Published On: Thu, May 30th, 2013

Community meetings to be hosted by LCC Boards

COLERIDGE—  Area residents will get a chance this week  to ask more questions about the proposed reorganization of the Laurel-Concord and Coleridge School districts.

Two public meetings will be held on Thursday, May 30. The first meeting is slated for 6 p.m. in Laurel, while the second meeting is being held in Coleridge at 8 p.m.

Board members from the two districts have been working together in an inter-local agreement for sharing for close to 11 years, now.

The arrangement began as a response to dwindling rural population. It has since become a practical way to help balance the budget in both districts.

In an effort to further work together, Laurel-Concord and Coleridge Schools have been holding their board meetings simultaneously since last fall.

Supt. Randy Klooz had asked board members to hold their meetings simultaneously in order to address the need for better communication between the members of the two school boards.

At a board meeting over the winter, Klooz asked board members to consider consolidating the two districts into one school district.

“Our simultaneous meetings have worked out well,” Klooz said at that meeting. “I would like to keep the structure functioning the way it is but transition toward becoming one district.”

Klooz asked board members to start gathering input from the patrons in the community.

The first community meetings were held in February.

Patrons are welcome to attend either meeting, Klooz said.

“Whether people disagree or agree with the proposed plan we want them to come to community meetings. It is very important that we hear all the comments. As we go through the discussions we will find out what people want to do,” Klooz said. “We want the communities to help in this process.”

The proposed reorganization plan will then be brought before the Laurel-Concord and the Coleridge board members.

If an agreement is reached, a petition will be signed by both boards and forwarded to the State for approval.

Klooz had said earlier this year that he would like to have a decision made as early as June or July.

“I would prefer to have the petition signed by June or July, if not, then by September, 2013,” he had said. “I understand why everyone is very cautious about this.”

The proposed reorganization plan calls for a new LCC nine-member board which would start out with five members from the Laurel-Concord District and four from the Coleridge District.

A plan could include putting three Coleridge board members on with four-year terms. “This would allow for stability,” Klooz said.

The board members could make the decision as to who will stay on and who will go off the board in order to get the number down from a total of 12 school board members to nine.

At election time members of the new LCC school board would then be chosen at large.

The proposed plan also addresses the high school/elementary school that is located in Laurel and the middle school in Coleridge.

The proposal calls for the attendance centers to stay open for at least three years.

During the first three years it would take a super majority — seven out of nine board members — to close one of the schools. After three years it would take a simple majority.

“We trust the school board at that time would look at all aspects and do what they think is best for the students and the district,” Klooz said.

Laurel School Board President John Wolfgram believes people will be in favor of the proposal to consolidate.

“The message I have seen is not should we do it, but how do we go about doing it,” Wolfgram said.

Once the petition to consolidate is signed and forwarded to the State it would be almost impossible to reverse the decision, according to Coleridge board member Brian Holcomb.