Mt. Vernon Register-News

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April 10, 2013

Consolidation issue fails

MT. VERNON — School consolidation will not take place in Jefferson County in the immediate future.A referendum on Tuesday's ballot that would've merged the Opdyke-Belle Rive, Dodds and Ina school districts failed. The referendum needed to pass by a majority vote in all three districts. It passed in Dodds and Ina school districts, but failed in the OBR district. The referendum failed by17 votes in the OBR district, with 217 'no' votes to 209 'yes' votes. A 'yes' vote was in favor of the referendum. The referendum passed in Ina by a 175-97 margin, and in Dodds by a 208 to 67 vote."We appreciate everyone who voted, regardless of how they voted," said John Ashby, OBR interim superintendent. "We're disappointed that it didn't pass, but we would still like to thank the Committee of Ten and the Boards of Education for all they put into it."Ashby said school boards in each of the districts will now consider their future options."The board will now take a look at their options, try to proceed forward. As always, we'll make decisions for the best interests of the children," he said.The Opdyke-Belle Rive district has already passed a referendum for new school constructions with the state promising 75 percent funding from the Capital Development Board. However, the district is still awaiting funds from the state."The referendum on Tuesday does not affect that at all," Ashby said. "We're still on the 2004 list. The new district, had it been formed, could have taken our place on the list but Opdyke will still maintain its place on the 2004 CDB list."OBR officials has projected the new building could hold approximately 310 pupils. The new district had a projected enrollment of 425 pupils.A referendum that would've raised the tax levy 99 cents in McClellan School District also failed. There were 140 'no' votes to 76 'yes' votes."I would like to thank everybody who lives in McClellan School District for their efforts and making it to the polls to support the school. It shows there are people in the community want to see McClellan School open and provide the students with a great education. Those efforts are very much appreciated," said Superintendent Charlie Peterson."We are doing everything we can to make up for the funds the state is not funding. We do need to have another source of income to operate the district. Hopefully with the new housing units that are supposed to be built in the district we will have an increase in the enrollment which will mean more funding from the state. But we will still need an alternate source of income to allow us to operate until those students are actually enrolled at McClellan School," he added.Peterson said school officials plan on speaking to community members to see what the issues were that prevented them from voting 'yes' on the referendum. "I know no one wants to pay more taxes after some of the things that have happened with tax increases the last couple of years, but people need to realize that if McClellan School closes and kids are sent to neighboring districts, people are still going to have to pay higher taxes because all of the surrounding districts have a higher rate," Peterson said.

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