School merger talks on Fulton board agenda

School merger talks on Fulton board agenda

Posted: Thursday, March 3, 2011 9:09 pm
By: Chris Menees, Staff Reporter

By CHRIS MENEES
Staff Reporter
The merger issue involving Fulton Independent and Fulton County, Ky., schools is on the agenda for discussion during next week’s  Fulton Independent School Board meeting.
Fulton Independent superintendent Dianne Owen confirmed there is an action item on the merger issue on the agenda for the meeting, set to begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the board office at 304 West State Line in Fulton.
Ms. Owen said discussion of a possible merger between the two school systems began last year when the Fulton County School Board approached the Fulton Independent School Board to ask about discussing a possible merger and/or sharing of services.
“Their superintendent was not returning (at that time) and they thought it might be a good time to discuss it,” she said. “There was a meeting last year, but no decisions were made.”
Earlier this year, Ms. Owen announced her plans to retire on June 30 and three members of Fulton Independent’s board then voted to ask Fulton County’s board to have another discussion at a joint meeting about a possible plan for merger. The meeting of the two boards was held Monday night at Fulton High School with a moderator, David Beard from the Kentucky School Boards Association.
The meeting opened with a discussion of what services the districts could share, resulting in possible cost reductions for both. The issues of taxes, school/district structure, staffing and the procedures for merger were also discussed. Fulton County superintendent Dennis Bledsoe was on hand, along with Ms. Owen, to help explain some of the issues and clarify information.
Figures have indicated there are 385 students at Fulton Independent Schools and 530 students in the Fulton County system.
“The meeting was very informative and went well,” Ms. Owen told The Messenger today.
Ms. Owen said any decision on a merger will be at the discretion of the school board and not the superintendent, who follows the board’s directives.
“Any benefits or time frames would be determined by the board should they ever vote to merge with another district,” she explained.
The Fulton Independent and Fulton County school systems currently share two gifted/talented teachers, one of whom also serves as the director with Fulton County, Hickman County, Ky., and Carlisle County, Ky., an arrangement which Ms. Owen said “is working out very well.”
In addition, the school system shares a technology technician with Hickman County and Fulton County, which Ms. Owen said has also worked very well for several years, and has shared transportation to various state events if it has allowed the systems to save money.
“We are open to other areas as well,” she said. “Superintendents can work to share services and we are all four open to this concept. We have a good relationship with all four districts. We consider Fulton County as our ‘sister’ school in the county and our teachers and administrators worked together very well.”
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at cmenees@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 3.3.11

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