Midland School Board votes to work on reorganization plan with Kadoka

The Midland School Board met in a special session at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 15. Before a standing-room-only audience, the board unanimously decided to contract with the Kadoka School District for the teaching of the Midland High School students for the 2006-2007 school year.

The board also unanimously voted to develop a plan for reorganization with the Kadoka School District. The goal is to create a new school district by joining the two districts for the 2007-2008 school year and thereafter.

Reorganization involves a committee from the Midland School District working with a matching committee from the Kadoka School District to create a plan. Each committee would include two school board members, the business manager, the superintendent, one teacher, and two community members with at least one of these two being a parent.

The finalized reorganization plan will then go before the voters of both current school districts.

The board voiced that it was in the interest of the students for the board to decide on the contract and the consolidation at the same time. Members of the board described this as “kind of an engagement for the future marriage of the two districts.”

“The decision as to which school district to go with should be a moral issue, but it is also a money and longevity issue,” said one board member and was echoed by the others. “It takes money to educate our children. We, like a business, are looking at the longevity of the Midland grade school and of the consolidation.”

The Philip School District had offered to contract to teach each Midland High School student for the same amount allowed by the state aid computations formula, $4,418. The Kadoka School District offered to charge $500 per student. The Kadoka system receives federal funds because of the reservation students within its system. Over 45 percent of the Kadoka districts students were under this aid.

There are currently 15 high school students in Midland. There are four seniors and there are seven eighth graders. That will make 18 potential high school students for the 2006-2007 contract with Kadoka. Any variations resulting from open enrollment cannot be predicted. The state aid and funding from taxable sources of $4,418 would follow an open-enrollment student to the school which they and their parents choose for the student to attend.

“Our hope is to not burn any bridges and not create animosity,” said vice-chairman Barry Jones. “I would rather be anywhere else than here and having to make this decision.” This was repeatedly verbalized throughout the meeting by all the board members.

The board acknowledged that both the Philip and Kadoka school boards, as well as the South Dakota Department of Education, had all been very cordial. Fox summed up the feelings of the board, “ All three communities (Murdo, Philip and Kadoka) had their strengths and weaknesses. They were all very open. The excellent academic programs, the quality of their rural schools, the informative open houses – it didn’t make the decision any easier.”

Chairman Roger Dale stated, “There will still be an elementary school in Midland.” Superintendent Denise Fox agreed, “That is the most important thing.”

The audience was polite and generally agreed with Danny Finn, a former board member, who stated, “We should honor the information gathered by the board. They are doing their best for the students, parents and taxpayers. We should let them vote on what they found.”

The audience included parents, teachers, district residents and landowners who lived outside of the district.

Some concerns voiced by the audience included a lack of public communication. For example: some audience members had not heard about the special board meeting until only two hours before.

After a short executive session, the board announced the resignation of two Midland high school teachers, effective at the end of this school year. With regret, the board accepted the resignation of Tamara Hunter who instructs English and drama and is the yearbook advisor. Also with regret, the board accepted the resignation of William Murphy who instructs business, computers and physical education. The math instructor, Steven Fetheroff, has already left his position for a non-teaching position is another town. He will be replaced for the remainder of this year with a long-term substitute.

In view of the pending acceptance of the contracting agreement by the Kadoka School District, the board regretfully RIFfed (Reduction In Force) the remaining high school instructors. This means that their teaching contracts will not be renewed because their positions will no longer exist. This action at this time should give the instructors the opportunity to find other teaching positions for next school year.

The Midland School Board stated that the acceptance of the resignations and announcement of the R.I.Fs were with regret. The teachers were complimented and offered best wishes.

In order to complete the reorganization committee and begin the negotiations, the next scheduled Midland School Board meeting is for 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 23, in the Midland School science room. The board’s usual meeting date is in the evening on the second Monday of the given month.