Students pulled together with the Keep the Pack Intact committee to inform people in their communities on the benefits of a consolidation between the IKM and Manning school districts. Their hard work won them an emphatic Yes vote in last nights election. Campaigning for that vote recently were IKM-Manning students (from left) Ericka Tank, Gregory Sporrer, Becky Halbur and Serenah Frank. Daily Times Herald photo by Chantelle Hogrefe
Students pulled together with the Keep the Pack Intact committee to inform people in their communities on the benefits of a consolidation between the IKM and Manning school districts. Their hard work won them an emphatic Yes vote in last nights election. Campaigning for that vote recently were IKM-Manning students (from left) Ericka Tank, Gregory Sporrer, Becky Halbur and Serenah Frank. Daily Times Herald photo by Chantelle Hogrefe
Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Voters in the Manning and Irwin-Kirkman-Manilla school districts on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved consolidation of the districts.

Irwin reported 206 yes votes and 26 no votes; Manilla reported 190 yes votes and 20 no votes; and Manning reported 477 yes votes and 20 no votes for a final total of 873 yes votes to 66 no votes. The consolidation will officially take place July 1, 2011.

“It is a good day,” said Manning superintendent Roger Schmiedeskamp. “It was excellent news. I was glad to see the good turnout and the overwhelming support.”

The benefits of moving from whole-grade sharing to consolidation are numerous for each district. Not only are students given the option of more academic and extra-curricular offerings, the financial benefits will bring added strength to the district.

According to Jean Stadtlander of the Keep the Pack Intact committee, who spearheaded the vote yes campaign, the reorganization will bring an additional $400,000 over three years in state incentives and will provide approximately $350,000 in administrative and operational efficiencies. The merger, and the ensuing larger district, also means more shared resources adding up to more funding per child.

The current reorganization plan does not call for any changes in facilities use configuration. There are no plans to close any buildings and both Irwin and Manning would maintain their elementary attendance centers.

There is little time to celebrate, however, as the first order of business is formation of an interim board.

Schmiedeskamp said there will be three board members selected from the IKM board and three from the Manning board who will come together and select a seventh member.

“It will have to be a unanimous vote,” he added. “If they cannot come up with a unanimous selection, there would be an election in September for the seventh member.”

The school districts will continue to maintain separate boards while the interim board takes on three main tasks to be handled before the July 1, 2011 deadline.

“They will formulate a policy manual, which is a very big task,” Schmiedeskamp said. “They will negotiate a master contract between combined (teacher) associations, and they will select a superintendent.”

The board will open up the superintendent position for applications and will be in charge of interviewing and selecting from the pool of candidates. Schmiedeskamp and Jeff Kruse, the current IKM superintendent, are both eligible candidates if they so choose. However, Schmiedeskamp does not plan to submit an application.

“Personally, I don’t plan on applying,” he said. “I plan on retiring, and my first day of retirement will be July 1, 2011.”

With the reorganization, there will be another change for the Manning district as Shelby County will become the controlling county for the reorganized district.

The majority of the IKM district is in Shelby County, with an IKM resident enrollment of 415. The higher enrollment and higher assessed valuations over Manning and its 385 resident enrollment, will mean that Shelby County will take over that control for the entire district once reorganization is complete.

But for now, the individual schools will begin to work together on a smooth transition, beginning with an administrative meeting Thursday to discuss staffing issues.

“Both districts offered early retirement last year,” Schmiedeskamp explained. “Now, we are deciding which staff members we need to replace and which positions can be filled by shifting personnel. In the Manning building. We really don’t have room to reduce anymore.”

All of the work that went into campaigning for the yes vote is really just the beginning for the individual districts, but without that effort, none of the rest of this would be necessary.

“A lot of people in the communities did a lot of hard work,” said Schmiedeskamp. “I think the kids had a big part in it too. It shows how well the whole-grade sharing has gone to this point. People can listen to me or the board members or some adult talk, but when it comes to the kids talking, I think it really gets their attention. But again, I have to reemphasize that our vote yes committee did a fantastic job.”