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Whole Grade Sharing Update


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Superintendent’s Message

 

Much of my focus this year has been on planning for whole grade sharing starting in the fall of 2018.  Like many districts in rural Iowa, this new venture has created a variety of thoughts and emotions throughout the communities and schools at CAL and Hampton-Dumont.  Looking back over the last eighteen months since these discussions started to take place, I can say that most would not choose to go through this process.  However, circumstances, mainly declining enrollment in rural Iowa and state funding levels dictate decisions such as these.  I commend the CAL board for being proactive when they were given the news that if they did not do something, the district would run out of money.  

 

As the CAL board explored all their options, I am glad that they decided to continue their partnership with Hampton-Dumont.  Over ten years ago, our districts started to share personnel and because of the success of these shared positions, we looked for more opportunities as they presented themselves.  Today we share eighteen positions.  This has greatly benefited both districts financially.  Both districts receive over $140,000 each year in sharing incentives from the state in addition to sharing the costs for these positions.  Ultimately, this allows the districts to spend more dollars educating students.  

 

At Hampton-Dumont, we know this year’s junior class currently has 112 students.  Our current kindergarten class has 78 students and preschool numbers are 10 below last year.  This all points to a significant decrease in enrollment in the next few years and highlights the importance of continuing our partnership with CAL to provide the most educational opportunities for students.

 

At the end of January, both the CAL and Hampton-Dumont boards will officially sign the whole grade sharing agreement and send it to the Department of Education.  One major component of the agreement specifies financial arrangements.  The boards have been working together ahead of time to work this out.  Dollars earmarked for individual students in specific programs will stay with that student, for example an English Language Learners, TAG, and Special Education, to name a few.  In the grades to be shared per-pupil funding generated for each child will be split 71.5%/28.5%.  71.5% will follow CAL students to Hampton-Dumont and 28.5% will stay at CAL to pay for transportation, technology, and district office costs.  This percentage was carefully calculated to be fair for both districts.

 

We realize each family gets to make its own decision regarding where their child(ren) will attend school.  My hope is that families choose it is Hampton-Dumont.  CAL students have enjoyed a close-knit atmosphere that can continue if the students attend school together.  The more CAL students who choose attend Hampton-Dumont, the more educational opportunities can be provided.  With those opportunities, there is also an increased likelihood for more CAL staff to follow the students to HD.  If families choose another school district, 100% of the per-pupil funding will follow the student to the other school and no dollars will stay at CAL to support the district’s long-term stability.

 

During the last two months, I have visited classrooms at both Hampton-Dumont and CAL.  At CAL, I asked and answered questions about whole grade sharing.  As a result of those discussions, we arranged tours for future middle school and high schools while HD students were not there.  In November, CAL students met the core (math, science, social studies, and language arts) teachers in both buildings and in December they met with the teachers in the arts, exploratories and electives.  While visiting classes at HD, I also answered questions but challenged the students to think empathically.  If the tables were turned, how would they feel if they were being told to go to another school next year?  I was impressed with the number of ideas HD students suggested to make CAL students feel more welcome next year.

 

There is no doubt that whole grade sharing brings out numerous thoughts, feelings and emotions.  In the next eight months, it is important to honor the traditions that will be coming to an end at CAL, plan for a smooth transition to whole grade sharing for both HD and CAL students, be empathetic to staff that will not have jobs next year, and welcome CAL teachers that will are transiting to HD.  This is hard work, but in the end, it will be worth the effort as both CAL and HD students benefit from new relationships and more educational opportunities because of this whole grade sharing agreement. 

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CAL Community School District1441 Gull Ave.Latimer, IA  50452

Phone: 641-579-6087Fax: 641-579-6408

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