September 24, 2013


The IKM-Manning Community School District board of education hired Iowa Schoolhouse Construction and Planning Services to evaluate the buildings in the district and recommend to the board which building or buildings, if any, should be closed.

Sam Harding, partner in the company, was available to answer questions at last Thursday night's meeting when board members approved the $7,500 consultation fee.

Jefferson-based Harding and his partner Duane Van Hemert of Des Moines have worked with more than 30 school districts. They have more than 30 years of building experience and have been consulting together for about four years. Harding said that, so far, every district has acted upon his and his partner's recommendations.

"We've gone in with recommendations that were different than what they wanted when we started, explained it, gone through public input, and pretty much they saw it and went ahead with what we recommended," he said. "It's an unbiased look from the outside with no preconceived ideas on how to best use the buildings."

Harding said he and Van Hemert would use projected enrollment to determine how to best utilize the facilities. He said that they could provide multiple recommendations based on different enrollment scenarios.

Harding plans to begin evaluating the buildings this week. He hopes to complete his evaluations within a month and then begin the process of organizing public meetings. He hopes to make a final recommendation to the board by December, which will enable the board to take action as early as January.

The district currently serves pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students in both Irwin and Manning. First- and second-grade students attend Irwin Elementary School, and third- and fourth-graders attend Manning Elementary School. Fifth- through eighth-graders attend middle school in Manilla, while grades 9-12 attend classes in Manning.

The decision to hire an outside consultant followed an ill-received suggestion from district superintendent Tom Ward at a previous meeting to close either Manilla or Irwin, saying it was more practical because the high school was also located in Manning.

In other business:

- Ward reported that IKM-Manning was one of 185 school districts across Iowa to have no one ejected from any sports contests in the 2012-13 school year.

- High school principal Brian Wall announced that high school industrial technology and physical education teacher Tom Casey was named Iowa Masonic Teacher of the Year. The award is given to an educator who exhibits the standards of conduct, courtesy, responsibility, honesty, cheerfulness, kindness, consideration of others and community involvement. Casey has been a teacher in the IKM or IKM-Manning districts for about 35 years. He has also been a football coach since 1979.

- Ward presented results from mold and carbon-dioxide tests in the schools. Both the spore and carbon-dioxide levels were found to be acceptable. The full report will be available on the IKM-Manning district website.

- Ward presented a transportation report that showed that the district ran nine bus routes, totaling more than 700 miles driven per day.

- Pre-certified enrollment for the year is 716, down from 731 last year, and 738 from the first year of the combined IKM-Manning district. Ward reported that this drop in enrollment represents a $90,000 decline in state funding.

- The lunch price was raised 10 cents due to increased prices of fresh fruits and vegetables, costs of new sinks required by the Iowa Department of Health, and costs of repairs for two refrigerators.