WC, NEH reorganization approved

PLAEA?board unanimously votes in favor

—Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Teresa Wood Prairie Lakes AEA held a public hearing on the proposed reorganization of the Webster City and Northeast Hamilton school districts on Wednesday night in the NEH Media Center. Fifteen people, including school board members and administrators, attended the meeting. The AEA Board approved the petition that was filed by both districts in November. Patrons of both districts will vote on the measure in April.

The Prairie Lakes Board of Directors unanimously approved the reorganization plan proposed by the Webster City and Northeast Hamilton school districts at a public hearing Wednesday night in Blairsburg.

Rich Engel, PLAEA Attorney, chaired the meeting that was attended by District 7 Board Director Todd Lundgren. Board directors Pat Brown of District 1, Board Vice President Sue Brown of District 2 and President Gary Astor of District 6 appeared via video-conference.

Engel noted that each district submitted its petition with an ample number of signatures in order to qualify for consideration. NEH submitted a petition with 267 signatures, which was 67 more than the 20 percent of registered district voters needed. Webster City also exceeded the population percentage threshold with 653 signatures.

During the remarks by the petitioners, NEH’s legal counsel Danielle Haindfield of Ahlers and Cooney of Des Moines, noted that the two districts have a history of cooperative agreements including partial day sharing in 2012 and whole grade sharing in 2014.

“This has been a transparent process with both communities involved,” said Haindfield.

Mike Sherwood, superintendent for both the Webster City and NEH school districts, agreed with Haindfield and noted that in addition to class sharing, the two districts have also shared personnel.

Without any objections, Director Engel asked the AEA Board to vote on the petition with a clarification. Earlier in the meeting, he had noted that a land parcel in Wright County in Wall Lake Township was identified as “17.5 acres”. He asked that the land be identified for future reference as “East 17.5 acres”.

In summarizing the petition, Engel reported that the district would be called the Webster City Community School District with a Learning Center at Northeast Hamilton, that all general obligation indebtedness will stay with each district, that director districts for the board will be drawn after the petition vote and that each district is represented by at least one board member.

On a roll call vote, all directors approved of the petition.

Webster City and Northeast Hamilton had submitted their individual petitions for reorganization in early November. The PLAEA’s ruling allows the districts to put the measure before the public for a vote on Tuesday, April 3, 2018. Each district must pass the plan by a simple majority. If approved by voters, the reorganization will take effect July 1, 2019.

The meeting adjourned at 8:02 p.m.