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Thursday, March 31st, 2011 -- 11:32 AM

Their budgets are grim, but area school boards continue to meet together trying to find a silver lining.

Representatives from school boards around Clark County have been meeting periodically for several months. The latest such forum was Wednesday night in Greenwood.

"There are actually 11 school districts in Clark County that belong to CESA 10, so we targeted those groups. So far, 10 of those districts have participated," explains Neillsville board member Deanna Heiman, one of the organizers of the brainstorming sessions.

The goal was to open lines of communication and "commiserate," because the boards are facing similar issues.

"The goal was just to share and have conversations about the future of Clark County schools," she says.

The forums began months before Gov. Scott Walker revealed his budget proposal, which would?relative to current law?cut around $1.6-billion in public education funding over the next two years.

Dealing with the cuts will likely require a lot of ?outside of the box? thinking and cooperation. Those in attendance last night looked over several hypothetical changes to the educational landscape in Clark County; the most dramatic of which was the possibility of operating just two high schools?one in the south and one in the north.

Heiman says the first step is to get school boards talking and then involve communities.

"We're thinking of the students. That's the end-goal that we have in mind," Heiman notes. "We'll continue to meet and bring those other people in and, hopefully, we'll have something positive come out of it."

Last night, representatives from North Central Technical College and Chippewa Valley Technical College were on hand to talk about efforts to increase college course offerings high school students.

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