The work of the Hampton/Scotland Ad Hoc Committee for Interdistrict Educational Cost Sharing is nearing completion. This spring, we will formally report our work—a model Cooperative Agreement for operating a single school, a model staffing plan, and a model budget—to the two towns’ Boards of Education, and conduct public information sessions to present and discuss it. After the public discussion, we will hold an advisory vote in both towns on the question of whether or not the towns should enter into an agreement. That vote will be non-binding. The final decision is up to the BOEs. If both boards approve it (or some version of it), and if the Town Meetings of both towns approve the use of the school buildings for this purpose, Hampton and Scotland will share an elementary school.
The subcommittee drafting the model Cooperative Agreement has been meeting in executive session, primarily to allow us to talk informally and candidly among ourselves and with our attorney. While we have not quite reached a final draft, we have made sufficient progress that we wish to share the broad outlines of our work with the public even before we roll out the entire report.
The draft agreement calls for a six-member Cooperative Committee drawn from the local BOEs. The BOE chairs and two other members appointed by each local BOE will serve as the Cooperative Committee. The BOE chairs will be co-chairs of the Committee and alternate as the presiding chair on an annual basis. The Committee will have most of the same duties as the BOEs currently have for their schools. It will hire a superintendent, negotiate contracts, make a budget, and oversee the operation of the school. The local BOEs will have input via the members they designate for the Committee. The local boards will maintain responsibility for and control over transportation and out-of-district special education for students in their respective towns. The Committee will meet at least monthly, elect officers, establish bylaws, just as BOEs do now. It will act on behalf of the local districts to apply for and administer federal and state grants, and may receive grants directly. It will be audited annually.
The draft agreement calls for the Committee to present a budget to the local BOEs. The local boards will be assessed for their respective portion of the budget expenditures. Their portion will be based on the number of students each town sends to the school. For example, this year, Scotland has 103 students and Hampton 72, so Scotland’s assessment would be 58.8% and Hampton’s will be 41.2%. The student count from will be based on the population of the school on October 1, applied to the following year’s budget. If the audit finds a surplus or deficit, it will be returned or charged to the towns according to that year’s assessment. Budgets will be presented by the local BOEs to the Board of Finance and to the Town Meeting as they are currently. Those budgets will include the assessment from the Cooperative Committee, plus student transportation, out-of-district special education, and other expenses specific to the local BOE.
Planning and Placement Teams at the Cooperative School will meet and determine Individualized Educational Programs for special education students. The costs for students whose IEPs can be carried out in the school will be built into the general operating budget. Should the school staff determine that a student’s needs cannot be met by the Cooperative School, responsibility for determining and funding an educational program will return to the local BOE, which will be responsible for planning, placement, and program costs.
The draft Cooperative Agreement provides that the Cooperative Committee will make a recommendation to the local BOEs as to which school should house the Cooperative School. The BOEs and the Town Meetings of both towns will have to approve the choice. The town that owns the building designated by the BOEs will remain responsible for the costs of capital improvements, such as roof replacement or other major repair. Operating expenses for the school, such as routine maintenance, minor repairs, and utilities, will be the responsibility of the Committee, and will be included in their budget expenditures. Because this arrangement will change the use of town-owned real estate in both towns, the Town Meeting will have to approve the agreement.
Amendment and Termination
In the current draft, the Cooperative Agreement will be in effect for seven years. (As with everything else in the agreement, the final decision belongs to the BOE.) It can be modified at any point in the term by agreement between the BOEs. It can be terminated by either BOE with a year’s notice.
We look forward to releasing the completed draft Cooperative Agreement and the model staffing plan and budget, and to the public information sessions and advisory vote. In the meantime, feel free to contact me or other members of the Cooperative Committee. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number at Scotland Town Hall is 860 456 7797 x1. Allan Cahill is available at email@example.com, or 860 455 9132 x2. Other committee members’ contact information is available, along with meeting minutes and other information, at https://www.hs-interdistrictcommittee.org/entities/ad-hoc-committee-for-interdistrict-cost-sharing
Chair, Hampton/Scotland Ad Hoc Committee for Interdistrict Educational Cost Sharing
Town of Scotland