Wednesday, August 23, 2017

An Awesome Responsibility: Vote September 12!

Service on the local school board is perhaps one of the most thankless jobs in public service. Consider this: of all the elected offices one can choose to run for, a seat on the school board is the only one that doesn't come with a salary. Instead, it oftentimes comes with a plethora of complaints! Class sizes are too large. The teachers are mean. The administration makes awful decisions. Why on earth are they teaching 'that' in math class? The list goes on and on, and if you ask your school board members, they may have even more examples. 

But at the same time, in my opinion, there is no better example of seeing our democratic form of government in action than the local school board. Former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neil is often credited with the phrase, 'All politics is local', and I think he is more right than we realize. Think about it for a moment. How much of what happens in Washington truly impacts your everyday lives? Now how much of what happens at your local school district impact your daily lives? The Hudson Community School District will manage a total budget of $10,752,144 in fiscal year 2018. I contend school board service is rich, rewarding, and an enormous responsibility. Indeed, it is a very exciting time for our school district as we make plans for a future that includes projected enrollment growth, significant improvements to our facilities, and the opportunity to cement our place as an educational destination in the Cedar Valley. We are on our way! It is within that context that I introduce to you the following candidates for the school board. Your vote counts. Don't forget to vote on September 12!

Traci Trunck, Incumbent
Traci Trunck
Traci has local roots, growing up not too far away in Reinbeck, Iowa. As a graduate of Gladbrook-Reinbeck, Mrs. Trunck comes from a long and proud history of school board service. Following in the footsteps of her father who served on the Gladbrook-Reinbeck Community School District Board of Directors while she was growing up, Traci is completing her first term on the Hudson school board. 

Mrs. Trunck earned a business degree from the University of Northern Iowa and has been employed by John Deere for the past 19 years. Currently, she serves as the Supply Management Manager for the Central West and South East regions. Traci and her husband Charlie have two children who attend Hudson schools. Elyse will be going into the 8th grade this year and Ansley will be in 5th grade. 

Traci recognizes and appreciates the responsibility of governing a school district and is running for re-election because she wants to continue to serve our community and make a positive impact on our school district. When asked about the greatest challenge facing education in our state, she points to an inability of the legislature to determine what the core curriculum should be and alignment of the state assessment to that content. She is also concerned about the lack of adequate funding for schools in Iowa. 

When asked about the challenges facing the Hudson Community School District, Mrs. Trunck first highlights our strengths: "The Hudson school district is a leader in many ways. In the past four years, we have invested in teacher leadership, mentor teachers, 1:1 technology in the middle school and high school, i-Pads in the elementary, new curriculum, and building renovations. Our superintendent and board have a strong voice in the Iowa legislature and with local representatives." She goes on to state that our school district is currently well positioned for the future needs of our district and is hopeful that our greatest challenge in the future will be to find space to house an explosion of new kids in the district! "We are working hard to build and promote an excellent school district that will attract many new families to Hudson."

Traci wants everyone to know that she is proud of this district and is invested in our children's education. She is passionate about making certain Hudson remains strong for years to come. If re-elected, Mrs. Trunck will continue to lead with students being the main focal point of her deliberations and make decisions that support student achievement, faculty development, technology investment, and school building improvements.

Matt Sallee, Candidate for School Board
Matt Sallee
Although Matt hails from Indianola, Iowa, he has been proud to call the Cedar Valley, and specifically Hudson home for over twenty years. As a newcomer to board service, Mr. Sallee is excited to have an opportunity to serve on the school board.

Mr. Sallee earned a marketing degree from the University of Northern Iowa and currently serves as the Vice-President of Marketing and Innovation at Waterloo industries. Matt and his wife Dee have been married for 21 years and have two wonderful daughters. Madison is a proud graduate of the Hudson High School Class of 2017 and will be headed just up the road to the University of Northern Iowa this fall and majoring in business. Their daughter Kylee is eager to start her career as a high schooler this year when she crosses the street to begin her freshman year. Both of Matt and Dee's daughters have been very actively involved in school and have had outstanding experiences in the Hudson school system.

When asked about what drew Matt to board service, he talks first about the experience his children have had in Hudson and he is grateful that they have the opportunities that are available in our school district. He feels this is a great way to give back to his community while ensuring that all students will have the same positive experiences as his own children for years to come. Mr. Sallee understands the challenges facing Iowa schools are multi-faceted, complex, and unique to the local context. However, commonalities facing our state educational system include safety of students and staff, managing a budget with scant funding sources, and attracting and retaining quality teachers.

Matt understands that Hudson is not immune to some of those very challenges. However, the size of our school district creates both unique challenges and in some cases opportunities for Hudson. Mr. Sallee would make it a priority to ensure that we continue to offer our students a balanced education while ensuring top quality academics as well as a wide variety of extra-curricular activities. He believes this well-rounded approach is critical for our students as we prepare them for the next step in their lives.

Mr. Sallee is excited to have an opportunity to run for school board and hopes to bring the same common sense approach to board service that he uses every day in his work life. He believes that he can play a key role in providing our students the best education possible.

Brenda Klenk, Candidate for School Board
No stranger to small schools, Brenda is originally from Ossian, Iowa where she attended South Winneshiek Community School District. Mrs. Klenk then moved to Waukon and graduated from Allamakee schools. Following graduation from high school, Brenda did a stint in the United States Army Reserve before being honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant. She continued her education at the American Institute of Business where she earned her Associates Degree. These days she can be found in the courtroom where she serves the Honorable Linda M. Fangman as a licensed and certified shorthand and registered professional reporter for the State of Iowa as a First District Official Reporter.

Brenda and her family tried out the big city life for a few years, settling in the suburban Chicagoland area before realizing it just wasn't for them. The schools were just too big, and both Brenda and Ken wanted their children to have a school experience that resembled what they knew growing up. With family in Hudson and after having visited here several times and knowing Hudson offered a great education, they knew right away Hudson was where they wanted to call home. After visiting several small towns in Iowa, they fell in love with Hudson and relocated here in 2008 when their oldest daughter Ellie was in the 6th grade. Now, almost 10 years later, Ellie is a student at the University of Northern Iowa. Annelise graduated from Hudson High School in May and is off to Iowa State Unversity this fall, which leaves Amelia who is excited to start the 5th grade. Brenda and her husband Ken have been married for 22 years.

Mrs. Klenk gravitates toward board service out of a desire to serve her community. As a parent and citizen of this community, she feels the experiences her children have had in school have been excellent. At the same time, there is a recognition her youngest child still has 8 years to enjoy as a student at Hudson. She wants to ensure all her children have the same great experience. Brenda understands the challenges that face schools in Iowa and points to a continued lack of funding for school districts and the changing demographics of the student population.

Nevertheless, Mrs. Klenk is quick to point out the strengths of Hudson schools! She points to a tradition of academic excellence that has been a mainstay of Hudson year after year and attributes that first and foremost to the amazing educators that work so hard in our school buildings. However, she understands that our challenge will be to retain these educators in light of continued funding challenges.

Brenda is excited about her candidacy and would love the opportunity to work collaboratively with other members of the board and the administration, while at the same time providing the best possible advocacy for our number one priority: the student.

Kala Featherstone, Candidate for School Board
Kala Featherstone
Originally from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Kala and her family are proud to call Hudson home! Her parents still live in Sioux Falls and she has a sister who lives in Minneapolis. Mrs. Featherstone attended Iowa State University and earned degrees in accounting and management information systems. After obtaining her CPA license she worked for a firm in Des Moines which gave her great insight and experience in multiple industries including school district auditing.

Kala currently works in the risk management division of Wells Fargo bank. She has been with the bank 13 years holding positions in financial planning, accounting controller, and technology/risk divisions. Mrs. Featherstone feels her position is a great fit for her young family because it provides the opportunity to work from home so she can be with her children before and after school.

Kala and her husband Joe have been married for almost 10 years and have 3 children who currently attend (or will soon attend) Hudson schools. Their oldest, Katie is in 3rd grade, Chase is in 1st grade, and Brooke will be in preschool and can't wait until she can start kindergarten so she can ride the school bus! Kala wants to point out they moved into the district prior to Katie starting kindergarten so their children would be in a community with great schools and people. Their children are very active, love school, their teachers, and all the friends they have made at Hudson Elementary!

Mrs. Featherstone is interested in board service out of a desire to ensure the needs of our elementary children are considered in all decisions. She is attuned to the fact that new neighborhoods are under development which will lead to an increase in enrollment in the district. Within that context, she wants to ensure class sizes don't become too large, particularly in the elementary school where studies suggest student achievement is impacted by class size. Kala also believes her skill set will be a great fit for the board and a way to give back to the community, ensuring Hudson Schools is a top district in Iowa! At the same time, she recognizes the challenges that schools in Iowa have with regard to funding and other legislative requirements and mandates.

In Hudson, Kala believes the greatest challenge facing our schools is the ability to provide diverse offerings and extracurricular activities to meet the needs of multiple student interests and remain fiscally responsible. At the same time, it is important to consider the additionals costs that parents must contribute in order to participate in these activities. She is also a proponent of new cutting-edge technology and wants to ensure Hudson remains a leader in this arena. Kala is excited about school board service and would look forward to working with school stakeholders to make Hudson a premier school district in Iowa. She feels her perspective and skillset would be a valuable asset to the board and points out that with young children, she would be able to be a voice on the board for years to come.

Build Your Legacy-Message to the Faculty and Staff on the Eve of the 2017-2018 School Year

I thought a You Tube video would be a great way to provide insight into the busy hiring season we have had in the district. Perhaps a fun way to shed light on the rigorous selection process our then ‘candidates’ for teaching positions had to go through in order to earn their spot on this faculty. A satirist video for sure, but nevertheless I know that you will inspire, engage and prepare the students you will see in a few short days for experiences decades in the future. For those of you sitting out there right now, you are called to this vocation of teaching and your legacy will be built on the foundation of the work you do in your classrooms. 

Wow! By my count, that is 10 new teachers, representing 16% of our faculty. What is exciting about that is 4 of those teachers are taking positions that were added new this year.  Please take a few moments and introduce yourself to your new colleagues and offer them a helping hand. What an exciting time for all of our new faculty and staff! It has been my joy to work in collaboration with our teacher leadership team and administrators this past week welcoming these new and eager employees to our district. While much of our time together was spent showing them how to run the copy machine, we also painted for them a picture of what it means to be a Hudson Pirate. We have shared with them what we already have come to know and believe: “It’s great to be a Pirate”. Undeniably, this past week has caused me to reflect on my first days as a teacher and what my induction and mentoring process looked like: “Here are your keys. Your room is down the hall, first door on the left. I think there are some books on the shelf, I don’t know a lot about music, but let me know if you have any questions”.

Yesterday I shared with our new faculty that they represent the future of the educational landscape at Hudson. However, at the same time, we honor the skill, experience, and commitment our veteran staff bring to our schools. Each of you; no matter if you are in your first year or thirtieth contribute a special talent and skill to our district. I promise we wouldn’t be who we are without you. So as we lean into tomorrow and prepare for the start of new year, consider where we have come—where you all have come from, the change you have witnessed, and the journey that lies ahead.

But don’t just consider the physical changes in our schools which are readily apparent, but the educational changes that are much more subtle. For sure, education has evolved a lot in the intervening decades I was handed a set of keys and pointed down the hall. In the infancy of my career, and many of you sitting out there [now] can remember; we didn’t have email, the internet, smartphones, or even telephones in our classrooms. Although we did have one computer that we shared in our wing among six different teachers. Can you imagine? You would think that there was constant fighting over who got to use it. The fact is there wasn’t: no one could really figure out an effective way to use one computer to impact instruction for twenty plus students—so it basically sat in the hallway collecting dust.

The advances we have seen in technology, instructional practice, and even the organizational structure of schools is quite remarkable. Now, as I have taken this nostalgic trip with you down [my own personal] memory lane it is worth noting that I do still consider myself a young man! However mortality is a touchy subject, and it is within that context I admit that as I reflect on my career thus far as an educator it has become painfully obvious that I have "fewer days ahead of me as I do behind me" (Bill Clinton, DNC, July 26, 2016). Mind you, I still have a lot of days in front of me, but nevertheless, life events and experiences have caused me to spend time pondering over the last couple of months on this idea of ‘legacy’. I do so not because of vanity, but merely out of speculation. Perhaps you too have considered the question, “How will I be remembered?”

My long walks in these empty halls over the course of the summer certainly give pause for reflection, and frankly, this summer has been quite a remarkable time in our district as the renovation of our early childhood wing has taken shape. Admittedly for a long time, I thought that I would be remembered at Hudson as ‘the guy who built the parking lots’. While those were worthwhile and much-needed improvements, I do hope that is not the legacy I leave behind. In fact, I am not even certain the accomplishments of this summer are the significant building blocks of one’s legacy.

But what of your legacy?

For a moment, think about your body of work and what lasting impression you will have on the lives of those you touch. I have said before, you may not always remember the names of the students in your classroom, but they will always remember you. Why is that? Was it because you were the one who taught them to read? Or could it be during a particularly rough day, you smiled and greeted them? Truthfully you may never know until one day decades from now. Or you may never know. I have shared many of my personal stories of some of these former students with you. I encourage you to reflect on your own stories. Share them with your colleagues, especially those more junior than you. I promise, at some point this year they will need to hear about how you made a difference for a child. Because you did. You do. You will. Hopefully, we are all remembered for the impact we have had on the children that we serve.

But let’s talk for a bit about the summer we are wrapping up and how special it was!

You may recall me talking with you about our new friend, Richard. At 101 years of age, he is what remains of the Hudson High School class of 1933. We had the honor of hosting Richard during the annual Hudson Days celebration a few weeks back where he participated as an honorary grand marshal of the parade. There are undoubtedly many unique and interesting details about Richard’s long life including his 70+ year marriage to his wife, his service in the US Navy, or his ties to our school district. But what I think is most interesting is his career as a 7th and 8th-grade teacher in Ohio.

If you take a look at the enclosed photo, notice the lady standing to Richard’s right. Her name is Sherri and she was a student of Richard’s. Now retired herself, she still lives in Ohio. By the way, Richard lives in Dallas, Texas. Sherri acts as Richard’s power of attorney and handles many of his daily affairs. She drove Richard to Hudson so he could participate in the parade. In fact, she makes the trip to Dallas every two or three months to personally visit with him, and speaks with him on the phone every day.

Sherri likes to tell stories of what Richard was like as a teacher. It is pretty obvious he had an enormous impact on her life. What a special relationship they must have! I have a hard time grasping a point in my senior years where a former student becomes my caregiver. I think Richard’s legacy is cemented!

That singular event was truly a highlight of the summer. However, I suppose there was one other thing that you may be wondering about and it has to do with that little project in the elementary school.

The administrators came up with an idea of burying a time capsule, which was both a way to mark the accomplishment of this project and contemplate what our school district will look like in the future. Truthfully it is also when we began to ponder this idea of ‘legacy’. As you walk that hallway, please take notice of the ‘X’ on the floor which is directly above the buried capsule. We placed that ‘X’ as a nod to our mascot, the Pirate. When people ask you, tell them that we are Pirates, and as such we bury our treasure where ‘X’ marks the spot. As to the contents of that time capsule, we’ll never tell. I have written a letter to my successor, the contents of which is also a secret but here is a small snapshot:

“Dear Superintendent,

Just moments ago we buried this time capsule. Obviously, we are Pirates, and as such, ‘X’ marks the spot! If it is at least May 1, 2067, you should be preparing to open it at this time! The two students in the enclosed photo are siblings, Taylor and Lane Rogers. They should be in their early 60s. I do hope you are able to look them up for this special occasion. The fact is, they do not know what is contained in the time capsule. The contents of this capsule have been a closely guarded secret for the last 50 years! Also included in this letter is an inventory of the contents. I do hope you are able to make this a school event where all the children can participate. It was our intention to have the capsule opened while school was still in session. We have taken great pains to prepare the capsule in a way to preserve the items inside. Hopefully, everything is in good shape! As for me, if I am still alive I am approaching 96. Enjoy!....”

As for the remainder of the letter, I guess you will have to come back in 2067 to find out!

The beginning of a new school year is always an exciting time. New teachers nervous for the excitement that will come the first time they stand in front of a group of students alone. Veteran teachers looking forward to a fresh start with a new group of students eager to learn and take the next step on their educational journey. Students looking forward to returning to the routine of school—seeing friends they may not have seen all summer long, and for some of these students returning to the only ‘normal’ part of their lives.

So as you prepare to start the school day in just a few short days remember, you are preparing your students for life and your reach is far into the future—it will, in fact, be decades in the making. What you do within these walls will cement your legacy and occur at the intersection of where ‘X’ marks the spot.

Have a great start to the school year and continue to build on your legacy. And always remember, it’s great to be a Pirate!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Evolution of the Renovation.

With just a week to go until school starts, I am thankful we are finishing the 'punch list' for the early childhood wing in the elementary school. Over the last couple of weeks, I have enjoyed giving tours and explaining how the project evolved over the course of defining the scope of work; to planning, design, and execution. A long time coming, this renovation was first envisioned in the strategic plan titled, 'Hudson 2020' adopted by the Board of Directors in 2013. Isn't it awesome that a vision laid out in 2013 continues to guide us today? Not only does this honor the work of previous boards, but it gives the current board the latitude and flexibility to meet the needs of our students and community in 2017. Recommendation #4 broadly asks the Board to prioritize renovation of the elementary without boxing them in to include any specific scope of work or project. 

We began this task with many work sessions that included brainstorming projects that needed to be addressed in our elementary school. Working in consultation with our School Improvement Advisory Committee (SIAC), we were able to narrow the scope of this work into different projects and priorities. Rising to the top of the list of priorities was the replacement of all the windows in the facility. With a single pane of glass, the seals were beginning to break down and they were not all that energy efficient. Teachers reported that in the winter wind would blow through unsealable gaps, making it cold. Obviously, some of this could be attributed to the window air conditioners we use to keep the rooms comfortable during those periods of hot humid weather.

At the same time, it was important to maintain the ability to air condition our classrooms. The board liked the idea of window air conditioners because they were relatively inexpensive and easy to replace. If one went bad, we could simply swap it out for another one. However, it didn't seem to make a lot of sense to put in a new window that would let in natural light, seal up the gaps, and then install a window air conditioner. Ideas to install the units above the windows were quickly scrapped when we realized predicting the size of future air conditioners was an exercise in futility. That is when we landed on the idea of the mini-split unit, which is a ceiling mount unit controlled by a condenser on the roof of the building. While not as inexpensive as a window air unit, they more than made up for this additional cost through the energy efficiency that we will realize. Not to mention they are so quiet you can hardly hear them running!

We have also improved our energy efficiency in this wing by replacing all the lights. The light fixtures in the elementary school are currently fluorescent bulbs, which are not very efficient by today's standards. So it was determined it would be a wise investment to replace all these fixtures with LEDs. Not only are they more energy efficient, but they have very little maintenance associated with them. This new lighting is also designed in a way to complement the natural light that comes in through our windows. On a bright sunny day, the LED lights will automatically adjust to the amount of light that is needed in the classroom by using a photo cell mounted in the ceiling. Further, if there is no one in the room, the lights will automatically turn off. 

Perhaps the number one priority of the school board was to make our competition gym handicap accessible. Navigating the stairs on the North or South end of the valley has always been the primary way to get into the competition gym, and not all that practical for those who use walkers or wheelchairs. For years, the only way for our patrons in wheelchairs or walkers to enter the gym was to come through the emergency exits on the East end of the gym. Many strategies were discussed that included installing an elevator, putting in a lift, or installing a ramp. Ultimately, the Board decided the best course of action was to remove half the steps on the South side entrance and create a ramp, which turned out great! By the way, if you are visiting the district and need to access this ramp, we have three handicap parking spots right outside this entrance. 

As we continued to identify and refine the scope of this work, it became obvious the entire project could not be completed at one time over the course of the summer employing the financing strategy that has been the goal of this Board. For example, the estimated cost to replace the windows in the entire facility was estimated at over $550,000. That is the sum the Board had budgeted for one year in renovation expenses.  We discussed the option of completing each of the different phases of the renovation as a stand alone project, but that idea was abandoned at the advice of our architect, engineer, and local contractors. They recommended a renovation where we completed each section of the building at one time so we only have to contend with demolition in one area of the facility at a time. 

Now that this phase of the project is wrapping up, it is time to start considering phase two of the renovation. We have the benefit of hindsight and have clearly articulated the scope, it will be up to the board to decide which area of the building to tackle next and how best to finance the project!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Consider Our Priorities

The last three weeks we have discussed priorities the Board of Directors have identified for the upcoming legislative session. To recap, we have covered a lot of ground, including the importance of removing the sunset on the one cent sales tax, the benefit of operational sharing and ensuring those incentives continue, and the unintended consequences of unfunded mandates. Today we save the best for last, and if you have been following me for awhile, you probably know what is coming next.

Timely and adequate supplemental state aid. Specifically speaking, we are interested in the amount of inflationary increase associated with per pupil funding for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1, 2018. During the 2016-2017 school year, the state 'cost per pupil' was $6,591. Supplemental state aid increased the state cost per pupil by 1.11%, so for the 2017-2018 school year, the state cost per pupil increased by $73 to $6,664. To put that in perspective, CPI for the month of August is 2.4% and for the last year has averaged 1.48%. 

I think it is also important to note that then Governor Branstad recommended an increase of about 2.45% in his Condition of the State address in January of 2017. At the time, we all lamented the fact that it was low, but now with the benefit of hindsight, we are thankful we saw an increase at all. As the year continued to unfold, the Revenue Estimating Conference downgraded revenue projections at each meeting. We are in a situation now where it seems very likely that a special session of the Legislature will be called in October to deal with an even greater shortfall. We will undoubtedly have an opportunity to debate the reasons for those shortfalls in future articles, but for the meantime, I'll focus on the need for adequate and timely supplemental state aid. My point is that, yes we get it and understand, but wonder if the larger issue is one of priority. 

Nevertheless, and thankfully this issue was settled relatively early in this past session. Although it is worth pointing out that we should have been discussing supplemental state aid for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2018. You see, the law as previously written required the legislature to set supplemental state aid 18 months in advance of the new fiscal year. This was designed to give school districts ample time to make changes to personnel and programming decisions.  But when they set the new funding levels, they also changed the law that removed the 18 month lead time. Now we have a mere 6 months. 

Indeed the budget is going to be tight this next year and I recognize that. I further realize that there are many, many competing priorities that we have as a state. But perhaps as a state it would be wise to consider our priorities. Many of our politicians talk about their support of education as a priority and the fact that Iowa has traditionally found itself recognized as a leader in education. They talk about how important it is to retain (or regain depending on who you talk to) that coveted status.

But at 1.11% supplemental state aid, it makes it incredibly difficult to maintain our standing as a leader. At 1.11%, Hudson schools will see an increase in revenue of $45,955. With a general fund budget of $8.4 Million and an overall budget of $10.7 Million, that hardly seems adequate. Consider this: It's August and we have already invested $33,275 in a new science curriculum. School doesn't start for two more weeks. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Operational Incentives

Over the last several years Iowa school districts have endured very small increases in supplemental state aid year over year. We'll talk more about that next week, but the impact of a low growth rate has a pretty significant negative impact on schools over time. This issue is further challenging in school districts where enrollment is decreasing, and in fact, often times this has a compounding effect. The consequences of this are obvious and lead to school districts cutting positions, and unfortunately in some cases eliminating programs. But as a general rule of thumb, when considering budget cuts in schools, the idea is to keep the cuts as far away from students as possible. That means creating efficiencies wherever we can find them.

One common way to create efficiencies in Iowa public school districts is through operational sharing. This type of arrangement allows school districts to share the services of some employees with other school districts. Basically, one school district serves as the district of employment for a particular employee and 'sub contracts' out the employee to a neighboring school. In Hudson, we share two positions with other school districts: business manager and transportation director. With our business manager, we share the cost of employment 50/50 with Grundy Center. Hudson holds the contract so the business manager is employed by the Hudson Community School District. In the case of transportation director, we share the cost of employment 75/25 with North Tama. In this arrangement, North Tama is the agency of employment and holds that contract. (If you have ever wondered or noticed a Hudson bus in the North Tama garage, now you know the reason why.)

The benefit of this type of arrangement is probably pretty obvious. The cost of employment is split between the two school districts per the agreement. The downside is that the employee can't be in two places at once, and as a result organizational changes in operation are necessary. This might mean that other operational employees have to pick up some of the extra work, or work that is the primary responsibility of the shared employee has to wait until that employee is in the school district. Needless to say, operational sharing does mean that people aren't always readily available to handle issues and some tasks take a little longer to complete. (Admittedly advances in technology make this less burdensome, but there are tasks that need to be completed onsite.) We've been sharing our business manager for several years now, so pretty much have the organizational aspects of this ironed out nicely at this point. Sure, it is not without challenges from time to time, and everyone has to take on a few more responsibilities....

But the state has made it worth it. School districts are incentivized to create these efficiencies by sharing key operational positions. It works like this: you share a business manager, each school district receives the equivalent of five students for funding. If you share a transportation director, each school district receives the equivalent of five students for funding. To keep it from getting out of hand, districts are limited in both the number of operational positions that can be shared and the equivalent amount of funding they can receive. Nevertheless, this funding can go quite a long way to fill the gap created by inadequate funding. So, the equivalent of ten students we receive for operational sharing generates $67,766 in revenue for the school district. Pretty neat deal! But here is the problem: when the law was enacted it had a sunset of five years. That was three years ago. We, and numerous school districts around the state have come to rely on that revenue to keep programs running and afloat. For that reason, the board has set removing the sunset on operational sharing as a legislative priority during the second session of the 87th general assembly, set to commence in January.