At the special board meeting June 24, the Essex School Board approved several operational sharing positions with the Hamburg School District. The approved positions are: superintendent, business manager, human resource and school counselor holding a one-year contract.
"This is a one-year plan. Let’s see how this goes for both districts. We are really excited about this opportunity. This is a great opportunity for both districts," said Dr. Mike Wells, Hamburg Superintendent. The approval is pending Hamburg School Board approval which was scheduled for Wednesday, June 26. With the approval of the sharing agreements, both districts will receive $150,000 for operational sharing.
The Essex District has a lot of planning for future programing. Wells explained the first step is to develop a five-year strategic plan for Essex. "The strategic plan is traditionally broke down into different areas, one area focuses just on finance. The board and the committee need to decide where they want to be at in five years. So, we build a plan to make sure our finances fit that model, so we get to where we are supposed to." The five-year strategic plan includes: finances, nutrition, teacher professional development, curriculum and facilities.
Due to ending the sharing agreements with East Mills, Essex will need to rewrite their teacher leadership grant. The grant provides funding to supplement teacher salaries, with the ultimate goal of developing and retaining quality teachers, while improving student outcomes. Principal Rob Brecht explained there was not a due date; however, the plan for the grant should be rewritten before the start of the next school year. "We can get that done and I can help with that. It shouldn’t be a problem," said Wells.
The Essex board approved sharing art, Ag-FFA, and Spanish teachers with the Red Oak School District.
Essex school officials are planning a community meeting in July to explain some of the new programming the school will provide for the upcoming year. Wells said to watch for the upcoming date and attend the meeting to learn more about the future plans for Essex. "We have a lot of exciting things we want to share," said Wells, "We have a lot of programs planned that will attract students back into our district."
Since announcing in January the Essex School District was facing financial difficulty, the school has experienced a myriad of changes. The district lost superintendent, Paul Croghan, who was shared with East Mills, teachers and all operational-sharing positions. Four of the five board members have since resigned.
David Rydberg was the first to resign in March, Dustin Frank followed, a few weeks later Tyler Johnson resigned and Clint Hascall was the last to resign. Frank and Johnson both said they were not comfortable with the direction the community and the board were moving for the district. New board members are Lori Racine and Brian Johnson.
At the meeting June 19, Doug Ohnmacht, the only remaining board member from the first of the year, was nominated and sworn into the role of vice president. The board agreed to publish notice of board vacancies and take applications for the remaining empty seats. They have two members that need replaced and one of those seats holds the position of president. The board expects to have those positions filled by the next board meeting July 24. The application deadline is July 15.