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School Superintendent Ken Crawford has been splitting his time between the Lone Tree and Highland school districts for nearly six months.
A joint meeting of the two school boards made clear a number of things:
• School board members from both districts think the sharing agreement is working but still needs some tweaks.
• A great deal of school staff are leery of the arrangement, with some worrying that it is the first step toward merging the districts.
• The current arrangement with Crawford spending 80 percent of his time in Lone Tree and 20 percent in Highland is not working, and the split for the coming year needs to be 50-50.
• The districts need to investigate more opportunities for sharing to take advantage of state funding incentives.
School board members framed the issue as a financial necessity.
“If Highland doesn’t share, we will cut teachers,” school board member Rachel Longbine said.
“If we don’t share and don’t share equally, …if you look at the trend, we are going down,” Joel Yedlik from Lone Tree said. “The bottom line is it is about keeping the school open.”
School board members expressed frustration that too many people think the two districts are on a path to merging.
“I keep hearing this word ‘merge,’” Yedlik said. “Our administration has put it out there that this is not about merging.”
“Both districts have a desire to remain on their own,” Highland board President Nate Robinson said.
“The issue is how can we make this work,” Lone Tree school board member Sheila Burr said.
“People need to know that sharing and merging are different things,” Highland board member Lois Schneider said. “If we don’t share, we’ll have to merge.”
Highland board member Cindy Michel said that administrators need to do a better job communicating with staff that sharing and merging are not the same.
“Communication is key,” she said.
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