A work session between the Edgewood-Colesburg and Clayton Ridge school boards at Clayton Ridge High School, Nov. 11, continued discussions about sharing opportunities between the districts.
The districts have explored sharing a superintendent, business manager, transportation director and human resource director, while keeping their schools separate.
Currently, Ed-Co shares a business manager, transportation director and human resource director with Central Elkader, with some of those agreements in effect for another two years. Clayton Ridge shares no positions.
Clayton Ridge School Board President John Heying said the district was pretty open to all positions.
Early in the meeting, Clayton Ridge board member Mike Finnegan asked where Ed-Co was as far as sharing. “What I’d like to hear tonight is how you have come together and are you on the same page. I think tonight we need to see you together.”
Ed-Co Board President Bob Schilling said he didn’t believe the board had 100% agreement on a timeline, prompting Finnegan to ask about the status of Ed-Co Superintendent Rob Busch.
Busch responded that he is in the last year of his contract with Ed-Co.
“So are you guys asking our guy to come over with you then,” Finnegan asked.
Ed-Co board member Jeff Hoeger said he believes Busch should be retained as superintendent. “For the tremendous job he’s done, I’d like to give him another three years,” Hoeger acknowledged.
Schilling responded, “I’d say that’s Jeff’s view. I’d be open to anything. If you wanted to share right away, I’d share right away.”
Finnegan suggested they begin sharing with other positions, eventually leading up to a shared superintendent. “Perhaps we can share PD (professional development). But we all need to be on the same page,” he said.
Sharing an additional guidance counselor or social worker between the districts was also discussed.
Clayton Ridge board members expressed concern as to a timeline if Clayton Ridge Superintendent Shane Wahls began in both districts next year.
Wahls said, “I think it’s kind of awkward. I’m willing to serve in one district or two districts. But I think each board has decisions to make.”
For Ed-Co, those decisions could come after a work session Nov. 18. Following the meeting with Clayton Ridge officials, Schilling said the board would need to decide what direction they intend to move.
“From a timing standpoint, I don’t know if we have come to a hard and fast decision, but we have to come to some sort of agreement as to what our intentions are. If we intend on entering a sharing agreement next fall, I do think we have to decide Wednesday night to allow Clayton Ridge the time they need to change whatever they need to change from an administration standpoint.”
While Schilling acknowledged the board hadn’t made a decision about Busch’s future with the district, he did say he thought if the board was considering Wahls as a shared superintendent, that the district should schedule an open house so people could meet Wahls.
“I think that would be important to schedule to let the community get a chance to meet him, put a face to a name and ask a few questions.”
He also said it would be important to explain the financial benefits of sharing. “I’m not sure the financial aspects of sharing are known by the average Ed-Co taxpayer. It’s important to be transparent with everybody and let them know the reasons we are considering doing this.”
Schilling said if the board chose to extend Busch’s contract, there are still sharing opportunities with Clayton Ridge that can be beneficial. “Sharing a counselor and social worker would be great additions. I see a lot of benefits for our kids.”
With both districts on solid financial footing, Schilling said exploring sharing is a way to give students of both districts more opportunities. “In my mind, and I know our other board members feel the same way, we want to do what’s best for the children at Ed-Co, provide them the best education we possibly can and do it in a way that is the smartest for the district.”