October 25, 2013



CARROLL

The Carroll High Foundation announced its intention to start a scholarship fund using an approximately $60,000 donation from Marian Vaatveit, a Carroll resident who passed away in 2012.

The funds had been held by Carroll High School until the foundation could be established. The Carroll Community School District board of education approved the release of the funds at Monday night's board meeting.

Robert Peters, a Carroll attorney and 1963 Carroll High graduate, addressed the board on behalf of the foundation. He helped lead efforts to create the foundation as a vehicle for private donations and bequests.

Peters said that $13,000 had already been raised in addition to Vaatveit's donation through memorial gifts, fundraisers and class reunions. The funds will create a "nucleus of endowment" that will allow the foundation to offer a "good scholarship," especially if interest rates rise, he added, describing the arrangement as "the gift that keeps on giving."

"More importantly, this represents a huge gain for the school district," said Peters. "We think it's going to attract more money. We want to emulate the success of the school."

Dr. Brian Fleshner, treasurer of the foundation, said those involved hope to take the foundation further, eventually supporting projects the school board can't take on, as well as providing scholarships for students.

"What we're talking about tonight is going to really get us to a launching point and make a legitimate giving group," he said.



ATHLETIC POLICY

In other action, the school board approved two changes to the co-curricular activities and competitions policy.

The first change regarded academic eligibility. Rather than requiring students to be passing their classes at the end of each quarter, they require students to be passing at the end of each semester. Student athletes that are not passing classes are not allowed to participate or dress for games for 30 days. If the sport or activity's season ends before the 30 days, the students complete the 30 days in their next season.

This change means that students failing at the end of the first quarter will still be able to finish their fall sports season or begin their winter season. They'll face no consequences unless they are still failing at the end of the semester.

Carroll Community School District superintendent Rob Cordes said the policy was "extremely difficult to administer" on a quarterly basis, and that he supported the change.

"Some people would say we're giving students a break, lowering the standards, but I would disagree," he said. "I think the rigor needs to be in the classroom, not in the policy."

Cordes said that the policy change would not prohibit coaches from holding their players to higher academic standards. He also said the policy change would be more fair to students because they don't receive credit for their courses until the end of the semester.

"We always want to learn from our mistakes," Cordes said. "If a kid doesn't do well and fails the first quarter, they'll still have a safety net to help themselves out by passing the second quarter and the semester."

The second change was within the drug and alcohol section of the athletic policy. The board voted to make an online alcohol drug and intervention course available for students who self-report a first offense. The cost of the course is $35 for the student or his or her parents.

Cordes explained that students guilty of consuming or possessing alcohol or controlled substances, or in proximity of illegal actions involving alcohol or controlled substances, are ineligible to participate in extracurricular activities for four weeks. This period of ineligibility can be shortened to two weeks for students who confess before they are caught.

All students who violate the policy must complete a drug and alcohol program before they regain their eligibility. Usually Carroll students are referred to New Opportunities Substance Abuse Treatment and Prevention Center. However, this center does not have a program every two weeks, which sometimes forces students to remain ineligible longer than necessary, explained Cordes.

"Part of me says you shouldn't have put yourself in that position to begin with and you suffer the consequences," said Cordes. "But it also then defeats the point of self-reporting. They can say, 'if I'm going to sit three weeks, I might as well see if I can get by with it.'"

Allowing first-time offenders to take the class online lends "credence" to self-reporting, enabling students to pay the consequences and get their eligibility back in a timely manner, said Cordes. Repeat offenders will not have that option.

"If it takes you six months to get the class, tough," Corders said. "You obviously didn't get it the first time."



ENROLLMENT DOWN

Cordes also presented board members with a seven-year certified enrollment trend spreadsheet. Certified enrollment is at 1,675.38 students this year, a decrease of 15.12 from last year. This drop represents a loss of about $90,000 in funding.

The district has 56 students open-enroll out and 92 students open-enroll in.

"It's not a pretty picture," said Cordes. "If you look at this trend and you equate dollars to it, it's even a worse-looking picture."

When he started as superintendent 14 years ago, certified enrollment was 1,889, representing a loss of more than 200 students.

The Carroll numbers are not unique.

"I was certainly hoping for none, obviously," said Cordes. "But I'm not sure that's realistic in west central Iowa."