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No public input at school district’s public hearings

Berg Elementary played host for Monday night’s school board meeting and the district’s three scheduled public hearings. All three hearings were open and shut, as no oral or written comments, suggestions or critiques were received.

The hearings covered the district’s surveillance camera project, the 2012-2013 fiscal year budget amendment and the projected 2013-2014 fiscal year proposed budget. All three matters passed, although some produced more discussion among the board members than others.

The surveillance camera project was the first item to be approved, with Baker Electric of Des Moines winning the bid. Baker submitted a bid of $194,928.20 to supply an estimated 100 additional surveillance cameras to all of the school buildings in the district.

Baker has been in business since 1946 and has worked with the Polk County Courthouse and Des Moines University in the past.

“This bid is $60,000 over all of our funding,” Board Secretary Gayle Isaac said. “Even though it’s higher than I projected, I couldn’t single out a single school and say, ‘Sorry, you don’t get the cameras.’”

Although the winning bid was $60,000 higher than Isaac’s projections, his documentation noted Baker had the absolute lowest bid by more than $8,000, compared to the other five bidders. A sixth bidder had to be rejected due to not following proper protocol.

Isaac noted the extra cost would not off-set the district’s current budget, and construction would begin in May in the evening, so as not to interrupt normal business hours in the buildings.

“After this year, we won’t have any major projects and we can build back up our coffers,” Isaac said. “After this project, we’ll be sitting with 1.4 to 1.5 million dollars in the sales tax fund balance. We spent quite a bit (of time) on this behind the scenes. I’ve probably spent the last two months on this.”

Superintendent Steve McDermott emphasized the cameras, along with the new door locks and other security measures, were a part of the district’s total security plan.

Before the board approved the 2012-2013 fiscal year budget amendment, Isaac provided the board more background information on how he came up with his figures.

“I don’t have a crystal ball,” Isaac said. “Last year, I had a bit too much ego, and at Woodrow Wilson (Elementary) we went over budget.  (This year) I have bumped each one (of the costs) up a bit more aggressively.”

In the amended budget, instructional costs will go from $19,661,304 to $20,541,275, total support services will go from $8,335,290 to $10,464,773, non-instructional programs will go from $1,191,188 to $1,283,000 and total other expenditures will go from $3,752,110 to $3,802,152. All increases would reflect actual expenditures and no new taxes would be raised, according to the district.

The board approved the 2013-2014 fiscal year budget which will total $44,426,930 with $37,403,188 in estimated expenditures for all funds. The property tax rate will be $15.10670 per $1,000 dollars of valuation.

In his report, McDermott noted schools will have centralized registration at the high school for the third year on Aug. 5 and 6. Registration will be at noon and an as-yet unannounced evening time. He also noted ALICE training for teachers and staff will take place “during back-to-school time” and there will be a few sessions before that.

Although no finalists have been named, the school board has set a goal of May 1 for the hiring of a new superintendent, as they continue to work with G. Tryon and Associates LLC.

Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at

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