Jefferson County Schools Plan Merger

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By Matthew Searcy

INA -- A pair of Jefferson County schools are working on a new plan for consolidation.  

Last year, Dodds and Ina tried merging with Opdyke Belle Rive but the referendum didn't get enough votes. Under the new plan, the districts want to drop Opdyke and try a two-school consolidation.
 
"We have a common bookkeeper that works at both districts," said Ina Superintendent Monte Jo Clark. "We co-op all of our sports, both girls and boys. The kids are already accustomed to being just one big team." 
  
She says a merger would benefit students at both schools.  
 
"It will help us to continue to offer the programs that we have in place at Ina and it will provide Dodds students the opportunity to take advantages of those programs as well," explained Clark.  
 
Budget cuts in recent years have forced both schools to reduce staff. 
 
"Dodds has had to make some major cuts," said regional superintendent Ron Daniels. "They have grades that have been put together in the same classroom."
 
Daniels recently approved a petition to consolidate the schools. He supports a merger, which would bring much needed funding.  
 
"Right now the state provides an increased amount of funding over a four year period," explained Daniels.  
 
A new district could increase state funding by more than 20 percent.  
 
"WIth two buildings and different locations it would be up to the school board to decide if they want to have a second administrator who would probably become principal," said Daniels. 
 
The state board of education has until the end of June to sign off on the plan before consolidation would be put to a vote in November.  
 
"We will start having town meetings in the fall to get as many answers as we can because we want the public to cast an informed vote based on fact," said Clark.  
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