At the start of the joint board meeting between the Ruthven-Ayrshire and Graettinger-Terril school districts, superintendents Jesse Ulrich and Andrew Woiwood forwarded the financial data they had compiled regarding the financial outcome of each type of sharing agreement available.
According to the data, both schools will see a negative available balance for nearly every possible agreement. The worst outcome, both boards decided, was a partial-day sharing agreement. At the end of a projected five-year plan, the districts would carry a combined debt of over $1 million.
"Partial-day sharing works best with a small district going into a large district," Ruthven-Ayrshire board member Larry Conlon said.
Additionally, scheduling students to attend classes at both schools would be time-intensive, and would diminish the quality of education that the students would receive.
"We are here to provide the best education to the students in our districts," Ruthven-Ayrshire Board President Barry Fisher said.
In moving forward with their discussion, the boards removed partial-day sharing as an option.
Should the boards enter into a two-way sharing agreement, the combined middle school would be in one location and the combined high school would be in the other. The district would not be transporting students back and forth from one school to the other throughout the day, but both schools would consolidate their teaching staff in order to adapt to the combined classes.
"You want to get as many students in front of a teacher as possible, within reason," Woiwood said. "For example, having a physics teacher in each building, when you have one student in one building and two students in another isn't using our resources as efficiently as we can."
Financially, a two-way sharing agreement would cause Ruthven-Ayrshire's to go into debt $58,000 by the third fiscal year and end the five-year trend with almost $600,000 in debt. Graettinger-Terril would end the five-year trend in debt $194,000.
"There is no magic percentage that makes both bottom lines work better," Graettinger-Terril Board President Kyle Norris said.
"The numbers aren't supporting what we've talked to the public about," Woiwood said.
Should the districts enter into a one-way sharing agreement, where Ruthven-Ayrshire students seventh-grade and older attend school in Graettinger, Ruthven-Ayrshire would end the five-year trend in debt $23,000, and Graettinger-Terril would end the five-year trend with a positive balance of $115,000.
"A sharing agreement, of any kind, is a first step into a long-term relationship," Graettinger boardmember Galen Chicoine said. "Our longterm survivability is dependent on how much is saved together."
Ruthven-Ayrshire will have a public forum at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 10, prior to their monthly board meeting, to inform the community about the new sharing option. One-way sharing was not included in the community survey the board issued two weeks ago.
"Doing nothing is not an option," Woiwood said.
"It would be very tough to just send our kids to Graettinger-Terril," Fisher said, "but a 7-12 one-way sharing agreement is the way to make it work in this scenario."
After the public forum on Dec. 10, the boards from each district will meet again to discuss a final option. A final, combined public forum for both districts is set for Dec. 20.