Board renews discussion of school facilities at work session

School Board
Pete Temple
Express Associate Editor

     It’s back on the table.

     Discussion about the future of Monticello’s school buildings, possible future construction, and another bond issue election is under way, primarily through the newly-formed School Facility Committee.

     Monticello Community School District Superintendent Brian Jaeger presented information to the Monticello School Board about facility discussion during the board’s Oct. 11 work session.

     The School Facility Committee has met three times, Jaeger said during a presentation about the committee’s findings to this point. Members of the committee, through conversations with citizens and school staff members, have discovered three recurring themes that will be critical to the passage of any future bond vote:

     • A central campus vs. multiple sites.

     • That costs are a very important factor.

     • Repair vs. new building.

     Jaeger said the committee has developed a possible timeline for a new bond election, aiming for the fall of 2018, although discussion at the board meeting leaned toward a February 2019 date instead.

     Jaeger also went through a history of bond votes in Monticello, noting that since a bond passed in 1960 for a high school addition and Shannon Elementary, there have been nine bond votes within the district, including the 2015 vote, and only one – the bond for the new high school in 1996 – has passed.

     The SAVE fund (penny sales tax) was also discussed. Jaeger noted that SAVE funding, which produces about $900,000 per year for the district, expires in 2029 and will likely not be extended.

     Jaeger also offered his personal opinion on what the district should do. He said he is in favor of a new, PreK-6 building on land behind the high school, where the current varsity soccer field sits, with a goal of adding a grade 7-8 addition to the high school in future years.

     He said this would fix most of the district’s facility problems, and that a new elementary would be the least expensive building to build.

     The board and Jaeger seemed to agree that rather than going for a major project at one time, the district would be better off developing a master plan but implementing it in phases so the initial price tag isn’t so high.

     The School Facility Committee will meet again Oct. 18. Eventually, the goal is for the committee to make a recommendation to the school board, which will make the final decision on what kind of construction and/or repair the district will seek, and any bond election details.

Also at the work session, the board:

     • heard a report from Deb Bowman and Gretchen Kriegel about the mentoring program, which began in the 2008-09 school year. The program currently has 18 trained teacher mentors, who are there to assist teachers who are either new to the profession, new to the district, or both.

     The mentors go through a training program through the Grant Wood Area Education Agency. Kriegel noted, in a slide show about the program, is that it promotes teaching excellence, student achievement, a supportive environment, retention of educators, and more.

     Bowman said mentors “don’t want to be evaluative, (we) want to be helpful.”

     • heard a report from Jaeger about his goal of expanding the student council program so that there are student councils for the middle school and for fourth grade at Carpenter Elementary; and also for a National Honor Society sponsor who can facilitate the election of officers and a constitution for that organization.

     These will be on the agenda at the Oct. 23 regular meeting.


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