ARMSTRONG?- The Armstrong-Ringsted Community School District has issued information about the district's reorganization plans with Sentral School District.
A major reasons the districts are pursuing reorganization is that it would allow the districts to take full advantage of incentives currently available that may not be later. Reorganization also allows voters in each district to control their own destiny rather than losing that control due to future legislation or new guidelines.
According to the reorganization petition to the Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency 8 Board of Directors, the petition has the following points:
n The new district would be a reorganization of the Armstrong-Ringsted and Sentral school districts and be known as the North Union Community School District.
n The reorganization would be consistent with the AEA's reorganization plan. The AEA's are required to have a reorganization plan on file for districts within their boundaries. The AEA reorganization plan for the Sentral Community School District includes reorganization with the Armstrong Ringsted Community School District as an option.
n The districts have performed all necessary prerequisites to this point.
n The composition of an initial board and the regular board is outlined.
n Neither of the districts has or will have issued general obligation bonds in the preceding six months prior to the date of submission of the petition.
n That the assets and liabilities of the two original districts will be combined with the exception of existing general obligation bonds which will remain the obligation of the taxpayers residing in the old districts prior to the reorganization. Former Sentral taxpayers would be responsible for the bonded indebtedness on the Sentral building until paid and Armstrong-Ringsted taxpayers would be responsible for the bonded indebtedness on the Armstrong building until paid.
n The projected combined enrollment of 445 students in the new district would exceed the state legally required minimum of 300 students.
n A special election will be requested to authorize reorganization.
Following is a deadline for the steps toward reorganization:
n Jan. 21, 2013 - filing of petitions.
n Week of March 18, 2013 - objections deadline.
n Week of March 25, 2013 - hearing.
n Week of April 1, 2012 - publication of order.
n Week of April 22, 2013 - appeal deadline.
n May 10, 2013 - deadline for notifying county auditor for a June 25, 2013 vote.
n Aug. 1, 2013 - deadline for notifying county auditor for a Sept. 10, 2013 vote.
n July 1, 2012 - effective date of reorganization if the vote passes.
Some key points are that signing the petition does not mean a person is voting for reorganization. A minimum of 171 voters in the Sentral Community School District and 326 in Armstrong-Ringsted Community School District must sign the petition.
Only voters in the two districts can sign the petitions.
One reason for reorganization now rather than continuing whole-grade sharing is financial incentives set by the state. At this point, those guarantees are only set until July 1, 2014. After that, the Uniform Levy (part of the school foundation formula which is $5.40 per $1,000 taxable valuation) would be reduced to $4.40 per $1,000 taxable valuation in the first year of reorganization in the first year of reorganization and then increased to $4.90, $5.15 and back to $5.40 in the succeeding years. Unless reorganization occurs on or before July 1, 2014, those taxpayer incentives would be gone.
Taxpayers in the original districts would continue to pay for the debt service levies which were incurred due to building projects in the past. The new district operating levy would likely be somewhere between the current operating levy of $8.13775 per $1,000 valuation for Sentral and $8.74638 per $1,000 valuation for Armstrong-Ringsted. The final operating tax rate would be calculated based on the total land valuations included in the new district.
North Kossuth Community School District has decided not to be a part of the reorganization effort at this time. However, North Kossuth could either sign a whole-grade sharing agreement with the new North Union Community School District or reorganize with North Union in the future.
Reorganization petitions are available at the school offices in each district, the Fenton Public Library, West Iowa Bank in Fenton and Dacken & Associates in Lone Rock.
Those with questions may contact Sentral superintendent Art Pixler at (515) 889-2261 Ext. 100 or Armstrong-Ringsted superintendent Matt Berninghaus at (712) 868-3590.