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Ask Mr. (School) Answer Person: "What, exactly, are people voting on in the February 6th special election about the consolidation of the Decorah and North Winn school districts?"

Posted: Thu, Jan 11, 2018 4:28 PM

Mr. Answer Person says: In short, the vote is to determine whether voters in the North Winneshiek and Decorah Community School Districts wish to reorganize into one district. The ballot also defines the establishment of "an interim school board" for the transition time before the effective date of reorganization, July 1, 2019. It also defines the board constituency for the newly formed district.

It takes a simple majority of those voting in each district to pass the measure.  However, it is a separate vote in each district, so there must be a majority vote in each.

If the measure doesn't pass, then the two districts would need to determine if they should make another attempt at a vote, or look at possible dissolution at North Winneshiek. Dissolution could happen either voluntarily, or involuntarily via the Iowa Department of Education. (Generally, it is assumed that reorganization by voting  provides more control and incentives to the dissolving district than what might happen during an involuntary district dissolution.)

Here is the ballot language:

"Shall the Decorah Community School District, located in Winneshiek and Allamakee Counties, State of Iowa, and the North Winneshiek Community School District, located in Winneshiek County, State of Iowa, be reorganized into a new school district and school corporation to be known as the Decorah Community School District, pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 275,

Code of Iowa, and effective July 1, 2019, to include all of the current territory of both districts as legally described in the Keystone Area Education Agency Board of Director's Ruling and Order published in the Decorah Journal, Decorah, Iowa on October 19, 2017, and with an initial Board of five (5) directors appointed from existing Boards pursuant to Section 275.41,

Code of Iowa (the alternative method of carryover appointments), with four (4) directors initially appointed from the Decorah Community School District Board of Directors and one (1) director initially appointed from the North Winneshiek Community School District Board of Directors, and a regular Board of five (5) directors elected thereafter pursuant to Section 275.12(2)(c), Code of Iowa, with the election of not more than one-half of the total number of school directors (which in this case shall be 2 school directors) at large from the entire District and the remaining directors (which in this case shall be 3 school directors) from and as residents of designated geographical single-member director districts on the basis of population, each of which shall be represented on the School Board by a director who shall be a resident of the respective director district but who shall be elected by a vote of the electors of the entire District, and with the immediate merger of the entirety of the assets and liabilities of the two present Districts on the effective date of the reorganization, July 1, 2019?"