In a unanimous decision Thursday night, the Petrolia ISD school board approved an agreement of consolidation with Byers Schools. BISD trustees approved the same agreement in a meeting Tuesday.
The next step is to take the issue of consolidation before the voters. Each district must call an election for consolidation by March 5. The item will be placed on the May 12 school ballots. If approved by voters, consolidation of the schools would become effective July 1.
By state law, the agreement of consolidation must be posted for review by the public by April 16, 25 days before the election. Each district also is required to hold at least one public hearing.
Petrolia board members read aloud the final agreement before casting a vote.
The two school boards met last week in a joint session to work out the details of the agreement. During the Jan. 26 meeting, Attorney Cheryl Mehl, hired to serve as an intermediary between the districts, provided a rough draft of the agreement, of which trustees discussed each provision.
Thursday, Petrolia trustees held brief discussion concerning three provisions.
Byers ISD requested co-valedictorian and co-salutatorian in the first two years of consolidation, with one of each from the Byers School District. Petrolia Supt. Derrith Welch said Mehl was not certain the state would provide scholarships to the co-valedictorian unless he ranked at the top of his class. But, Petrolia has had co-valedictorians in the last, and that had not been a problem.
A difference in tax rates among the schools also drew the attention of trustees. Both districts have a combined tax rate of $1.25 per $100 valuation, but each rate is structured differently. Byers ISD residents pay $1.17 per $100 in value in maintenance and operations and 8 cents in interest and sinking, the amount paid toward debt, while Petrolia ISD residents pay $1.04 in maintenance and operations and 21 cents in interest and sinking.
Trustees questioned a provision that would guarantee acceptance, with tuition, to any 4-year-old from Byers to Head Start or pre-Kindergarten as long as they meet requirements. Petrolia ISD has a cap on the number of tuition students accepted, with six on the waiting list.
Welch said the number is capped due to limited space, but with the addition of the Byers students, it would be feasible to hire another teacher and have a second Head Start or pre-K class.
Based on data provided by Byers ISD, consolidation of the two schools would benefit Petrolia ISD by $514,600. The district would see an increase of $464,000 to its maintenance and operations revenue from local and state sources, and increase of $12,600 in interest and sinking funds. The district would receive a consolidation incentive from the state in the amount of $38,000 per year for a period of 10 years.