GOWRIE - The Prairie Valley school board publicly announced the district's intention to negotiate a whole-grade sharing agreement with the Southeast Webster Grand Community School District Tuesday.
The SWG school board will meet tonight at 7 p.m. in Burnside to discuss the issue.
"The bottom line is we can spend less money and offer our kids more opportunities," said board member Gary Welter. "With the budget cuts we're looking at, and declining enrollment, it's a no-brainer."
Superintendent Launi Dane discusses the logistics of the possible future grade sharing between the Prairie Valley and Southeast Webster Grand school districts, while board secretary Lisa Willardson, left, takes notes and Superintendent Mark Egli listens. Dane, superintendent of Southeast Webster Grand, and Egli, superintendent of Manson Northwest Webster, share administrative duties for the Prairie Valley school district.
Welter and board members Shannon Miller, John Field, Scott Hansch and Emilea Lundberg voted unanimously to announce the decision. Board members Brian Holmgaard and Rick Brand were absent.
The crowd of about 20 people did not visibly react to the vote.
Welter, Miller and Lundberg were part of a committee including Superintendent Launi Dane and three SWG board members who had discussed the agreement.
Dane is shared as superintendent between both schools.
The schools would begin looking to share some resources next year, but the full agreement would go into effect for the 2014-2015 school year.
"We missed the deadline, so this isn't whole-grade sharing right now," Welter said. "We would share some teachers, share some classes, potentially share some sports."
There is plenty of discussion yet to do on which teachers or which students might travel from one school to another, he said.
Lundberg said the discussions have been very positive so far, and while it's a financial decision, it hasn't been just about the money.
"It's been about the kids and how they're going to have more opportunities. It's not only adding things, but making sure we don't lose some things we currently have," she said.
"It's come to the point in time in our budget, where the next cuts we make would be programs," Miller said, "and the Prairie Valley board doesn't want to cut programs."
Both schools have some classes with low numbers that would benefit from the sharing, said Miller.
"They offer classes we don't have," he said. "They offer French, they offer business classes. We have a very large shop program here - they have a shop program, but it doesn't have as many classes as ours."
In some sports, both schools have trouble filling teams, he said.
So far, the committee has discussed was sharing grades five through 12, Miller said. Burnside is not big enough for a combined high school, so high school would be held in Gowrie. Then fifth through eighth grades would be held in Burnside.
"Seeing what this board has done here tonight, I would just encourage the Southeast Webster Grand board to do the same," said Superintendent Mark Egli, who is shared between PV and Manson Northwest Webster.
MNW tried and failed to enter into a sharing agreement with the former Rockwell City-Lytton school district, he said.
"At 630 students, we don't feel big enough," he said. "When you have a chance like this, I say grab it. It may not come back. If you reject it, we at MNW will look for some way to make this work. I guarantee that."