Mid-Prairie approves construction bids, pay raises, principal hire

By Cheryl Allen
Posted 5/15/24


In an over three-hour business meeting Monday night, the Mid-Prairie school board approved a host of projects and changes in preparation for the next school year, in addition to …

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Mid-Prairie approves construction bids, pay raises, principal hire



In an over three-hour business meeting Monday night, the Mid-Prairie school board approved a host of projects and changes in preparation for the next school year, in addition to recognizing a retiring teacher and the service of school board members (see 5A for photos).

The board looked forward to the district’s next construction projects at their May 13 meeting, one of which is the building of a new wresting/multipurpose center at the high school. The board approved a contract for architectural services with OPN for $160,000.

Parking lots will be paved and expanded at East and West Elementary schools; the board reviewed the nine bids received for such (“A good day for Mid-Prairie,” superintendent Brian Stone noted) and accepted the bid from Dave Schmidt Construction for $629,352.75 for West and from All American Concrete for $777,773.50 for East. Total costs are projected to fall over $100K under estimate.

The parking lot projects are being funded by the general obligation bonds approved by voters in November 2023. The board passed a series of resolutions related to the Series 2024 GO Bond sale, not to exceed $8,700,000.

Although not a bond-funded project, the board approved earmarking $15,000 in athletic annual matching funds for renovation of the football/track pressbox at the high school. Activities director Pete Cavanaugh presented a proposal to the board that would see the pressbox gutted, then revamped with new windows, carpet, siding, paint, electrical, heating and cooling, and signage. The estimated $65,892.15 will be primarily funded by the booster club.

Pay raises and school fees

The board reviewed compensation packages for administrators and directors for the next academic year. The board approved a 3% total package increase for existing employees.

The board also approved a 2.2% increase in compensation packages for Home School Assistance Program staff, which includes both full and part time employees. Because of the growing number of students enrolled in the program, one additional full-time position is being added for the 24-25 school year.

School fees were considered for the next school year; the board approved a $5/month increase for 3-year-old preschool, a $1 increase in band/choir uniform cleaning fees, and a 5¢/day increase in student lunch prices.

Middle school principal hire

The district fielded 25 applicants for its open middle school principal position, which it narrowed down to one through a series of interviews with parents, administrators, and staff. The most qualified applicant happened to be the spouse of a current middle school teacher.

This fact aroused concerns over nepotism that were raised by a teacher during public forum and shared by board members when it came time to approve the hire. Board president Jake Snider and vice president Gabrielle Frederick expressed frustration over what appeared to be a board policy that failed to prevent a situation where one spouse might be hired to oversee the other.

“I don’t think we’re violating any policies. I’m not saying that at all,” Snider said before the board voted. But in approving the hire, “It’s asking for trouble,” he said.

Frederick noted that when this type of situation arose in the past, the superintendent simply asked the spouse of the prospective administrator to move to another building. It was not board policy, but simply a practice.

Qualms aside, the board approved the hire.

Other board action

In other action, the board approved culinary arts, computer science, and fine arts curriculum spending in the amount of $94,852.25, which will be paid out over seven years for subject-specific curriculums, some to be put in place where none previously existed.

“We know it’s a big ask,” district curriculum leader Kristan Hunter acknowledged, but board members were supportive. “I think it’s important that we’re finding things for every single kid to have an opportunity to get involved in,” Frederick said.

The board passed first readings of a number of Chapter 200 policies, which have been revised in accordance with IASB recommendations.

The board passed second readings of policies on child abuse reporting and required professional development for employees.

The board approved a 5-year agreement with Bohnsack & Frommelt, LLP of Moline, Illinois for auditing services. This is a change from the district’s current auditor, which has had challenges meeting deadlines for the past few years.

The Mid-Prairie school board will next meet on Tuesday, June 21 for a special closed session to evaluate the superintendent. The board’s next public meeting will be Monday, June 10 at 6:15 p.m. in the Central Office Community Room.

Mid-Prairie school board, construction bids, pay raises, school fees, middle school principal, Wellman, Iowa