Good deal turns bad for Lynd school district

The Lynd Public School board is facing a major decision when it meets Monday evening — should the district pull out of the management contract with SouthWest Education Cooperative?

At one time, the contract with SWEC made a lot of sense for a tiny school district such as Lynd (student enrollment below 200 past few years). It was a partnership with the school districts of Russell-Tyler-Ruthton and Hendricks. The arrangement was created to share costs of resources that included the superintendent, online coordination, teachers and administrative costs.

But in 2017, RTR pulled out of the partnership and paid a one-time settlement fee. The funds generated from the settlement fee are now running out and Lynd and Hendricks will have to share the costs.

The district is facing some dire financial prospects if it allows an automatic renewal of the contract, according to a letter to the editor submitted by a state representative candidate and two parents with children in the school district.

They pointed out if Lynd continues with the arrangement, it will be on the hook for 50 percent of all costs, including the superintendent’s salary that is expected to rise to $130,036. Of course this is a hard pill to swallow for a district that is also struggling with low teacher salaries.

During a board meeting in May, a parent pointed out during a discussion on pay disparity in the district, the average Lynd teacher makes less than $40,000 a year. The starting yearly salary is $27,000.

The letter writers are urging the district to pull out of the partnership. Their concerns are legitimate — it’s a good deal that turned bad.

But what are the alternatives? Can the district provide the same services to its schools and deal with issue of low teacher salaries on its own?

The letter writers didn’t provide any answers. But these are questions small school districts are facing throughout the state. Finding solutions may go beyond Lynd. Our state lawmakers need to get involved as well to find solutions for school districts.

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