The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

December 25, 2013

Van Buren, Harmony discuss sharing options

KEOSAUQUA — Van Buren Community School Board weighed in on the prospects of establishing greater ties with their neighboring district, Harmony Community.

At the regular board meeting Dec. 18, Van Buren board member Andrew Lydolph said he had discussed with Dan Smith, a Harmony board member, sharing possibilities with Harmony.

Members of both school boards met during Van Buren’s regular board meeting on Oct. 16 to discuss sharing opportunities between the two school districts. It was agreed to tour each district’s buildings. However, since then, there has not been momentum to craft additional opportunities, as each district weighs its own needs and desires.

“While they are not opposed to continue talking, right now they would like to discuss among themselves bench marks, where they are at and where they want to go. They might have something in January or February. They agreed with you Bob (Steingreaber), that there needs to be specifics and plans," Lydolph said.

Van Buren board member Bob Steingreaber said, “these discussions need to be board to board. I think complete boards need to get together, not committees.”

“That was brought up,” Lydolph said. “What they want to discuss is secondary sharing proposals. They didn’t want to be pushed into it.”

Van Buren board member Sheila Parsons said, “I think the best way to communicate, is to keep it simple and direct.”

Board members said they would like Harmony board member Smith to put his opinions in the form of a letter to the Van Buren Community School Board.

In other action and discussion:

• Secondary principal Chuck Banks asked the board to consider adding staff to the secondary music department. A few years ago, there were two instructors in the secondary school, one teaching instrumental and the other choir. However, budget cuts forced the district to reduce the staffing to just one. That caused the school to reduce its offerings. In the meantime, the popularity of music has grown in the district. According to Banks, in 2009, there were three full-time instructors in elementary and high school, with 62 students in band from sixth through 12 grades.

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