Brainerd lakes area school districts, like many others in Minnesota, have seen less state revenue and have had to make cuts to their budgets.
To help with the financial struggles, school district administrators, board members and officials from seven school districts met Friday for the first strategic planning session of the Brainerd School District's Long Range Planning Committee.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss possible partnerships with a group of school districts to work together in certain areas, such as in finance or technology, as part of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's vision for financial or administrative centers.
Brainerd Superintendent Jerry Walseth said the discussion would not be to consolidate any school districts, but for schools to work together to provide more and better services for students and in return save money.
A district consultant, Tom Watson of St. Paul, gave a presentation on the collaboration and said school districts in this area need to ask themselves where they are now, where they want to go and how they will get there. He said a group of school districts formed a partnership a year ago and several others are looking at a collaboration to save money and to broaden student services.
Bob Meeks and John Sylvester of the Minnesota School Board Association also attended the informational meeting to discuss the partnership.
Meeks said, "To save revenue is one thing, but the main thing is to increase services and education opportunities for students."
Meeks said counties and cities in the state are also looking at a collaboration in an effort to save money.
Watson said if area school districts are interested in a partnership he recommends an evaluation of a strategic alliance, completion of a feasibility study, identify a steering committee, establish a budget and obtain approval from all the school boards involved.
JENNIFER STOCKINGER can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5851.
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