Collins-Maxwell board learns more about sharing agreement with Ballard

Marlys BarkerNevada
Journal Editor

A special Collins-Maxwell school board meeting was held June 30 to approve the 28E agreement with the Ballard school district for the sharing of Superintendent Ottie Maxey and Director of Teaching Katie Claeys.

Also approved at the meeting was the shared activities/athletic and transportation director between Collins-Maxwell and the Baxter school districts.

The majority of the meeting was focused on Collins-Maxwell’s board members and leaders learning more about their two new administrators, who will each serve the district in a 20 percent capacity.

Maxey said from the Ballard perspective, the agreement to do this sharing arrangement had little to do with the money realized, which is significant for both districts because of the state’s incentives for sharing administrative positions, and had everything to do with helping a neighboring school district.

“I’m honored for the opportunity and grateful that you all think enough of us to give us an opportunity to help,” Maxey said. “It really boils down to that. We care about the education of kids in our district and for the kids in neighboring districts …”

Claeys said the bulk of her responsibilities will be to come in and work with building leaders and teachers. She wants to first get a good picture of what Collins-Maxwell’s educational setting looks like, then find its greatest leverage points. “And how can we utilize those to push our students forward.” Claeys also stated, “We are not going to help all kids achieve at high levels if we don’t work collaboratively.”

There was a lot of talk about the importance of things like collaboration, along with organization, setting goals and priorities, and making sure that there is sound communication to ensure that the new sharing agreement works.

Maxey said because he and Claeys are only working 20 percent with Collins-Maxwell, it will be critical to set priorities, which in his mind means finances and operations, and student achievement.

It was pointed out that building principals and other leaders in the district will be relied upon more in the coming year, but that isn’t always a bad thing in terms of helping them grow in their abilities.

When Maxey was asked by C-M board member Marcus Fricke what worries him most about the sharing arrangement, Maxey reworded the question by asking back, “What keeps me up at night?”

“There are a lot more things that keep me up at night than just thinking about this sharing agreement,” he said. But about taking on leadership of Collins-Maxwell, he said his biggest concern would be getting pulled into some of the conversations that have happened with whole grade sharing and sports sharing with Baxter. He said he thinks the board has done its best to answer these questions and lay out how the district wants to proceed.

“I’m coming in with the intention that plans have been made and my job is to implement those plans,” he said.

Maxey and Dr. Tom Lane, who served as C-M’s interim superintendent, have also shared that they have an agreement, and if Lane is needed to come in and facilitate or be involved in any type of long-term discussion or flare up, as it relates to the community or the district’s future, he is willing to do that.

Also on hand for the meeting was Dr. Roark Horn, executive director of School Administrators of Iowa. Horn said he knows the difficult months that the Collins-Maxwell board experienced this year and one of the great decisions they made was approving Lane to serve as their interim superintendent. “I don’t have to tell you folks about the excellence you’ve received over the past four months,” Horn said.

Horn added that he is confident that the Collins-Maxwell district and board will continue to receive that type of service from Maxey and Claeys. “This will be another blessing for your district.”

Lane said it was a proud night for him. “One of the things you charged me with was ‘what is the next phase of leadership for this district,’ and I think I hit a home run.”