WC school board approves renovation bid

Renovations to area schools will be underway this summer after the Webster City Community School District board of directors approved a contract bid at their Monday meeting.

Peterson Construction in Webster City sent in the lowest bid to complete the planned summer renovations at Pleasant View Elementary, Sunset Heights Elementary and Webster City High School. Their bid of $1,657,000 was $55,000 than the only other bid the school board received for the projects. Those costs are higher than the $1,500,000 estimated cost for the projects, but superintendent Mike Sherwood said that additional renovations have been planned since that estimate was made.

“I think when the bids are that close, that pretty well reflects that the cost estimate was accurate,” Sherwood said.

The renovations to the schools include asbestos abatement, locker renovations, classroom upgrades, boiler upgrades and much more. The completion date for the projects is August 16, but Sherwood said that date is likely to be pushed back.

The board also approved price increases for school meals for the next school year. Lunch at the high school will be $2.45, lunch at the middle school will be $2.40, lunch at local elementary schools will be $2.20, and adult meals will be $3.50. The price of milk was also raised to 40 cents and the price of breakfast through the school will be $1.50 for students and $3.50 for adults. Board secretary Cathi Hildebrand said the increases reflect an increasing cost of food.

“Our food costs have skyrocketed this year,” Hildebrand said. “It’s just amazing how much we spend on food related costs.”

The board continued discussing financial matters with an agenda item on proposed budget targets and options for the next fiscal year. With allowable growth still not set by the state of Iowa, and about $25,000 in cuts from the sequester, the school is looking to cut over $700,000. However, Sherwood said they are exploring all other options before reducing staff at district schools.

If allowable growth is not set, or is set at zero percent, Sherwood said curriculum adoption, peer to peer observations , outside professional development resources, conferences and more will be eliminated for the next school year. The one-to-one technology initiative, which was slated to introduce iPad tablet computers into local classrooms this coming year, may be delayed.

“I think to be able to reduce our budget without reducing staff is the right thing to do,” Sherwood said. “I think if we reduce staff at this point, we would be affecting programs. There’s not a lot of fluff.”

However, if the Iowa legislature were to set allowable growth at four percent, it would mean the district would have over $400,000 of additional money to use.

In other business, the board approved a list of 132 students who, with satisfactory final grades, will graduate this Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Webster City High School gym. The last day of school for students is scheduled for June 5.