P-C board considering feasibility study of school building

The Paton-Churdan board of education is in the earliest stages of researching a possible building project to add space to a school that board member Deonne Robey says is “busting at the seams.”

Superintendent Kreg Lensch reported to the board at its Dec. 12 regular meeting that StruXture Architects of Waterloo has visited the building twice and done an informal walk-through. The company has proposed doing a feasibility study at a cost of $5,500.

Lensch said he told the company rep the district isn’t interested in a project right now, “but if we had to do something, what could we do? What are our options?”

Principal Annie Smith said the first thing the architects would look at is efficient and appropriate use of the current space. “I’m pretty confident we’re using our space appropriately, but it’s always nice to have an outside perspective,” she said.

After that, suggestions might include enclosing the open courtyard in the center of the school or possibly an addition.

“We kind of need that if we expect to grow,” board president Jennifer Maach said.

If the school hires StruXture for the feasibility study, the company would expect to do the work in preparing for a future resulting bond proposal. “If you sign on, you’re signing on for the entire show,” Lensch told the board.

Lensch said a bond referendum would be unlikely. The bond issue for the geothermal system is nearly paid off he said, and a future project could be paid for by bonding against anticipated local option sales and service tax (LOSST) funds.

The board tabled the decision until January so members could review the entire contract with StruXture, as Lensch had just received it last week. Lensch will also provide examples of projects done by StruXture for other school districts.

Increasing share of superintendent’s contract: The board also agreed to increasing Paton-Churdan’s share of Lensch’s contract to 40 percent. Glidden-Ralston holds the contract, with P-C paying 20 percent for one day a week of his services. At the same time, P-C hopes to begin sharing the services of Glidden-Ralston business manager Denise Best, also on a 40-60 split.

The resignation of Mitch Lewis, P-C’s fulltime business manager, prompted the change. Lewis will begin a new job in early January.

According to Lensch, when he began duties as superintendent in July 2015, he found Lewis had taken on some duties more typically done by a superintendent. He reclaimed those job duties, freeing Lewis to do tasks that could be done by an employee earning less, but adding to the superintendent’s workload.

Lensch proposed an increase in Best’s wages to compensate her for the added work. But, with the contract shared between the two schools, P-C would see a $22,000 savings compared to Lewis’s fulltime wage, and Glidden-Ralston would also see a savings. Additionally, the districts would see incentive funds from the state for operational sharing.

Lensch said he anticipated the G-R board asking P-C to increase its share of his contract at the end of the year. A 40-60 share more fairly represents the time he spends in each district, he said.

The two districts will discontinue operational sharing of a custodial position as it hasn’t met the needs of Paton-Churdan.

The P-C board’s decision is contingent on agreement of the Glidden-Ralston board.

In discussion, Lensch mentioned that Greene County superintendent Tim Christensen had approached him about sharing a central office employee. P-C’s Robey asked if after talk of increasing staff sharing at the joint meeting with the Greene County board last month, Christensen’s idea should be entertained.

Consensus of the board was that the need for a business manager is immediate and that it would be more efficient for Lensch to work with the same business manager in both districts.

Best could begin working in the P-C district next month. She has worked some in the district previously and help train Lewis when he was new to the job.

In other business, the board appointed Maach and David Palmer to joint P-C/Greene County subcommittee. According to Palmer, the sharing agreement requires that the board presidents serve on the subcommittee; he volunteered as the second member.

The board appointed Palmer and Robey to the negotiations subcommittee; approved a resolution supporting the Iowa Association of School Boards’ Promise of Iowa ad campaign (www.promiseiowa.org); and approved the low bid of $60 an hour from John Towers for snow removal.

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