Board Selects Architectural Firm for Bus Garage; Contemplates Employee Severance Plans

December 18, 2013 (Independence, IA) – The Independence Community School District School Board of Directors met at the Administration Building for their regular December meeting on Monday.   

Recognition was given to Independence Light and Power, Telecommunication for the $47,624.00 rebate to the school for using the New Construction Design Assistance Program; The Woman’s Auxiliary for the donation of $100 Wal-Mart gift cards to East and West Elementary; First Presbyterian Church and Immanuel Lutheran Church for their donation of winter weather items to East Elementary; Shalom Circle Immanuel Lutheran Church for their donation of winter clothing to both East and West Elementary; and to Hi-Crew Kiwanis for the donation of dictionaries for the 3rd grade students at West.

The Board also honored and recognized student Kyle Zieser (coached by Stephanie Yonkovic) for placing 5th at the 2013 Special Olympics State Bowling Tournament; the Independence Girls Volleyball Team (coached by Joe Schmitz, Angie Jenkins and Jess Chesmore,) which consists of Ashley Cappel, Katelynne Coonrad, Paige Davis, Mandi Felan, Brittney Fuller, Suzi Grover, Alyssa Hawkins, Chloe Henningsen, Megann Kinseth, Shelby Lehman, Stephanie McMillan, Sarah Morkel, Kaitlin Niedert, Karlie Niedert, Jenna Price, Hope Staker and Paige Stoner for qualifying for the 2013 State Volleyball Tournament; and four Independence High School students for being named All-state Musicians.  Mickayla Burk, Devan Cummings and Aunna Marzen (sponsored by David Lang) were selected for All-State Band and Madison Diesburg (sponsored by Roger Barloon) was selected for All-State Chorus.

The Independence FFA Chapter gave a presentation of their experience from the National FFA Convention trip to Louisville, Kentucky.  The six students elected to go to the convention participated in workshops, listened to keynote speakers, and attended the National FFA Expo.

In a 4-0 vote, the School Board selected Usher Architecture, LLC’s proposal to assist with the design for a new bus garage on the district’s 92 acres.  Usher Architecture from Independence and HSR Associates from LaCrosse, WI presented very similar proposals with preliminary cost estimates of around $400,000 for the project.  After a lengthy discussion of the two proposals, the Board selected the local firm for this project.  “When possible, it is ideal to go with local companies for various projects”, stated Board Member Shelly Whited.  The Board’s motion was contingent upon Usher Architecture being able to meet the district’s timeline for this project.  The school district will utilize existing SILO funds for this project.  The Board discussed their goal of bidding the bus garage project in early 2014, with groundbreaking in early spring after bid letting is complete.  The Board emphasized its goal of finalizing the “single campus”, which would then allow the district to dispose of the old bus garage, high school and facilities on the East side of town in 2014.

The other major topic of discussion during the meeting was whether to offer an employee severance / retirement plan this year.  The Board considered the improving financial condition and recognized that the need to offer a retirement package is not as critical as it was the past couple of years.  The general consensus was to have the administrative team provide a recommendation and proposal for the Board to consider this issue at the January Board meeting.

Board President Brian Eddy stated, “I understand the benefit of an early retirement package, including the recognition of staff for their many years of great service to the district and the cost savings to the general fund.  However, I’m personally on the fence this year in light of the improving financial condition and my desire to lower property taxes.”  Board Member Eric Smith expressed similar concerns, and noted “I would like to see the administrative team’s proposal to include a cap on the number of employees allowed to receive a possible package to avoid an increase in the management fund levy rate for the next tax year”.

The next School Board meeting will be held on Monday, January 20th, 2014 at the Admin Building at 6:00 P.M.


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