The effort began back in July of 2005 at the recommendation of then Superintendent Jerry Kember. He had heard about a collaboration effort at the State School Board Convention with the City of Whitefish Bay and the Janesville School District and how that they have worked collaboratively with local government. At the recommendation of Superintendent Kember and County Administrator Steve O’Malley and Mayor Mark Johnsrud, the collaboration was formed. The purpose of the collaboration is to improve services to residents and save money for tax payers.
The first meeting was a working session to create a listing of existing/on-going collaborations and a list of “possibilities for new collaborations.” The existing collaborative efforts and possible collaborations were grouped into six areas and a subgroup was formed around these groupings.
The six sub-groups in the collaboration include: publicity/administration, joint purchasing, human resources, buildings and grounds, client services, and information services. Over these past five years, the various subgroups have collaborated on items such as joint purchasing of paper, fuel, bringing in national speakers on diversity and government efficiency, discussions on Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), high speed data collaborations, joint Earth Day activities, etc. The members of the collaboration include the Mayor Mathias Harter, Superintendent of Schools Randy Nelson and County Administrator Steve O’Malley. The sub-groups consist of the department heads and the administrators of the three La Crosse governmental entities.
The Client Services sub-group name morphed into Children and Family Services as it became clear that the real focus of the sub-group was on improving services and outcomes for children and families in the community and at school.