July 30, 2014

Merger of Clarion-Goldifeld and Dows school district vote is Tuesday

Voters in two north-central Iowa school districts will decide Tuesday on consolidation. Bob Olson is superintendent of the Clarion-Goldfield and Dows districts in Wright County. He says the issue has gotten much discussion in recent months as funding to small schools has been whittled away through what’s called a “scale down.”

“Because of that and because of declining enrollment, it’s gotten to the point where running the program in Dows is more expensive than the revenue we were taking in,” Olson says. “In a matter of time, we would find ourselves with no money.” He says it’s vital that the issue be dealt with — and now.

“The state has incentive money that’s set up to sunset this year, so if we didn’t put the election in place this year, we would lose around a quarter-of-a-million dollars for three years,” he says. If voters approve the consolidation, students who are attending classes in Dows will begin attending the Clarion-Goldfield elementary school in Clarion next fall. The Dows school building was built 100 years ago.

Olson says the residents of Dows will find other options to put the building to use. He remains hopeful that people favor consolidation.

“The response that I’ve been hearing has been positive,” Olson says. “We’re a little concerned that people think it’s just going to happen. The biggest fear we have as a district is voter apathy, that folks just won’t show up at the polls because they don’t think it’s much of an issue.”

The measure needs a 50-percent majority for the vote to pass next week.

(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)