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Monday, May 2, 2016

Aurelia Board votes to pursue sharing with Alta

Monday, November 2, 2009

Aurelia administration and Board members are shown prior to the imporatnt Board meeting on Thursday. Photo by Dan Whitney
AURELIA - The special meeting of the Aurelia School Board Thursday night was very well-attended by an interested public.

Meeting in the school gym, Superintendent Lynn Evans started the meeting by stating the purpose of the meeting, which was for the Board to decide which direction they would pursue in seeking a sharing agreement with either the Alta or Cherokee School District.

Evans stated that a decision would be made that evening because it was "not fair to anyone to continue to go back and forth" between the two districts. He also stressed that there would not be an agreement signed that night. The decision would just be the next step in the process.

Aurelia Superintendent Lynn Evans outlines the purpose of Thursday night's School Board meeting. Photo by Dan Whitney
Evans then presented a brief Power Point presentation on the School Board's duties and responsibilities, as outlined by the Iowa Association of School Boards.

Evans praised past and current Aurelia Board members on the commitment and due diligence they have shown in tackling the sharing decision. He also said that though teamwork is involved in the process, "teamwork doesn't always mean unanimous votes." He also said that he had confidence that when the vote was taken, dissenting Board members would put their feelings aside and go along with the Board decision. He commended the Board on its work, and the large crowd expressed their agreement with this statement by applauding. Superintendent Evans also asked the public to respect the Board's decision, whatever it was.

Board member Colby Entriken challenged the parents who were in the audience to talk to their students about the great passion they have expressed at recent meetings concerning the sharing, and share that passion with their children. He also challenged the kids to take that passion and apply it to their schoolwork and everything else they do in life.

Large turnout - A large crowd of concerned citizens was present in the Aurelia gym on Thursday to hear the results of the Aurelia School Board vote on pursuing a sharing agreement with another school district. Photo by Dan Whitney
Patrons were then invited to make brief comments. There were several people who supported sharing with Cherokee, as well as several people who supported the Alta sharing proposal, and both presented the reasons behind their thinking.

Board member Brad Rohwer said that he had several people ask him what the recommendations of the Aurelia administrators had been regarding sharing. Superintendent Evans addressed the issue with the audience, saying he has purposely not made any public comments up to now because it is a Board decision and he didn't want to sway them one way or the other. He did say that he had changed his own mind over the past year and in the end, said Evans, the main question he feels the Board needs to address is "Do you want 150 students in the Aurelia building or 300?"

Principal Ann Sandine and Evans both said that the Aurelia Board is faced with the dilemma of choosing between two excellent opportunities - something which has not often been the case with other schools in Aurelia's situation. That said, Sandine said that her personal feeling was that sharing with Alta would give Aurelia a much stronger Middle School. Both Evans and Sandine favored a two-way sharing agreement with Alta.

With that, Board members were asked to vote on the proposal, moved by Board Member Rohwer and seconded by Board member Jen Kaskey , that the Aurelia Board of Education pursue a whole-grade sharing arrangement with the Alta School District.

Board members Rohwer, Kaskey and Board President Dan Winterhof then voted "yes" on the motion and Board members Colby Entriken and Paul Pingel voted "No," meaning the motion passed by a 3 - 2 majority vote.

Board President Winterhof then concluded the meeting by thanking community members for their enthusiasm, passion and support. He said that while "it's okay to agree to disagree," he feels that it is now time to move on to the next step. The vote taken on Thursday night does not mean that any deal has been made or signed yet. The two boards will next need to hammer out a final sharing agreement which is acceptable to both districts, and that may take a little time.

The Aurelia School Board voted 3-2 to pursue a sharing agreement with the Alta School District Thursday night. From the left, Principal Ann Sandine, Board member Colby Entriken, Board member Brad Rohwer, Superintendent Lynn Evans, Board President Dan Winterhof, Board member Paul Pingel, Board member Jen Kaskey, and Board Secretary/Financial Manager Vicki Kolpin. Photo by Dan Whitney
The meeting was adjourned just 45 minutes after it began.

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