G-R board hears from new staff, adopts SAVE resolution during Aug. 18 meeting

Gladbrook demolition, Sept. 13 bond vote also discussed

New district teachers, including those pictured, introduced themselves to members of the Gladbrook-Reinbeck school board as part of the August 18 board meeting held in the JH/HS Commons. –Photo by Ruby F. McAllister

From introducing new teachers to discussing a dishwasher purchase, it was mostly business as usual during the Aug. 18 meeting of the G-R school board save for a public hearing on the proposed issuance of $8.25 million in school infrastructure revenue bonds (SAVE bonds).

The hearing was held just ahead of the start of the regular meeting. With no written nor verbal public comments provided, the board quickly closed the hearing and subsequently approved the proposed issuance of SAVE revenue bonds by a unanimous decision.

Later in the meeting, under new business, the resolution for the issuance of the SAVE revenue bonds was adopted by the board. Prior to adoption, several board members had questions for G-R superintendent Erik Smith regarding the actual use of the funds. Smith said nothing in the resolution stated what the SAVE revenue bond funds can only be used for but rather lists possible examples such as HVAC purchases.

Under Iowa Code, SAVE monies can be used for a variety of school infrastructure activities including construction, reconstruction, repair, demolition work, purchasing, or remodeling of schoolhouses, stadiums, gyms, field houses, and bus garages, as well as the procurement of schoolhouse construction sites and the making of site improvements.

In response to another board member’s questions, Smith stated that the actual useable SAVE amount is closer to $6.8 million due to rising interest rates and fees.

New staff

Following the public hearing, the regular meeting was called to order. Several new G-R staff members were present and introduced themselves to the board.

New certified staff this school year includes Regina Barth-Wroten (Early Child Special Education), Richard Carr (7-12 Math), Dayna Eckhoff (Kindergarten), Olivia Eiklenborg (5th Grade), Courtney George (7-12 English/Language Arts), Brian Grooms (Elementary Physical Education), Diane Keith (Elementary Special Education), Eliott Kuchera (5-12 Band/6th Grade General Music), Timothy Logemann (3rd Grade), Anjuli Myers (JH/HS Principal), Zach Rankin (HS Vocational Ag Instructor), and Laura Steege (Spanish Teacher).

As far as 2022-2023 staffing is concerned, Smith told the board all positions are covered but the district could always use more paraeducators.

Gladbrook demolition

Prior to approving the consent agenda for the evening, the ongoing demolition of the former Gladbrook school was very briefly addressed.

“It’s coming along pretty good,” board member Doug Rowe said of the demolition work. Smith responded that it is his hope there are no more delays in the process.

Following the meeting, the Sun Courier followed up with Smith regarding future plans for the site of the former Gladbrook school. No decisions have been made at this time, Smith said.

Spending purchases

Both an electrical equipment purchase and a kitchen equipment purchase were approved under new business.

In an attempt to plan for possible facility upgrades while also navigating supply chain delays, Smith asked for the board’s approval to commit $120,000 (roughly half for the elementary building and half for the secondary building) toward electrical equipment upgrade purchases. Smith said electrical switchgears currently have a 10 to 11-month lead time, he said.

“It’s one of those things that you never had to do previously because you’ve never had this [supply chain] issue,” Smith told the board.

Board member Rowe asked Smith if the equipment could be resold, seemingly in reference to the fact that the upcoming bond issue might not pass. Smith responded that was a possibility but that the district will need to upgrade its electrical at some point regardless. The $120k purchase will accommodate all of the new equipment the district is planning for as part of the facility upgrade as well as allow for future electrical space needs.

The electrical equipment purchase was approved unanimously.

A kitchen equipment purchase was also approved by the board. Smith shared that the elementary school’s dishwasher quit working over the summer. Without a dishwasher at the elementary school, all the dishes would need to be brought over to the secondary building or cleaned by the three-sink method.

Following a lengthy discussion regarding suppliers, a motion was approved to replace the elementary school’s dishwasher for up to $14,907 without specifying a vendor. Several board members including Rowe encouraged Smith to make a few more calls, including locally, in the coming days for additional dishwasher prices.

The dishwasher purchase will be made using nutrition funds.

Upcoming bond referendum community meeting

As part of his report, Smith provided an update on the next bond referendum community meeting. The vote itself is scheduled for Tuesday, September 13.

The sample ballot for the Sept. 13 vote – printed in this week’s edition of the Sun Courier – contains two ‘yes or no’ questions for voters in the Gladbrook-Reinbeck Community School District.

Question 1 asks voters: Shall the Board of Directors of the Gladbrook-Reinbeck Community School District in the Counties of Tama, Marshall, Black Hawk, and Grundy, State of Iowa, be authorized to contract indebtedness and issue General Obligation Bonds in an amount not to exceed $23,605,000 to be used together with proceeds of School Infrastructure Sales, Services, and Use Tax Revenue Bonds to provide funds to build, furnish, and equip additions to and to remodel, repair, improve, furnish, and equip District facilities, including related site improvements?

Question 2 asks voters: Shall the Board of Directors of the Gladbrook-Reinbeck Community School District in the Counties of Tama, Marshall, Black Hawk, and Grundy, State of Iowa, be authorized to levy annually a tax exceeding Two Dollars and Seventy Cents ($2.70) per Thousand Dollars ($1,000), but not exceeding Four Dollars and Five Cents ($4.05) per Thousand Dollars ($1,000) of the assessed value of the taxable property within said school corporation to pay the principal of and interest on bonded indebtedness of said school corporation, it being understood that the approval of this proposition shall not limit the source of payment of the bonds and interest, but shall only operate to restrict the amount of bonds which may be issued?

The second of the three community meetings is set to take place Wednesday, August 24, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Gladbrook Memorial Building.

Smith shared that Matthew Gillaspie with the firm Piper Sandler will be the main presenter, focusing on the financial aspects of the bond. This second meeting will be a more concise presentation, Smith said, than the first (held on July 26 in Reinbeck), lasting roughly 75 minutes and leaving time for questions.

There are no plans* to livestream the Gladbrook meeting, Smith stated in response to a school board member’s inquiry. [*Update: The August 24 community meeting in Gladbrook was livestreamed.]

The Sun Courier will provide full coverage of the Gladbrook meeting in the September 2 edition.