‘Financial trouble is ahead’ for both districts
East Coloma, Nelson districts better off as one, consultant says
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ROCK FALLS – A voluntary dissolution would be East Coloma and Nelson school districts’ easiest and least expensive way to reorganize, because no referendum would be needed, a consultant said Thursday.
Still, Bob Rogers is recommending consolidation, because that option would give the Nelson board more input into the formation of the new district, he told both boards at a joint meeting Thursday.
With about 30 students, Nelson is the smallest district in the state. Both boards agreed to hire Rogers to study the feasibility of a merger; Thursday he presented his findings.
To consolidate, the boards would have to form a committee of 10, with members from each board. The committee would decide how the new school board would be elected and set the new district’s tax rate.
Both districts will likely have to reorganize quickly to stay afloat, Rogers said.
“Financial trouble is ahead for both districts if the state’s finances don’t improve.”
Nelson relies less than East Coloma on state funding, which would benefit from a new district, East Coloma Superintendent Kevin Andersen said. Only 11.6 percent of Nelson’s funds come from the state; East Coloma receives 32.9 percent.
Nelson’s funding is 80.3 percent while East Coloma’s is 51.7 percent local.
Nelson’s current tax rate of $2.86 per $100 of a home’s equalized assessed valuation would rise slightly, to $2.87, if East Coloma were to annex the school, Rogers said. East Coloma’s tax rate of $3.2798 would remain the same, he said.
A newly reorganized district would receive up to $1,296,052 in state incentives over 4 years, he said. Of that, $694,152 would be to make up for the dip in general state aid that the new district would face, Rogers said.
The state also would pay $276,000 so certified staff won’t see a salary dip and $325,900 so no full-time teachers have to receive less pay.
Nelson’s teachers easily could be added to East Coloma’s staff, he said.
Nelson’s students would benefit from attending classes, where they would have the single-grade classrooms they don’t have now. They would also have more age-appropriate academic activities and enough classmates so that they could play basketball and other games at recess, he said.
If Nelson’s board agrees to reorganize, the districts could hold public hearings in late August or September, Andersen said.
Nelson’s board could have a special meeting by July 25 to discuss the issue, said its superintendent, Gregory Lutyens.
Andersen hopes to post Roger’s presentation on East Coloma’s website, www.ecoloma.net, soon. His office is at 1602 Dixon Road.
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