Mt. Vernon Register-News

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February 27, 2014

Schools to offer referendum

MT. VERNON — Consolidation of the Ina and Dodds grade school districts appears to be headed to the ballot box in November.

Ina Grade School District 8 has considered a proposal made by the Dodds district to consolidate the districts. The Dodds district will meet at 6:30 p.m. March 18 to consider the proposal; the Ina district will also consider the proposal at its March meeting.

“They will vote for consolidation in November and then there will be a board election in April,” said Dodds Grade School Superintendent Craig Clark. If the referendum is successful, the new district could begin operations by July 1, 2015.

At least for next school year, Dodds Grade School will continue to operate as a separate district. Clark has confirmed through a series of public meetings the district is financially stable enough to get through the next school year, despite an 11 percent state aid formula reduction.

Dodds School officials had intended to dissolve the district and annex into the Ina district but Dodds officials learned in February that 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,” Clark said at the Feb. 11 board meeting.

A referendum that would’ve consolidated the Dodds, Ina and Opdyke Belle Rive districts failed in the OBR district. It had to pass by a simple majority in all three districts.

At the February meeting, OBR Superintendent Debbie Blakey urged the Dodds district to reconsider consolidation for the three districts.

“I would like to see the three schools once again try for consolidation,” Blakey said. “The reason for that is I have a strong commitment to building a new school.”

The Dodds board had no comment on Blakey’s request in the open meeting, although a motion was made to work with Ina officials in bringing together the proposed joint consolidation through a voter-approved referendum.

Monte Jo Clark, Ina Grade School superintendent, was not available for comment.

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