School districts consider contracting services
The Washougal School District is considering accepting a contract to provide business services to the Mount Pleasant School District.
“I was approached by the superintendent of the Mount Pleasant School District to consider a request for a partnership,” said Dawn Tarzian, Washougal superintendent.
This statement resulted in a few smiles among audience members, as Peter Tarzian, the Mount Pleasant superintendent, is also her husband.
The superintendents met with Rosann Lassman, Washougal business services manager, to discuss the proposal.
“I was intrigued by the potential of this agreement,” Lassman said. “We are lacking cross training in this district with business services, and with this contract, we could provide a valuable service to them and cross train our employees.”
Currently, Mount Pleasant contracts with ESD 112 for payroll services at an annual cost of $15,600, with overtime expected. The cost of contracting with Washougal would be approximately $14,000.
Mount Pleasant, six miles east of Washougal, has nine employees and approximately 55 students.
“Although the ESD does provide competent accounting services for the district, using the expertise of the business services staff to assist your districts’s administration in proper budget planning and management will be very important in our district’s short and longer term fiscal health and effectiveness,” Peter Tarzian wrote in a memo to the School Board.
Mount Pleasant was rocked with controversy after a former employee was sentenced to jail time and community service last summer, for stealing from the district.
“Transparency and close access to business services personnel is critical for a small school district’s effective operation,” he added.
Dawn Tarzian said that there is precedent for contracting services.
“In the past, the former Washougal superintendent contracted with Mount Pleasant as its superintendent,” she said. “Also, it is only a kindergarten through sixth-grade school. After that, many of the students come into our district. That, and our staff’s positive reaction, caused me to bring it the School Board for consideration.”
The school districts are also considering a technology services contract. Currently, Mount Pleasant requests services from ESD 112 on an as-needed basis. The proposed contract for tech services would provide an average of three hours per week, for 17 weeks at a cost of $2,677. If Mount Pleasant required additional support, it was would be on an hourly rate based on availability.
Peter Tarzian will attend the Tuesday, March 12 meeting to discuss the proposal with the Washougal board. A final decision is expected at the April 9 meeting.
Blaine Peterson, Washougal School Board president, likes the idea but wants to get a firm cost breakdown.
“I’d like to be able to offer a partnership, but it just seems like it’s a pretty inexpensive (rate to charge),” he said.
Board member Elaine Pfeifer also had concerns.
“I think it’s a great idea but some fine-tuning needs to be done with the staffing,” she said.
At its Feb. 26 board meeting, Mount Pleasant also decided to further explore the idea. A board member may attend the March 12 meeting with Peter Tarzian.