Laurens-Marathon: Sharing

L-M to begin whole-day agreement with Pocahontas Area

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari Laurens-Marathon Community School District students Ethan Behrens, left, Deshun Williams and Kyler Bailey collaborate on a project in the school's hallway.

LAURENS — After two years of partial-day sharing, the Laurens-Marathon Community School District will begin whole-day sharing with the Pocahontas Area Community School District this fall.

The agreement was approved by both school boards in January.

Laurens-Marathon Superintendent Jeff Kruse said the five-year agreement means high schoolers in the district will attend classes all day in Pocahontas.

In addition, Pocahontas will also host activities for L-M’s students from seventh grade through high school.

“As for the academic piece, 85 percent of the per pupil cost is what Laurens has to pay to Pocahontas,” Kruse said, adding that Pocahontas will have full control over the activities program.

-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari Karstyn Rollefson, 6, a student in the Laurens-Marathon Community School District, puts her shoes on outside her locker recently.

“In other words, they will get all the revenue and expenditures and be responsible for the hiring of all coaches,” he said.

The whole-day sharing agreement has many benefits to the Laurens-Marathon Community School District.

“It allows Laurens-Marathon to maintain accreditation standards with the state,” Kruse said. “It should benefit students by the high school being at Pocahontas all day. It’ll allow better fluidity for classes and scheduling for students as opposed to being there part-day.”

While the partial-day sharing agreement was beneficial, Kruse said it also caused some problems for the district.

One of the major “pitfalls,” as Kruse called it, had to deal with the number of students.

“At the state level, there’s a rule called offer and teach,” he said. “Because of partial-day sharing, we could not count our students together with Pocahontas students to meet the requirement. Each district is counted separately.”

That’s what caused the districts to consider whole-day sharing.

“In order to be accredited, you have to offer everything the state requires at a minimum, and you must have at least one student in a course to meet offer and teach,” Kruse said. “Where we’ve gotten into a snafu is sometimes we don’t have a student in a course required by the Department of Education. That’s where we are short on offer and teach.”

Whole-day sharing will allow Laurens-Marathon to keep its accreditation and continue operating.

Kruse said while the agreement is a positive, there’s still work to be done.

“I’m glad we’re done with negotiating the contract so now we can work on the details of scheduling, calendar and other details that need to be made before next fall to be sure it’s successful for all communities,” Kruse said.

This year will also be the last that Kruse serves as the superintendent in the L-M district.

In January, Kruse, who is shared with the South Central Calhoun School District, announced that he was resigning as superintendent in both districts.

While he doesn’t have his plans decided just yet, Kruse said he hopes to remain in education in some capacity.

Until then, Kruse will continue to work at both L-M and SCC until the end of the school year.

He said, while the sharing agreement took up much of the year at L-M, there were other positives as well.

“We made great strides in improving our curriculum at the elementary level, focusing on reading and a little bit in math,” Kruse said. “We changed how we’re implementing reading and now we’re just anxious to see when the data comes in, what impact it’s had on testing data.”