An improvement project for the track at Clarinda High School was approved by the Board of Education during a meeting May 26.
Directors accepted a bid of $129,375 from Midwest Tennis and Track of Denison for the work. It was one of two bids received. The other was from McConnell and Associates of North Kansas City, Missouri, for $135,400.
The project will involve the removal of the existing top one-half-inch layer of rubber, followed by the installation of a new surface. Also included will be repair of cracks and any other defects identified.
In information provided to the board, District Maintenance Supervisor Craig Hill stated that “once the surface has cured, new lines and markings will be added according to IHSAA regulations.”
He noted that the current track was built in 2004 by Midwest Tennis and Track, and the company has done all the maintenance since that time.
District personnel perform a visual inspection of the track annually to check for defects, Hill reported, adding: “If any are found, the contractor is called and repairs are made. This usually consists of damage on the edges of the track.”
He said in 2013, “a structural spray and new lines were painted” on the surface.
In another action related to upgrading district facilities, the board approved the replacement of three air conditioner units at the high school.
From two bids received for the work, the board approved the one from Wallin Plumbing and Heating of Clarinda for $70,844. Also submitting a bid was Facility Advocates of Omaha, Nebraska, for $78,485.
The units are utilized for specific areas at the school -- the band room, the wrestling room, and the hallway and restrooms in that wing of the building.
“The band room unit has a bad heat exchanger,” Hill stated in information supplied to directors. “The wrestling room unit has a leak in the coil that cannot be repaired due to its location on the coil. The hallway unit is having control issues.”
He noted that the units are 20 years old “and have outlived their life expectancy.”
Hill updated the board on another targeted improvement project involving the chiller in the auditorium. Considered previously had been the option of installing a permanent glycol system. But an estimate Hill has received for doing that was about $30,000.
As an alternative, a company has proposed a service agreement with the district, through which, twice a year, fluid and water would be placed in the system as needed.
Although he did not yet have a precise cost for this service, Hill said it could be in the range of $1,500 annually.
“From the maintenance standpoint, that would be a wise decision,” he said, adding that “when we get ready to replace the air handler units in the auditorium, we could then do something with the glycol system. It would be a better time to do that, then, [rather] than right now.”
Meanwhile, during the public comment portion of the May 26 meeting, three Clarinda residents spoke.
Jared Riddle said he believed the school board and administration have been demonstrating a “lack of respect for this community, its staff or even its kids.”
“The community is tired of getting slapped in the face by this management,” he said. “We’re no longer going to stand by and hear excuse after excuse. So my solution, all of you should resign.”
Riddle said he had obtained about 250 signatures from individuals “who feel the need to have a leadership change in the Clarinda Community School District. This leadership change includes the superintendent and any or all board members who do not see and understand the need for this change. This community is demanding change. No more excuses. The choice is yours.”
Addressing the board, Chari Bix said, “You have some problems. Our teachers change constantly, and nobody ever gets a teacher who is here for five or six years, who has finally built up where she knows what she’s doing.”
She urged board members to “support our education. It depends on you. We elected you. Now do your job.”
Denise Jago mentioned the issue of “communication” between school officials and community members.
“When you stop communicating with the people who run your schools, and your school dies, your town dies,” she said.
In compliance with board policy, directors could not respond to comments as they were made at the time.
Later, during the board correspondence segment of the meeting, President Greg Jones said that “this will be the last meeting that as board president I’m going to allow public comment to deviate from our active board policy and posted meeting agenda items.”
He added: “We cannot knowingly bypass existing policy. It’s in place for a reason. I want to hear staff and public concerns, but the process has to be followed, and it hasn’t been properly followed by anyone to this point.”
Jones said he had erred “on the side of letting people vent and have their say, but we have to adhere to proper policy. Everything this board has done has been in accordance with the law, and we will continue to do so.”
Referring to what he cited as a “false and defamatory statement” made during public comments at another meeting, he said the Clarinda district’s Return to Learn plan “was submitted on time for state reporting purposes.”
In other action at the May 26 meeting, the board:
Approved and adopted -- after a public hearing earlier in the session -- an amended budget for the 2020-2021 school year. The change was made because of a continuation of the summer food program. In the non-instructional program category, expenditures will rise from $670,084 to $800,000, but there will be no increase in taxes paid in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, and the district remains under its total budget. Because the food service program has reached “spend down” limits, the district was able to update the kitchens and purchase some equipment.
Approved the 2021-2022 school calendar. The term will begin Aug. 25, and the last day of classes will be May 25, 2022. The calendar contains 176 student contact days and six professional learning days. The approval came after a public hearing earlier in the meeting.
Approved the 2021-2022 handbook for licensed staff. Members of the administration and the employee relations team reviewed the handbook and edited portions of it.
Approved the addition of a special education teacher in the district for the 2021-2022 term in order to allow consultations with classroom teachers, provide more time for professional development and focus on Tier 1 support.
Approved adding a fourth day to the contract of the director of student services, which will help with district curriculum needs.
Approved the first reading of a “general complaint form” related to policies on public participation in board meetings; communication channels; employee complaints; and public complaints about employees. Director Ann Meyer noted that “all of those policies are in place. What we’re adding is a form to make it standardized so there is something that can be used.”
Approved resignations, effective at the end of the 2020-2021 term, of paraprofessionals JennaLee Bramble and Christi Breach; custodian William Nook; high school teachers Daniel Happe and Chris Dyer; and elementary special education teacher Courtney Madison.