Community talks of consolidation

VENTURA, Ia – “Well generally what we’re getting is positive feedback,” says Superintendent Tyler Williams.

The Ventura/Garner-Hayfield districts are making the possibility of consolidating look easy. It all started two years ago when the schools agreed to whole grade sharing.

“Well, whole grade sharing is sharing students, sharing activities,” says Williams.

Right now, high school students from Ventura are going to class in Garner and junior high students go to school in Ventura. This seems like it would be a big adjustment, and it was, but now students say they couldn’t be happier.

“Really, we’ve all just become a family over there,” says one Ventura Junior. “It only pushed us to compete and become more academically strong,” says a recent Ventura graduate.

But the districts are still technically separate entities.

Earlier this week, the school board held a community meeting to talk about the idea of fully consolidating, and nothing but positive thoughts emerged.

“And, I quote, it’s just better for us Mom, than when it was only Ventura,” says parent Kristi Knutson.

The Iowa AEA says if a district has less than 300 students, they need to start planning for the future.

“We have 3 options on our future as our enrollment continues to decline, and those three options are to dissolve, consolidate with Garner-Hayfield, consolidate with Clear Lake,” says Williams.

Right now, board members say consolidating with Garner-Hayfield is looking like their best bet.

“It would mean a variety of opportunities for kids and it would provide stability for both of these schools for a long, long, long time,” says Williams.

The final say will come from community members of both districts on a vote set for September 9th. If it passes, we’re told they plan to utilize all four establishments in the two communities.

This would take effect in the 2015-2016 school year.

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