The 2014-15 R-S school year is upon us

Staff Writer
Story City Herald

—by Todd Thorson

The start of the new school year is scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday), and the Roland-Story school district has been in a transitional period this summer, all the while keeping plans, projects and preparations on course in order to be ready for the 2014-15 school year. Classes begin Thursday, August 14; the same date as last year.

The transition from out-going Superintendent Mike Billings to new Superintendent Matt Patton took place at the end of June, with Patton assuming his duties on July 1, presiding over his first board meeting on Monday, July 14. Billings, who retired after 15 years at Roland-Story, met with the school board twice in June before saying good-bye - first on Thursday, June 5 and then at their special end of school year special meeting on Wednesday, June 25. An informal, end-of-year gathering at the home of school board member Marc Soderstrum was held on June 25, with board members and spouses attending.

There will also be some additional new staff members gracing the halls of Roland-Story this year. Catherine Steward takes over for Deb Holm as the new superintendent’s secretary. And of course, as mentioned, Matt Patton is the new Superintendent, replacing Mike Billings earlier this summer. Patton comes to Roland-Story from the Baxter Community School District. Kristin Greenfield becomes the new school nurse, replacing Laura Pepin. And Ali Barnhart takes over as Elementary Principal Kate Hartzler’s new secretary, replacing the retired Patty Schlorholtz.

New faculty members at Roland-Story include elementary teachers Katy Hyatt, Kayla Johnson, Susan Johnson and Trisha Johnson. The middle school in Roland will see a few new faces as well, including Hannah Joslin, Jacob Sheahan, Rachel Wilkinson (social studies), Kathryn Sandquist (language and reading) and counselor Michael Oleson. Joining the high school faculty this fall will be Lauren Ciganek (family and consumer science), who will also teach at the middle school; Tom Klett (language arts) and Connor Koppin (vocal music).

Retiring/leaving at the end of last school year (2013-14) were Mark Billerbeck, Carol Carr, Nancy Hemphill, Darci Kellen, Susan Uthe and Cheryl West. Also, middle school instructor Wade Nelson is taking a one-year leave of absence, with Rachel Wilkinson taking over his social studies position.

(For a complete faculty and staff list and other information see last week’s sponsored Back to School full page.)

Various building and maintenance projects were approved this summer, with some of them being completed and some on the horizon for the upcoming school year and beyond. New roofs at the middle school ($84,900) and high school ($66,900) were completed, and a new bus barn for the Roland center at a cost of $340,700 was approved as well. Also approved were new technology purchases for $45,000, new carpeting at a cost of $10,000 and a new floor in the girls’ locker room for $15,000. The total cost of approved summer projects came to $562,500.

Currently, the R-S district has a cash balance in the PPEL (Physical Plant and Equipment Levy) account at the end of FY 2014 of $989,464. The final year for the voter approved PPEL is 2017, with another public vote necessary in the fall of 2015. The SAVE (Secure an Advanced Vision for Education) cash balance at the end of FY 2014 stands at $1,213,813, which provides a total PPEL/SAVE balance of $2,203,277, leaving uncommitted PPEL/SAVE funds at $1,640,770.

In a typical year, Roland-Story replaces vehicles/buses totaling $125,000. Equipment purchases usually fall in the $30,000 range. And summer projects such as carpeting and technology amount to $300,000.

Anticipated major projects and costs looming on the horizon include: 1:1 Technology Replacement/Upgrades (2015), $950,000; Elementary pre-school addition, $1,015,000; Middle school science classroom addition, $1,995,000; and Middle school administration and library remodeling project, $1,190,000. This brings the planned building projects for the 2014-15 school year to approximately $4,200,000.

PPEL funds received annually is approximately $500,000, while the SAVE funds received by the district is approximately $800,000. The PPEL funds include a $1.34 voter approved levy and a board approved levy of $.33.

And now, with new teachers and staff in place, students registered and stocked with their various supplies, it’s back to school time for the Roland-Story school district. High school students will begin their day at 8:20 a.m. tomorrow, the middle school will start at 8:25 a.m. and the elementary center is scheduled to to begin at 8:35 a.m.