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  • National Rural Education Essay Contest Winning Team- Sweet Springs R-VII

    For the second year in a row, a MARE member school district has submitted a winning entry in the National Rural Education Association Essay Contest.  This year's winning team is from Sweet Springs R-VII School District in Sweet Springs, Missouri.  We are very proud of these students and of our member district, Sweet Springs.  

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    L-R
    Madison Williams, Tracy Crumbaugh, Zoie Lea, Rachel Vogelsmeier

    Three students, Zoie Lea, Madison Williams, and Rachel Vogelsmeier,  students in Tracy Crumbaugh's English I class participated for the first time in a video essay contest sponsored by The National Rural Education Association. The topic for the video essay was how a rural school is a central part of the community. Students interviewed  members of the community, recorded and edited the video before submission. Congratulations Greyhounds!

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  • Sharing a Superintendent - An Efficiency to Consider by Jim Havelka

    Sharing a Superintendent – An Efficiency to Consider

    By Jim Havelka, Consultant

    Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association Superintendent Search Service

     

                Faced with the prospect of replacing a superintendent, Boards of Education in small, rural schools often take a long, hard look at costs associated with administrative staffing. One option that some small Nebraska districts have adopted over the years is sharing a superintendent with another district. 

                While only four districts in the Cornhusker State currently share a superintendent, within the last decade as many as 14 have done so.  The peak period was in the 1990’s and early 2000’s when the shaky agricultural economy and declining enrollments put pressure on rural Boards to seek cost savings. 

                From 1993 to 1999 I served as superintendent for both Howells Public Schools and Dodge Public Schools, two independent districts about seven miles apart in northeastern Nebraska.  At the time Howells enrolled about 230 students and Dodge about 190. Both towns had Catholic elementary schools so public school enrollment was skewed toward Grades 7-12.

                Prior to my tenure, Howells and Dodge had shared the Howells’ Superintendent for about five years.  Following my six years there, the districts continued to share for several more years. Subsequently, Howells partnered with another district and Dodge hired a part-time superintendent.  The districts consolidated in 2012-13.

                So, what are the pros and cons of a shared superintendency?  Here are some of my perceptions:

     

      Positives:

     

    ·                     Cost savings.   Obviously, one superintendent is going to cost the sharing districts less than two, although the saving won’t be as great as it may first appear.   The shared superintendent has a greater workload and is likely to be paid more.  Also, not all sharing is 50-50.  The cost for a shared superintendent depends on how the sharing agreement is designed.  In Nebraska this year, one small district is purchasing 50 days of superintendent services from a much larger neighboring district.  A few years ago, a single administrator handled the superintendent duties for three districts in northeast Nebraska.  Savings exist, but perhaps at a lesser level than anticipated.

     

    ·                     Efficiency.   While the superintendent is a district’s most expensive employee, it can be difficult to use him/her in a cost effective manner in a small district.  Superintendents have been known to coach, drive school buses, mow the football field, etc. Sharing allows the bulk his/her time to be spent on true superintendent responsibilities.

     

    ·                     Improving the candidate pool.  A shared vacancy may be more attractive to potential superintendent candidates (both in terms of salary and professional challenge) than working for a small, single district.

     

    ·                     A precursor to consolidation.   Sharing a superintendent allows two districts to explore reorganization without taking controversial and, perhaps, irrevocable steps.  A shared leader can help reduce negative school and community rivalries, if they exist, that inhibit cooperation.  Also, superintendent sharing may lead to additional cooperation in classes and activities.  During my time with Howells and Dodge, the districts shared some elective classes and teachers.  Additionally, uniformity of curriculum, policies, and procedures in both districts may ease eventual consolidation.

     

    ·                     Maintaining independence.   However, superintendent-sharing does not necessarily lead to consolidation.   Recently our Superintendent Search Service worked with two districts in Nebraska that had been sharing a superintendent for several years and wanted to continue to do so.  Both Boards were very clear that they wanted to maintain independence and expected the shared leader to support that view.  

     

    ·                     Compatible work.  While some districts have combined superintendent and principal roles in order to achieve cost savings, the difference in those roles can result in neither being handled well. However much of the superintendent’s work –the financial management, policy development, legislative work, representation at regional and state meetings, etc—can be done nearly as easily for two districts as for one.  Unlike that of principals, the superintendent’s job does not require as much individual work with staff, students, and parents, or as much commitment to a particular building. 

     

    ·                     Availability of technology.   My schools were about seven miles apart so it was easy for me to work at each school each day and to drive from one to the other if needed.  Today, technology makes sharing between more remote districts easier.   Face-to-face technology like Skype and meeting technology like Go To Meeting make it easy to communicate quickly and directly.

     

    Negatives: 

     

    ·                     Visibility.   Typically in small districts, the superintendent is the public embodiment of the school and is expected to be highly visible.  It is just not possible for a shared superintendent to be that visible and a perceived lack of visibility can lead to loss of support for the superintendent and the school system.  In my experience, I was able to maintain visibility because the towns were located close to each other, belonged to the same activity conference, and shared some community activities.

     

    ·                     Loyalty.   Small communities can be very sensitive about the perceived loyalty of the superintendent.  Each district wants to feel that the superintendent is treating its school and students equally.  For the superintendent, this can be a tricky tightrope to walk.  In my case, my son went to high school in Howells and participated in sports there.  When Howells played Dodge, fans paid close attention to my behavior.  The issue of loyalty became even more complex when my Boards entered into multi-district reorganization talks.  I experienced pressure from both Boards to support locating the proposed high school facility in or near their town.

     

    ·                     Philosophical differences among Boards or communities.  If one community turns out to be significantly more progressive or more conservative than the other, it can become difficult for the superintendent to champion both.

     

    ·                     Change in Board membership. Over time a change in Board membership is likely and the new members may not like the superintendent-sharing arrangement.  For that reason, it is important for the sharing arrangement to be in writing with clear procedures spelled out for dissolving the relationship.

     

    Recommendations:  Here are a few thoughts based on my experience.      

     

    1. Think it through.    Was the sharing arrangement carefully considered?  While there are good reasons for compatible districts to share a superintendent, time and thought must be invested to determine whether the arrangement makes sense for both schools.

     

    2.Consider other options.   Were all options were considered? In lieu of a shared leader, a district might employ a part-time superintendent or an interim leader.

     

    3.Assess your community.   Is the community amenable to a sharing arrangement?    How important is the superintendent’s visibility and loyalty to the community?  Is the sharing partner a close neighbor or a bitter rival?  Does the community support the Board?  Community support is crucial to a successful sharing arrangement. 

     

    4.Assess your school staff.  Does each district have a strong principal who can operate independently when the superintendent is not present?  Are the secretarial, custodial, transportation, and other staff functions able to operate independently?  It is important that the staff support a shared superintendent arrangement.

     

    5.Put it in writing.  Is there a written agreement between the sharing districts?  Does it cover hiring, how the contract is held, time expectations, duties, evaluation, dismissal, withdrawal from the agreement and other relevant information.  The Boards and attorneys for both districts should review and approve the agreement.

     

    I would recommend a shared superintendency to districts that are compatible and whose Boards have thought through the issue.  On balance, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.  My six years as a shared Superintendent were stressful and challenging yet very rewarding.  I left on good terms and still have good friends in both communities.  I think the two districts benefitted from sharing a superintendent especially in light of the eventual consolidation.

     

    For more information, Mr. Havelka can be contacted at: jhavelka@gpcom.net

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  • New Superintendent Boot Camp

    If you are a new Superintendent, then participation in the New Superintendent Boot Camp is highly recommended!  Representatives from Mickes O'Toole will be presenting a variety of sessions including information on student discipline, staff due process, investigating misconduct, bullying and student suicide, special education and FERPA and FSLA.  For more information, please access the flyer below.  

     

    New Superintendent Boot Camp

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  • Feature image-3

    MARE Board Members Retiring

    Missouri Association of Rural Education Executive Director, Dr. Ray Patrick, presented appreciation plaques to Tim Crawley (Region C) and Dianna Hoenes (Region H) at the MARE Executive Board meeting held Monday, May 1st at the MRTA Building in Jefferson City. Both are retiring at the end of June, 2017.   Both Tim and Dianna have served their respective regions well during their tenure on the Board.  We wish them the very best as they move on to a new chapter of life.  

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  • MARE High School Scholarship Recipients

    The Missouri Association of Rural Education is proud to announce the recipients of the 2017 MARE HS Scholarships.  When the new program was originally approved by the MARE Executive Board, the plan was to offer ten (10) $500.00 scholarships to graduating seniors who have expressed an interest in pursuing education degrees and teaching in rural schools.  Due to the very generous support of Duane Martin with EdCounsel, LLC and a few other donors we are able to provide twenty-four (24) $500.00 scholarships.  Applicants had to complete a scholarship packet which included an essay detailing why the individual was interested in teaching in a rural school.  We received fifty-five (55) applications from across the state.  The winners as selected by the HS Scholarship Committee are as follows:

     

    Serena Duncan - Rich Hill R-IV                                                    Beau Turgeon - Canton R-V

    Hannah Heberlie - Farmington R-VII                                            Katilyn Foreman - Community R-VI

    Mollie Wibberg - Osage County R-II                                            Keelie O'Brien - Clark County R-I

    Drayke Hair - Crocker R-II                                                           Mandy Franklin - Silex R-I

    Zachary Studdard - Rolla 31                                                       Hailey Lawrence - Adair County R-II

    Emily McRoberts - Jackson R-II                                                 Bailey Owens - North Mercer County R-III

    Thomas Landewee - Jackson R-II                                              Connor Cotton - Trenton R-IX

    Whitney Sandage - Bloomfield R-XIV                                         Kennedy Childers - Putnam County R-I                      

    Rebecca Brendel - Kingsville R-I                                                Kelsi McQuinn - Jefferson C-123

    Kelsea Brown - Knob Noster R-VIII                                             Meredith Riley - Gallatin R-V

    Graci Davis - Plato R-V                                                              Mariah Huston - Gallatin R-V

    Kennedy Adams - Plato R-V                                                      Alan Ottman - South Holt County R-I

    Congratulations to these scholarship winners!!!!

     

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  • Annual School Law Seminars

    Attached below are schedules for the various School Law Seminars that the legal firms will be providing before the new school year begins.

    EdCounsel Law Seminars

    Guin Mundorf Law Seminars

    Mickes O'Toole 34th Annual School Law Seminars

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  • Legal Article - "Legislating Bullying: A Brave New World"

    Legal Article - "Legislating Bullying: A Brave New World" by Natalie Hoernschemeyer, Mickes O'Toole, LLC

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  • 2017 Conference Call for Presentations - Online Form

    APPLICATION FORM - Conference Workshop Presentations

    Annual MARE & MO K-8 Conference

    October 18, 19 & 20, 2017

    Lodge of the Four Seasons

    Lake Ozark, Missouri

    Submission Deadline: August 16, 2017

     

    Proposed presentations may be submitted by mail, MARE 701 N College, Suite C, Warrensburg, MO 64093,  fax, (660) 747‐8160 or electronically using the form below.

    Submission Outline

    Title of Presentation:

    DESCRIPTION: A brief, proofed description (50 words or less) of your presentation as it is to appear in the program must be attached.

    Brief Description of Presentation:

     

     

    Presenter(s)

    Lead Presenter/Organization:                     Position:                                                                            

    School District/Organization: 

    Phone #:              Fax #:       Email Address: 

    Address:      City:     State:      Zip: 

    Additional Co‐Presenters

    Name:                              Position/Employer: 

    Name:                              Position/Employer: 

    Name:                              Position/Employer: 

    My presentation will involve selling a product or service:      Yes         No

    Level of your topic will primarily address:   Check all that apply

    Classroom Instructor        Administrator        Board Member         Other   

    Please check the special equipment needs: (Screen provided)

    VCR          TV         Overhead Projector       LCD Projector   

    *required fields

     

    2017 Conference Call for Presentations Form (Word)

     

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  • Legal Article - "Time Out with a Time Limit: Missouri's Administrative Leave Law"

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  • Altis Reach Grant Program provided by Education Technology Partners

    Through our partnership with Education Technology Partners, MARE is pleased to provide an opportunity for schools to access an innovative reading program (Altis Reach) that targets 4th through 10th grade students who are struggling with reading.  Please access the links below to find out more information about this awesome grant opportunity for the 2017-2018 school year.  

    Altis Reach Grant Deadline Extended

    Altis Reach Grant Cover Letter

    Altis Reach Grant Frequently Asked Questions

    Altis Reach - McKinley Gains Report

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