The Wapello School Board made it official Wednesday — the school district’s sixth grade will be moving back to the secondary building beginning next year. The unanimous decision in support of Superintendent Mike Peterson’s recommendation was taken primarily for budgetary reasons, although Peterson told a group of parents and others during a Jan. 4 public meeting there were also educational benefits of the move.

The board adopted the new policy with little discussion.

Board member Doug Meeker did ask if other school officials received any comments from anyone. Meeker said one person contacted him, but that person was supportive of the move.

Board member Doug Housman reported one person in support of the move also had contacted him.

Following those reports, the board voted to approve the move, which some parents and staff had criticized during the public meeting. Some of those attending that meeting suggested next year’s sixth graders were not prepared for the move and said they were concerned those students would have a difficult time adjusting to the new site.

School officials had tried to ease those concerns by assuring the parents the school would continue to monitor student achievement and other issues.

The move is expected to cost two elementary teaching positions, but will help preserve several junior high teaching positions.

Meanwhile in other action involving budgets and personnel, the board approved the early retirement of junior high math teacher Terri Hutcheson. The board adopted the early retirement option several months ago as a budget reduction tool. Eligible certified staff had until Jan. 3 to apply for the program.

Hutcheson was one of seven employees who were eligible.

In other action, the board informally agreed to not pursue the sale of the district’s former preschool building. Housman said he wanted to see it continue to be used to store school inventory.

“I don’t think we have a good plan for all the inventory,” he said.

Peterson said a community member expressed interest in possibly purchasing the building.

The board also agreed to use State Bank of Wapello to fund the lease/purchase of five new Blue Bird buses from School Bus Sales, Waterloo for $413,445. The bank provided a 2.6 percent interest bid on the tax exempt purchase.

According to the financing documents, the purchase would be handled through three annual $66,663 payments and a final balloon payment of $240,000.

The board also:

• Received presentations on the elementary student council and upcoming fundraising projects; and the FFA’s recent trip to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas;

• Reviewed and approved a series of board policies involving student activities, government, fundraising and other areas;

• Tabled approval of several extra-curricular activity contracts until officials learn how many football players will be out and if a second assistant football coach will be needed;

• Approved the early graduation of three seniors, pending completion of the current semester’s coursework;

• Held a closed session to review or discuss records required to be kept confidential by state or federal law; and

• Declared obsolete/unused computer equipment to be surplus, paving the way for it to be sold to a salvage firm.

The board also reviewed the overall expenses for the nearly complete 2016 Construction Project. According to the review tabulation, the total $2.13 million project was about $138,000 over budget, about 6.5 per cent.