The State Board of Education approved a recommendation this week to reaccredit the Exira School District in southwest Iowa’s Audubon County. Department of Education deputy director, Jeff Berger, recommended the board take the action in the wake of work that has been ongoing with the district.
“The Exira district had struggled for years with some financial problems, and it got to the point where the school budget review committee recommended that the state board considering doing a phase two accreditation visit. Because in our view of it, the financial problems were right on the verge of causing programmatic issues because of lack of funding,” Berger explains.
The state did the review and presented a plan to Exira officials. He says they developed a plan with some 38 corrections the district needed to take, and he says the district has done its “due diligence” and made the corrections that were necessary. Berger says voters in Exira and Elk Horn-Kimbalton voted in June to approve a merger between the two districts, and that will help solve some of the short term problems for Exira.
“Part of the process of consolidation brings the fiancees together, they merge tax rates, they merge fund balances, and so it will help them,” Berger explains. “The problem that they will have in five or six years is that the merged district may be right back in this same situation. Because like many small districts, they aren’t growing like they should be.”
The two districts will merge after this school year.