The Davis County School Board agreed Monday night, April 5, to work with the Bloomfield City Council to return the school crossing to the intersection of Highway 63 and North Street.
Nikki Davis, Abby Yearling and Teran Sorensen approached the board during the special meeting to discuss the issue and get the crossing returned to North Street along with crossing guards to help the kids get across Highway 63.
Davis told the board that discussions with the Bloomfield City Council indicated that the school needed to make a formal request to get it back. “We’ve got to take action before a kid gets hurt or killed,” said Davis.
Davis told the board that kids are still crossing at North Street even though the crossing guards aren’t there. Yearling and Sorensen also expressed similar concerns and the three women presented the board with a petition to return the crossing to Highway 63 and North Street. They obtained 288 signatures of support in just three days.
Superintendent Dan Maeder told the board that the crosswalk was removed because of the construction on North Street. The crossing was moved to Locust Street where there is a stop light.
Maeder admitted to the board that he and the school failed to notify parents and let them know that the crosswalk was removed and no longer being used. Research indicates that Iowa DOT officials still recognize that the intersection of Highway 63 and North Street is the approved intersection for the crosswalk. The board learned that DOT officials were surprised that it wasn’t being used any more.
Maeder also reported that discussions with the school’s insurance company promote returning the crosswalk to the Highway 63 and North Street intersection. “They tell us that the insurance liability is better if we put it back at Highway 63 and North Street and not at the stoplight,” said Maeder.
Maeder also admitted that he failed to get to two city council meetings that have been held in the past month to discuss the issue. Maeder told the board that he was on vacation and also had another conflict on the night of the second meeting.
Maeder deferred to the board to ask what they would like for the school to do regarding the crosswalks. Board member Josh O’Dell and others expressed their desire to move the crosswalk back to Highway 63 and North Street.
“It shouldn’t be that difficult to get it back, especially since the crossing is still recognized as the approved crossing by the Iowa DOT,” said O’Dell.
The board directed Maeder to get with the city council and get this worked out so that the school crossing can return to Highway 63 and North Street.
The board held a public hearing on the budget and heard no comments or complaints regarding the proposed budget for the 2022 fiscal year. Board members learned that the overall tax levy was going to be $15.05 per $1,000 of property valuation. That’s an increase of just one penny over last year’s tax levy.
The total budget will increase by approximately $150,000 due to increased valuations. The board learned that property valuations increased by 2.4 percent over last year.
The board discussed the management fund levy, which is part of the overall school levy. Maeder and the board discussed the need to have cash on hand to be able to have the spending authority needed to take advantage of federal funds that are available to the school district.
The school district is already taking advantage of federal funding, which has helped the school district with expenses that are related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of that money was used to pay employees who were forced to take off work du to COVID-19.
Board members learned that the funding will be available through 2023 and the district can continue to take advantage of it as long as they have the spending authority and the cash on hand to equal the $1.34 million that is available to them overt that time.
Board members learned that the proposed budget will allow the district to collect those funds without a major increase to the tax payers. Board members were also told that the district could lower the overall tax levy by June 1 if they chose to go in a different direction. The board voted to approve the budget as presented and keep the tax levy rate of $15.05 per $1,000 of property valuation.
In other action, the board approved resignations of Mark Danley as middle school boys’ basketball coach; Jill Nelson as a second grade teacher and Marilyn Piper as a teacher librarian. The board approved contracts for Michele Bremer as a language arts teacher, Hannah Hamilton as a science teacher and Michael Bunnell as the high school boys’ basketball coach.
The board approved a resolution authorizing the redemption of the general obligation bonds. The board also approved $147,519.75 in technology expenses for the coming school year. The purchases include additional Chrome Books, laptop computers and charging carts for those devices.
The board votes to continue with the FFCRA leave for employees in regard to COVID-19 needs. The board vote to extend that program to the end of the school year in the event an employee still must take leave due to COVID-19.