School enrollment increases

By Chris Steinbach · Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Preliminary figures show a big enough increase in students that the West Liberty School Board Monday night authorized hiring a teacher and adding a third pre-kindergarten class.

As of Aug. 17, the district had enrolled 110 PK students. That is 18 percent more than the 93 students reported by the district when the 2011-2012 school year began last year on Oct. 1.

Classes begin at the Early Learning Center on Friday and began on Wednesday for the rest of the district. The district will begin the school year with a substitute teacher in the new PK class. The substitute has been hired for a month, which should give the district enough time to permanently hire a new teacher, said Missy Johnson, director of the West Liberty Early Learning Center.

Overall, 1,220 students had been enrolled in PK through 12th-grade as of Aug. 17, according to the district. That represents a 1.7 percent decrease from Oct. 1, 2011, when the district reported enrollment of 1,241.

But enrollment will change several times until it has to be reported this year on Oct. 1, district officials said.

“Three students enrolled today who aren’t included in these numbers,” Tom Anderson said.

In other business, the board:

• Heard a report from Andy Iverson of Shive-Hattery Architecture and Engineering in Cedar Rapids on the tornado safe room being built at West Liberty High School. Once it is completed, the multipurpose room will provide students with a place to lift weights and the wrestling team with a room in which it can practice.

The room is scheduled for completion on Oct. 8, but that could be delayed because of problems with doors that won’t fit because of a wall panel was incorrectly precast by a subcontractor.

“They fabricated it so the doors were too short,” Iverson told the board. He said the problem was discovered last week.

School officials said the district will withhold payment on the components that were made incorrectly until the issues have been resolved.

Tricon General Construction of Dubuque is the general contractor on the project. It was awarded the $1 million contract in February.

“Ultimately, we need to hold Tricon accountable for their sub-contractor,” Iverson said of the problems that have slowed the project.

• Voted 5-0 to install air conditioning in the Early Learning Center and West Liberty Elementary School in phases over three years. That means air conditioning will be installed in the elementary school over a two-year period.

“If we had the money, I would go (for doing the work) all at once,” Superintendent Steve Hanson said.

But board member David Millage said the district would have to borrow money to do the work all at once.

Added board president Mike Duytschaver: “The purpose of splitting it up was to not run out of cash.”

The plan approved by the board calls for installing air conditioning in the first half of the elementary school at a cost of $259,200.

Officials from Shive-Hattery had recommended spending an additional $25,000 to upgrade electrical service as part of the project – an idea the board did not approve.

 It would have cost less to make the upgrade now instead of doing it in the future if the district switches to a geothermal system to heat and cool the building, according to the architectural firm.
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