DCSD Board approves improvement project; Open-enrollment athletic waiver also debated

By Roz Weis,

After months of deliberation, Decorah Community School Board (DCSB) Directors approved an outdoor recreation area improvement project for a space next to Carrie Lee School and Decorah Middle School.

The low bid of $334,741 from Turf Inc., a Missouri firm, was accepted. In a letter to District Superintendent Tim Cronin, Emergent Architecture Project Manager Ted Friesner stated that three bids had a been received, from Turf Inc. (d/b/a Synlawn), Rausch Construction Inc., of Fort Atkinson, and Shift Companies from Cedar Rapids. 

Student transfer

In other business at the District’s June 12 meeting, Board members approved a motion to waive the 90-day sports ineligibility requirement for a student transferring into the Decorah District this fall. This is the first time the Board has been faced with such a request, and Supt. Cronin indicated it may be more common due to recent state legislation regarding open-enrollment standards. The Iowa Legislature recently removed the requirement of a 90-day waiting period for students wanting to transfer to a new school district. Board officials said the new legislation is now impacting high school athletics.

Board members discussed pros and cons for accepting the immediate athletic eligibility.

“I think the cons, from a statewide perspective, are many … It is encouraging more hopping from school to school for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of education,” said DCSD Board President Ron Fadness. “From the perspective of our local District in this instance, the only con is that if you have somebody coming in that is a talented athletic, that means somebody that has been in our District won’t be getting as much playing time.”

“I don’t feel we have any choice than to approve it, although I wish it were not an option statewide,” Fadness concluded. 

Supt. Cronin said that the Decorah Board had previously granted a 90-day ineligibility requirement waiver for a student who was leaving the District.

Cronin said he received favorable reactions from other school districts on the way in which the Decorah District and another area school boards had handled the previous request regarding the athletic eligibility waiver.

More action

Board members heard a proposal regarding new textbooks and digital software for the high school social studies curriculum. It was noted that some of the textbooks at the high school were used in the 1990s. Two publishers, Savvas and HMH will replace the current books. The textbooks will also include digital courseware with special features for visual adaptation and speech-to-text. Teachers and administrators reviewed the curriculum updates over the past year at the high school.

Annual renewals

The Board approved renewing the agreement to provide food service to St. Benedict School in Decorah, and some discussion as held after the agreement was approved.

“I don’t have any changes to this agreement, but I just want us to be mindful as we revisit this next year, with new legislation and so much state funding going to private school, said Board member Cindy Goodner. “I want us to be responsible with our public school funding. I want to make sure that it is a mutually beneficial agreement.”

Supt. Cronin said the agreement with St. Benedict’s School is up for discussion on an annual basis, and direct and in-direct costs will be reviewed next June 1.

Board members also approved renewing a contract for the District’s school milk and dairy products to current supplier Anderson-Erickson. A contract with Pan-O-Gold for 2023-24 bakery and bread products for the District. Decorah Newspapers and Driftless Multimedia LLC was authorized as the District’s official newspaper publication media for the next year. Renewed as the District’s legal counsel for the year was the firm of Ahlers and Cooney.

As the meeting concluded, Board members considered an open house event at the District’s new bus garage east of Decorah in the summer.

The monthly Board meetings are broadcast on the District’s Youtube channel @decorahtv, and can be viewed at any time. A portion of the June 12 meeting was not available due to technical issues.

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