State Board of Ed meeting set for Jan. 23

Kirt Manion
Members of the Hamburg School Board posed for a photo at the conclusion of their Monday meeting. From left are Melissa Beyer, Cris Hendrickson, board vice president; Kyla Tiemeyer, Nick Matheson and Kevin DeChant, board president.

The Hamburg school will provide a presentation to the Iowa State Board of Education at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 23, in Des Moines with the goal of gaining approval for the return of high school programming at Marnie Simons School.

A 5-4 vote denied the school their high school program during a state board meeting back in March. Members of the state board told the Hamburg school that the vote of no was not a final word and encouraged them to return to Des Moines in a year.

Flooding had just begun in Hamburg and was on the minds of the state board members as they took their vote. Going by that, one would assume flood recovery will be part of the discussion this time around.

Superintendent Dr. Mike Wells said he would encourage all Hamburg residents who can make the trip to attend the meeting, which could last from 20 minutes to an hour and possibly a little longer.

Dr. Wells said the school sent the board a letter which pointed to schools having local control and noted that being a small school should not be grounds for denying the request.

In other news, the Hamburg board discussed the school calendar for the 2020-21 school year and set a public hearing date to coincide with the next board meeting date of Feb. 10.

School board members talked about features of the schedule for next year.

Included was the discussion of taking off the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Board members also talked about making the last day of the first semester a Monday. Christmas falls on a Friday this year and the Monday of that week would be  a school day. Members were in favor of that over the idea of having  school Monday and Tuesday.

Easter break will take the place of spring break on the calendar with students getting off on Good Friday and Easter Monday.

The tentative end date for the 2020-2021 school year would be May 20.

School board members decided to invite members of the Essex Board to Hamburg’s March meeting to discuss sharing.

The Hamburg school has been sharing its superintendent and other resources with the Essex school as the two schools work together in order to save money for both districts.

Open enrollment has two students leaving the district, but it was noted that the school recently added two students, one fourth grader and one kindergartner.

Dr. Wells spoke to the board members about the possibility of needing to buy a truck and blade for snow removal as the person doing the removal now might not be able to continue. The school doesn’t have a reliable vehicle for the purpose at this time and the cost could be in the $37K range. There is a possibility that the school could work with Essex on snow removal there and charge for that to help offset the cost of the purchase. That could be problematic, however, due to the distance between the communities, but the board members voiced an interest in at least exploring that chance.

The house project being done by Hamburg students is moving forward with parts of the house being constructed at the maker space. Dr. Wells reported that the property owner in for the property next to Hamburg’s lot has agreed to give the school the extra footage it needs in order to make the house work. There had been a previous disagreement on that topic, but the property owner visited the maker space, saw what the students were doing and delivered the good news.

A need for a storage unit might be coming up soon for the Hamburg board. The school has property in the former high school building, but will need to remove it soon. Without a current storage option, Dr. Wells gave the idea of looking into constructing a storage shed for that purpose. Board members agreed to discuss that matter further at a later date.

To limit the storage needed, Dr. Wells said the school is considering have a free-will donation event where residents could come up to Marnie Simons, see the items from the middle school and purchase for a free will donation. The date for that is tentatively Feb. 8.