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RCW brass will decide proposal for K-12 gounds in Renville

RENVILLE -- A public hearing has been held on closing the Sacred Heart school and the possibility of consolidating Renville County West into a central K-12 campus in Renville.

Faculty and staff have been apprised of what the transition will require of them.

And now, a written plan on how the move to a central campus will be carried out has been dr-afted by the su-perintendent of schools for public review.

What's still lacking is a decision on whether or not Renville County West will go ahead and do it by the start of the new school year, modify the plans or back off entirely.

That decision will likely come when RCW School Board members meet in special session at 8 p.m. April 23.

"We need to decide what to do for next year,'' school board chairman Darin Bratsch said at the board's meeting Tuesday night.

"Our administration is in stall mode now, waiting for us to decide what to do.''

Board members agreed a decision should be made by month's end, and set the meeting date to assure that all members could be present for it.

The board members said they also wanted to delay the decision until next week to give interested members of the public a chance to review a newly drafted and relatively detailed plan for that transition.

Superintendent Lance Bagstad told board members that the issue most often raised during the March 18 public hearing on closing the Sacred Heart school was a desire by some to see a written plan on the proposed transition to a K-12 campus.

Bagstad said that while there has been lots of planning on how to make the transition on a department-by-department basis, until now the results had not been assembled into a single document for public review.

Along with a historical perspective, Bagstad said the plan he assembled offers a "road map'' on how the transition will occur. He said it was difficult to lay out the sequence of some aspects of the transition, but he said the booklet does provide the time lines and responsibilities.

"We want this to be as transparent as possible,'' he said.

He told board members he would be distributing copies of the draft version to some interested people in the RCW district in the coming days to get feedback on it.

Board members said they didn't believe the plan would be something that lots of people would read cover-to-cover. However, they said they believed it would go a long way toward helping answer the questions of those who have raised concerns about the transition.

"It's addressing their questions,'' said board member Eric Dahlager. He said it was very important that the board didn't skip the stage of putting all of the issues involved in the transition before the public.

The move to a central campus has been proposed as the best means of achieving needed cost reductions while keeping academic offerings intact. The move to a central campus is part of a proposal -- including staff cuts -- that is projected to provide an estimated $325,000 in cost savings. The district must pare next year's budget by $280,000 to avoid deficit spending.