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School district approves vote to withdraw from Lonetree
November 15, 2019

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Next year, the Rugby Public School District will be working with a different special education unit.

During their meeting Tuesday morning at Rugby High School, the Rugby Public School District No. 5 Board of Education voted to begin the process of withdrawing from the Lonetree Special Education Unit and transitioning to the Peace Garden Special Education Unit.

The next step included having a board member serve on a transition team with administrators, special education teachers and Peace Garden representatives.

The vote had been previously tabled during the board's October meeting until a needs assessment could be done.

The needs assessment identified 10 themes. Of the 10, the need for a school psychologist was the highest on the list. The second-highest theme was behavioral support and direct services. Other items included access to and support with curriculum and assessments; early childhood support; a social worker that supports transitions for individual education plan students and families; physical and occupational therapy services; and director availability.

In the October meeting minutes it was stated the cost difference between entering Peace Garden and between Lonetree could allow for two possible positions to be added to the district.

Board members Dustin Hager and Kristi Blessum questioned if Superintendent Mike McNeff believed if everything on the transition list could be accomplished and positions be filled.

"To me, the earlier the better," said McNeff.

"As long as you can reasonably meet the needs of [the] district, [it] seems appropriate to me," said Hager.

The board met with Peace Garden Special Services Director Melissa Deckert during their July meeting. Deckert informed the board the cost to join Peace Garden's special education unit would be $7,500 versus Lonetree's cost of over $100,000, however the cost difference would be guidance provided to teachers rather than staffers coming to work with students.

In September, the district sent a letter requesting acceptance into Peace Garden special education unit. In a letter dated Sept. 18, Deckert informed McNeff the Peace Garden Special Education Unit board voted to accept the district's request starting in the 2020-21 school year.

(sub.) Other actions

- The board approved superintendent evaluations.

- The board approved the consent agenda, which included Oct. 8 and Nov. 5 meeting minutes; bills; financial statements and a tuition agreement with the Towner-Granville-Upham school district.

- The board approved a property tax incentive for five years for Home of Economy.

- The board met with instructor Leah Johnson to discuss a school policy project in which her Argument & Logic class was engaged.

- The board met with Kari Hill to discuss her responsibilities as English Language Learner coordinator.

- The board discussed literacy interventions; strategic planning; the Wolford School District dissolution process; concussion insurance coverage; graduates over time ACT results; the N.D. School Boards Association conference; and a recent Citizens Committee meeting.

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