IDA GROVE, Iowa | A proposed consolidation of the Battle Creek-Ida Grove and Odebolt-Arthur school districts is headed to a June 27 vote, after a regional education board found the reorganization petition is legal.
At a April 19 public meeting in Ida Grove, the Northwest Area Education Agency Board of Directors signed off on the petition, clearing the way for the special election. Combining the two districts would require approval from a majority of voters in each district.
The consolidation proposal has gone down to defeat twice, in 2011 and 2016.
The Battle Creek-Ida Grove and Odebolt-Arthur districts have had a whole-grade sharing agreement in place for nearly a decade. Students from both districts attend middle school in Odebolt and high school in Ida Grove. Each district has an elementary school for grades K-5.
Long ago, before the big wave of Iowa school consolidations primarily in the 1960s and 1980s, the four towns each had their own schools. Odebolt and Arthur merged in 1956, as did Battle Creek and Ida Grove in 1994.
In September 2016, 84 percent of Battle Creek-Ida Grove voters approved the consolidation but it failed in Odebolt-Arthur, with only 43 percent voting in favor.
Prior to that vote, school officials said all existing school arrangements would stay the same and no buildings would close as part of any approved reorganization. They also said a consolidation would remove some overlapping expenses in the two districts, chop health insurance costs and reduce property taxes.
Through a reorganization incentive, the combined districts would get a three-year tax break on the state mandated uniform levy of $5.40 per $1,000 of property valuation.
However, through consolidation the district would lose state money toward sharing positions such as a superintendent, business manager and other positions.