Walnut School Board to meet w/ Atlantic & AHST boards next week


November 3rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A crowd of about 75 people attended a meeting earlier this week in Walnut, to discuss the future of that district’s athletic and academic programs. Superintendent Jim Hammrich told KJAN News,  school administrators discussed with parents of the district Wednesday night, why they have the current sharing agreements with area schools, current curriculum and transportation issues, along with declining enrollment. Last year, the district’s certified enrollment was 200 students, but the actual number of students served was 170. This year, the actual number was 145.

Hammrich says they showed the parents enrollment trends for the past 10-years. The data shows double-digit declines for the past 6-years. The continued decline in enrollment means a loss of dollars from the State.  Hammrich says the school board wanted to get input from the public at Wednesday’s meeting, to determine what the district should do for the next five-years, especially with regard to the sharing of athletic programs. He says the parents were most concerned about a lack of plan for the short-term.

He says they want a plan in writing. Other meetings have been held over the past few years on a plan, but nothing has been set in stone. The parents want that to change.  Hammrich says the future of sharing both academics and athletic programs with neighboring school districts AHST and Atlantic, will be determined after the Walnut School Board meets next week with both of those district’s Boards of Education.  The meeting with the Atlantic School Board in Atlantic, takes place 6-p.m. Monday, Nov. 7th. A meeting with the AHST School Board will be held Tuesday in Avoca, beginning at 7-p.m.

Hammrich says the Walnut School Board hopes to make a decision on which district they will commit to by their meeting on November 21st or no later than December 1st. He says the board understands there’s bound to be conflicts either way, but they want to make a decision that’s in the best interest of the students, and feel good about that decision.  Sharing arrangements between districts are nothing new. In some cases and the experiments haven‘t always produced the best results, according to Hammrich.

He says Walnut shared with Avoca about 6 or 7 years ago for a period of about a year. He said he was told “That didn’t go well…for whatever reasons.” Hammrich wasn’t the Superintendent during that time frame. The board then decided to begin a sharing arrangement with Atlantic, which has held for the past four or five years. Uncertainty over which district Walnut should share with, according to Hammrich, has contributed to a large decline in open enrollments in the district, on a yearly basis.