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Study not on MSD board agenda tonight

by ANDREW MACIEJEWSKI - amaciejewski@wabashplaindealer.com

The Metropolitan School District of Wabash County School Board of Trustees meets tonight, but the independent study the board says it plans to conduct is not on the agenda for this evening.

The only consultant in the running to conduct the study thus far is Administrator Assistance, a firm made up of retired school administrators, principles, superintendents and business managers. Board President Kevin Bowman said the board will review other candidates, but he did not disclose their names.

Bowman said he wanted to finalize the study’s decision by the board’s Februray 27 meeting, but with two weeks away, the board has not scheduled any public work sessions to talk about the study. 

Administrator Assistance previously worked with Randolph County school corporations to help those corporations address declining student populations and competition between the districts.

“They came in and did exactly what they had been asked to do,” Randolph Central School Corporation superintendent Rolland Abraham said. “If they’re doing it, it’s going to be done well.”

But Abraham said the study was not enough to convince school districts in his county to collabroate.

“Now, to be honest with you, do I think that the schools in Randolph County collaborate enough with each other? The answer to that is no,” he said.

Community Foundation executive director Patty Grant said the offer for Phase II of the “Studies for Advancement” is still on the table, offered to Wabash City Schools and MSD for free. Manchester Community Schools may also participate, but the MCS board declined the Community Foundation’s invitation last year as well as MSD.

It is not clear if Wabash City Schools would cooperate with MSD in an independent study, but City Schools did accept the Community Foundation’s invitation.

Grant said Phase II would provide a neutral, unbiased study into “areas of shared interests that could enhance education for students and potentially reduce financial expenditures.” The study would mainly focus on consolidation using “third-party experts of the districts’ choosing.”

It is possible that MSD could recommend the use of Administrator Assistance as an expert in Phase II, if WCS agrees.

The Community Foundation would also hire experts who know Indiana law regarding consolidation and reconfiguration models.

She said Phase II is not intended to promote consolidation, but it is designed to gather information from experts so that the districts have data to drive any potential consolidation talks.