- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 19, 2016

DECORAH, Iowa (AP) - One of Iowa’s smallest school districts will merge with another Winneshiek County district in three years.

KCRG-TV (https://bit.ly/1YF3u7z ) reports that North Winneshiek Schools will consolidate with Decorah Schools after the spring of 2019. The district board decided last week that it couldn’t continue financially without merging with a larger partner.

The North Winneshiek district has been facing enrollment challenges with only 126 students in pre-K through 8th grade. The district is only expecting six kindergarten students and five pre-K students at the beginning of the next school year.

In the early 1970s, the district had more than 600 students, including a high school.

The decision didn’t come as a surprise to many teachers and students because the declining enrollment has been a topic of conversation in the rural district for years.

“Great families, great staff and it’s kind of a family we have here,” said Janet Falck, a second grade teacher. “So it’s sad not to see that go forward after a few years. It’s another door opening so we’ll see what happens.”

Decorah school officials say they will try to find jobs for the North Winneshiek teachers when consolidation begins.

North Winneshiek Schools Superintendent Tim Dugger said the district’s closure is a statewide trend. He said there were more than 360 districts across Iowa when he started in 2004. Today, there are 335 districts.

“You can make cuts as you go along but you get to a certain point with fixed costs those will eventually overtake what your revenue will be,” Dugger said.

Dugger said the decision with what do with the school building and its 24-acre campus will come later. He said the district is debt free and the property is valued at $9-million dollars.

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Information from: KCRG-TV, https://www.kcrg.com


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