The 1,170 students in the Port Townsend School District and the 676 youngsters in the Chimacum School District are now part of a collaborative effort, formalized this month by both school boards.
In a unanimous vote Wednesday evening, the Chimacum School Board approved a resolution to develop a memorandum of understanding for this collaboration; the Port Townsend School Board approved the same document at its Jan. 6 meeting.
First off, said Chimacum board chair Kristina Mayer, this is not a merger.
“A collaboration means we retain our sovereignty and build on each other’s strengths,” she said Thursday, adding the agreement began bearing fruit last year when the two districts worked together to hire their own superintendents.
During the search, school board members did worry how that would go, Mayer said.
There were questions, for example, like, “What if we both want the same person?”
As it turned out, “we both got our first choice,” Mayer said, with Scott Mauk for Chimacum and Linda Rosenbury for Port Townsend.
“That’s not to say it was easy. We had to have some courageous conversations,” Mayer added.
“Hiring Scott and Linda has elevated whole education conversation in the county,” she said.
The school districts are exploring ways to offer students more career and technical education options, and they are looking into the hiring of teachers and other staff the campuses could share.
“Each of us can’t always afford full-time specialists in a particular area … We may be able to combine to make positions that are full time or closer to full time, such as the high school counselor we currently share,” Mauk said in an email Thursday.
Those who follow local sports are well aware that Chimacum and Port Townsend’s athletics programs are already combined as the East Jefferson Rivals — in athletic programs ranging from football and volleyball to track and tennis.
“What that has done for the kids is, I think, remarkable,” said Mayer.
More students can participate and the high schools can field varsity as well as junior varsity teams.
“The football team had a fabulous season,” she added.
Rosenbury, for her part, said she’s “so excited about the ongoing collaboration. Our teams are more competitive, and [student-athletes] have more opportunities, like girls’ wrestling.”
The superintendent added she’s eager to find other opportunities to extend to students.
Rosenbury said, too, that she and Mauk work closely together, “and it has benefited us professionally.”
Mayer emphasized the conversation about the two school districts’ collaboration is an open and public one.
The Port Townsend School Board next meets at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 20; Chimacum’s board meeting is set for 6 p.m. Jan. 26. Both sessions are held in person while providing the option of watching on Zoom.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected] dailynews.com.