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School district COVID health has remained stable, Fisher says

District looking ahead to prom, graduation, musical production

By James Grob,

The Charles City School District is daring to look ahead to future events — the kind of events where crowds gather.

Charles City Superintendent of Schools Mike Fisher told the Charles City School Board of Directors on Monday that he has been consulting with public health officials regarding upcoming big events at the school, such as prom and graduation.

“We can’t really decide what those are going to look like now, because we’re still a little too far removed, but these are being discussed,” Fisher said. “Things continue to improve, but we have to remain diligent.”

Fisher said that overall COVID health has remained stable, and there have been a few cases, but not many, since the district opted to go back to full-time on-site learning in January. Fisher said that with the exception of a slight uptick over the weekend, the positivity rate in Floyd County has also remained stable in recent weeks.

“Things have been calm and stable for the most part, in terms of health,” Fisher told the board. “The light is at the end of the tunnel, though we aren’t there yet.”

Fisher said he has heard some concerns from Floyd County Public Health regarding spring break — which starts next Monday and runs through next week — and he continues to advise students, teachers and families to make wise decisions over that time.

Fisher said that he was pleased to report that 198 school district employees have now been fully vaccinated — about two-thirds of the staff — with the second and final round of shots being administered on Friday of last week.

He also said that the district’s spring sports protocols have all been approved by public health. He said the spring musical, which will be at the beginning of April in North Grand Auditorium, will limit the audience, practice social distancing, require masks and keep people within family groups.

“It will be more limited attendance, but we’ll still get about 300 people in there each night,” Fisher said. “That’s a much smaller audience than we’re used to, but I feel like we are doing the best we can with what we’ve been given.”

The CCHS spring production this year will be the musical comedy, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

In related business Monday, the school board approved a bid from BMI Lighting Supply of New York for $48,996 for the purchase and installation of auditorium stage lights in North Grand Auditorium.

“This is exciting for us,” Fisher said. “We recently decided we needed to service the theater lights in North Grand Auditorium.”

Fisher said most of the current lights are beyond repair and have been removed. He said that Jason Lester, a technical theater consultant from Cedar Rapids, has been helping the district develop the specifications for the auditorium lights and helped to send the bids to qualified suppliers.

The budget for the project was not to exceed $50,000, of which $8,000 will be funded by the local community theater group the Stony Point Players and the CCHS drama department. The purchase includes a new lighting control board.

Fisher said the lights can be removed and reinstalled in a new venue, should the district build one in the future, and that the district’s balance of the purchase can be paid as a COVID Cares Act expenditure, as the lighting is needed to expand available spaces to hold fine arts classes.

“That’s a good one-time use of the money,” Fisher said. “It helps us fix things now, and it will save our community some taxpayer expenses down the road.”

Fisher said that the lights will be hung the week of March 26 and be operational in time for the CCHS musical production, which will open the night of April 2

“I’ve talked to Derek Sturtevant and Michelle Grob, the musical directors, and I’ve talked with some of the kids in the production, and they are all very excited about this,” Fisher said. “We will have some really nice lights.”

Fisher said the purchase was a “good mix of technology, as many of the lights are conventional, although there are some LED lights and other specialty lights included as a part of the purchase.

“It’s about time,” commented school board member Janiece Bergland, who has directed many productions in the North Grand Building over the years.

The district received three bids for the light work, and BMI’s bid was the only one under $50,000.

Also Monday, the board approved the school calendar for the 2021-22 academic year. The major changes to the calendar include moving parent teacher conferences, which will now be on a Thursday, with a professional development date immediately following the conference date. There was also an adjustments to starting dates, as the elementary buildings and the middle school and high school buildings will open on different days.

The adjustments were all recommended by the district calendar task force, which comprises a variety of district stakeholders, including teachers, administrators, parents and students.

The calendar sets the first day of classes as Monday, Aug. 23, for the secondary and Wednesday, Aug. 25, for the elementary schools, and sets the the last day of classes as Wednesday, May 25, 2022, for all buildings.

In other business Monday, the board:
— Discussed the proposed 2021-22 certified budget. The budget will be presented at the March 22 meeting, when a public hearing will be set.
— Approved a memorandum of understanding with The Learning Center, which extends the original memorandum of understanding for a second year. The District and TLC will act as preferred partners to provide shared opportunities and collaborative experiences to benefit all students and children of the district and TLC.
— Approved an agreement for joint operation of the local access cable channels with Community Revitalization, the Chamber of Commerce and the school district.
— Approved the resignation of Kara Shannon, Washington Elementary principal, effective June 30.
— Approved the resignation of Julie Ritter, administrative support, activities office, effective June 30.
— Approved the transfer of Dana Sullivan, high school business teacher, to the position of middle school associate principal, at a salary of $85,000, starting July 1.
— Approved an armory lease agreement for the Charles City location of the Iowa National Guard Facility.
— Approved a cooperative student-teaching agreement with the University of Northern Iowa for the 2021-22 academic year.
— Heard a presentation from Fisher, David Voves and the School To You team on the district’s School to You vision.

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