IRON RIVER—West Iron County’s teachers and the school district both approved a new two-year contract on Aug. 19.
Members of the West Iron County Education Association approved the contract at a meeting during the afternoon, and the School Board unanimously approved it during its meeting a few hours later.
The new contract, which expires June 30, 2015, replaces a contract that expired in June 2012—both sides operated without a contract for the past year. Superintendent Chris Thomson said much of the negotiations centered on cleaning up language to get the contract in line with new state laws.
“There was a lot of language [in the old contract] that was no longer relevant or legal,” Thomson explained. Another issue was how to handle state changes in health insurance.
The new contract includes a salary increase for both years of the contract. Thomson noted that many districts are looking at freezes in salary and “steps.”
“We’re in a financial position where we didn’t have to do that,” he continued. “So we were able to give increases both those years.”
• The district’s audit will be presented at the board’s Sept. 16 regular meeting. Finance Committee Chair Rob Possanza said he heard from Diane Rostagno that it was one of the most efficient audits the district has had—everyone on the business staff, he said, was well prepared.
• Building modifications to reduce problems from falling snow are being considered. Thomson showed drawings to the board members at the meeting.
The falling snow problem is at the entrance of the high school gym, which faces south. When there is snow followed by warming weather and sun, some of the snow slides off the angled roof onto the sidewalk. It happened several times last winter.
The district already has some snow breaks on the roof and wants to improve them. The gym entrance has is the only pitched roof in the district.
Thomson reported that Markell Roofing of Iron Mountain has quoted a price of $2,700 for the work. No action was taken, but Thomson said the work should be done this fall.
• The superintendent also discussed an environmental report on the old maintenance building/bus garage. The district plans to remove it so it can enlarge pickup areas near the elementary school. Water and sewer lines will be capped by the contractor, and UPPCO will remove a transformer and tie lines together.
The last bit of needed prep work is for the natural gas line, which has to be scheduled five to six weeks in advance. The board agreed to rebid the removal project with the environmental report attached.
• The superintendent reported that the Stambaugh Elementary conference room project is nearly done, with painting and carpeting to be finished by the end of the week. Sliding doors were being installed on the closet.
• High school/middle school Principal Mike Berutti reported on preparations for the start of school, including making sure all students have seven class periods.
He also said 29 seniors have applied for work study programs this year, “which is a huge amount.” New student orientation for sixth graders (entering middle school) was set for Aug. 27, and custodians have been busy cleaning the building. “We’re ready to roll.”
A meeting of students interested in cross country took place after the meeting. Berutti said there are enough interested girls for a team, while a boys team is “iffy.” Cross-country is a self-funded sport.
Berutti also reported that Ironwood has canceled its JV football game with West Iron, scheduled on Sept. 19, the night before the varsity game. Later last week, a revised WIC schedule showed that the Wykon JVs will host Forest Park’s JVs on Sept. 19.
• In other business, the board:
--Approved its school of choice declaration form for the 2013-14 school year.
--Passed lease agreements at the former Bates Elementary school building with the intermediate school district (three rooms; early childhood, special ed and a visitation/meeting room) and with NorthStar Health Systems. The rent is the same as last year.
--Agreed to allow early graduation for student Ron Varney after the first semester this year. Berutti said the Varney family submitted its request in time, and his credits and grades both qualify. The principal said a student requires 22 credits to graduate. Varney, he said, should have 26½ by the semester break.
Berutti said Varney plans to enroll at Bay College for the second semester. He said the district will get funded 90 percent of its state aid for him.