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Byers, Petrolia trustees work out details of consolidation

By Matt Kelton
Clay County Pioneer Sentinel

With enrollment dwindling at Byers ISD, school trustees from the fated district met with the Petrolia school board Thursday night to work out the details of a consolidation agreement.

As of Jan. 19, the student population at Byers numbered 48.

Cheryl Mehl, an attorney hired by both school districts as a mediator, presented trustees with a draft of the agreement. Mehl walked the boards through each provision, prompting a fluid discussion between trustees. Suggestions and changes discussed will be made in a final draft, and then presented to each school board for approval. Until that time, the agreement is not official and could change.

Trustees from each district have until March 5 to approve the agreement and call an election for consolidation. The issue will be placed as a proposition on the May 12 school ballot. The consolidation agreement must be made available to the public for inspection by April 16, 25 days before the election. Each school is also required to hold at least one public hearing.

The proposed agreement calls for all seats on the Petrolia School Board to remain at-large, with trustees from the school with the largest average daily attendance. Byers area residents will be qualified to seek election to the board in the consolidated district’s first election in May 2013.

Byers ISD faculty and staff will have an opportunity to interview for any positions that will need to be filled once the districts are consolidated.

Co-Valedictorian and co-salutatorian honors will be given to the senior classes of 2013 and 2014, one of each for students who attended Byers ISD as juniors or sophomores. Valedictorian and salutatorian for each school will be awarded following policies already in place at each school. During the discussion, Byers ISD requested a change stating a student must finish the school year at Byers to represent the district. The provision will affect four sophomores and two juniors enrolled at Byers.

The consolidated ISD will donate the Byers ISD facilities to the City of Byers. The donation may include furniture, certain fixtures, kitchen equipment and maintenance equipment. Petrolia ISD said that it would like to have the Byers school barn available for agriscience students who live in Byers and have livestock projects. Mehl told trustees that a request could be made, but that it could not be written into the contract. Petrolia ISD could choose to keep the barn, which would incur additional costs for surveys and utility fees.

According to state law, the city must use the facilities for public purposes, and maintain the historical integrity of the buildings and grounds. If the city chose to sell the facility, it would revert back to the school district.

The proposal states that Byers ISD would have sole authority to dispose of historical items, such as trophies and school memorabilia.

With the agreement, 4-year-olds from Byers not qualifying for free admittance into pre-K or Head Start classes would be accepted with tuition.

Trustees also discussed four provisions not yet included in the proposed agreement. The method for electing trustees to “at-large” seats will remain, as will Petrolia’s election schedule. Trustees also suggested the effective date of consolidation, and chose not to allow amendments to a consolidation agreement in fewer than five years following approval by voters.

Mehl will add the final provisions into the agreement. She expects to have it completed next week. The merged districts will be called Petrolia Consolidated Independent School District.


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The Pioneer Sentinel is an online newspaper designed to deliver the news of Clay County, Texas, in a concise and community-friendly format.

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