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Meeting of the minds for LaMoille and Ohio

School districts begin discussing consolidation

OHIO — Ohio and LaMoille school board members are discussing the possibility of consolidating the school districts.

The motivating factor behind this idea comes from frustration of state legislators cutting school funding and putting more demands on schools.

It’s the same story for all area school districts. And LaMoille School Board President Jeff Pinter said it’s gotten to the point where it’s difficult for small school districts to keep up with the demands.

Board members are trying to stay progressive and find ways to continue providing a valuable education for students.

Pinter and Ohio High School Board member Carol Debruhl recently teamed up to present benefits of consolidating the schools to allow for more student opportunities. In their presentation, they argued the school districts are close to being the same size, therefore students would benefit from a balance of power instead of feeling overpowered by a larger school. Also, LaMoille and Ohio are like-minded, and each community values their small schools. The high school sports have already been co-opped for 10 years. And combining the school districts could allow for cost savings.

It was proposed Ohio could continue to operate a K-5 building, and LaMoille could use the Allen Junior High building for its K-5. LaMoille could send their junior high students to Ohio. Ohio could send their high school students to LaMoille.

Pinter urged these ideas are just discussion items at this time, and there are no real plans in place.

“We’re just looking at what can work and what can’t work,” he said. “My thought is, I may not have a good idea. (Debruhl) may not have a good idea. But we put our thoughts together; and we start talking; and someone might have another aspect. The more ideas we put together, we might come up with something that’s pretty dang good.”

Once a clear plan is put together, Pinter said board members will then be able to look at dollars to ensure the plan is cost efficient for both school districts. They will also make sure the plan is beneficial for all students.

“We’re looking to see if there is a way we can combine more classes or kids. We struggle to get seven or eight kids for a Spanish or French class at LaMoille, and maybe if Ohio is the same way, we could combine them and have 14 in a class. We need to see how we can share and use resources as best as we can,” Pinter said.

Once board members get on the same page with an idea, they will then take it to the public and begin discussions with community members.

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