Members of the Hamburg School Board had the opportunity to visit about the recent joint meeting of the Sidney and Hamburg boards during the July regular meeting at the Hamburg school.
At the previous joint meeting, the Hamburg and Sidney boards agreed to continue the arrangement that has Hamburg High School students attending school in Sidney.
Also at that joint meeting, the boards engaged in exploratory and preliminary talks about whole grade sharing arrangements that would send Sidney middle school students to Hamburg while the Hamburg school continued to send high school students to Sidney.
The financial benefit of whole grade sharing was explored and it was determined that Sidney would get three years worth of state aid through a two-way sharing agreement with Hamburg.
Both sides agreed that, in order for such a whole-grade sharing arrangement to be set up, both schools would have to reach out to their  patrons, inform them of the possibilities and garner support.
A board member from the Sidney school attended the Hamburg meeting in July and reported that there had been some feedback  in terms of concern from the Sidney community about the possibility of sharing.
The Hamburg board also visited at the July regular meeting about Sidney’s possible vote early next year on a bond issue of over six million dollars which would potentially add an agriculture building, a second auditorium and a football facility and track at the current high school site.
Members of the Hamburg Board had previously indicated that they were open to sharing use for their facilities with the Sidney school with the 21st Century Discovery Center and the school’s ball fields.
Hamburg board member Jordan Hayes said the bond issue vote by Sidney might be a determining factor in lighting the path forward for the Hamburg school.
The whole grade sharing discussion had been undertaken as part of the Hamburg board’s commitment to exploring all the ways that the school can best serve its students.
At the July meeting, once again in a very preliminary fashion, the Hamburg board sought to visit about the possibility of bringing back the high school at the Hamburg site.
Schools with smaller enrollments, such as Essex and South Page, are able to support a high school and Hamburg board member Debbie Reeves said she believes patrons in the Hamburg area might wonder why the board doesn’t at least explore the idea.
Dr. Wells said he would bring the financial numbers for adding the high school to a future board meeting. He said the numbers wouldn’t be hard to gather.
Financial health and complete course offerings would be the considerations first undertaken if Hamburg was to explore a return of the high school.
At the end of the 2017-18 school year, the Hamburg school found itself in a very solid financial position.
After having been in the negative as far as authorized spending not that long ago, the Hamburg school had the ability at the end of the 2017-18 school year to spend an additional $1.2 million in authorized spending.
Rather than spend, however, the Hamburg school is choosing to build that up as a cushion.
Dr. Wells said schools that go into the negative enter a danger zone where they Iowa Department of Education might decide to close the school, and noted that, if the high school came back, and a negative balance was realized, a closure would be all but assured.
In terms of course offerings, Dr. Wells said there would have to be additions to the faculty in order to make the Hamburg High School go, but, in terms of the facility, Dr. Wells said Hamburg is in good position to once again host a high school.
Any thought of bringing back the high school would not be immediate and, once again, these discussions were preliminary in nature and exploratory in terms of intent.
In the meantime, as the Sidney and Hamburg schools go forward with a tuition arrangement for Hamburg High School students, the Hamburg board members indicated that they wanted to partner cooperatively with the Sidney schools in the best way possible.
Hamburg has indicated an interest in hosting some sporting event and Hamburg board member Cris Hendrickson said that she felt the Hamburg patrons would feel positive about its arrangement with Sidney if such considerations were made.
“I think they community might feel a little more welcome and that we are not just an after thought,” she said.
Hamburg board member Dave Mincer suggested that bringing a home football game to Hamburg on the Friday of Popcorn Day would be a greatly welcomed gesture.

In other news:
Summer camps have been going on in Hamburg and the middle school students are getting in on the act this year.
An elementary camp will continue until the end of July.
The middle school summer camp was set from July 9 to July 20.
The junior high students went on a field trip to Omaha and spent a day packaging food for homeless people at the Open Door Mission.
Dr. Wells said the students involvement in Omaha was something that struck him.
“It was powerful,” he said. “I was almost in tears with the way our kids responded,” Wells said.
Other activities for the Hamburg junior high campers included additional community service and fun trips to Okoboji and Saylorville Lake.
Teachers leading the middle school camp are Brenda Brandt and Beth Wells.

Thanks to the Public Education Recreation Levy (PERL), the tennis courts in Hamburg are getting some extra attention.
Dr. Wells said all of the weeds have been pulled and that the court would be patched. New nets will also be placed and, Dr. Wells said there may be a windscreen installed that will make it easier for players to play on windy days.
The PERL is a continuing fund of about $20K per year that can be used to help improve the community, and, by that arrangement, could be used in part to restore the tennis courts.

Dr. Wells said the school added students recently with three families bringing seven total kids to the district. One of the parents noted that it was because of Hamburg’s successful farm school that she choose Hamburg over other schools.

It was with regret that the Hamburg members accepted the resignation of paraeducator Cara Witter, who has chosen to take a job at Nebraska City Public Schools.
Dr. Wells said that Witter is great employee and that she remains eligible for rehire. Dr. Wells said that, if Witter wanted to come back, they would find a position for her.

In terms of building updates, the Hamburg school has a number of activities going on at the Marnie Simons site.
The updates are as follows:
Science Room: The new gas lines and drain lines are in place. The floor is broken up and ready for cement. The completion date is set for Aug. 1 but a later date is anticipated. The contractor will be fined $250 each day that the project is not completed.
21st Century Discovery Center: The floor is poured. The completion date is set for Aug. 1 but a later date is anticipated. The contractor will be fined $250 each day that the project is not completed.
Active TVs: The project is on hold until the ceiling is put into the old special education classroom. Rick Danielson will do the installation and it should take two days. An August completion is anticipated.
Carpet in the library: project complete.
Removal of asbestos in the special education room: project complete.
Kindergarden Bathroom Remodel: The floor is broken up and ready for new lines. The anticipated completion date is Aug. 10.
New lights in the special education room: The project is waiting for the installation of a suspended ceiling. An anticipated completion date is Aug. 1.
Build a preschool bathroom: The floor is broken up. An anticipated completion date is Aug. 10.
Reseal the gym floor: The project is complete.
Showers: New shower curtain rods will be installed with dividers for all showers. The anticipated completion date is July 31.
Gym roof: An estimate has been obtained for the work which has an anticipated completion date of Aug. 15.

Upcoming dates to watch for include:
A visit from Senator Joni Ernst on Friday, July 27, at 8 a.m.

Registration for the 2018-19 school year will take place Aug. 14 and 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the first day of school set for Aug. 23.