Midland School Board faces resignations and time crunch on opt-out/reorganization

While striving for an imperative opt-out for next year, the Midland School Board is simultaneously interviewing neighboring school boards for reorganization.

The Midland School Board is also dealing with three staff resignations. History teacher Steven Decker will be leaving at the end of this school year. Band and vocal director Crystal Brakke has also resigned. Superintendent/Principal Denise Fox also tendered her resignation effective at the end of her contract on June 30.

The board accepted the resignations with regret. They appreciated the difficult decision that Fox had made, knew she would continue to do her best for Midland, and wished her well after she moved back to her family in Alexandria, South Dakota.

Legal and practical time restraints are closing fast. Teacher contracts and sports schedules must be completed soon. Reorganizing for the next school year is no longer an option because of legal date requirements.

“When we try to get answers to those questions concerning reorganization, we end up with more questions,” voiced the Fox and members of the board. “We will meet with the other schools as soon as possible. Whatever it takes, we will do our best.”

The decision with which school to co-op all the sports next year was tabled until the reorganization was determined. The board agreed that sports should go with that school rather than a different one before the consolidation.

The Turner Youth Foundation student representatives proposed to donate $10,000 to the school to reduce the opt-out monetary amount. The donation is conditional on the opt-out passing, and the money must go to support male sports, female sports, other extra-curricular activities and activity transportation. The board thanked the Foundation and stated, “This is a very nice proposal from our youth.” With this and other donations and funds, the amount ear-marked to diminish the opt-out total is already $20,000. The proposed opt-out would have to be for $290,000.

The Midland Town Board suggested that they might be able to also diminish the opt-out total. They would have to verify the legality with the States Attorney concerning any actions they might take. Conditions would be that this would be the last opt-out in the current school district, a reorganization plan would have to be well under way, and ownership of the school buildings would have to stay with the Midland community.

State legislation may put forth and pass bills to assist schools such as Midland, but the time requirements for the current problem would be close or already have passed by then.

If an opt-out on property taxes is attempted, it would be to keep the school open for just one more year. The following year, the Midland School would have to be consolidated with a neighboring school.

There would be a better chance of keeping a Midland elementary school with a reorganization. Any bargaining power Midland could use toward reorganization would be lost if the Midland school dissolved.

If an opt-out is put to a vote and does not pass, legal time requirements for other options would have elapsed. The Midland school system would have to dissolve.

The deadline for the opt-out decision would be February 14 if the school board decides in the next few days to put it to a public vote. If a public petition is necessary, then a 20-day time allowance would put the vote on March 4. The full dollar amount would not have to opted, if other funds are somehow raised in the meantime. If the opt-out passes and funds are found after the vote, the amount actually collected through taxes would be lowered.

Almost all impending school board action was tabled until more information can be gathered concerning the future of the school.

Closing reports for the meeting included that the tutoring sessions now possible on Fridays because of the four-day school week are going well.

The Midland Junior High has earned the Distinguished School rating through the No Child Left Behind program.

A special school board meeting will probably be called before the next scheduled meeting at 8:00 p.m. on Monday, February 6.