STC School Board talks return to learn, tennis courts, IJH/Middle School
The return to school planning and strategizing process continues at South Tama County as Dr. Jared Smith, STC Superintendent provided updates to the school board during their regular meeting on Monday, July 6. Smith indicated that with so much of the coronavirus situation being fluid and susceptible to change, that the leadership team was choosing to wait before committing to a set of return to school guidelines. It was announced that two mass communications to students and families with COVID-19 school guidelines would be coming out ahead of the start back to school. The first communication is planned to come out in late July ahead of summer school while the second communication with further details and guideline refinements will be put out in mid-August. Following a staff survey, it was determined that South Tama would stick with August 24th as the target date for returning to school. Earlier discussions brought up the possibility of beginning classes a few days earlier, but it was decided to forego that change and remain on the original schedule.
South Tama Elementary Principal Brad Schweppe gave an update on plans for summer school that would begin with a staff training day on August 3 and extend across a nine-day period with students in the building. Summer school classes would occur at the elementary and middle school buildings with a limit of eight students per classroom. Schweppe noted that COVID-19 precautionary measures such as face coverings and temperature checks were not planned for summer school students and staff, citing guidelines released by the Iowa Department of Education. He also indicated that he and the committee working on summer school would take up recommendations from school administration or the school board if they felt that those types of precautionary measures should be enacted during summer school.
The board saw and approved a recommendation to extend the upcoming winter holiday break to begin on December 19, five days earlier than the originally scheduled date of December 23rd. This would allow for a full COVID-19 incubation period to elapse with students and staff out of the building in the event that a deep clean and sanitization of the school buildings would be necessary. The change would result in the final day of school to be on Friday, May 28, 2021.
Plans for a full renovation of the tennis court complex at the STC High School moved one step closer to finalization at Monday’s school board meeting. Brad Beck from Beck Engineering, Inc. (BEI) was present at the meeting to deliver an engineering proposal that included cost estimates for the renovation project. The proposed project would include the replacement of the six high school tennis courts, soil and asphalt work, new fencing around the courts but would exclude replacement of the court lighting system. The estimated total project cost presented by BEI was $615,025. The board voted unanimously to accept the engineering proposal and to seek contractor bids for the work to be completed. The bidding process will be open for three weeks with a public hearing to follow on Monday, August 17. The board would take up one final vote after the public hearing to potentially accept one of the bids, which would then allow work to begin.
The high school tennis courts underwent previous renovation in 2011 with a $104,000 rehabilitation project that included the replacement of a retaining wall along the east side of the courts and professional resurfacing of the entire court system.
The topic of the middle school building project was again before the school board on Monday. Discussions at recent board meetings have centered around reevaluating the Iowa Juvenile Home (IJH) facility in Toledo as a potential location option for the middle school project. Dr. Smith relayed estimates from Estes Construction that showed a potential cost of demolition and remediation of the entire IJH campus to be between $2.1 and $2.4 million. In an action item during Monday’s meeting, the board approved a limit of $10,000 to be spent with Invision Architects to investigate the potential costs of a partial renovation, partial new construction option on the IJH campus. Dr. Smith noted that in his opinion, given the current COVID-19 situation, the earliest likely window for putting a new middle school project before voters would be March of 2021.
In other business the school board…
Approved the contracts for Chelsea Ahrens, HS Asst. Activities Director and Joe Miller, HS Health; and accepted the resignation of Leah Fonua, MS Counselor.
Approved the building handbooks for 2020-21.
Approved the purchase of K-8 science curriculum and HS Agriculture curriculum totaling $62,541.94
Approved the purchase of a vehicle lift for the bus barn at a total of $16,494
Approved the summer strength and conditioning plan that was presented by the Activities Department.
Approved a Suicide Practice and Procedures Handbook that would be applied across all grades.