Collins-Maxwell Interim leader meets with families to discuss district’s future

Local News

MAXWELL – Just over a month ago, Superintendent Jason Ellingson resigned following allegations a student made to the school district. 

On Thursday night, the new leadership team had its first public meeting to go over some of the changes the district is hoping to make. 

Dr. Tom Lane thought he was done working as a school superintendent.

“I did not anticipate getting back into the superintendency, but I think at a certain point, you owe it to kids,” said Lane.

But after taking over Collins-Maxwell on an interim basis about a month ago, he’s working to deliver results for a community that’s grown skeptical.

“We’re hoping he can point our school district in the right direction and get us back on track, so we can worry about other things, instead of schools closing,” said Doug Cheville, a parent of two in the district.

“I can’t control anything that happened in the past,” said Lane. “None of us can. We can deal with what we’re facing now and we can plan for the future.”

Dwindling cash reserves to about 2 percent solvency and declining enrollment are just a few of the challenges for the district. 

Lane answered many questions at this community forum.  With questions about potential consolidation or grade sharing with Baxter, and revenue streams, he says he’s going to use his experience to make gradual changes.  

“There is no mandate to come in and set fire to anything,” said Lane. “The mandate is to come in and try to right this ship and try to get us on solid footing again.”

Compared to the rest of Story County or the state of Iowa, Collins-Maxwell’s student to teacher ratio is far lower. But his goal is student achievement, which begins with better.  

“We’re not looking at laying anybody off,” said Lane. “Nobody’s going to get pink-slipped, but we’re going to look at attrition to try to right size ourselves over the next few years.”

Lane says he plans to stay with district at least until July 1. He says he can reevaluate from there, but hopes a permanent superintendent has been hired and is ready to take over by that time.

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