Approval of the voters is all that stands in the way of a local consolidation agreement between Petrolia and Byers School Districts after Monday night’s PISD school board meeting.
The purpose of the meeting was to accept comments from the public concerning consolidation. Twelve residents of the Petrolia School District attended, said Theresa Harrison, business manager for PISD, speaking on behalf of Superintendent Derrith Welch. Harrison said the meeting went well with no problems and no “sparks.”
“We’re just looking forward to the election,” said Harrison. “We were pleased with the turnout.”
Of the few questions asked by community members, most centered on debt owed by Byers ISD. The district owes $190,000 on a school bond for roof and door repairs.
Residents of both Byers and Petrolia school districts pay a debt service tax rate, though the amounts differ, but the differences in property taxes between the two districts will offset each other. 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.
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.
Harrison said that once the matter was clarified, everyone in attendance seemed pleased.
The public hearing was one step in the consolidation process. Each district is required to hold a hearing. Byers ISD held a similar forum Feb. 16.
The districts are also required to make the consolidation agreement available to the public by April 16, 25 days before the election. Both district have already done so.
The election for consolidation is scheduled for May 12.