Are Wakonda and Irene considering consolidation? by Ashley Anderson In the past two to three years the word "consolidation" has arisen when talking about declining enrollment in our small schools. In fact, incentive money has been enticing small districts to combine into one district. But, what of Wakonda?
Just this school year Wakonda and Irene have joined efforts to share some administrators and teachers. Wakonda and Irene now share a superintendent, high school and elementary principals, and music, art and shop teachers.
Next year the football teams will unite as the Irene-Wakonda Eagles. Now that the districts share staff and sports teams, how close, if at all, are the two school to consolidation?
Superintendent Larry Johnke said, "Both boards are open to discussing consolidation but no time lines have been set. Each board wants what they feel is best for the students of their schools."
What are the advantages of consolidation? Johnke said the greatest advantages of consolidating are providing more opportunities for students academically and in activities. Some cost savings are involved but Johnke says those would only be secondary to the above advantages.
Are there any disadvantages to consolidation?
"Once a town loses its school the town usually dies. It would be desirable to keep some form of school in each town," said Johnke.
As for any time line for this decision to be made, that is up to the two school boards. The situation now is unless the state forces consolidation each district will continue to operate as they are.
Perhaps more staff will be shared between the schools, but they will remain separate schools.
Johnke says small schools should keep an eye on the funding and state aid formula and the state's economy and growth in population in the Wakonda area.