As November draws closer, the Newton school district is in a transitional period in regards to the bond issue that will be placed on the ballot. Not only is USD 373 moving into the campaigning phase concerning the bond, but its relationship with architects from DLR Group is shifting as well.

Up to this point, the district has interacted with DLR strictly pertaining to for-pay services. With the bond campaigning beginning, though, the firm presented a contract — totaling $120,000 — for the school district to consider accepting on a long-term basis. The Newton school board reviewed that contract at its meeting on Monday.

"They will continue to provide the graphic design support and support for community meetings and surveys and those kinds of things as part of that $120,000," said USD 373 Superintendent Deb Hamm.

Prior to the school board meeting, district counsel reviewed the contract and found no issues (save for some incorrect language). Hamm also noted that no payment would be due on the contract until the bond passes.

If approved, DLR would become the district's firm throughout the duration of the bond project. While board member Barbara Bunting did raise the question of if bids should be taken from other firms, it was noted that DLR is charging a reduced fee because of the work the school district has already paid for.

On top of that, the contract presented stipulates that if the bond issue runs three times and does not pass, then USD 373 would not have to pay for the contract. However, if the bond fails prior to running three times and the board chooses not to pursue the issue again, the district would be on the hook for the full cost of the contract.

While there was a question of if those three attempts could be spaced out over time, Hamm noted that routine procedure is to pursue such bond issues in succession. If a certain amount of time (i.e. five years) lapses, the next bond attempt would not fall under the same contract — meaning the district would still pay that $120,000.

Board member Tim Hodge also questioned if Gravity Works, who the district started with, would be retained as part of this contract. While Gravity Works and DLR Group are two different companies, Hamm did state that they are working together and would still be jointly involved in regards to the Newton school district's bond issue.

The board approved the contract for services with DLR Group unanimously.

In other business, the Newton school board:

Heard a report on the Railer Academy/Virtual Program, including enrollment numbers, completion rates (higher than many other schools with such programs, Hamm noted) and structure for the current school year.
Approved the consent agenda items, including approval of previous board minutes, bills, a Head Start grant and ratification of the 2017-2018 agreement with Prairie View Inc.
Following a public hearing at the start of the meeting, approved the 2017-2018 budget as published.
Approved the notice of intent to use alternative delivery method in regards to the bond proposal — giving the district the opportunity to pursue hiring a construction at-risk manager.
Received an update on the bond campaign, with Hamm lining out multiple speaking engagements (while still seeking more opportunities), community meetings planned, the availability of information on the bond issue in schools around the district and initial efforts to send out marketing information through the mail.
Approved the disposal of old Newton High School sports uniforms by selling them to students/alumni.
Discussed an agreement between NHS and Adidas America, which would offer discounted rates to both the school and athletes purchasing equipment (though athletic director Brian Becker noted individual athletes would not be required to stick to Adidas regarding equipment they purchase individually). No action was taken on Monday.
Received board comments about creating more organization regarding fundraising efforts throughout the district.