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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

R-A continues sharing discussions with E-burg

Thursday, January 17, 2013

About 85-90 percent of the heavy lifting is done with regards to the sharing agreement between Ruthven-Ayrshire schools and Emmetsburg schools, according to Ruthven-Ayrshire principal Jon Josephson.

The administrators met several times earlier this month to begin formally discussing the details pertaining to this agreement, which they hope to have signed and in action by the beginning of the next school year.

"I've shared what we used at Northeast Hamilton-Webster City," Ruthven-Ayrshire Superintendent Andrew Woiwood said. "We're working on courses, scheduling, professional development, transportation and the calendar."

He continued, "We need to give Emmetsburg an idea of how many kids of ours will be in each course of theirs."

He hopes to create a mock-schedule, allowing students to pick which classes they'd like to take and create a version of the schedule they would like to have next year. Using that data, Woiwood plans to approach Emmetsburg with information on how many students would be added to each class.

Woiwood also presented a draft of next year's academic calendar to the board. While he hasn't compared it to Emmetsburg's schedule yet, he is confident that the two schools can come to an agreement for the academic year.

A suggestion regarding transportation has Ruthven-Ayrshire high school students arriving to school and boarding a bus for Emmetsburg. While the buses will stay for the remainder of the morning, the drivers would be transported back to Ruthven in a more economically friendly vehicle. At noon, the car would take the drivers back to Emmetsburg, where they will meet the students again to drive them back to Ruthven-Ayrshire for lunch and their afternoon classes.

Though the board unofficially expressed interest in continuing the athletic sharing agreement with Graettinger-Terril, discussion once again arose regarding the possibility of forming an athletic sharing agreement with Emmetsburg.

"We've been having very fruitful discussions with Emmetsburg regarding academics," Josephson said. "At the moment, we're keeping them separate, which is what we should do. We can't pile athletics onto academics."

Board member Ray Grandstaff raised a concern regarding the application to the Twin Lakes Athletic Conference. Because the Cornbelt Conference has five teams remaining, it will be disbanded after the 2013-2014 season and the remaining teams will be assigned to other conferences. Graettinger-Terril passed a motion of intent to apply for GT/RA athletics to be included into the Twin Lakes conference.

Grandstaff's concern involved Ruthven-Ayrshire's potential future decision to withdraw from their athletic sharing contract with Graettinger-Terril.

After discussion, Board President Barry Fischer appointed Vice President Tracy Enderson as chair and motioned to continue the athletic agreement as an official board decision.

"We need to give our administration clear direction," Fisher said.

After a vote, four additional members approved the motion. Grandstaff and Board Member Larry Conlon abstained.

"The kids created the Titans, not us," Enderson said. "We signed a contract, and if we can't keep our word, then I don't like where we are as a board."

Now that time has passed after the initial decision to discontinue sharing talks with Graettinger-Terril, students and community members appear confident that the continued discussions with Emmetsburg are appropriate for the school.

"When the news first broke, a lot of students were upset," Josephson said. "After our December meeting and our explanation of where this was headed, though, concerns leveled off."

At a previous board meeting, several members requested that students who open-enrolled into the Ruthven-Ayrshire district, especially those who came from Emmetsburg, were approached regarding their specific concerns to the sharing agreement.

"I talked one-on-one or in small groups with the open-enrolled students," Josephson said. "The conversation was very positive, which was unexpected."

While the details are largely in place, Woiwood is hesitant to release any specifics until the agreement is largely approved by both boards.

"I'm being careful because I know that this will affect people's jobs and livelihoods," he said. "I don't want to say too much publicly until it's finished and agreed upon by both boards."

He continued, "We're looking at this as a long-term solution, and we need to make sure that in whatever we do, we create a positive situation."

The board will meet to discuss the agreement on Jan. 23, with a joint board meeting to follow about a week later.

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