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Special ed chief resigns

Peabody decides to withdraw appeal

Managing editor

Marion County Special Education Cooperative Director Chris Cezar has resigned.

The special education cooperative board met behind closed doors for nearly an hour Monday evening. When the members returned to open session, board president Deb Geis read Cezar’s letter of resignation.

The letter stated that Cezar was resigning his position to pursue other opportunities. The resignation will be effective June 30.

The announcement follows a tumultuous six months during which Cezar told the board there was going to be a major shortage of funds. In the end, it was determined that the money was there all along and the cooperative’s position was better than predicted.

In the meantime, cooperative board members, composed of representatives from the five school districts in Marion County, were scrambling to figure out what to do including the possibility of selling the newly renovated cooperative building in Marion and buying it back on contract to generate additional revenue.

USD 410 General Manager Jerry Hinerman and Geis reviewed the cooperative’s finances and determined there was money in the budget for the next two years. However, there will be a shortage of funds in two years.

Peabody will stay

The USD 398 Board of Education voted 4-3 to withdraw their appeal to the Kansas Department of Education asking to leave the Marion County Special Education Cooperative.

Peabody-Burns Superintendent Rex Watson said the co-op’s recent interpretation of finances is one of the reasons why the USD 398 Board withdrew the appeal.

“They didn’t find any money,” Watson said. “They always had the money. New folks looked at the budget and have drawn different conclusions.”

Although USD 398 board member and representative on the Marion County Special education Cooperative Board Tony Zappone said, “Staying in the coop would have been financially advantageous for us.”

Watson added that USD 398 is still interested in changes within the co-op.

“Changes in chain of command is something that my board would be interested in,” he said. “Changes in accountability issues, of trust among staff members.”

Zappone also said that Peabody-Burns’ bid to leave the co-op has been successful because it caused the five school districts to increase communication and cooperation to try to solve grievances with the co-op.

As an example, Zappone said that Peabody-Burns was distressed with the co-op’s second-guessing of specialized plans for particular students that diverge from uniform plans of treatment based on statistical analysis.

“As a result of the initial request, there has been greater communication and trust,” Zappone said. “Philosophically speaking, everyone is willing to take a long hard look at the needs of each community. We forced communication … not that we planned it that way.”

Last modified April 21, 2010

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