NEH school board welcomes new members

BLAIRSBURG – The Northeast Hamilton School board honored retiring board members and welcomed new members at its regular meeting this week, while moving forward on the a day care center and discussing the district’s financial future.

Retiring board President Kim Schaa was presented with a plaque by Superintendent Larry Frakes for 16 years of service to the school district. Retiring board member Kathy Pruismann was also presented with a plaque for serving 13 years. Randy Greenfield completed an unexpired term and was also given a plaque for his service.

Unfinished business for the retiring board included approving a fee adjustment of $1,320 for the preliminary drawings of the new bus barn by the architectural firm of Skott and Anderson of Mason City. The firm had requested $2,640. But the submitted drawing failed to include the district’s requests. The firm then redrew the plan and the board accepted it.

The board also approved hiring Hawkeye West of Clarion to provide preventative pest control in the district’s buildings on an as-needed basis at a cost of $95 per month.

Frakes updated the board on the progress of the district’s day care center. He announced that Cub Cadet Childhood Center of Latimer would work with the district to help launch the day care center located east of the school campus.

As of Monday, nine employment applications had been submitted into the school office and six child enrollment requests had been accepted.

Cub Cadet Childhood Center personnel will be responsible for hiring and training the day care staff, said Frakes. The NEH district day care center is expected to open in late October.

The retiring board then adjourned and District 1 Director Eric Patterson, District 3 Director Mark Bruce, re-elected At-Large Director Roxanne Anderson and At-Large Director Marlin Pruismann were sworn in to join current District 2 Director Mike Rapp on the board. Members then elected Roxanne Anderson as board President and Marlin Pruismann as President Pro Tem.

NEH Administrative Assistant Dennis Bahr presented the district’s financial report.

“Enrollment keeps sliding,” Bahr told the board.

Since 2008, the district has lost on average, 13 students per year, he said.

In Iowa, school district funding is based on school enrollment at a reimbursement to the district of approximately $6,300 per student.

“Where we get our money is by enrollment,” he explained. While Hamilton County has the fifth highest property valuation in the state, it doesn’t benefit the district if enrollment continues to drop.

“We need to be doing some soul searching,” said Bahr. “If we have the opportunity to do something, we should do it now because if we don’t, in the future, the state school review board will tell us what to do.”

He noted that the official 2013-2014 enrollment figures are due to the state on Oct. 1 and NEH’s enrollment is expected to have dropped. Bahr asked the board to invite district patrons to an informational community meeting presented by Larry Siegel, a school financial consultant, on Oct. 7 at 6:30 p.m.

Bahr also alerted the board to a notification deadline of Jan. 1, 2014 with Webster City CSD concerning the status of the partial day sharing agreement between the two districts.

Bahr predicted that the district will continue to experience falling enrollment. He cited the current senior class consists of 21 students while the kindergarten class holds only eleven students.

“We don’t want to go through this every year,” said Bahr. “We want to make a decision when there is no heat”.

The board also accepted the resignation of three staff members: Jeff Meyer, play sponsor; Amanda Range, associate; and Jim Greenfield, junior high girls basketball and assistant softball coach.

The board tabled discussion until February on hiring an assistant baseball coach until team enrollment can be determined.

The first order of business for the new board was the introduction of new staff members. The board welcomed Chelsey Hereen (Pre-K) and Adam Vorrie (Social Studies) who were present at the meeting. Manda Thomas (Science) and John Seiser (Fifth Grade) were absent, but were also welcomed to the staff.

The board approved fundraising activities for a 2015 trip to Paris and London to be chaperoned by Paige Moberly and Kim Cavanagh. All students in grades 7 to 12 are invited to accompany the group.

The board tabled a transportation stipend request by bus driver Gene Greenfield until October’s meeting when more information could be assembled.

The board approved a salary change for John Seiser, who is now a teacher in the district.

Reporting on a update of the district’s new day care facility, Frakes announced that the state fire marshal has approved the facility and work is progressing as quickly as possible.

The board approved the service contract with Cub Cadet Childhood Center for $3,000. The Latimer facility will assist the NEH School District in training and organizing the new day care facility in Blairsburg.

Frakes also announced the need for members of the community to volunteer to serve on a 5 to 7 member board which will oversee that day care facility. The day care board will meet monthly and supervise facility programs, process reports and be responsible for fundraising and writing grants.

Frakes noted that the NEH Foundation has volunteered to assist in furnishing some needed items in the new child center.

board member Marlin Pruismann stated that while the day care staff would not be employees of the district, the day care facility is important to the district.

“This will add stability to the district,” said Pruismann who explained the center would allow area patrons a local day care center while keeping children in the district.

“This will benefit the school tremendously,” agreed board member Bruce Mark.

In Good News Sharing, Frakes announced that Second Grade teacher Laura Seiser has received a $272 grant from the Silos and Smokestacks Foundation for spring field trips for her students. Fifth Grade teacher John Seiser has also received a $750 grant from the State of Iowa Travel Bureau for travel expenses for student trips.

In summing up the beginning of the school year, Frakes told the board the school year is off to a good start.

“So far all has gone very well, except for the unbearable heat,” he said.

It was announced that NEH school board members will attend a school board orientation meeting on Oct. 24 and the Iowa School board Conference Nov. 20-21 in Des Moines.