The Licking Heights and Southwest Licking school boards each voted 5-0 during separate meetings Aug. 28 to apply for a state grant that would help them explore sharing a human-resources director and some transportation services.

The Licking Heights and Southwest Licking school boards each voted 5-0 during separate meetings Aug. 28 to apply for a state grant that would help them explore sharing a human-resources director and some transportation services.

"We're applying for money from the state to help us study the possibilities (of shared services)," Southwest Licking board President Don Huber said. "I'm sure we all hope this is fruitful."

Both districts previously agreed to share a food service director, Ginger Parsons.

The board members from both districts said they hope to share more services and employees to reduce costs for both districts.

"We obviously have a relationship with Southwest Licking now that we're sharing a service director," Licking Heights Superintendent Philip Wagner said.

He said the Aug. 28 discussion was an extension of a previous conversation about taking advantage of a state study grant of up to $100,000 to find ways for school districts to align their employment policies to partner with another district. Both districts may discover they must make policy changes in order to cooperate.

Wagner said the districts are applying for a second round of funding because the deadline for the previous round was too short. This time, the districts needed to approve application by Sept. 4.

Licking Heights Treasurer Jennifer Vanover said the current goal of a human-resources director would benefit both districts.

"In our district, we just have to hire somebody," she said. "In (Southwest Licking), they actually had to cut administrative staff. The size of a district we are, not to have someone in human resources is a challenge. It puts a lot of additional work on other people who have a lot of things to do."

She said the goal is to find a human resources director "at a cost we can all tolerate."

Vanover said the applications for the grant needed to be very specific as to the position or service shared. She said the state requires both the partnering districts to apply simultaneously.

She said the state will not allow one district to apply for the grant without having a specific service or partnering district in mind.

Vanover said it's actually an advantage for Licking Heights and Southwest Licking to be in the second round of funding because the districts and organizations that were awarded a grant in the first round already are in the process of learning how to share services and are willing to help those districts awarded grants in the current round.

She said if Licking Heights is awarded a grant, the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio will help create a job description for a human-resources director and will act as project facilitator.