LOYAL, GREENWOOD SAY NO TO CONSOLIDATION
Wednesday, November 7th, 2007 -- 8:49 am
Posted by Riley Hebert-News Director
After years of discussion and study, the moment of truth for consolidation proved anticlimactic for the Loyal and Greenwood school districts Tuesday.
Voters in both districts turned back a binding referendum that would have had to the two rural Clark County schools merge in time for the next school year.
In the Greenwood district, the referendum failed 581 to 736, or 44% to 56%.
It was a bit more lopsided in the Loyal district where 378—or 38%--voted yes and 623 voted no.
Consolidation supporters said the school merger would save money and allow for more class offerings.
Opponents said there were too many unanswered questions and more room for cooperation before such a drastic step should be taken.
Loyal board president—and referendum supporter—Paul Gries was at the Clark County Courthouse Tuesday night. As the results came in at around 9 p.m., it became obvious the referendum would fail.
"There's no doubt I'm disappointed. I really felt it was time for a change. Both schools are losing pupils, and as you lose students you lose money from the state and as you lose money from the state you aren't able to offer as many things to the students so the students shy away and go to a different school," Gries said.
Gries said a lack of information, community pride and human nature for the defeat.
"It's always hard to change and we were offering a phenomenal change. There's pride in both communities and justifiably so."
"I don't know what it takes to make that big of a change," Gries concluded.
Greenwood board member Bob Rogstad had argued against consolidation. His mood was decidedly different.
"I think there were too many unknowns to make an informed decision and I think a lot of people realized that and voted against the consolidation because of that," Rogstad said.
Rostad was one of several Greenwood board members that felt they weren't given equal footing during the process.
"I think that's true. During a lot of the committee meetings we had, we wanted to pursue other options—co-oping—for whatever reason, we weren't allowed to do that," Rogstad noted. "I think, now, we're in a position where both districts can work together better than we have been."
With budget projections looking less than stellar, some may wonder when this issue will come up again.
"We've been looking at it for thirty years. Who knows," Gries said Tuesday night. "It was defeated well enough it's obvious people don't want to consolidate at this time."
"If things change completely as far as numbers go, or if more information goes out, or if there's a bigger grassroots organization to drive the change, then it's a possibility. But, not at this time."
The consolidation debate obviously touched a nerve in both districts as voter turnout was gaudy.
1,317 Greenwood district resident cast ballots. That is an amazing 88-percent of the number of registered voters in the district.
In Loyal, 1,001 voted. That's about 64-percent.
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