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USD 488 hold school consolidation informational meeting

Consolidation was the topic of a meeting held at the Axtell Gym Wednesday night. Superintendent Bob Bartkowski began the meeting with a presentation of the current options available to the Axtell, Bern, Summerfield School District. Superintendent Bartkowski made it clear to the crowd of approximately 70 people that the school district was prepared to function for one more year on its own. To do so Bartkowski said they had earmarked approximately $350,000 in cuts for the 2010-2011 school year. According to Bartkowski there are two options that appear to be possible at this time. The first would be a consolidation of Axtell, Bern, Summerfield with Sabetha. The second would require splitting the current district, and then consolidating Axtell and Summerfield with B&B and Nemaha Valley. Bern would not be included in this consolidation. For the second option to be possible, a bill currently going through the Kansas State Legislature allowing a school district to divide and consolidate with other school districts must pass. Currently, Kansas requires school districts to remain intact for consolidation. If the current bill passes Axtell and Summerfield could consolidate with one district and Bern with another. Bartkowski said that making a decision soon would help lock in several benefits offered by the state. He said these benefits are subject to change as the state continues to struggle with budget issues. In order to lock in the benefits the necessary paperwork must be filed by the school district before March 22nd. The consolidation would then go to a public vote in June, where voters would have the option to approve or disapprove the consolidation. The consolidation topic will be included in the formal board meeting Monday evening.

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