A Leavenworth school official said his district plans to work with other school systems to dissolve the Leavenworth County Special Education Cooperative.
But Kevin Gullett, chief financial officer for Leavenworth public schools, said dissolving the cooperative, which serves six school districts, will take time.
"There's lots of steps to this process," he said, adding numerous details need to be worked out.
The cooperative provides special education services to all pubic school districts in Leavenworth County. Each member district provides financial support to the cooperative. The Leavenworth school system serves as the host district.
Gullett said the Leavenworth County Special Education Cooperative has a $19.6 million budget and employs close to 600 people. The cooperative serves more than 2,000 special education students.
With Leavenworth serving as host district, the budget for the cooperative is part of the district's budget. People who work for the cooperative are employees of the Leavenworth district.
Gullett said he doesn't know how long ago the Leavenworth County Special Education Cooperative was established, but it's been in existence for many years.
Gullett said he believes officials in the six member districts are in agreement that ending the cooperative is a good thing.
"I think we're all in one accordance on this," he said.
He said the cooperative has become very large, and individual school districts have grown in size.
Gullett said districts can manage special education programs without the cooperative. He said this is especially true of the Leavenworth public schools.
Lansing Superintendent Randy Bagby acknowledged school officials in the county are "having discussions about dissolving and restructuring" the cooperative.
Bagby said cooperatives, such as the one in Leavenworth County, traditionally were formed between small districts and larger school systems for services districts couldn't provide individually.
"What gets lost in co-ops is local control," he said.
Bagby said the districts in Leavenworth County have grown through the years, and some are larger than the Leavenworth district was when the local cooperative was formed.
"Lansing could easily do their own special education," he said.
He said the No. 1 thing he's after is a better way to take care of students.
Easton Superintendent Chuck Coblentz said school officials in the county are looking at whether to terminate the agreement that established the cooperative in order to have a more efficient, less expensive way of delivering special education. But, he believes officials are still weighing options.
Bagby said he doesn't envy Leavenworth for being the host district for the cooperative.
"It's almost like they're running two school districts there, two large school districts," he said.
If the cooperative is dissolved, the primary goal would be to have minimal impact on special education students, Gullett said.
Page 2 of 2 - He said officials also want to minimize staff impact.
Gullett said the cooperative could be dissolved as early as the fall, but the process could take until the summer of 2015.
He said the Leavenworth district plans to stand on its own if the cooperative is dissolved, but other districts in the county may form agreements for special education services.
Bagby suggested districts could partner for specific special education services while taking on others themselves.