With the first day of classes just in the books, the building principals in the Emmetsburg Community School District reported the preliminary enrollment figures to members of the School Board during its August meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 20. Board members also discussed conflicts with the scheduled Spring Break during the meeting along with other routine items.
However, the first item of business was an update on the construction project at West Elementary. Principal Joe Carter reported to the board that the lunchroom and commons area had been fully utilized on Tuesday night for the Open House and when students arrived on Wednesday morning, many were surprised and all were excited about the new facilities.
"The lunchroom is complete, the remodeling for the library is all completed, along with the Title I and At-Risk rooms, and the classrooms, and so are the new offices and the new main entrance," Carter reported. "The contractor is bringing in the crew to start the gym floor, and they are starting that next week, and they tell us that will take two or three weeks to finish up. Otherwise, we are operational in all other areas."
"It's common practice in construction projects to withhold the retainage until the contractor completes all the items on the punch list," Superintendent Gary Richardson told the board. "I am doing that at this time, it's an incentive for the contractor to get them done quickly, and they are working hard at that. Overall, it looks really great."
"The transformation at West is huge," Carter added. "The new construction has created a better atmosphere for the kids, there's no doubt about that."
Attention then turned to preliminary district enrollment figures after the opening day of classes.
Carter reported that at West, they were looking at 315 to 320 students, just slightly behind last year's number. "We also need to note that we held Summer School August 4th through the 8th and had 35 students attend. The staff felt it was of a real benefit to those students and was very successful."
Mike Embrock, 5-12 principal, then reported on the attendance figures for both the middle and high schools.
"At the Middle School, we counted 223 students, which breaks down to 56 fifth graders, 59 sixth graders, 64 seventh graders and 44 eighth graders," Embrock said. "For the High School, our count was 236, with 64 freshmen, 61 sophomores, 61 juniors and 50 seniors."
Embrock also reported on the Open House-Freshman Orientation the night before school started, and noted that the event went smoothly. "We were able to hand out the new computers to the students, and at the same time, most of the high school parents were there to take care of paperwork. We were celebrating on Tuesday night, celebrating the start of a new school year, and we had a very positive first day."
A couple of changes for buses and traffic flow at the two facilities were also explained to the board.
At West, buses now enter the parking lot on the south side and discharge and pick up students by the southwest main entrance, while parents drop off out on Call Street in front of the building. At the high school, parents are able to use the circle drive to pick up and drop off students, while buses now drop off and pick up students in front of entrance four, on the south side of the building in the parking lot.
In other business, the board approved naming Stephen C. Avery of Spencer as the District's legal counsel for the coming year, and also approved naming Iowa Trust and Savings Bank, Laurens State Bank and Wells Fargo Bank, all of Emmetsburg, as official depositories for the district, with amounts not to exceed $6 million in deposits. The action was approved with Board Member Rick Brennan abstaining from voting.
The board members were presented with a list of seven events scheduled for the 2014-15 school year that would require out-of-state travel by students. As the dates were examined, Board President BJ Schany asked when Spring Break was scheduled for 2015. A check of a calendar revealed the Spring Break was scheduled to begin March 18.
"There was a concern last year about the Show Choir scheduling a competition during Spring Break, and we had said we would look at that for this year," Schany recalled.
"Yes, there were several parents who were unhappy that a competition was scheduled during a break and that families couldn't have that time together," agreed Board Member Tammy Naig. "I know we had to change some plans for that."
Board member Scott Kibbie also spoke up, noting that occasions of Sunday practices for various activities was also cutting into the time that families could spend together. "I know there's precious little time where my kids are all together at home."
"I just think that when a break is scheduled, that the students need to be able to count on that break and not have to give it up, or have their families have to give up on their plans for an activity," Naig said.
"Well, I know I got calls about this and I know we talked about it and said we were going to address it," Schany said.
After a few moments, Board member Kim Campbell moved to approve out-of-state travel with the exception of a scheduled Show Choir competition in Mitchell, SD on March 21, 2015. Board member Rick Bird offered the second and the motion was passed unanimously