It was an emotional meeting for the Ruthven-Ayrshire school board and community as they reached a final decision regarding partial-day sharing Friday evening. The R-A board voted and passed the motion to begin sharing with Graettinger-Terril School.
Board President, Barry Fischer, welcomed gymnasium bleachers full of meeting attendees, all anxious to hear the outcome. Members from both Emmetsburg and G-T school boards and communities were in attendance.
"We will be making a major decision that will affect the education of the students of Ruthven in the future," said Fischer. "We would like to thank the school districts of Emmetsburg and Graettinger-Terril for their interest in partnering with Ruthven-Ayrshire and providing the educational opportunities we are seeking for our students. We would like to thank the students, parents, staff members and community members of Ruthven-Ayrshire for their input in this process and for their support during this difficult time of making a decision. As with any decision we can only select one path to follow."
Freshman R-A student, Cole Hagedorn, presented a petition to the board with signatures from a large majority of his peers, stating they would prefer to share with G-T. Hagedorn collected 64 signatures out of 91 students from grades seventh through twelfth.
"The students haven't been asked since November who they wanted to partial-day share with," said Hagedorn. "And I wanted to let the board members know where we stand." Hagedorn spoke of the relationships they have already developed with G-T students through athletics. "The one thing I didn't like about us going to Emmetsburg, is that we would have to go to three schools a day. Going to three schools a day would not be good at all."
A member from the community also added her thoughts on the matter. "We have had two communities who have so successfully worked together to create one team, one community. We've got so much balance when we go with Graettinger. The numbers are a little scary. This might not last past a few years but I would rather know that we did everything we could then spend the next ten years wondering what if we gave it a try. It's no offense against Emmetsburg and it's no offense against anything that they've offered. It's a comfort zone for our kids, a comfort zone for our community and it's a comfort zone for our families, that we're all already integrated with each other."
Fischer summarized the proposals from each school one last time and clarified rules for open enrollment. Students wishing to open enroll must still apply by the March 1 deadline.
It was moved by board member, Katie Meyer, to choose Graettinger-Terril as their partial-day sharing partner and seconded by board member, Tracy Enderson. The motion passed with a 5 to 2 vote with board members, Larry Conlon and Ray Grandstaff voting against it.
Before the decisive vote, Fischer made one last comment. "We all know it's difficult. There's a reason I came here 20 years ago. It's because we were a small school and I'd like to keep it that way as long as we can."