Board eyes shared services

SOUTHINGTON – Southington will team up with Lordstown and Windham schools to seek a $550,000 state educational grant to share services between the three small districts. It could lead to the three districts sharing a single superintendent.

Board of Education President Bob Baugher said at Thursday’s meeting that the three school districts have a combined enrollment of 1,800 students. Joining forces improves their chances of obtaining the grant for improving student achievement, he said.

”The three school districts share many similarities and a lot in common, particularly, student body numbers,” he said.

Using the grant money to institute shared services leaves more money available for classroom instruction, Baugher said.

The districts should know by May 23 if they will receive any grants.

”If chosen for the grant, then the real work begins as we will have to sit down as a group and discuss the extent of how we will use the grant. As everyone knows, we have been discussing a shared superintendent, which may be a possibility with this grant,” Baugher said.

In March, the board decided not to renew superintendent John McMahan’s contract, which ends this summer, and the position remains vacant.

Even with shared services, each district would maintain its own separate school identity, he said.

Also Thursday, the board decided against trying again to pass the four-year, 4.9-mill additional operational levy that voters defeated in the May 6 primary election. However, the district will put a renewal levy up in the November general election.

The operating levy, which would have generated $314,000 a year for emergency needs and day-to-day operations, was turned down by nearly 61 percent of the voters. Baugher said the board is looking at ways to resolve the school’s financial issues.

Treasurer Janet Ward said the five-year forecast shows the district at its current staffing levels will remain in the black for three years, and four if the renewal levy passes. A carryover balance is helping to keep the district in the black for the next three years despite a $134,00 overspending in revenue this year.

Ward said the renewal levy which would generate $250,000 annually. That levy was first passed in the early 1990s.