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Proposed Legislation Prompts Thoughts Of Increased Sharing

May 9, 2013
by Dan Voigt , Emmetsburg News

Armed with passage of House File 470, members of the Ruthven-Ayrshire Community School board discussed the possibility of increasing the amount of sharing of personnel for their school district during a special meeting Tuesday morning. During the same meeting, the board voted to offer the shared services of their superintendent to a neighboring school district.

"Graettinger-Terril was going to fill their superintendent's vacancy," RA Superintendent Andrew Woiwood told his board to start Tuesday's session. "But, after this legislation came out of the House, there is more interest in sharing."

According to Woiwood, the legislation, known as House File 472, would extend the current sharing incentives for school districts for an additional five-year period, effective July 1, 2014, with no reduction in percentages of incentive monies. The legislation would add several positions that would be eligible for incentive reimbursements, and would also allow non-contiguous districts to enter into sharing agreements.

"The legislation passed the House Education Committee on a 23-0 vote," Woiwood noted, "but it still has to go through the Senate."

Currently Ruthven-Ayrshire shares a Guidance counselor and Librarian with the Spencer Community Schools, and shares a business manager with the Area Education Agency, all on a part-time basis. With the addition sharing incentives for counselors and librarians under the new legislation, as well as positions for curriculum directors, mental health therapists and a position for a school administrative manager, or SAM, the new legislation makes sharing of such positions more attractive and beneficial, financially, to districts.

For Ruthven-Ayrshire, supplemental incentives of two percent of the state's $6,015 of aid per student would mean roughly $29,000 a year for the district through the new legislation through shared positions.

With the two positions currently being shared that would now receive supplemental funding, RA would also consider adding the curriculum coordinator and the SAM position through sharing.

"Financially, this looks like a big plus for us," commented RA Board President Barry Fischer. "But, will we be running our Superintendent short if we were to share him?"

In response to Fischer's question, Woiwood pointed out that in his current role at RA, he was serving not only as Superintendent, but also handling the duties of elementary principal and curriculum coordinator as well.

"If the superintendent were to be shared, my thought would be on a 60-40 basis," Woiwood said, "but it would required taking away the elementary principal and curriculum coordinator duties."

"That would be a reason for hiring a SAM person," Fischer said.

"Yes," Woiwood said. "Ideally, that person could handle the curriculum and elementary principal positions."

In discussion the SAM position, several ideas were forwarded, but high school Principal Jon Josephson reminded the board that using an unlicensed person for the position would limit the responsibilities the person could fill.

"They would be an extra set of eyes in our building," Fischer said. "I think that the students in our district would benefit from this."

The board began discussing the sharing of the Superintendent's position, talking about the potential savings of salaries and benefits from the amount of time shared with the other district.

"Did GT go with a search firm?" Board member Ray Grandstaff asked.

"They wanted to know if you would be interested in sharing first, but they would like to know one way or the other by May 13," Woiwood answered. "If you're not interested in sharing, they will go with a search firm."

"Financially, it looks like it would be beneficial for everyone," Board member Tracy Enderson observed. "But if this legislation doesn't go through, I'm not so sure."

"I think we want to share, it will be a savings for us," Board member Larry Conlon commented.

"Financially, we will come out ahead with a shared superintendent," agreed Fischer, who turned to Woiwood and said, "Be prepared to be shared," generating laughter from the board members.

"The hardest thing for me will be to take my hands off the curriculum work and elementary principal things," Woiwood admitted. "I've just gotten so used to doing that."

Both Conlon and Enderson re-stated their support of the idea of sharing Woiwood with Graettinger-Terril.

"What changed Graettinger's mind?" asked Board member Tammy Chapman.

"House File 472," Conlon answered. "Our $29,000 is their $42,000," a reference to sharing incentives the GT district has received for sharing agreements they have in effect.

On a motion by Conlon, which was seconded by Enderson, the RA board voted unanimously to offer to share Superintendent Andrew Woiwood's services to Graettinger-Terril.



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