Courtesy of the 2/17/16 edition of Ida County Courier (www.idacountrycourier.com).
Soup on Sunday is a special time of gathering for all members of the Odebolt community. The congregations of St. Martin’s Catholic, First Presbyterian, Trinity Lutheran, Faith Lutheran and Odebolt United Methodist churches sponsor the event. Soup, veggies, cheese, crackers and bars are served from 4:30 to 6 p.m.
O-A/BC-IG Boards Okay School Reorganization Petition Language
by DEB LOGER
The O-A/BC-IG School Boards reached a compromise for reorganization petition language during their Feb. 8 joint meeting in Ida Grove after more than two hours of discussion.
The boards approved reorganization petition language for option three — six single-member director districts and one at-large position with all patrons voting for all options and authorized the board secretary to engage the school district legal counsel to prepare the final draft of the approved petition. BC-IG passed the motion with six yes votes (board member Crystal Endrulat was absent). O-A passed it with four ayes and a nay from Pat Hoefling.
During the meeting, the board members discussed the different methods of selecting the new board that would represent a reorganized district and the language to include in paragraph four in the petition document.
It’s important to keep in mind that, when director districts are used, they must be based on a relatively equal proportion of the entire district, using the most recent census numbers of 2010. The census numbers would indicate that there were 5,911 residents in the combined districts, with O-A having 2,006 residents and BC-IG having 3,905 residents. At-large directors would represent the entire district, and the only stipulation is that they live in the school district.
The discussion focused on the following options (it would be a seven-member board, and all directors would be elected by all district voters):
Selecting all directors as representatives with four director districts in the following manner: one multi-member (two directors) that would represent the Odebolt area, one single-director member district that would represent the Arthur area, one multi-member district (three directors) that would represent the Ida Grove area and one single-director member that would represent the Battle Creek area. During the narrowing-down process, this option was the preferred method of selecting directors by seven of the board members present, six from BC-IG and one from O-A.
Selecting all directors as representatives of seven single-member director districts. (This option was not preferred by any members).
Selecting six directors as representatives of six single-member director districts that would be created and matched to equally represent the 2010 census numbers across the district and one director selected as an at-large representative. (As the board members worked through the narrowing-down process and continued their discussions, they were asked to pick an option as their second or alternative choice to their first choice. Eight of the 11 members present (six from BC-IG and two from O-A) selected this option as their second or alternative option, if they weren’t able to successfully select their preferred option.)
Selecting five directors as representatives of two multi-member director districts with two directors elected as at-large representatives in the following manner: one multi-member district (two members) that would represent the area of the current O-A district adjusted to match the 2010 census numbers, one multi-member district (three directors) that would represent the current BC-IG district adjusted to match the 2010 census numbers and two at-large directors.
(Option four was not a preferred option of any of the board members; however, when asked to select a second option in case their preferred option was not selected during the narrowing-down process, Pat Hoefling, Joey Hoefling and Stacy Raasch chose this option.)
Selecting four directors as representatives of four single-member director districts with three directors selected as at-large representatives in the following manner: four single-member director districts would be created across the district, and three directors would be selected as at-large representatives.
(During the discussion and narrowing-down process, this option was preferred by the Hoeflings and Raasch.)
The final vote followed the informal votes and urging from Superintendent Terry Kenealy to vote on a compromise before the meeting adjourned.
During the discussions, O-A board member Brad Lundell asked his three fellow board members at least twice what the advantage of option four or five (that have no equal representation) was versus option one or three and was met with silence each time.
Kenealy opened the discussion with information on the 2011 reorganization petition language options. He noted the committee back then supported a seven-member board with two at-large seats.
Kenealy told board members, “You have a different scenario here than other districts I’ve been at. Both districts are fiscally and academically strong. There is no shotgun to your head; you have been discussing reorganization to become stronger.
“You need to think about what’s a fair way to represent the two schools. Once you become reorganized, you are one district pulling together to do what’s best for the kids. It shouldn’t matter where you come from; what matters is that you are willing to serve to provide the best education for the kids.”
“My main concern is that Arthur and Battle Creek are represented. The five/two plan doesn’t give them that. I don’t like at-large seats. The only guarantee is to set up districts for them,” said BC-IG board member Tony Bennett.
Lundell said, “I agree with Tony. We need to determine what plan is the most fair and that covers every geographic area.”
Raasch asked what BC-IG’s plan was if reorganization failed. Bennett replied, it depended on the vote.“After eight years, if it’s close, we need to work on it; if it’s 70/30, then, to me, that’s a no vote for being together.”
Raasch countered that Denison-Schleswig have been whole grade sharing for many years, and Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto shared 18 years before they approved reorganization. She said, “I think whole grade sharing is working, and I don’t think a no vote means we don’t want to work together. If you come to me and say, if it doesn’t pass, we’re leaving, that’s a threat. We need to work together.”
BC-IG board members commented they’d never discussed what would happen if the reorganization vote failed.
Kenealy said, “If it fails, as boards, we have to determine why did it fail and what do we do next? Both districts are fiscally and academically sound, but we have to factor in tight state revenues and enrollment fluctuations.”
Raasch said some O-A patrons had commented to her that BC-IG only wants O-A for its money to fix up the high school.
“We want to invest in O-A. Our kids are there, and to say we don’t want to invest in the Odebolt building is degrading,” said Bennett.
Budget hearing dates were set as follows: O-A on April 4 at 6:30 p.m. at Odebolt and BC-IG on April 11 at 6 p.m. in Ida Grove.
Read the summary for the February 8, 2016 school board minutes here.