The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

October 26, 2013

Easton Valley school district to retain attorney

By Katie Dahlstrom Herald Assistant Editor
The Clinton Herald

---- — PRESTON — The Easton Valley School Board will retain an attorney to fight the Northeast School District’s appeal of a ruling that voided a whole-grade sharing agreement between the two district.

During their board meeting Thursday, Easton Valley School Board members decided to retain attorney Brian Gruhn.

While all board members voted in favor of maintaining their counsel, they did so reluctantly.

“I’m not real happy about spending school district money that should be used for the children’s education, for books, teachers, computers,” board member Tom Feuerbach said. “Obviously there’s so much money in this we have no choice. But I just want to say this board knows it’s a losing lawsuit for Northeast, we just think it’s a waste of taxpayer money, but we’ll do what’s right for our district.”

In September, Judge Gary McKenrick denied the Northeast School District’s request to uphold a three-year, whole-grade sharing agreement between East Central and Northeast, which started in 2011.

The Easton Valley board voided the agreement in December after the East Central and Preston school districts consolidated, with Northeast’s lawsuit following in February.

As part of the agreement, East Central provided transportation for its students to go to Northeast and paid Northeast 90 percent of the state aid it receives for the students to attend classes at Northeast. The whole-grade sharing agreement would cost Easton Valley $700,000 of its $6.5 million annually.

“We have to continue this for the best interest of our own district,” Dick Keeney said.

Superintendent Bob Lagerblade told board members it could be more than a year until a decision is made on the appeal.

The two districts would file briefs and transcripts early next year with oral arguments taking place in August 2014 and a decision being handed down in February 2015, though those dates are rough estimates, Lagerblade said.