NL Schools talk sharing opportunities with Danville during work session
BY BRYCE KELLY
Mt. Pleasant News
NEW LONDON — Being neighborly took on a whole new definition Monday evening as the New London School Board discussed sharing opportunities with Danville Community School District.
In a meeting that only included members of the New London School Board and some key faculty, the idea of sharing a transportation director, guidance counselor and some upper level academic courses were all tossed around. Although nothing was voted upon, the board will take their thoughts to a future work session with Danville administrators.
Taking up the bulk of the evening’s discussion was talk of sharing a transportation director with Danville. Currently, New London has such an agreement with Mediapolis School District. Danville has their own bus maintenance building and would be able to do maintenance and upkeep to New London’s fleet in-house. In addition, Danville also has its own washing station for cleaning buses, and is geographically closer to New London than Mediapolis is.
Should a sharing agreement with Danville go through, the need for New London to use Tracy’s Truck N Trailer Repair, in New London, for bus maintenance would no longer exist, except perhaps, in unique situations.
“I think it’s smart,” said board member Jesse Howard of a potential transportation agreement with Danville. “It makes more sense to pay $.20 a mile for someone who is right next door to us than to use someone who is 30-some miles away. The buses are not putting on as many miles and maintenance is all in one place right down the road.”
Board member Travis Benz also echoed Howard’s sentiments, saying that pursuing an agreement is not due to the district’s dislike of Mediapolis and the services they provide, nor does it have to do with any ill feelings towards Tracy’s Truck N Trailer Repair.
“I don’t like taking away work opportunities for hometown businesses,” said Benz, referring to Tracy’s. “But we have to do what’s best for the district.”
Board secretary/treasurer, Jessica Boyer stated that such an agreement should “work in the district’s favor financially”.
Moving on to other topics, the board turned their attention to a possible sharing agreement of an elementary guidance counselor. According to Clark Elementary teaching staff, the need for a guidance counselor who can spend more time working with younger students is a great need, and after New London superintendent Chad Wahls spoke with Danville staff, it seems both districts are in the same situation.
“We are limited with what we can give our students with one guidance counselor to oversee the entire district. We are doing the best we can with one person,” said Wahls. “Guidance counselors have a lot to do, and our staff has identified a real need for some positive behavioral intervention at the elementary level. A guidance counselor would be the person to really provide that.”
Danville also currently has only one guidance counselor overseeing their entire student population, K-12. According to Wahls, both districts would be looking to hire a guidance counselor that would work part-time in both districts, spending equal time in the elementary schools working with younger kids. Both districts would continue to keep their current guidance counselors, working with junior high and high school students.
“As we get into these discussions with Danville, I think as long at it is financially good to do and both districts are happy with what plan we come up with, I think we need to really look into getting someone in our elementary schools,” said Wahls, to which the board agreed.
Finally, the board briefly touched on possible sharing agreements with Danville in regard to upper level academic courses. Courses that were mentioned specifically included various upper level math and science courses, upper level English courses, and some technical classes such as CAD or drafting.
According to Wahls, smaller districts like Danville and New London often struggle to provide these types of courses to their students.
After some discussion, the board felt that if the school could offer some of these courses through Danville, it would be academically beneficial to the student body overall. In addition, the board felt it would increase the overall appeal and draw to New London.
“There might be opportunities with Danville to expand learning for students who flourish in academics already, but there might also be opportunities to offer technical courses that spur students on in their career goals, as well,” said Wahls.