Truman school weighs its future

TRUMAN – A good portion of the Truman School Board meeting Tuesday dealt with district reorganization options.

“Enrollment has gone down over the past decade,” said Superintendent Tom Ames.

Ten years ago, the school had an average daily student population of 389 in K-12. The school currently has 211 enrolled, 45 students fewer than the previous year.

“The drop was a significant blow,” Ames said.

He told board members there are two options they should consider. The first is to reduce programs and try to increase enrollment; the second would involve reorganization. Either option “would leave a sustainable school in Truman,” he said.

Ames explained alternatives for reorganization, from grade and staff sharing, to consolidation, but he didn’t endorse any particular choice.

“I will take my direction absolutely from you,” he told the board. “There is a point when enrollment is so low, you have to look at some options. Isn’t it better to start now?”

Mike Pfeil, board chairman, pointed out the difference between the number of students in the building and the number of students in the district.

“If we try to get half of those kids back, that’s got to be a step in the right direction,” he said.

Board member Darrel Drevlow advocated opening up community discussion to show people what the district has to offer and focus on the positive aspects of the school.

“We all see that, but how do we get other people to see that – those that think the grass is greener,” said Britta Hartman, board member. “The negative people are all so much louder than the positive ones.”

Board members and Ames agreed that the issue of reorganization required additional research and more time than regular board meetings allow, so they set a work session for 6 p.m. Feb. 4 for more in-depth discussion.

In other business, the board:

o Heard a positive report on the finances of the child care program at the school.

“It does look better,” Ames said. “There are more kids now than we had a month ago.”

o Approved May 16-19 for a senior class trip to Chicago, contingent on the class raising sufficient monies to finance the trip. Storm Pearson, a senior representing the class, told the board that fundraising is ongoing, with the next event scheduled for Feb. 19 at Pizza Ranch in Fairmont.

o Elected the following as officers: Mike Pfeil, chairman; Darrel Drevlow, vice chairman; LeAnn Maloney, treasurer; and Britta Hartman, clerk.

o Added an ag advisory committee to the list of board committee assignments for the year. Maloney, Drevlow and Ames will represent the board on the committee, which will include community members, in the support of the agricultural, FFA, industrial arts and trade programs.