The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

August 16, 2012

Which business partner will you choose?

CLINTON — As the vote draws nearer to decide whether or not EC will merge with Preston, please be sure to think about the decision with regards to the benefits to our students and district as a whole.  

Schools are much like businesses and students are the “customers.”  Schools have income, expenses, employees, and a product (in a school’s case, educating students is the product). 

Across Iowa, there are fewer customers to generate funds for schools.  So, like businesses, schools sometimes need partners to make them more efficient and effective.  In the case of East Central searching for a partner, which choice would you make?

Partner A (Whole Grade Sharing with Northeast):  This potential “business” partner has newer and better facilities than EC does. They have invested millions of dollars on modern, attractive, accessible and efficient facilities for our students. They often plan for the long-range future with product development and buildings.  They have always been interested in working with us.

 We have a good working relationship with them and our goals are very similar to theirs. The combination of the “product” and the facilities help to attract customers to this business.  They have more money to “invest” in our “product” than we do.  

This partner offers more for some of our older “customers” all at their facility, while we, East Central, are able to meet the needs of our younger “customers” at our own facility. This partner is an established business with a recognized brand name.  

By partnering with Northeast, East Central would not lose our own recognized brand name. Partnering with them would give our students more than what they have experienced in the past through a 28E sharing agreement; more opportunities to better our “product”.  

Employees serving younger “customers” will retain their jobs.  

East Central saves money by partnering with Northeast because our costs decrease and at the same time we are able to offer our “customers” more.

With the money we save by partnering, we will be able to invest in our younger “customers.”  Continued partnership will offer security and stability for our “investors” (the taxpayers) and will still be a vertical move for our “customers.”

Partner B (Merging with Preston): This potential “business” partner has about the same quality of facilities as EC.  To be competitive, millions of dollars would need to be spent on improvements to make facilities handicapped accessible, to become a state-of-the-art learning environment, and to be competitive.

This partner has not been interested in working with another partner in the past, but because of financial difficulties, they are now seeking a partner to ease their burden.  They have less money than we do to “invest” in our “product”.  

Our past relationship has been rocky at best, at times even ending working together on certain issues.  They have not been shown to be forward thinkers and have not displayed long-term goals for product development in their business plan.  

Many times, they are planning only for the immediate future.  This partner, even after combining with EC, would still need to seek out yet another partner (Maquoketa) to offer some of our “customers” everything they need to finish off the “product”.   In this partnership, some existing employees will be cut based on seniority. Combining our efforts with them now would be a step backwards for our customers, offering not much more than what EC had a few years ago with a 28E sharing agreement.

If you were in a business, and wanted to grow your business and sustain it long term, produce a quality product (education) for your customers (students),  without burdening our shareholders (the community) with risky investments, and doing what makes sense financially for all parties involved, which partner would you choose?

Partner A is the obvious choice.

Voting no on Sept. 11 will provide a quality product, saves dollars and makes sense.

Opt4EC Group (Citizens, parents, and/or teachers who support the East Central School District)

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