Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 21, 2018

Superintendent explains optional sharing

By By Mike Jorgenson | Sep 25, 2017

A common strategy to increase general fund revenue that most every school district in the state of Iowa is taking advantage of is call Operational Sharing.

Operational sharing has now been available for a little over 10 years, though many districts were slow to get on-board.

When I was superintendent at Southeast Webster-Grand, we started using Operational Sharing in some agreements with the Prairie Valley CSD.

At that time, districts could receive an incentive for as many as 40 students. What does that mean?

Operational Sharing incentives provided by the state allow each school district to add students to the enrollment for each position shared. Considering that each student is currently funded at $6,664, this can be a big incentive to a school district. When I moved to the Washington CSD in 2010, the schools I visited with in the area were not using Operational Sharing. I immediately met with the area superintendents and entered into agreements with the WACO CSD and Highland CSD. At that time, the incentive was still 40 students, which meant almost a quarter of a million dollars a year to the school district into the general fund.

A few years ago, the Legislature modified the Operational Sharing to certain positions and with a limit of 21 students per district. That still is nearly $140,000 a year of revenue in the general fund. Positions that are eligible for the incentive are defined and a certain number of students are allowed per position up to the 21-student limit. Sharing a Superintendent is worth eight students ($53,312). Sharing a Maintenance Director, Transportation Director and Human Resource Director are worth 5 students each ($33,320). Guidance Counselors and Curriculum Coordinators are worth 3 students each ($19,992). This legislation is scheduled to sunset, but it is also anticipated that these incentives will be extended.

It really is in the best interest of a school district to maximize this incentive each year. Currently, the Highland CSD has agreements with Mid-Prairie, Washington and Columbus Junction to reach the 21 student limit. These agreements do change from year to year depending upon personnel changes. The incentive on the part of the state is the hope that two or more school districts are able to improve efficiency and share personnel. In many cases, it is the first step to long term partnerships and potential whole grade sharing.

There is also significant cost savings for tax-payers. As an example, a new superintendent in a small rural district can expect a salary and benefit package in the $140,000 range based on current averages. If this superintendent was shared between two districts, that salary and benefit package is $70,000 per district.

With an incentive of $53,312 per district, the cost is now less than $17,000 for a superintendent for a school district.


Dr. Mike Jorgenson is the superintendent of Highland School District.

Comments (4)
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