LeRoy-Ostrander School Board Votes Against Merger With Southland

September 21, 2017 05:27 PM

(ABC 6 News) - There was an unexpected vote at a special board meeting about two school districts consolidating.

Wednesday, the Southland and LeRoy-Ostrander schools were only supposed to discuss the idea, but after awhile one school board had heard enough to make a decision whether or not to move forward.


"The decline in enrollment led to our deficit spending," Southland School Board Chair Michelle Nelsen said.

The Southland School Board knew this would become a financial issue well over a year ago.

"We still have the same expenses and those expenses don't go away," Nelsen said. "For this current 2017-2018 school cycle, we had approved a deficit spending of $150,000."

In June, a bond referendum to help balance the budget went to a vote, but it did not pass, which lead the district to another idea.

"One of the options that became known as part of our community meetings in that initial bond process was if we'd ever considered consolidation with another school district," Nelsen said.

So, Southland reached out to other districts in the area and only heard back from one.

"LeRoy-Ostrander was one of the only districts who responded," said Supt. Jeff Sampson, who oversees both LeRoy-Ostrander and Southland School Districts.

Wednesday night, the two districts held a special board meeting to talk about possibly merging.

“I think it's going to be difficult to get a lot of support,” one LeRoy-Ostrander board member said.

After realizing there would be no financial benefit and few benefits for the students, Leroy-Ostrander's School Board decided not to consolidate.

"I think this was worth-while I think it was good conversation,” LeRoy-Ostrander School Board Chair Britt Wehrenberg said. “I would feel differently if it were reversed; if there different opportunities for kids, but I don't think we've proven that tonight.”

Southland continues to explore other options. 

"There has been discussion of Rose Creek and the closing of that building along with cuts with the operation budget that goes along with that," Sampson said.  

The Southland School Board said they're looking deeper into the problem. They're also considering going to voters with another bond request.


Elise Romas

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