WCS Board formally accepts MSD invitation

By Emma Rausch

Wabash City Schools and MSD of Wabash County boards of education will meet in joint executive session in the near future to discuss the future of the two school systems.

In September, the MSD Board invited the Wabash and Manchester Community Schools boards to the tri-partite executive session to discuss topics including declining enrollment, feasibility studies and consolidation.

Wabash City Schools Board of Education formally announced its acceptance to the MSD of Wabash County discussions invitation Monday night, Nov. 7.

WCS Superintendent Jason Callahan sent a letter responding to the invitation on Oct. 26.

“Wabash City Schools believes in data-based decision making,” Callahan said, “thus, I believe it is in the best interest of the future of our school system to engage in a conversation regarding such a feasibility study to better understand future enrollment trends, facilities, tax rates, state tuition support and current debt.”

Four key factors motivated the WCS Board's acceptance, according to Callahan. The factors included regional competition and economic development, enrollment trends, fiscal responsibility and current partnerships and initiatives.

"Finally, and most importantly, the mission of this pursuit should be one that unites our community and not one of divisiveness," Callahan said. "The climate of our state has been to have schools compete for resources. We do not foresee this climate to change. However, we believe that, united, we will be stronger to compete with other counties or regions within our state.

"Our goal is not for one district to take over another district; instead, our goal is to investigate the potential unification of our districts to create a stronger educational system for the benefit of all of our children."

WCS Board President Kim Pinkerton told The Paper of Wabash County that the board is looking forward to the conversation.

“We’ve been reaching out and trying to have conversations since at least three years, since I’ve been here,” Pinkerton said. “But that’s not really the point. We’re just so happy that we’re finally at this point that we all agree that we have to do something ensure our kids get the best education possible.

“We’ve always talked about the opportunities for our students and looking at them as individuals,” she said. “We all want that advocate or somebody in our corner and it’s our responsibility to our students to make sure that they have that voice in our corner.”

The MSD of Wabash County School Board met Tuesday night, Nov. 8, but did not discuss the reply, according to Mike Keaffaber, MSD superintendent.

So far, the MSD Board is still awaiting the final reply from Manchester before scheduling the official meeting.

“We’re waiting to give a little bit more time,” Keaffaber said. “Obviously, we invited Manchester also and instead of just meeting with two, if they accept also, then we want to give them a little more time (for that). I believe they were going to have a meeting sometime in November to decide whether to reject or accept the offer.”

In other news, the WCS Board accepted a $28,451.29 donation from George Barrett Trust for Wabash High School Extra Curricular.

The board also approved to increase the amount paid to The Access to $40,000 annually for services related to the corporation's alternative school effective Dec. 1.

On Tuesday, the MSD Board discussed its parent teacher conferences and were “very pleased” with this year’s parent turnout percentage, especially in the elementary schools, according to Keaffaber.

“Those were very good numbers, many in the 90 percentile,” he said. “We did it by grade level and, so in the elementary schools, it was mostly in the 90 percentile range as far as parents attending those and we think that’s very good obviously.”

Posted on 2016 Nov 15