Tuesday, November 6, 2012

ROCKWELL CITY — Voters will decide on Feb. 5 whether the Southern Calhoun and Rockwell City-Lytton school districts will merge, a regional education agency decoded on Monday.

The Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency’s nine-member board voted unanimously to approve the districts’ petition for consolidation.

Derrick Franck, the school’s attorney from Denison, represented the districts at Monday’s meeting and gave board members a rundown of reasons for the consolidation:

— Frank said the school is in its second year of whole-grade sharing and in its third year of sharing all sports.

— The schools have been sharing wrestling and cross-country programs for 10 years.

— The districts also share a superintendent, staff members, a transportation director and a grounds keeper.

— The two school boards have been holding joint sessions for three years.

Frank said the combined population of the districts is 6,276, and 50.86 percent reside in Southern Calhoun and 49.14 percent reside in the Rockwell City and Lytton areas. The combined enrollment is about 940 students, which would make the combined district the 12th-largest in the 45 school districts the agency covers.

He said the districts have been able to maintain small class sizes despite the whole-grade sharing, with every class at fewer than 24 students.

The school currently has a high school in Lake City, a middle school in Rockwell City and an elementary school in Rockwell City.

The district has auctioned some equipment from the old elementary school in Lohrville but has not decided what to do with the building itself.

If voters approve the consolidation in February, the newly formed district will create a seven-member school board to govern the district, Frank said. Because the population is roughly equal in the current districts, each district would choose three candidates for the board, and the seventh member would have to be unanimously agreed upon by all six elected candidates.

No one at the meeting spoke against the petition.