A discussion on reopening facilities to the public proved a major issue during the Highland School Board meeting on Monday, Jan. 11.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds issued a proclamation on Jan. 7 that lifted some restrictions on athletic and recreational gatherings, including lifting attendance limits for high school athletics.
The governor’s proclamation states that all sporting and recreational gatherings must comply with social distancing — six feet of physical distance between each group of spectators — and require masks.
“Outside groups are still wanting to come into our facilities at the elementary and the high school,” superintendent Ken Crawford said. “I know when the governor opened up things last Thursday, pretty much everybody was ready to get going…but like we’ve done with our sports, we’re still doing household rules only.”
Crawford said his district administration was concerned about flooding the elementary building with people. Additionally, they worried about rescheduling even more events at the secondary school building if more people were allowed in and became sick.
“Some districts are letting anybody and everybody into their games, and I think we’d see a spike from that here,” school board president Nate Robinson said.
Crawford speculated that if conditions improve by the board’s next work session in two weeks’ time, the discussion about reopening facilities to the public could be brought up again. He suggested to leave them closed until then.
Coronavirus restrictions and protection also played a part in the meeting’s guest discussion. Elementary instructional coach Janelle Sulhoff addressed the progress of the elementary intervention program. This program monitors students’ proficiency in various educational areas.
The pandemic has led to students sticking solely to their grade levels in the program. Sulhoff presented graphs to the board members showcasing student progress among their grade levels.
Another large segment of discussion focused on a proposed election for voters to allow a Physical Plant and Equipment Property (PPEL) tax. Every ten years, Crawford said, the voters have to approve the continuation of the PPEL tax.
“They’re not voting to raise their taxes, they’re voting to continue the dollar that’s inside their taxes that it is now.”
The current system allots the school more than $400,000. “This is not chump change, this is very, very big money that we need to keep our facilities going,” Crawford said.
Examples of the tax’s effect include football field maintenance and snow removal.