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Lakeview furniture coming from Prison Industries

SOLON-Lakeview Elementary School is set to receive furniture from a rather popular manufacturer: Iowa Prison Industries.
Board of Education members– except Lianne Westcot, who was not present– unanimously approved the $43,606 construction cost during a board meeting on Monday, June 13. As planned, Iowa Prison Industries will build items that include a Madison chair lounge, an oak library table and bookcases for Lakeview’s media center. The project is funded by the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy, said Board President Dave Asprey.
Bid requests were sent to Iowa Direct, Value Inspired Products & Services and Bayne Office and Equipment, but Iowa Prison Industries was the only company that responded.
“No one wants to bid against Iowa Prison Industries because they just can’t win,” said Director of Buildings, Grounds and Transportation Mike Kasparek.
Iowa Prison Industries has designed furniture for a host of clients that include churches and other non-profits, various K-12 schools, and the University of Iowa. Furniture and upholstery is mainly constructed at Fort Dodge and Mitchellville prisons.
A business plan for Prison Industries reports that the over 600 employed inmates are paid $7.25-$12.68 an hour and keep 20 percent of their wages. The remaining portion is distributed among six categories, with the most money allocated to room and board and taxes.
Wages aside, offender employment is believed to have a greater value: inmates who work at Prison Industries have the lowest recidivism rate– the chances of returning to crime and prison– in the country than those who aren’t employed, according to a Baltimore University study that was cited in the business plan.

In other items:
All but one of the 2010-2011 Iowa core goals was reported as being completed.
First grade teacher Lori Grimoskas said review of the Iowa Professional Development Model goal– one that allows teaching staff to evaluate its performance– needs more attention. The goal has been reset for the 2011-12 school year.
Director of instruction and technology Matt Townsley said Iowa Core Leadership has developed five goals for the upcoming year, and they will be discussed in more depth at the July Board meeting.

Open Enrollment Request
After a closed session, the Board voted 3-1 to approve a parent’s request for open enrollment, though the request was received after the district’s annual deadline.
“Approving the request was in the best interest of the child, and it would not set a precedence of repeated actions,” said board member Dick Schwab.
Board member Tim Brown said by telephone, “Requests after deadline should be considered on a case by case basis.” He also added, “It will not set precedence.”
President Dave Asprey voted against the request, without offering a specific reason for his dissenting vote.

Facilities
From the facilities agenda, Kasparek said he plans to place a bid for two pick-up trucks in July. The vehicles will replace two vehicles that are faulty and rusted. The fleet is maintained well, but discussions about replacement should occur before the vehicles aren’t usable. Schwab said.
“We need to do a better job of planning, and we have to have a safe fleet,” he added.

Lunches
Increased school lunch prices may be proposed for the upcoming school year.
Superintendent Sam Miller recommended a price increase which could range between 10-20 cents. The extra money would decrease the district’s budget deficit and fund the repair of aging equipment.
“A price increase is in the future.” Schwab said. “If we improve the lunch program, the public will be more appreciative of the increase.”
Martin also agreed and said better quality of food and appropriate portions may even deter students from the a la carte line.