Published On: Thu, Mar 20th, 2008

Consortium Is Changing Rural Education

LAUREL  —  The traditional classroom that many of us know may be a thing of the past before long.
There is a new look in education according to Coleridge, Laurel-Concord, Newcastle and Wynot Supt. Dan Hoesing.

The four schools have joined together in a unique inter-local agreement for sharing and has even received some national attention. They are sharing staff and using Distance Learning to cut costs.
The schools have also implemented new programs that are bringing funds into their school.

Coleridge School Board member Brian Holcomb recently attended a Legislative Issue Conference in Lincoln along with some of the other school board members from the four school districts.
Some of the school board members from the four school districts had recently attended a Legislative Issue Conference in Lincoln which was sponsored by the Nebraska Association of School Boards.
Governor Dave Heineman spoke at the Conference according to Coleridge School Board member Brian Holcomb.
Holcomb remembered hearing Gov. Heineman say how many of the schools in Nebraska are operating on a system based on a 19th century model for education.
“I thought that is not the case for our four schools,” said Holcomb. “We are working very hard to operate in a much more progressive manner.”
Scott Cole, Principal from Newcastle Schools said the sharing between the schools has been good for everyone.
“It is working extremely well,” said Cole. “Not only for the students but also for the teachers. There seems to be a renewed interest in teaching. One of our teachers who has taught for over 30 years is now doing Distance Education.”
Newcastle is now selling seven Distance Education classes which include Spanish, business and history, according to Cole.
Cole is impressed with how the Distance Education is working.
“The teachers doing Distance Education are doing a tremendous job,” said Cole. “The teachers make themselves available — the students can get extra help. It means a lot to the students to have personal contact. I know that Mr. Brogie, Carol Manganaro, and Susan Brandow have gone to everyone of the schools individually and met with the students.”
Cole said it is difficult for the smaller schools to get teachers that are endorsed in all of the areas in order to meet the state requirements.
With the inter-local agreement one school can hire a fully endorsed teacher and share the teacher with the other schools, he said.
Cole said it has also been helpful to work with the administration in the other schools.
“I talk to each one of them at some time during the day,” said Cole. “I can get help and suggestions from them. Each one has their own area of expertise.”

Lee Heimes, P.E. teacher and coach at Wynot said sharing with other schools is working great.
“They have something we need and we have something they need,” said Heimes.
Laurel Ag teacher Paul Timm said he has students from each of the four schools in the FFA program.
“I have 18 students going to the State FFA Convention,” said Timm.
The FFA students from the four schools get together once a month with Timm.
Timm works with the students from the four schools at camps and competitions and is involved with summer activities as well.
Newcastle students Raven Rohan and Jennifer Tanderup both like the opportunity to meet students from the other schools along with a larger choice of classes.
“We have more opportunities,” said Rohan. “We have different classroom settings than we are used to.”

According to Wynot Principal Rich Higgins, the idea of everyone having a voice is carried over into the inter-local agreement for sharing for the schools.
“We are all working together,” said Higgins. “This is not run by one school or by one person.”