Sharing negotiations begin

At Monday’s meeting of the Webster City School District Board of Directors, the board adopted a resolution to begin negotiations with the Northeast Hamilton School District to either extend their current student partial day sharing agreement or to agree to whole-grade sharing.

The board took action following an informal meeting with the NEH board. The deadline for both districts to come to an agreement is Feb. 1 of 2014.

The board also heard a presentation on a Regional Vocational Academy, which has been in the works for about three years, according to Superintendent Mike Sherwood. The Academy, which is slated to open in fall of 2014, has curriculum and content developed. However, the sticking point for the Academy, according to Sherwood, has been finding a location for it. For Iowa Central Community College to build the facility, it would cost upward of $5 million.

To remedy the problem of finding a building, Sherwood said several participating schools were asked to host different classes in their own facilities. Transportation and space issues prevented that from happening.

A couple months ago, Sherwood toured the armory in Eagle Grove. More recently, board members toured the facility as well.

ICCC has yet to make a decision on purchasing the facility, which would also involve renovations. However, Sherwood said the college officials he has spoken to feel confident they can handle the financial load to turn the armory into a facility that would help students prepare for jobs right out of the program.

Courses on manufacturing, in STEM disciplines, on pre-college courses and more would be available. Sherwood said the manufacturing courses would allow a person to take the classes and be ready to then enter the workforce or earn up to 38 college credits.

“I think it provides a really unique opportunity, enriches our offerings and addresses the needs of students that we haven’t yet met,” Sherwood said.

To pay for these classes, each school participating in the Academy will buy seats for each class which they will fill with students. Seats can be sold amongst those schools to fill those seats. Sherwood said Webster City Community School District is looking at purchasing 25 seats at $2,400 per seat, totaling at $60,000 for a ten-year investment.

In other business, the board also heard an update on the ongoing iPad rollout in the district. Middle School students began receiving their iPads this week with High School students to follow next week. Sherwood said the rollout has gone well so far. Parental concerns about the devices are being addressed, and he said if parents want their child’s iPads to not come home with them, they can enforce that.

Sherwood also noted that the certified count of students in the district is down by 23 this year.