School board hears report on building proposal

Ballot language still not known

OPN Architects is moving through the steps needed to fully develop a proposal for a new high school and career academy for the Greene County Schools.

School board member Dr Steve Karber, who is on the board’s building committee, reported to the full board at the Jan. 17 meeting that OPN is computing the total square footage needed for a new high school and for a renovation of the current high school as a middle school. Karber said it’s possible the renovated middle school will have more room than is needed.

A new high school may be larger than the current school because of new regulations, including providing a lactation room, more restrooms, larger locker rooms and wider hallways.

According to Karber, fundraising for the career academy has become a larger project than anticipated, more than one person – Sid Jones – can do. Karber asked if the board can do it, or if the school foundation or OPN should be asked to help.

Jones has been working to line up corporate donations. “If we can get one major donation, we’ll go out and ask other businesses for similar donations,” Karber said.

The ballot language of a bond referendum is a challenge, though, with outside funding unknown. “Industry doesn’t work fast,” Karber said.

Superintendent Tim Christensen explained that a ballot proposal would be written for the maximum levy needed for debt service, but should corporate commitments follow, the debt levy would be lower to make the annual payments on the bonds.

There was no discussion of potential private funding for the gym. Karber said a week ago an announcement would be made in two or three weeks.

Also in preparation for a building project, the board approved a contract for a professional land appraisal of an 80 acre site near Grimmell Road and Highway 30 for the proposed high school and career academy. Cost of the appraisal by Peoples Company will be between $1,500 and $2,500.

In other business, activities director Mitch Moore updated the board on action taken to deal with an outbreak of a herpes virus among wrestlers. Wrestling was suspended from the Christmas break until Jan. 14.

Dr Jim Gerdes stepped in to help with the situation and cleared the team for wrestling. “He’s done an outstanding job during this. He’s been on top of this from the beginning,” Moore said. “It’s hard when not everybody goes to the same doctor or is required to go to the same doctor. It’s hard to identify some of those things.”

Moore said he doesn’t know where the virus came from, but he thinks it may have been carried back to Greene County from a tournament in Carroll. He said no other teams have reported the viral skin infection. He said he is sure the virus wasn’t in the wrestling room, but was spread by skin-to-skin contact during practice between high school wrestlers. Junior high and the elementary age wrestlers did not get it. He also said no other wrestling teams reported the virus.

“It’s an unfortunate situation. We all realize that,” he said. Because the outbreak started during the Christmas break communication was more difficult in identifying the infection. “Once it started, it spread fast. We took all medical precautions we could,” Moore said.

The Jefferson park and recreation department’s Steven Silbaugh Memorial Wrestling tournament, scheduled for Jan. 14, was canceled due to the quarantine. Board member Harding reported that JPRD had already determined the 2018 tournament would be the last Silbaugh tournament, at the request of the volunteer organizers.

The board held a public hearing and approved the school calendar for 2018-19. School will start for students Aug. 23 and end May 31, 2019.

The board approved a purchase offer from an out-of-state couple for the house on E. Wilcox Way built by the 2016-17 construction class. The house was listed at $170,000. The offer was for $165,000 with the school to pay $5,000 of closing costs. There will be a 6 percent realtor commission paid from the school’s proceeds also. The house had been listed since May.

The board approved a contract to be used for volunteer coaches. The district has used volunteer coaches for several sports previously, but without contracts. The incoming volunteer soccer coaches asked for the official agreement. The contract is the same as one used by Heart of Iowa Activities Conference member South Hamilton.

The board approved a 1:45 pm dismissal Monday, Feb. 5, for high school students only. The school will host eight schools and 10 choirs for the Iowa High School Music Association jazz choir contest that afternoon and evening.

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