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Charles City School Board talks TK; discusses new high school plan

By Travis Fischer,

The Charles City Community School Board discussed the transitional kindergarten program and the next step toward planning for the high school building’s future during a special workshop meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

Superintendent Anne Lundquist asked the board members for their thoughts on how the district should proceed in meeting the school’s facility needs now that the bond referendum to renovate the building has failed to move forward for a second year.

“I’m looking forward to the facility getting together very quickly,” said board President Dr. David Schrodt. “I would like to have a company that we can hire … that can help with the idea of planning for the future.”

Schrodt suggested the district contact WBC Mechanical in Waterloo to provide new options for an HVAC installation. With no air conditioning and a boiler system that Operations Director Jerry Mitchell estimates has at least five years left in it, a new heating and cooling system is one of the more immediate needs for the high school building.

With a stalled ballot attempt in 2022, a failed bond referendum in November, and the district’s PPEL money largely stretched to its limit until the middle school is paid off in 2029, Schrodt said he wants to explore new options in search of a less expensive project that can be paid for without raising taxes.

Board member Kathryn Fox pushed back against going back to the drawing board, noting that the district has already spent a considerable amount of money to determine what the building needs and how much it will cost.

“Is it fiscally responsible to get all these estimates when they could come back with the same information?” said Fox.

Fox also expressed concerns about “kicking the can down the road.”

“These are systems that have been going for many many years and they are not going to last forever,” said Fox. “Who is going to send their kids to a school that doesn’t have heat?”

Schrodt rejected that characterization, acknowledging that Mitchell and his team have done exemplary work in maintaining the current building over the years and that there is ample time to develop a new plan.

Also at the meeting, Washington Elementary Principal Joe Carney gave a presentation about the transitional kindergarten, which is a class designed for kids who may need more than what the preschool program offers but may not yet be ready for the kindergarten program.

Offering a mixture of pre-k and kindergarten lessons, the program currently serves 14 students, some of whom have circumstances that require extra attention from the instructor. It was discussed whether having these students in a specialized class is more beneficial to them, both academically and socially, than if they were integrated into the regular kindergarten classroom.

As the meeting was just a work session, no decisions could be made. The presentation and discussion were an educational opportunity to provide information for the board to consider in the future.

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