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Taking The Reins

By Staff | Feb 28, 2012

The idea of the Emmetsburg Community School District operating its own Alternative High School has been discussed for some time. Iowa Lakes Community College has hosted the alternative High School on its Emmetsburg campus for the past several years, but increasing costs prompted the Emmetsburg School Board to look at options for the program.

Emmetsburg Superintendent John Joynt opened the discussion. “I would recommend that we take over control of the operations of the Alternative High School program due to high costs, $90,000 last year. Iowa Lakes Community College and Cindy Magee have administrated that program for several years and have done an admirable job, but I feel we can do it cheaper.”

According to Joynt, the idea has been discussed for two or three years, with district administrators looking at options for the program. The same location at the college could be leased for the program, which could be beneficial for the program, keeping it close to the career academy at the college for students.

“What is the college’s reaction to this?” asked School Board President BJ Schany.

“We’d talked about it before, other schools were doing similar things and they asked us if we were thinking about it and we answered possibly next year, when we talked at this time last year.” Joynt answered.

Board member Kathy Roethler asked about the financial cost to the district.

Joynt replied that he had received information from the college quoting leasing space at a cost of $9.50 per square foot, or $18,000 for the room the program currently uses. “That seems like a lot,” the Superintendent added.

Joynt went on to explain that the costs for the program would come from the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy, rather than Dropout funds. Costs would include a teacher’s salary and supplies.

“So we could cut the cost in half?” asked Board member Scott Kibbie.

“Just about,” Joynt answered. “It won’t be $90,000 this year, because our student count is down out there this year. The biggest expense would be for the instructor.”

High School Principal Jay Jurrens explained that the program runs three hours a day and usually serves between 15 to 18 students from the Emmetsburg district. “We get a lot of kids who move here who have never been in this building for a variety of reasons. They’ve gone to alternative schools and they continue it.”

“Last year we had six kids move into the district,” Joynt said. “They say, ‘I’ve been in alternative school and I want to stay there.”

“This wouldn’t jeopardize any other programs we have with the college, would it?” Kibbie asked.

“It shouldn’t,” Joynt answered. “This is geared in the morning so they’re out there with our other kids for career academy and the like, so it shouldn’t.”

After a motion to accept the recommendation, a roll call vote was conducted, with board members Schany, Kibbie, Roether and Rick Brennan voting aye, with Board member Kim Campbell casting the lone nay vote. Board members Tammy Naig and Karla Anderson were absent and did not vote.