Salem City Council learns city will have a preschool
By BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
SALEM — At the outset, Tuesday night’s Salem City Council meeting sounded more like a school board than city council meeting.
Dave Helman of Salem, chairman of the Henry-Washington Early Childhood Education Board, told the council that the community would have a preschool during the 2013-14 school year.
“The Mt. Pleasant Community School District will be giving kids in our area (Salem and Hillsboro) access to a preschool,” Helman said. “It is a great opportunity for us. Having a good preschool cements the school (building) here.”
Launching a community preschool is one of the goals of new Mt. Pleasant Community School District Superintendent of Schools Mike Wells. Salem and Hillsboro are included in the MP School District, and Wells said earlier that a preschool would be located in Salem in addition to centers in Mt. Pleasant.
The state initiated a preschool program for four-year-old children in 2006. At that time, Mt. Pleasant chose not to participate, citing creating competition with privately run local preschools and the uncertainty over continued state funding.
However, the state has kept its funding promise and re-opened the preschool sign-up window this year. Mt. Pleasant and New London were the only county schools opting not to offer a preschool when the program began.
“Winfield-Mt. Union and WACO (school districts) have preschools,” Helman continued. “Ninety percent of the kids in those two school districts attend preschool, but only 46.5 percent of the kids in the Mt. Pleasant School District attended preschool last year.
“Statewide, 92 percent of Iowa school districts offer preschool. We have been losing $3,000 per child (in state funding) over the last six years. Supt. Wells wants to see we have a preschool and get our share of the funding. The funding comes from tax money you and I pay to the state.”
Jim Dean, a member of the city’s library board, said the preschool initially will be housed in the library “until previsions are available at the school. They want to start (the preschool) Sept. 15, and I don’t see any problems having it at the library.”
Helman also briefed the council on the community income survey being conducted. The survey is needed for the city to become eligible for a urban housing rehabilitation program. Salem launched the survey July 1, and Helman said 57 percent of the surveys have been returned.
The city, however, needs an 80-percent return to be eligible for the program and Helman passed out the remaining survey forms to council members to deliver to households.
“There are 195 households (one person equals a household) in Salem,” Helman noted. “We have 111 (surveys) back. People did an outstanding job. Our next step is personal conduct. The better survey response we receive, the better chance of us receiving the grant. I feel real good about getting over 80 percent because we have done well so far.”
He said he would like to have the survey completed in two weeks.
In other agenda items, the council learned that former City Clerk Carolyn Bolin has agreed to help new City Clerk Rhonda White. Bolin will not charge the city for her work.
White also said she will be changing her hours to reduce childcare costs. She said instead of working four six-hour days weekly, she would like to work three eight-hour days. White explained that her childcare provider charges her by the day and working three instead of four days per week will save her money.
She will work Monday-Wednesday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. the first and third weeks of the month and the same hours on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday the second and fourth weeks of the month.
Council members approved an “upgrade” (replacement) of the city tractor and a metal door and frame replacement at the Community Center/City Hall.
Dan Patterson told the council that the Old Settlers Association will be erecting a 24x36-foot storage building near the library. Patterson also briefed the council on items needing maintenance and repair in the city square area prior to the Sold Settlers celebration later this month.
Finally, White announced that city council and mayoral candidates can pick up nomination petitions from her beginning Aug. 12. The terms of Mayor Linda Ward and council members Gary Tedrow and Warren Barton expire.
Council members meet again in regular session Tuesday, Sept. 3, at 7 p.m. in the Community Center.