Byers trustees answer concerns during consolidation hearing

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By Matt Kelton
Pioneer Sentinel

Byers ISD trustees held a public hearing Thursday night in an effort to address any concerns with the local consolidation agreement drafted between Byers and Petrolia school districts.

The public hearing, held during a regular meeting of the school board, is required for both districts. Petrolia ISD has not yet posted a date for a hearing.

With a large crowd on hand, Byers trustees read through each stipulation included in the consolidation, answering questions as they arose.

Following the hearing, trustees set a consolidation election for May 12. Petrolia ISD has until March 5 to add the consolidation measure to its school board ballot. Voters in each district must approve the measure.

Trustees noted that the consolidation agreement does not guarantee a seat on the consolidated district’s school board because all seats on the Petrolia ISD board are elected at-large. But, said trustees, any member of the Byers community will be eligible to run for a position on the board as soon as the 2013 school election, the first held for the consolidated district.

Trustees addressed a concern from a BISD employee, stating that Petrolia has guaranteed interviews to all Byers employees if a position for which they are qualified becomes open.

The agreement states that Petrolia ISD will donate the Byers ISD facilities to the City of Byers, raising the question, “What if the city is unable to maintain it.”

Mike Kumor, representing the Byers City Council, said that if the city cannot keep the facilities, the school and grounds revert back to the consolidated district. The school district could then accept bids for the facilities.

“It’s a no-lose for the city,” said Kumor. If the city can not keep it up, it will go back to the district.”

It was also asked if, once the city takes over the school building, could the kitchen and facilities be maintained to be used for Reunions and other events?

“That’s what we’re going to shoot for,” said Kumor.

Byers ISD owes $190,000 on a school bond for roof and door repairs, which raised property tax questions.

Consolidation would not affect property taxes paid by the residents of either district. Byers ISD resident 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. Both add up to a combined rate of $1.25 per $100 in value.

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Pioneer Sentinel

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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