AURELIA - A group of 30-35 citizens gathered at the Aurelia school on Thursday evening to ask questions and share their concerns about the future of their school with a representative from the Iowa Department of Education.
Barb Bird spent Wednesday and Thursday at the Alta and Aurelia schools gathering information for a report on the feasibility of Alta and Aurelia sharing some programs. The study was requested by the schools because of a concern about seriously declining enrollment, especially in the elementary and middle schools at Aurelia.
There was a difference of opinion among the citizens regarding the possibility of sharing with Alta, with some members of the group urging that this happen as soon as possible, while others prefer sharing with the Cherokee district.
School Board members, who were at the meeting as observers, stressed that no decision regarding sharing has been made at this point, and that the Board is in a "fact-finding mode" only. Nelson also stated that the Board is not required to follow any recommendations from a Feasibility Report. The Board has met with both the Cherokee and Alta boards, and may meet with one or both again in the future. Board President Kirk Nelson stressed that the board members want to do what they believe will be best for the students, and this motivation was also expressed by the consensus of the visitors.
Bird said that her report should be finalized in about four weeks, and will be mailed to Nelson and Superintendent Tom Vint. She also encouraged those who are concerned about any of the three schools' results on standardized testing to check on the school web site, or on the Department of Education's web site.
It seemed to be a consensus of the group that something needs to be done regarding sharing. Audience member Joel Thevenin said that he had checked out a plat map of the rural area in which he lives, and that, by his count, there had been 95 school-age children living in the area when he and his family moved there in 1966, and that now that number was down to 10-15, with many of the farms which housed families in 1966 either empty or torn down.
The Feasibility Report should be available for the public to view in an estimated four weeks.