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Fisher presents board with high school renovation action plan

Robin Macomber is sworn in by Terri O’Brien as school board president on Monday. (Photo submitted.)
Robin Macomber (right) is sworn in by Terri O’Brien as school board president on Monday. In the foreground is Superintendent Mike Fisher. (Photo submitted.)
By James Grob,

After swearing in new district officers at Monday’s meeting, Charles City School Superintendent Mike Fisher updated the Charles City Community School District Board of Education regarding the high school renovation project.

“What you’ll notice in this that’s very important is that there are no dates, just a sequence,” Fisher told the board. “I thought about what the important things are, that have to happen, for us to move on high school renovations.”

Fisher said he has conducted many stakeholder interviews through July and August, and he expects those to continue. He said the senior leadership team will determine bonding capacity through continued conversations with asset management firm Piper Jaffray.

Fisher said what was formerly known as the Phase II Committee will now be known as the Community High School Renovation Committee. This committee will be re-established and hold ongoing meetings for strategy and action.

“We feel that ‘high school renovation’ is a much more accurate term,” Fisher told the board.

Fisher said the district will develop a Charles City High School Renovation Task Force composed of district staff, students and stakeholders for design input, and the task force will meet regularly to provide input and feedback for design, and assess the needs of the district.

“We want to make sure all people are represented,” said Fisher. “That task force will do some of the heavy lifting; they’ll provide the input of what our kids need. They are the professionals who work with our kids daily, so we’re going to trust their judgment on that and give them the parameters to work with.”

Once the task force does its work and recommends a plan, the district will evaluate stakeholders’ acceptance of the plan, the board will establish and approve a finalized plan, and call a bond vote 45 days from the selected election date.

The school district has been looking into a modernization plan for the high school since the new middle school was completed two years ago.

In December 2017, architects had presented a new, two-story concept of what the high school’s floor plan could look like under a $22 million to $23 million renovation budget. In February and March, the district consulted with teachers, coaches and community members regarding the plan, and heard requested additions and alterations. As with most bond issues, any plan will require a 60 percent majority approval from the public to pass.

“The conditions and learning environments at the current facility require improvements due to needs for safety, health, comfort, best-practice teaching/learning, and fiscal responsibility,” Fisher’s report to the board said.

“Without improvements, the facility will not foster the level of 21st-century academic rigor and readiness that the district is committed to delivering to all students through our vision/mission/core values. In addition, ongoing facility investment through needed repairs in the current building will not be financially sustainable or reasonable when return on investment is assessed.”

Fisher told the Press last week that a facilities assessment and the future of the North Grand Building are top priorities for the district, before the high school renovations.

In August, the board unanimously approved a facility assessment agreement with Estes Construction. Estes will perform an assessment of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing facilities in all school buildings, the athletic stadium and the transportation center. The basic cost is $9,500 with $3,000 in possible add-ons.

In other business Monday, the board took nominations and approved the new officers for the year. The president of the board is elected by a majority vote of board members to serve a one-year term of office.

Director Robin Macomber was nominated, voted and sworn in as board president, and Jason Walker as vice-president. Terri O’Brien was reappointed as district secretary/treasurer, Ahlers and Cooney were re-appointed as district legal counsel, and the Charles City Press was named as the district’s official publication.

The board also appointed Isaiah Tilton, a junior at Charles City High School, as the student board member for the 2018-19 school year. The student board member serves through May, and is eligible to participate in discussion at all regular board meetings held in open session, but does not vote.

The student board member is responsible for communicating board decisions and information to the student body.

Fisher also presented the school districts’ core values to the board, and his goals for the 2018-19 school year, and the board approved both items unanimously.

Fisher said the Charles City School District’s mission and vision are to engage, inspire and empower students and staff in order to maximize learning. The core values are “we do what is best for all kids, we are family, we are committed leaders, we are passionate and we are invitational.”

Fisher said the “family commitments” of the district are “honor the family, keep calm and teach, keep the main thing the main thing, assume positive intent, no surprises and be vulnerable.”

Fisher said his board/superintendent goals for the school year are, in short, to “learn and apply key understandings to successfully lead the school; to provide leadership for the district goal of assessing and improving culture, climate and learning environments; and provide leadership for the district to achieve its goal of ensuring 21st century facilities for learning and extra-curricular environments.”

In other action on Monday the board:

— Approved notice of a public hearing at 6 p.m. Sept. 24 regarding a resolution to expand funds from the district’s flexibility account for signage and campus beautification and a copier for the high school. The funds, which total $27,430, were unexpended and unobligated from the home school assistance program. The hearing will be held in the middle school 7th-grade learning studio.

— Heard and approved a summary of the certified annual financial report, compiled and provided by O’Brien, as well as the financial report for August of 2018.

— Approved a district request for supplemental aid in the amount of $226,487.94 for the fiscal year 2018 negative special education balance. The deficit is down from $577,407 for the year, partly due to an increase in Medicaid reimbursements of approximately $152,000.

— Heard a report from teachers Dana Sullivan and Sarah Downing, who presented information on interest-based bargaining.

— Approved the resignation of learning connection instructor Kristin McLeland effective Sept. 4.

— Approved the appointment of Maria Reh as booster club concession stand manager at the wage of $25 per hour, effective Sept. 11.

— Approved licensed employee transfers of Jenisha Garden from Lincoln Elementary to the middle school, Elizabeth VonHagen from Washington to Lincoln, Ryan Fank from Lincoln to Washington, Sue Hoefer from Lincoln/Washington/middle school to just Lincoln/Washington, and Jody Welter from the middle school to middle school/Immaculate Conception.

— Approved the certified employee transfer of Delores Gaston from 9-month confidential secretary to 12-month confidential secretary.