With two school systems in agreement, four more approvals remain before the Old National Trail Special Services Cooperative becomes an independent educational entity.
The Greencastle School Board agreed Wednesday to allow Old National Trail to leave the oversight of North Putnam Community Schools, which has served as the lead educational agency to handle the finances of the cooperative.
Greencastle Supt. Robert Green said the plan is to have an interlocal agreement allowing a governing board made up of the superintendents of the six participating school districts to oversee ONT.
It is the same action taken a few years ago to transition the Area 30 Career Center into its own entity.
Fees will still be paid into ONT for special education services by the member school districts -- Eminence, Cloverdale, Greencastle, Mill Creek, North Putnam and South Putnam. The Cloverdale School Board agreed to the change on Monday.
The six member schools will still pay the fees to ONT. But now the governing board of ONT will not be North Putnam, it will be the governing board of superintendents.
Each member school district must approve this so it will happen.
The move can provide some cost savings to Greencastle, Green said, estimating about $6,000-$8,000 per year. That comes from the difference in salaries that must be paid. ONT staff currently falls under the pay guidelines of the North Putnam district, which for some positions can be higher than what is paid by the other member school systems.
Green said that part of the agreement is that teachers who transition from ONT to work for the member schools will not lose any salary or benefits if hired to do the same job. The ONT staff was worried about such losses at first, he said.
There will still be a core of specialized teachers working for Old National Trail -- positions such as school psychologists, speech pathologists and other specialized teachers for mentally and emotionally handicapped children.
But staff such as instructional assistants and aids to help in the special education classrooms will be hired by the school district.