Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rockwell City-Lytton and Southern Calhoun School Districts will vote on Feb. 5, 2013, on whether to consolidate the districts.

An informational meeting was held in Rockwell City on Monday night to discuss the consolidation.

The school boards selected the date of February 5, but Superintendent Jeff Kruse said he doesn’t think there was a specific item that the boards passed during a meeting to set the date

This will be the first year the schools whole-grade share kindergarten through 12th grade, which means they share classrooms, teachers and extra curricular activities including high school sports. There are two school boards and only one superintendent.

The districts shared fifth through 12th grades last school year.

Consolidation means the school would be reduced to one school district. There would be one school board with seven members.

Superintendent Jeff Kruse said consolidation would gain the districts approximately $750,000 from state funding over a three-year period.

Consolidation would also reduce taxes by $1 per $1,000 valuation the first year following reorganization, 67 cents in year two and 33 cents in year three.

The uniform property tax levy in the State of Iowa is set at $5.40 for each school district.

There is then a formula for state aid.

Consolidating the districts would also mean a more efficient district, he said.

Kruse said the districts have already gone from about 100 teachers before whole-grade sharing started to about 85 teachers this year.

He said neither district would be financially able to support its own system right now because of budget issues.

In 1998 Southern Calhoun Schools had 694 students, and in October 2011 it had 499 students. Between 2000 and 2001 alone, the district lost 75 students.

In 1998 Rockwell City-Lytton schools had 612 students, and in October 2011 there were 467 students.

Kruse said the numbers might not seem drastic, but it’s what caused a lot of the each schools financial issues.

He said student numbers kept declining, so state aid was declining, but the past school boards didn’t want to cut any programs or classes.

Kruse said the two lines crossed, and each district has ended with negative budgets in the past five years.

He said Rockwell City-Lytton hit a budgetary crisis between three and five years ago, and Southern Calhoun began struggling the last two years.

In order for the consolidation to pass, the Feb. 5 vote has to pass by 50 percent plus one in each school district.

If the proposl failes in either district, the consolidation cannot proceed.

Kruse said no matter what happens, the districts will continue whole-grade sharing.

He said each district has successfully undertaken consolidation within the last 20 years. Rockwell City and Lytton consolidated and Lake City and Lohrville consolidated.

Kruse said there are currently no plans to build any new buildings in either district.

He said if a new building is built, that has to go before the voters as a bond issue and would take approval by at least 60 percent of the voters.

There will be a meeting discussing the consolidation at the Capri Theater in Lake City at 7 tonight. 712 464 7210