Concerns over Lynd Schools, SWEC

To the editor:

Over the past few weeks, residents of Lynd, parents of students attending Lynd Public School, and members of the southwest Minnesota community have become increasingly concerned with the arrangement Lynd Public School has with Southwest Educational Cooperative (SWEC).

SWEC was originally created in July 2015 under a five-year contract with Russell-Tyler-Ruthton (RTR), Lynd, and Hendricks schools as member districts in the partnership. It was created for the purpose of sharing costs of resources across member districts – including a superintendent, online coordinators, teachers, and administrative costs.

In 2017, however, the RTR school district decided – just two years into the partnership – that it was no longer cost-efficient to remain and then voted to leave SWEC for a one-time settlement fee. This left Lynd and Hendricks as the only remaining members, creating what is essentially a looming budget crisis for the two school districts.

Soon, SWEC will have burned through RTR’s settlement fee and Lynd’s investment in the partnership will jump from 20 percent of all SWEC expenses to 50 percent of all expenses – for an agreement which will serve far fewer students.

Here’s an example of what this cost increase will look like: In 2017, Lynd was responsible for 20 percent of the superintendent’s $121,390 salary, but with the new arrangement, Lynd will now be responsible for 50 percent of the superintendent’s expected 2018 salary of $130,036.

Therefore, not only will the superintendent get a hefty raise (despite losing a district), but Lynd’s share of the superintendent salary will go from $24,278 to $65,018. For the approximately 500 registered voters in the Lynd School district, this means that the average per person cost for the superintendent’s salary alone will jump from about $50 a year to nearly $130 a year.

This is, of course, only a small portion of the money each Lynd School District resident pays toward SWEC every year, and the costs of each aspect of the partnership are expected to increase significantly.

We, as Lynd residents, parents of Lynd school children, and concerned members of the southwest Minnesota community, question why — at a time when teacher negotiations in Lynd are moving painfully slow and Lynd teachers are the lowest paid in the state in addition to some of the lowest paid in the country — the Lynd School Board is prepared to sign off on a significant increase in investment to SWEC.

On June 11, the Lynd School Board will have the opportunity to opt out of an automatic five-year renewal in SWEC and we urge it to do so. Lynd Public School deserves to take the time to reassess this lopsided partnership and the children of Lynd school deserve our support.

As a show of support for financial restraint, we are asking concerned citizens to contact board members, ask questions, and choose our children, their future, and the needs of Lynd School district over the needs of SWEC and its superintendent. Attend the next school board meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, June 11, at the Lynd school library — your voice needs to be heard!

Tom Wyatt-Yerka, State Representative Candidate for District 16A

Suzie Rauch, Lynd parent, and resident

Amod Damle, Lynd parent