Published On: Thu, Sep 19th, 2013

School Boards look at details, timeframes for consolidating districts

LAUREL — Laurel-Concord (L-C) and Coleridge School board took time to discuss re-organization plans and address a trust issue that came up at the September school board meetings that are held simultaneously.

Supt. Randall Klooz spoke to board members about reorganization efforts being made to join the L-C School District and the Coleridge School District.

Board members were asked to look at a petition that could be used as a pattern for the paper work to combine the two school districts.

A vote will be taken by the board members from each school district before the consolidation of L-C and Coleridge School Districts can be put in place.

The Finance Committee will work on the petition. Members of the two school boards will then need to approve the wording for the petition which will be shown to the public before the vote on reorganization will be taken according to Supt. Randall Klooz.

“I would like to have the petition done by December or January. We want to get the petition out before the public,” Klooz said. “We want to give the communities two full months to look at the petition and share their comments.”

Klooz told board members he would like to have the petition signed by next March or April and have the reorganization in place for the 2014-15 school year.

Board member Brian Holcomb asked about the wording that will be included in the petition.

“We are creating a new district out of two districts – basically that is what we are doing” Holcomb said.

L-C and Coleridge school board members have been working together through inter-local agreements for sharing for over ten years.

At times the board members from the two districts have hit some rough spots but they have always been able to work out a solution and move ahead.

An issue that caused a little conflict surfaced at the Sept. board meeting.

Board members voiced their opinions about the situation and the few moments of tension passed quickly.

Coleridge board members had made plans to meet with board members from the Hartington School.

A patron had asked the Coleridge board to look at the option of working with the Hartington District before they made a final decision on reorganization.

L-C-C Supt. Randall Klooz, Coleridge Administrator Craig Frerichs along with a few members of the Coleridge board would be present at the meeting.

L-C board members had been told that a request had been made to keep the meeting limited to the administrative staff and members of the Coleridge and Hartington School boards.

L-C board member, Rich Brandow was not happy.

“It is like a slap in the face,” Brandow said. “Why would the Laurel board members be excluded from the meeting?”

L-C board president John Wolfgram was more understanding of the situation.

“I can not speak for the other board members. I am disappointed although I respect what they are doing,” Wolfgram said. “I want this to get over with. Meet with them and decide what you want to do.”

Holcomb said the Coleridge board members were not responsible for the request to eliminate L-C from the meeting.

“This is something that was requested by a neighboring district. We aren’t necessarily in agreement with the request to not have Laurel there,” Holcomb said.

Klooz encourage the L-C and Coleridge board members to not let the issue cause any hard feelings.

“This just comes down to a trust issue. We are not one district yet – unfortunately,” Klooz said. “We have gone through this before. I want you to be honest and voice your opinions but there has to be trust on both sides. I do not want this to cause any hard feelings.”

Coleridge board members will be looking at the technology that is available at the Hartington School and compare it with the technology the L-C-C students have access to.

“We will compare the technology and ask if Hartington would be interested in keeping a Middle School at Coleridge. We need to ask these questions for the patrons in our district,” Coleridge Board President Marlin Papenhausen said. “I don’t have a problem with you being there.”

Loren Paulsen emphasized the meeting with Hartington was being done at the request of a patron in the district.

“The meeting with Hartington is something that we were asked to do,” Paulsen said.

High School Principal Jay Vance spoke to the board members about the National Honor Society. Vance and two other individuals have gone over the guidelines and selection process for the National Honor Society that are currently being used by the L-C and Coleridge Schools.

A new set of guidelines is being discussed as there are differences in the selection process that is being used by each of the schools.