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Trajectory: Estherville mayor brings encouragement to ELC

February 14, 2020
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

In the Jan. 9 edition of the Estherville News, an article about the city of Estherville's goal-setting session for 2020 included in a list of dozens of other opportunities and threats the fact that there were concerns about Estherville Lincoln Central School District's test scores.

The article provided an impetus for Estherville mayor Joseph May to visit the school board and offer the city's encouragement and support. One school board member said the mayor's visit might be a historic first for the ELC School Board.

At Monday's ELC School Board meeting, May spoke about the city and school district coming together.

Article Photos

Joseph May

"I think one of the ways we do a great injustice toward schools is when we compare where they are now, and not look at the trajectory of where our kids are headed," May said.

May described attending the 2019 scholarship awards program at ELC High School, where he presented scholarship awards from the American Legion.

"I was sitting there in that auditorium hearing where the students were going: majoring in biochemistry, going to Iowa State, going to University of Iowa, some crossing borders and going to Minnesota or South Dakota. When I look at where they're going, I think sometimes those reports do us a great injustice in the city of Estherville," May said, adding that numbers on a page don't reflect the time and effort teachers and staff at the schools put into the students in the district.

Fact Box

What's the trajectory of ELC?grads?

The Estherville News reached out to several 2015, 2016 and 2017 graduates of ELC to find out about their trajectories since graduation.

Megan Brunskill is currently attending the University of Northern Iowa for English education.

Hunter King left school at Iowa Lakes Community College due to becoming a father. After working full time at Satern Barrels in Estherville, he became a salesperson at Coca-Cola Atlantic Bottling. He is a father to two-year-old Iyla and lives with Kate Larson in a house they purchased. King says he enjoys golfing and bowling, hanging out with family and watching his daughter grow up.

Carson Gjerde is working at MercyOne Hospital in Sioux City as a Radiologic Technician.

Devin Ring went to the wind energy program at Iowa Lakes Community College and after graduation accepted a job with EDP Renewables in Lake Park maintaining wind turbines. Ring enjoys boating, wake surfing and snowmobiling. In the summer of 2020, Ring will teach water sport lessons.

Briseide Segura is attending the University of Northern Iowa for criminology and anthropology.

Abby Erickson earned her Associate's degree from Iowa Lakes Community College and transferred to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, graduating in 2019 with her B.S. in Business Administration Marketing. After a fan experience internship with the athletic department, she is now a marketing & sales graduate assistant at Creighton University in its athletic department, and is on track to earn her Master of Science in Organizational Leadership in May, 2021. Abby plans to continue a career in sports marketing.

Reese Vedder graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 with a BBA in Marketing and works as a marketing specialist at Coe College in Cedar Rapids.

Hallie Jensen graduated from Iowa Lakes Community College and transferred to Iowa State University to pursue her Bachelors degree in education.

Calah Payton is attending Iowa State University for a degree in education with endorsements in history, literature and reading. She will graduate in the next year and a half and plans to marry her fianc, Connor Lamp. Calah and Connor met during freshman year at Iowa Lakes Community College, where Calah earned her Associate's degree in 2018.

Rylee Miller is a junior at University Iowa studying health and human physiology, set to graduate in December, 2020 with plans to go on for a Master of Science in Orthotics and Prosthetics.

Dylan Kloehn worked in odd jobs and moving equipment until 2017, when he moved into concrete, then brick masonry. In 2018, Kloehn moved to Tea, South Dakota where he works for Dakota Traffic Services.

Katie Gruhlke is living in Ankeny and works as a kindergarten teacher in Ames.

River Burton finished the welding program at Iowa Lakes Community College and moved to Maryville, Missouri after hearing his sister talk about how much she enjoyed living there. Burton landed a job at the Kawasaki motorcycle plant in 2016 and is currently a team leader among three departments.

"When you look at some students going into the military, some students going into jobs that can maintain and provide for themselves, and the schools that they're going to and the professions that they're going into, and the success stories that they become, I think that when I hear these complaints, one thing that I'm trying to see now is, well, where are they ending up?"

May said to the board, "I just want to tell you, I think you're doing a wonderful job."

May then said the community has to come together. "We cannot do this alone; we have to do it together. It takes a team effort not only on the school's part, but also the city and the students and the parents and everyone getting involved," May said.

"I want to be here to help us cross that bridge; I want you to know that I support you, and I will do everything I can from my position to help you I know how hard you work, and I know that it's a thankless job and you have to make tough decisions," May said.

Of the city's goal-setting session, May said, "It seemed like we thought the school wasn't doing well. We heard the concerns and we understood them, but we also see all the good the school is doing."

May said he didn't know what help from the city to the school would look like, but that he would be of any aid he could to the school.

"We support you. We believe in you. We have faith in you," May said.

In other business, the school board reviewed the fiscal year 2019 audit report from Danny Dekker of Williams & Company. Dekker said in preparing the audit, "Tara [Paul, ELC Superintendent], Kate [Woods, ELC Business Manager], and the staff always do a great job."

The board also reviewed information from ELC Maintenance Supervisor Jason Kollasch about a planned new storage building for the school district. Kollasch said it would be more cost-effective to build in everything the district needs for storage from the start, and choose an ideal location.

"Location is a big part of the cost, as is fitting city code requirements. It can be a lengthy process to get a building permit," Kollasch said.

Kollasch explained the process of adding to the district's physical footprint.

"It starts out as a wish list. Things we see that are doable by [the district's] maintenance, we prioritize as we don't have to hire a contractor," Kollasch said.

Some projects were put on hold due to a required expenditure of over $40,000 to place a wheelchair ramp on a building's front entrance, Kollasch said.

"There is a five-year plan, but that's subject to change because things come up," Kollasch said.

Superintendent Tara Paul said, "We look at what are the priorities as we work at the building level."

Kollasch also reviewed an investigation of playground drainage at Demoney he undertook with school board member Gordon Juhl.

Kollasch and Juhl accompanied a tile contractor for a site consult to try to get rid of excessive water on the Demoney Elementary School playground.

Students sent out to recess would come in from recess soaked through and muddy after playing on the wet playground, teachers reported.

Kollasch said about $5,000 worth of drainage tile work would alleviate the issue as a city storm sewer is located close to the site.

"We could substantially get rid of a lot of the water with this work, and for an additional $1,000-$1,500 improve a couple of other areas," Kollasch said.

The board also set March 30, 2020 at 5:15 p.m. as the date and time for a public hearing on the budget for the current fiscal year. Superintendent Paul said by that time solid numbers would likely be in place from all sources.



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