More school districts in the Northland looking to collaborate

Updated: June 02, 2020 06:20 PM

Four more school districts are looking at the benefits of collaboration. They are Hibbing, Chisholm, Nashwauk-Keewatin, and Floodwood.


People in the different communities took a survey recently and it appears nearly 80% of those who responded support collaboration in some way. About 1300 people took the survey.

This is NOT a step towards consolidation, according to the leaders of the districts. 

"We are strong, independently," shared Rich Aldrich, superintendent from Hibbing. "But if there's a way we can pool resources and pool support staff, somehow enhance curriculum for all students on the Central Range, that's what's driving this conversation."

It means that there could be shared resources for curriculum and College in the Schools. Janey Blanchard, the superintendent of Chisholm, explained, "For example, in Nashwauk Keewatin there's a really great chemistry teacher. Maybe some of our kids could take chemistry from that person. Where Chisholm has a strong industrial arts program, and we could showcase that."

Nashwauk-Keewatin has been looking for a partner for years. "It's about exchanging kids, while still keeping things like prom and activities in our own districts," explained Craig Menozzi, incoming superintendent for N-K.

The districts have put out an RFP for a consultant to help them take this to the next level. They hope to select one by the third week of June.

Floodwood has joined the conversation later than the other three. Their superintendent, Rae Villebrun, said, "We want to be able to offer College in the Schools, so students can have the opportunity to earn college credit while still having the high school experience." Floodwood also has an operating referendum coming up, and that vote will likely help guide what they do next.

The school boards will begin meeting, when possible. It might be by Zoom for awhile.

And then community and educator input will be part of the process. "Nobody wants to be forced into this situation. We want to make sure there's strong community support," shared Steve Giorgi, executive director of RAMS.

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