Algona, Titonka voters OK consolidation

ALGONA – The Algona and Titonka school dstricts will be combined after voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a consolidation plan.

Voters in the Algona district approved the merger by a margin of 228 “yes” votes to 15 no votes, according to unofficial election results released Tuesday night by the Kossuth County auditor’s office.

In the Titonka district, voters favored the plan by a margin of 175 to 44, according to unofficial election results.

”The reality is, it’s kind of bittersweet,” said Marty Fonley, who is the superintendent of both districts. ”It’s hard when a community loses its school. However, the positive is this shows the success of the sharing that’s been going on for years.”

”I’m glad the voters were thinking about the quality of education rather than bricks and mortar,” he added.

Under reorganization, which would begin July 1, 2014, the districts would become one large school district with one board of education.

Fonley said the new district will be known as the Algona Community School District.

Students won’t notice any changes during this school year as a result of the vote, he added.

Algona will appoint six members to the new school board and Titonka will appoint one member, according to Fonley.

“That new board would be responsible for the decisions of what to do with the buildings and how the new district would be set up,” he said. ”Basically everything stays the same, except both districts’ assets and liabilities would be merged.”

The two districts have been in sharing talks since 2009 when the Titonka and Woden-Crystal Lake districts began discussing future options. A December 2009 decision ended a whole-grade sharing agreement between Titonka and W-CL effective June 30, 2011.

Beginning July 1, 2011, the Woden-Crystal Lake Community School District entered a whole grade sharing arrangement with the neighboring Forest City Community Schools and Titonka began sharing with Algona. Students in fifth through 12th grades currently attend middle and high school at Algona.

The Titonka Consolidated School District maintains an elementary school with approximately 40 students in pre-kindergarten through fourth grade, Fonley said.

To begin reorganization, both the Titonka and Algona school districts were required to submit petitions to be reviewed by the Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency in August 2012.

Under the reorganization, a uniform tax levy would see a reduction of $1.00 the first year, 50 cents the second year and 25 cents the third year. A bonded debt held by the Titonka Consolidated School would remain the responsibility of only residents in the Titonka district, Fonley said.