×
×
homepage logo

BREAKING NEWS

A-R, North Kossuth, Sentral talks stall

By Staff | Jun 12, 2010

Armstrong-Ringsted Principal Matt Berninghaus presented a proposal for three-way sharing in a meeting between the A-R, North Kossuth and Sentral school boards Thursday night in Swea City. EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

SWEA CITY – A meeting between Armstrong-Ringsted and North Kossuth and Sentral school districts at Swea City Thursday night started amicably enough. Board members and administrators introduced themselves.

And then A-R Principal Matt Berninghaus showed a video clip about thinking outside the box. In the video, people had been given a candle, matches and thumbtacks in a box. The object was to mount the candle on the wall without it dripping on the table below.

People tried a number of different tactics – tacking the candle to the wall, melting the bottom of the candle and trying to stick it to the wall – none of them worked. Only after five minutes did any of the people in the experiment come up with the solution – tack the box to the wall and put the candle in it. The difficulty of the problem was that people saw the box as a container for the items in the experiment, not as a candle holder.

Berninghaus used the video as a way of asking the respective parties to “think outside the box” and overcome functional fixedness and looking at a different way to break out of the mold.

Berninghaus then presented a proposal for discussion’s sake. The proposal called for grades five through eight from all three districts to attend Sentral. Primary grades one through four and high school would then attend a west campus in Armstrong and an east campus in Swea City.

“It just makes us nervous to change,” said North Kossuth Superintendent Mike Landstrum. EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

With 808 total students between the three districts, that would put 228 students at Sentral and about 285 students at each high school.

Berninghaus also discussed four options. In Option A, students from the three schools would be mixed together and multiple shuttles would be run. In Option B, grades nine and 10 and 11-12 would be together. In Option C, North Sentral Kossuth, which currently is operating under a five-year sharing agreement, and Armstrong-Ringsted would remain split. Option D would call for a block schedule in which students attend each others’ campus every other day.

Berninghaus noted a number of advantages in a three-way sharing agreement, something A-R has been considering with North Kossuth and Sentral over the past four years. He said there were state incentives to share academics and teachers and administration could specialize in given areas. Expenses could be reduced by increasing efficiency or resources and there could possibly be a reduction in administration. He also noted peer support for instructional staff and administration and long-term consistency for students and communities, ensuring future stability.

In the ensuing discussion, Sentral Board President Ron Dacken said he would like to keep lower grades at Sentral.

“The parents I think would like that a lot better,” Dacken said. However, he didn’t slam the door shut. “I think we’re fooling ourselves if we don’t get together. I think it’s high time that we ofer more of a challenge to our kids.”

Rod Foster, A-R board president, thanked board members and administration from the other districts for meeting.

“I’d like to know what the next step is,” Foster said. He then asked for feedback from North Kossuth.

“We’ve got to listen to what people are saying,” said Superintendent Mike Landstrum. He noted a five-year whole-grade sharing agreement North Kossuth and Sentral signed July 1, 2008 and said teachers favored reorganization between the two districts. “I want to be careful in misleading our public,” Landstrum said, noting that he was wary of abrogating the five-year sharing agreement. “We want to be very careful. We made a commitment with our people. I think we need to go slow,” Landstrum said.

“We’re not talking aobut you guys ending your whole-grade sharing agreement,” said A-R Superintendent Randy Collins. “

Jim Boyer, A-R board member, agreed that appeasing the public was important. However, he emphasized the need for quality education. “That’s important but the reality is we have to be concerned about the education of our kids,” Boyer said.

Paul Bormann, North Kossuth board member, asked about the fate of athletic teams.

Collins said there could still be separate teams. “This (Berninghaus’ proposal) was designed to be a straw dog. Pick it apart.”

Landstrum acknowledged that the Iowa Department of Education encouraged consolidation. “I strongly feel that we need to reorganize (North Kossuth and Sentral) first,” he said.

A-R, North Kossuth, Sentral talks stall

By Staff | Jun 12, 2010

Armstrong-Ringsted Principal Matt Berninghaus presented a proposal for three-way sharing in a meeting between the A-R, North Kossuth and Sentral school boards Thursday night in Swea City. EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

SWEA CITY – A meeting between Armstrong-Ringsted and North Kossuth and Sentral school districts at Swea City Thursday night started amicably enough. Board members and administrators introduced themselves.

And then A-R Principal Matt Berninghaus showed a video clip about thinking outside the box. In the video, people had been given a candle, matches and thumbtacks in a box. The object was to mount the candle on the wall without it dripping on the table below.

People tried a number of different tactics – tacking the candle to the wall, melting the bottom of the candle and trying to stick it to the wall – none of them worked. Only after five minutes did any of the people in the experiment come up with the solution – tack the box to the wall and put the candle in it. The difficulty of the problem was that people saw the box as a container for the items in the experiment, not as a candle holder.

Berninghaus used the video as a way of asking the respective parties to “think outside the box” and overcome functional fixedness and looking at a different way to break out of the mold.

Berninghaus then presented a proposal for discussion’s sake. The proposal called for grades five through eight from all three districts to attend Sentral. Primary grades one through four and high school would then attend a west campus in Armstrong and an east campus in Swea City.

“It just makes us nervous to change,” said North Kossuth Superintendent Mike Landstrum. EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

With 808 total students between the three districts, that would put 228 students at Sentral and about 285 students at each high school.

Berninghaus also discussed four options. In Option A, students from the three schools would be mixed together and multiple shuttles would be run. In Option B, grades nine and 10 and 11-12 would be together. In Option C, North Sentral Kossuth, which currently is operating under a five-year sharing agreement, and Armstrong-Ringsted would remain split. Option D would call for a block schedule in which students attend each others’ campus every other day.

Berninghaus noted a number of advantages in a three-way sharing agreement, something A-R has been considering with North Kossuth and Sentral over the past four years. He said there were state incentives to share academics and teachers and administration could specialize in given areas. Expenses could be reduced by increasing efficiency or resources and there could possibly be a reduction in administration. He also noted peer support for instructional staff and administration and long-term consistency for students and communities, ensuring future stability.

In the ensuing discussion, Sentral Board President Ron Dacken said he would like to keep lower grades at Sentral.

“The parents I think would like that a lot better,” Dacken said. However, he didn’t slam the door shut. “I think we’re fooling ourselves if we don’t get together. I think it’s high time that we ofer more of a challenge to our kids.”

Rod Foster, A-R board president, thanked board members and administration from the other districts for meeting.

“I’d like to know what the next step is,” Foster said. He then asked for feedback from North Kossuth.

“We’ve got to listen to what people are saying,” said Superintendent Mike Landstrum. He noted a five-year whole-grade sharing agreement North Kossuth and Sentral signed July 1, 2008 and said teachers favored reorganization between the two districts. “I want to be careful in misleading our public,” Landstrum said, noting that he was wary of abrogating the five-year sharing agreement. “We want to be very careful. We made a commitment with our people. I think we need to go slow,” Landstrum said.

“We’re not talking aobut you guys ending your whole-grade sharing agreement,” said A-R Superintendent Randy Collins. “

Jim Boyer, A-R board member, agreed that appeasing the public was important. However, he emphasized the need for quality education. “That’s important but the reality is we have to be concerned about the education of our kids,” Boyer said.

Paul Bormann, North Kossuth board member, asked about the fate of athletic teams.

Collins said there could still be separate teams. “This (Berninghaus’ proposal) was designed to be a straw dog. Pick it apart.”

Landstrum acknowledged that the Iowa Department of Education encouraged consolidation. “I strongly feel that we need to reorganize (North Kossuth and Sentral) first,” he said.