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Superintendent's Report

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Discussions regarding potential consolidation of the Morris Area and Cyrus School Districts have been ongoing for several months. The financial situation and decreasing enrollment numbers supported the need for a potential change for the Cyrus School District - options included consolidation or dissolution. Morris and Cyrus collaborate on various things, including a tuition agreement for Cyrus students in grades 7-12 to attend school and graduate from Morris Area High School, the Collaborative In-Service held each August, and Morris providing transportation service to Cyrus; consequently, both districts began discussing potential consolidation nearly a year and a half ago.

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After months of meetings, information gathering, and discussions, the Morris Area School Board approved a "consolidation plat" (often referred to as a consolidation plan) and a supporting resolution, both of which outline details of consolidation, on Dec. 3. The Cyrus School Board approved these same documents on Dec. 13. Both of these documents were a major hurdle in the potential consolidation of the two districts. Plans continue moving forward for a newly consolidated district as of July 1, 2013.

After the consolidation plat was approved by both school boards, it was submitted to the Pope County Auditor, since the majority of the Cyrus School District lies within Pope County. The auditor will do a variety of things - including drafting a new district map/boundary - that will be included in the final plat. The final plat will be submitted to the Minnesota Commissioner of Education, Brenda Cassellius, for review and consideration. Commissioner Cassellius has a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 60 days to make a determination to approve or not approve the plat.

A few people have asked what consolidation of the two districts might mean. From a student perspective, I do not anticipate significant changes. Cyrus PreK-6 students would attend school at Morris Area Elementary. We anticipate enrollment in the elementary school would be higher with consolidation than without it. There would very likely be new people teaching classes after the consolidation, and it is our desire to have positions for every Cyrus and Morris staff member who wants to work in the newly consolidated district. Parents would need to get to know a few new faces, and students living in the Cyrus district would attend school at MAES.

In all likelihood, we would no longer be District 769, as consolidated districts have traditionally been assigned a new district number. The tax base in the school district would change, although the extent to how that will affect residents in both school districts is yet to be fully determined. The school board of the newly consolidated district would begin with [up to] 13 members and eventually be phased down to seven elected members. The newly consolidated district would receive an additional $200 per student in 2013-2014 and $100 per student in 2014-2015 to assist with consolidation expenses.

Consolidation discussions started in 2011 and will continue into 2013. Pending a decision by Commissioner Cassellius, the Morris Area School District and Cyrus School District could be consolidated into one new school district as of July 1, 2013. If you have questions about the consolidation process or wish for additional information, feel free to contact me. I can be reached at (320) 589-4840 or smonson@morris.k12.mn.us.

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