The USD 398 Board of Education voted 4-3 to withdraw their appeal to the Kansas Department of Education asking to leave the Marion County Special Education Cooperative.
Peabody-Burns Superintendent Rex Watson said the co-op’s recent interpretation of finances is one of the reasons why the USD 398 Board withdrew the appeal.
“They didn’t find any money,” Watson said. “They always had the money. New folks looked at the budget and have drawn different conclusions.”
Although USD 398 board member and representative on the Marion County Special education Cooperative Board Tony Zappone said, “Staying in the coop would have been financially advantageous for us.”
Watson added that USD 398 is still interested in changes within the co-op.
“Changes in chain of command is something that my board would be interested in,” he said. “Changes in accountability issues, of trust among staff members.”
Zappone also said that Peabody-Burns’ bid to leave the co-op has been successful because it caused the five school districts to increase communication and cooperation to try to solve grievances with the co-op.
As an example, Zappone said that Peabody-Burns was distressed with the co-op’s second-guessing of specialized plans for particular students that diverge from uniform plans of treatment based on statistical analysis.
“As a result of the initial request, there has been greater communication and trust,” Zappone said. “Philosophically speaking, everyone is willing to take a long hard look at the needs of each community. We forced communication … not that we planned it that way.”