School district patrons speak out at forum
About 70-persons filled the Clear Creek Elementary School media center Wednesday night to discuss the school district’s current sharing plans, with most discussion centering on the shared superintendent position with Mason City.
Superintendent Anita Micich, who has been shared between the two schools since 2010, opened the meeting with a
presentation centering on the financial savings the district has realized through sharing not only her position, but those of the food service director, IT director, a French and Talented and Gifted teacher, transportation director, and supervisor of operations. Clear Lake also shares a family and consumer science teacher and Lakeside Alternative High School with Garner-Hayfield/Ventura.
Those sharing agreements have resulted in $547,484 in state funding through incentives, as well as $297,835 saved in superintendent salary costs between 2010-11 and 2013-14 for a total of $845,319.
The majority of those funds saved by the district have gone to replace income lost through declining enrollment, noted district officials.
Several persons spoke to board members in attendance at the meeting and suggested they explore the possibility of Clear Lake returning to its own superintendent. Most said they understood the financial benefit of the sharing plan, but feel a full-time superintendent would be more “invested and imbedded in the school district.”
Micich’s contract with the two districts is divided 60/40 with Mason City receiving the larger portion of Micich’s services.
“Are the cost savings worth what we’re losing?” asked Darron Jones. “The question is always going to be a choice and a compromise.” Jones said he favors leadership and direction from a leader focused only on the Clear Lake School District. He also suggested enrollment decline may also be stemmed by strengthening the district’s leadership with a full-time superintendent.
Former teacher Mike Callanan, who continues to serve the district as its energy manager, says he also believes the district needs a full-time superintendent. “We deserve a full-time superintendent. There’s an opportunity cost for everything. We give up having a person available-- interacting with staff, students and the community. These things, to me, are an opportunity cost.” Callanan added that he has no problem with Micich’s job performance, but feels it “is difficult to be invested in the community 40 percent of the time.” His final comment, fear of the district losing it autonomy with a shared superintendent, drew applause.
Board member Mark Tesar took exception to comments suggesting the district’s students are in any way being short-changed by the use of sharing agreements.
“We have been able to maintain our teaching staff at a higher level than without sharing, and added technology coaches, Response To Intervention specialists and an At-Risk person. Our test scores are up and our graduation rate is up. The role of a superintendent has changed over the years. The job is now as an educational leader. It is significantly different than it used to be. Don’t get too hung up on the 40 percent. We are getting better as we go, “ said Tesar.
“I am as devoted to your district as I am to them,” added Micich. “This (sharing) has never been about consolidation. It’s about how do we make things better for kids?”
Lorna Leerar, business manager for the district, told audience members Micich has done a quality job. Noting she has been on the job 22 years and served six superintendents, she called Micich the strongest instructional leader she’s seen. “To me, isn’t that what’s important?”
Former teacher and board member Sandy Christ told the group teacher salaries comprise 80-87 percent of the district’s operating budget and called the incentives received through sharing critical to programs. “Anita has looked at everything. She has taken a scalpel to find money wherever it is, rather than a chainsaw. Sharing has not diminished programs for our students. Every year this business of the budget is a juggling act. In my opinion this (sharing) has worked well for us.”
Former School Board member Ron Andrews joined current school leaders - Read More Via e-Edition