Newell-Fonda is final school to vote on a study toward super-school, as Pomeroy-Palmer withdraws
Four schools - Newell-Fonda, Albert City-Truesdale, Laurens-Marathon and Pocahontas Area - are considering forming a regional school as a timely remedy to shrinking enrollments seen in already consolidated districts.
A feasibility study for a regional high school that could see 1,000 students has been proposed by each district, and as of Monday, three of the four school boards had already agreed to move ahead with the lengthy process. Newell-Fonda's School Board was to discuss the issue last night. With a Newell-Fonda agreement, the process would begin.
In a feasibility study, personnel from the state education department would come in to each school and discusses the pros and cons of each district, determining what may be missing from the districts as they stand alone. They would be expected to gather a sort of a wish list of what could be offered in a regional school. The study also allows the districts to toot their horns on the good aspects they bring to the table individually.
State personnel would meet separately with teachers, administrators, community members and students of each district.
Something to this magnitude, said Newell-Fonda Superintendent Ron Day, could take four to six months to determine if the districts go ahead with the study. The districts tentatively plan to release a statement of intentions later this week.
The feasibility study would serve as a guide - it will not dictate whether the districts can build a regional high school.
A final decision would be made by the school boards of the districts involved.
Superintendent Day said that no central points for a potential school location have yet been selected. If the feasibility study is done, the districts hope it would help them find a site.
In Iowa education, size matters. Projections indicate that the four districts might see 900-1,000 students initially. Instead of having five to 10 kids in a class, taught by a teacher who teaches six different classes, there could be 20-25 students being taught by a more specialized teacher.
With vocational classes a big plus, it is considered that perhaps instructors could come right to the school, rather than having the students travel. Prep classes such as physics and upper calculus could by added at the school with good numbers of participants. Some area schools rely on those courses being taught over the networking system.
There could possibly be more specialization in areas such as music.
One thing that would be looked at carefully is making sure students feel part of the school. It would be difficult for some students to feel like they fit in to a large school, after coming from a small school. Special steps would be taken to not lose the individuality that is a hallmark of the small schools.
Pomeroy-Palmer had initially shared an interest in the regional school when talks first began but has now left the discussions.