup on April 5 are 12 children registered for four-year-old preschool and 15 children registered for kindergarten this fall.

Also, Binder said she has been notified that Head Start would no longer be able to partner with Stratford as has been the case since 2000. Head Start has lost so much funding that they are no longer able to partner with school districts.

Invitations for the extended year summer program were issued at parent-teacher conferences in early April. Binder said parents are required to indicate whether they plan to have their child(ren) participate; if not, the slots will be filled with students on the waiting list. So far, there has been a good response rate.

The 2013-14 school calendar was reviewed and approved by the board. Webster City, Stratford, and Northeast Hamilton districts are all aligning their schedules. Tuesday, August 20, is the first day of the school year.

The meeting ended with the board entering a closed meeting for a strategy session.