Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | May 27, 2018

NL School Board struggles with how to pay for summer camps

Jun 20, 2017

By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News


NEW LONDON – Once school days are over, many student athletes keep their school spirit in check by attending summer athletic camps. That, however, might be in jeopardy as the New London School Board questions how those camps should be paid for.

In the past, New London students would have fund-raisers in order to pay for out-of-season camps for their respective sports or extra-curricular activities. Take the boys basketball team, they recently spent their Saturday night at 34 Raceway, working the concession stand to raise money for a summer camp. However, the Iowa Department of Education recently released its list of frequently asked questions for changes to State code revolving around the use of student activity funds.

According to the 54-page document, districts cannot use money in camp accounts to sponsor a camp or clinic outside of the season of the activity, nor pay for the student to participate in a camp or clinic outside of the season. “A district cannot use its funding for, or require its students (whether a team or individuals) to participate in, any camp or clinic held out of season, regardless of what entity is offering the camp or clinic.”

The document goes on to say that funds may not be transferred out of the district into another account, like a booster club or school foundation, in order to pay for out-of-season camps/clinics.

During the board meeting Monday night, board member Jesse Howard said he found the document absurd. “What camp is going to be during the season,” he said.

Howard also argued the ruling didn’t apply to New London as the district does not have a designated “camp account” within its activity fund.

Howard added he doubted any other district was following this guidance.

Board president Lindsay Porter said although she agreed with Howard on the ridiculousness of the rule, she felt it was black and white. Porter said the district may not have a separate fund to pay for camp, but the money is earmarked for that purpose within the activity fund and she felt that fit within the parameters of the code and could not be used for out-of-season camps.

Porter added it was not “fair to ask Jessica (Boyer, district secretary) to write checks for camps when the state code so clearly states it’s no longer allowed.”

Former New London teacher Mike McBeth also found the rule outlandish, especially because New London is such a giving community. McBeth said his wife was very active in fund raising for the district and wondered if she were to work at 34 Raceways, could she donate her earnings from that night specifically to cover the costs of student’s summer camps. “I hate to play sneaky about it,” he said, adding he felt it would be an undue burden to ask parents to dip into their pockets further to pay for camps.

“I’m a big advocate of ‘find a way to say yes,’” said Howard, stating he would like to have the district attorney look over the code and see if there was any wiggle room. He also suggested the district get local legislators involved. “They work for us, let’s see if we can get them to rewrite the code,” he said.

In other business, board members approved the purchase of a new special education vehicle. Earlier this spring, a district employee and student were involved in an accident on Highway 34. The individuals sustained injuries, but the vehicle was totaled.

Superintendent Chad Wahls said the district received roughly $37,000 from the insurance company for the vehicle. He went to the local car dealership – Jim Cordes – to find a replacement. The district approved the purchase of a 2011 MV-1 (modified vehicle) for $35,000. The vehicle was used and had approximately 20,000 miles on it.

During the meeting, the board members also approved a host of resignations and appointments as well as approving the dairy contract with Anderson-Erikson for the upcoming school year.

The next meeting of the New London School Board will be held on Monday, July 17, at 7 p.m. in the board room.


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