The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Local Schools

August 15, 2013

Whole-grade sharing battle

CLINTON — The decision as to whether Easton Valley school district has to honor a whole-grade sharing agreement with the Northeast School District rests in the hands of a Clinton County judge.

Clinton County District Court Judge Gary McKenrick heard arguments from the attorneys representing the Easton Valley and Northeast school districts during a motion for summary judgment hearing Wednesday morning.

The arguments dealt with Easton Valley’s decision to void a whole-grade sharing agreement that would mean the district’s students from Miles and Sabula would attend classes at Northeast.

Before voters decided to merge the East Central and Preston school districts into Easton Valley —with its first year as a new district just getting under way — the East Central and Northeast school districts entered into a three-year, whole-grade sharing agreement in 2011. Under the agreement, which was approved shortly after a public vote on the merger was authorized, seventh- through 12th-grade East Central students attended Northeast.

When the whole-grade sharing agreement was in effect, around 115 East Central students took classes at Northeast.

The Easton Valley School Board in December decided to nullify that agreement. Northeast filed suit in February, asking a judge to order Easton Valley to honor the agreement because it was a contract entered into by one of two districts that formed the new district.

Easton Valley attorney Brian Gruhn Wednesday called the agreement a “poison pill” left from the two-year battle against authorizing a public vote on reorganizing the East Central and Preston school districts that ran all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court.

Under the agreement, Northeast received 90 percent of East Central’s funding for each student, which would cost Easton Valley $700,000 of its $6.5 million annually.

East Central also was responsible for busing these students from Miles and Sabula to Goose Lake and had to pay for facilities, which would eat away at Easton Valley funds, Gruhn said.

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