HASTINGS - The Malvern and Nishna Valley School Boards held a pair of public forums on Monday to discuss the two districts’ proposed reorganization which will be put to a public vote Dec. 7.
The two meetings, which ran consecutively Monday in Nishna Valley’s Library and East Mills High School’s Library, were arranged to provide an opportunity for the district’s patrons to ask questions, share thoughts and discuss the process of reorganization.
Pete Franks, a Nishna Valley board member, said the meeting was less a formal gathering of the board and district patrons than a conversation about what will happen following Tuesday’s vote.
“We’re not here to make decisions, the voters will do that Tuesday,” said Franks. “We just wanted to get together to discuss this process and answer questions.”
Polls will open in the two districts at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 8 p.m. Malvern School District voters will cast their ballots at the Malvern Public Library while Nishna Valley voters will vote at the Indian Creek Historical Museum.
Last spring, a reorganization committee comprised of appointees from both the Malvern and Nishna Valley boards, parents and district residents held several public forums to get public feedback on reorganization and to present the findings of a two-year study. The committee recommended the two districts pursue the reorganization process and obtained 659 signatures in support of the plan, which were submitted to the Green Hills Area Education Agency in August. All eight AEA regional board members present at the August hearing voted in favor of putting the East Mills-Nishna Valley reorganization to a public vote.
If the reorganization measure passes, the two districts will combine as the East Mills Community School District beginning in July of 2011. No building closings are planned as part of the plan, but one superintendent and one school board will serve the new district. The two districts have been working under a whole-grade sharing agreement since 2007 with each district maintaining its own school board and superintendent.
The new board would be comprised of two appointees from the current Nishna Valley board and three from the current Malvern board. By September, the board will begin its two-year election cycle with two board members each coming from the west side of the new district (the former Malvern School District) and the east side (the former Nishna Valley School District) and one at-large seat.
William Crilly, superintendent of the Nishna Valley School District, has said the new district could save as much as $400,000 in expenditures and tax breaks over the first three years of the reorganization.
For the reorganization to move forward, the ballot question must receive a simple majority in both districts in Tuesday’s special election.