STC School Board: Aug. 31 round up

The South Tama Board of Education took up a number of issues at their Aug. 31 regular meeting including a new real estate offer for the former STC Primary school property and whether or not to hire a communications firm for the upcoming middle school bond referendum. -- File Photo

The South Tama Board of Education is back to the drawing board with the site of the former STC Primary building at 806 State St. in Tama.

Earlier this year the district was preparing to finalize an agreement with National Retail Development LLC, a Chicago-based developer, to purchase the lot for $50,000.

The intent of the original developer was to construct a new commercial building on the property for a Family Dollar retail store.

Plans changed in May when the school district received a notice from National Retail Development’s attorney stating the company elected to terminate the agreement.

No reason was given for the sudden change in the notice.

Now three months later, the district is entertaining another offer for the property, this time from a Cedar Falls company, One Site Development, LLC.

At their Aug. 31 meeting the board voted to set a public hearing for the property sale on Sept. 20 at 5 p.m. at the South Tama Elementary building.

Though the intent of the developer looking to purchase the property is unclear, One Site Development has been linked to multiple Dollar Tree construction projects within the state over the past five years.

Should a retail store be developed on the property the project would also need to go before the City of Tama Planning and Zoning Commission as the ground is not zoned for commercial use.


The board also heard proposals from two public relations firms seeking a contract with the district to head up communications for the middle school bond referendum.

Presentations were given by Rod Wright of Creative Entourage, a St. Louis-based company, and by Jerry Gallagher with the Donovan Group. The Donovan Group had been hired last year for a sum of $18,000 to assist the district with public relations for the project that was sent for a vote in March 2020.

Creative Entourage had been recommended to the district by Estes Construction, the company providing construction management services to the district, after board members voiced concerns over what some felt was a lack of services provided by Donovan Group.

The bid for the Donovan Group this year came in much lower at $12,000, while Creative Entourage’s bid was significantly higher at $20,000.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Facility Task Force member Charlotte Upah spoke in opposition of hiring any communications firm for the middle school project as she felt hiring a firm was premature and would contradict the purpose of the Task Force. Upah also stated she felt spending money on a communications firm would be fiscally irresponsible and that the local Task Force could handle the public relations needs of the project.

The board ultimately tabled the item again though most members appeared to be in agreement with Upah’s sentiments that the Task Force could and should lead public relations efforts for the project.

The board will bring back the Task Force at a later meeting to hear feedback from the group about how they could handle communications for the referendum project.


The board approved contracts for Taylor Ray, p/t Elementary ELL Para; Heather Keen, Elementary SPED Para and Nicholas Wheeler, High School Custodian.

The board also approved the following volunteers: Marla Behounek, Musical and Marlene Crabtree, Work in Classrooms and Field Trips at the Elementary.

Contract approvals

Two agreements for contracts were approved by the board at their Aug. 31 meeting. The first was for the Write to Learn program through ISFIS for 250 licenses and training for the 2021-22 school year at a cost of $4,250.

The second agreement was for a contract with Mark J. Becker & Associates LLC in the amount of $15,600. The Johnston-based firm will provide the district with benefits consulting services.

South Tama Director of Finance Randy Denham recommended the firm to the district as he believes the school may be overspending on unused benefits options each year.

The firm will conduct a review of the district’s current employee benefits landscape and report back to the board in the coming months.