By RICK HAYES email@example.com
---- — MT. VERNON — Dodds Grade School’s Board of Education has now turned its attention to consolidating with the Ina Grade School.
School officials had intended to dissolve the district and annex into the Ina district, but district officials learned recently through that process other districts could appeal the annexation through the court system.
“That’s something we did not want to put our district through,” said Dodds Superintendent Craig Clark.
As a result, the Board took no formal action at its regular meeting Tuesday night. However, a recommendation was made to meet with the Ina Grade School Board of Education to consider consolidation. The Ina Board will meet on Tuesday and consider the request.
“If they reciprocate, both boards will take action at its March meetings,” said Rodney Martin, president of the Dodds School Board.
If the districts consolidate, the earliest the arrangement would be implemented is the 2015-2016 school year, according to Clark. The consolidation will have to be approved through a voter referendum which could possibly be placed on the ballot during the November 2014 general election.
Dodds officials apparently are not interested in consolidating with the OBR district, either by themselves or with the Ina District. In April, a referendum was on the ballot that would’ve consolidated the three districts, however, it failed in the OBR area by eight votes. It needed to pass in all three districts.Debbie Blakey, superintendent of the OBR district, wanted to “encourage” the Dodds district to consider another run at consolidating the three district.
“I would like to see the three schools once again try for consolidation. The reason for that is I have a strong commitment to building a new school. I would like for the three schools together to be a part of that,” she said. Blakey added she has in mind a new school site for the districts “just up the road, and the next site would be about a mile from that.”
Clark said if the Dodds district consolidates with the Ina district, the state would still provide financial incentives, although the formulas would change based on staff, tax rates, etc.
At least for next school year, Dodds Grade School will continue to operate as a separate district, and Clark confirmed the district is financially stable enough to get through the year, despite an 11 percent state aid formula reduction.