After years of weighing repair options, cost variations and public input, the Waterloo School Board said Monday night it may have found a solution for keeping the former Waterloo High School tennis courts open.
The board also approved a three-year contract with its teachers.
The approval of nearly $47,000 in work for the four tennis courts located at the corner of Hamacher and Rogers streets was OK’d by board members. The scope of repairs includes resealing cracks, repainting and restriping at each of the four courts, as well as using an experimental enhanced crack repair fabric on only two of the courts.
Waterloo school superintendent Brian Charron said the enhanced fabric has been used at other courts and can hold for four or more years. In using the fabric on only two courts, the board is seeing if it can serve as a longer duration option for repair, he said.
“It’s our current best option for testing out a repair system and making the courts usable again. Fully replacing the (courts’ surfaces) may still be required at a future date,” Charron said. “I am hopeful that this gives the courts another three to five years.”
Charron said he is hopeful the work at the tennis courts will be completed some time in September. Tentatively, the board will see how the fabric holds over the next two years before making a decision on whether to do the same work on the other two courts.
The school district had decided this spring to close the tennis courts to the public due to safety concerns until a decision could be made on their future.
Another facility undergoing renovations may require additional repairs down the road. According to Charron, the drainage system in the ground inside the circle of the Waterloo Junior High School track is filled with silt and not properly draining during heavy rain.
He said water accumulating from the rain overflows onto the track and leaves silt, which could diminish the life of the track. Fixing the problem may mean replacing the drainage system. However, Charron said it will have no bearing on finishing current track repairs on time.
When speaking with the contractor, Charron was given an estimate of $50,000 for the drainage system replacement. Charron said the architect hired for the junior high track renovations did not see the drainage problem prior to drawing up a contract for the work.
Asked if the architect did a site visit before agreeing to do the work, Charron said, “It was a hot day. They didn’t realize we had the problem with pooling,” he said, adding that the problem was discovered when the architect was preparing to have construction started.
The school board also approved a new three-year contract with the Waterloo Classroom Teacher Association. The new contract, which accounts for about 170 district employees, goes into effect this year and expires in 2020.
The new agreement includes a base salary increase and increases the amount of sick days. The salary increase amounts to two percent for the first year under the contract and one percent for the following two years, while the amount of sick days increases to 15.
The agreement on sick days also includes the ability to use three of the 15 days as personal time. Though the new agreement applies universally for the base salary, a salary step —which has already been in effect for a time — further increases salaries each year based on years with the district and educational experience.
No base salary increase was approved in the prior contract. However, WCTA president Jim Prather said he understood the district could not afford to do so at the time. Prather said the new agreement is the second contract he has negotiated with the board.
“(The board) has always been understanding,” he said. “They think a lot of the teachers. I believe they would want to give a larger raise if they could.”
Prather added that he felt this was a pretty standard negotiation. Charron agreed, adding there was a lot of open discussion about what similar size districts are giving their teachers.
He said the contract is “fair and reasonable.”
“We’re pleased with where we are. We feel like we’ve been fair considering the circumstances the district has been facing,” Charron said.
Also decided at the board meeting, Waterloo High School guidance counselor Bob Lohman will fill the newly created position of director of guidance/social work retroactive to July 1. The new position will absorb retired wellness coordinator Kelly Lerch’s position.
“We have a growing concern for mental health issues among our students and throughout the community, and an increasing need for us to be responding as a school district,” Charron said. “That, plus Kelly Lerch’s retirement, caused the creation of this position to address these responsibilities.”
Lohman has been a WHS guidance counselor since 2002.
Also during the meeting, the board instructed Charron to prepare a tentative 2017-18 school year budget, which will be available for public viewing one month before the date of a Sept. 18 public hearing.
In other financial news, the district received a second mandated categorical payment for the 2016-17 school year. The state is required to give four payments per year. According to Charron, the budget accounted for receiving three payments, meaning revenue fell short of what was anticipated.