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Daily News Editorial

By Staff | Jul 2, 2010

For a relatively new board, Armstrong-Ringsted Consolidated School District board members showed extremely strong leadership at their meeting Wednesday night.

It was at the traditional year-end meeting – generally considered a ho-hum occasion for mopping up unfinished business – that the board took a strong stand on sharing.

Jim Boyer and Jen Von Bank, who both joined the board within the past couple years, took their gloves off.

And it was amazingly refreshing.

Both Boyer and Von Bank expressed their frustration at the lack of progress in sharing talks with North Kossuth and Sentral school districts.

It was a discussion that had to happen.

“Our best option is Estherville Lincoln Central,” said Boyer.

“I think we need to pursue Estherville Lincoln Sentral as aggressively as we have North Sentral Kossuth,” Von Bank agreed.

At a June 10 meeting in Swea City, North Kossuth Superintendent Mike Landstrum indicated concerns that pushing through a three-way sharing agreement with Armstrong-Ringsted could mislead North Kossuth district patrons who were relying on a five-year whole-grade sharing agreement with Sentral, the second year of which was just completed. Landstrum also offered concerns about possibly losing Bancroft students whom he feared could open enroll to Algona – or another district.

While Landstrum’s concerns may be valid, the fact remains that A-R has diligently pursued sharing with North Kossuth and Sentral for five years – three years before North Kossuth and Sentral inked their whole-grade sharing agreement.

A-R board members made it very clear if something doesn’t happen at the next tri-district board meeting with North Kossuth and Sentral July 21 at Sentral that they will look toward ELC.

That is an extremely wise decision. After five years of waiting and frustration for A-R, the board knows it’s time for action. If it appears that North Kossuth and Sentral don’t want A-R, then A-R should go elsewhere. Otherwise, Armstrong-Ringsted is just wasting its time.

The ELC board members and administration are well aware of the quality of A-R’s educational programs. A move toward consolidation, starting with a regional academy progressing to whole-grade sharing, could be a great move for both districts. Joining with ELC would better ensure long-term viability for A-R. And ELC’s buying in with A-R would be a great investment.

If it were a merger between corporations, the stock prices of both companies would go up.

So why wait.