CLEARFIELD — Clearfield Community School District’s dissolution seems to be moving ahead, and a hearing date has been set.
Clearfield School Board listened to the dissolution proposal given by Doug England, dissolution commission chairman, and voted to set a public hearing for the dissolution of the school district for July 15, and keep the regular board meeting for the following day, July 16, when members will vote on passing the proposed dissolution plan.
“The hearing itself, July 15’s the date we’ve been talking about for quite a while, and I don’t see any reason why that needs to change,” said Joe Drake, shared superintendent of Bedford, Clearfield and Mount Ayr. “I think that fits in with the dates that we needed to have in order to publicize and have it out before the September election.”
The hearing is set for 6 p.m. July 15, in Room 202 at Clearfield Community School. At the hearing, the board will present the dissolution proposal, and have a map of where the new district lines will be. They will then listen to what the community has to say about the proposal.
“Normally, after you hear from the public, you would go in and make a decision about what you’re going to do, and the suggestion here I think it wait a day or so,” said Drake.
Members of the school board will vote after the hearing to either adopt, or amend and adopt the dissolution proposal. They will then vote on the proposal the following night, July 16, during the regularly scheduled meeting.
“As far as our final plan that we’ve come up with, what we’re putting in the paper is how everything is divided, every section is divided, and what district kids go to,” said England.
The hearing must be scheduled between 40 and 60 days before the September election. The hearing, however, cannot be scheduled earlier.
The election is set for September 10, when voters will decide the fate of Clearfield District and its assets. The approved vote must be 51 percent to pass, and if so, 2013-14 will be the final Clearfield CSD school year.
If the vote does not reach 51 percent, the process will start over.
The vote to dissolve Clearfield District came during the March 19 board meeting, when it became clear the district had the choice to either do nothing, known as involuntary dissolution, which means the state of Iowa would take control, or maintain control and pursue voluntary dissolution.
“I guess I would compliment the commission, the members of the commission that were on there,” England said. “It wasn’t always a happy time, it was kind of a tough decision to make, but everyone worked very hard on it, and I appreciated that.”
The dissolution was based on the fact the district could not afford to stay afloat because of a drop in enrollment. There were 20 students enrolled in Clearfield’s kindergarten through sixth-grade during the 2012-13 school year.
Sections of the school district will be split between Bedford, Diagonal, Mount Ayr and Lenox school districts. Parts of each township and county Clearfield students live in are separated into districts based on where the students live.
Because of the low enrollment, Clearfield District wasn’t able to get enough money from the state.
Iowa schools receive money from the state through different funds based on enrollment. One main source of money is allowable growth, which increases each year and is used toward things like heat and supplies.
“Iowa schools are told, basically, based on the number of students they have in the building, how much (money) they have the authority to spend,” said Drake in a previous CNA interview. “And, because our enrollment has declined so much over the years, and we have so few students, we don’t have enough students in the building to generate enough money to pay everyone that needs to be paid.”
Any money a school receives and does not spend goes into budget authority, which gives the school authority to spend it, depending on stipulations put on it by the state.
Clearfield District is estimated to receive allowable growth and miscellaneous money, totalling $911,596. With the unspent budget authority, the maximum amount of money the district can spend for the 2013-14 school year is estimated at $1,047,960.
It is predicted the district’s expenditures will be $1,250,000, which is $202,040 more than it can afford.
One of the ways to decrease costs would be to eliminate teaching positions, which would decrease teaching quality for the 2013-14 school year, something Drake said he is not willing to do.