Round Lake, Brewster schools plan consolidation

/ 4 June 2012 / jennifer

Worthington Daily Globe, June 4, 2012 –

BREWSTER — The Round Lake and Brewster school boards will notify each other of their intent to pursue consolidation with at their school board meeting, according to a press release issued Monday.

The boards are scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. next Monday, following the Joint School Board Meeting as this will be an agenda item.

“Over the past year, the Boards of Education from both the Round Lake and Brewster School Districts and representatives from the communities have discussed the strengths and challenges these districts face together as they continue to make decisions about the future of their schools and communities,” Round Lake-Brewster principal Raymond Hassing wrote in an email. “Clearly, the Round Lake and Brewster school districts have demonstrated a strong cooperative spirit between the districts and communities.”

Hassing also noted that the districts have continued to collaborate well over the years, and are one of the few cooperatively paired districts in the state.

They also have continued to demonstrate “a high level of financial commitment for each of their districts through excess levy referendums,” Hassing wrote.

A variety of factors, however, have resulted in the consolidation plan.

“Like so many rural school districts in southwest Minnesota … the Round Lake and Brewster school districts have been challenged by declining enrollment, aging buildings and a state funding system that has not supported the on-going financial needs to maintain programs and services,” Hassing wrote. “Coupled with the uncertainties of the future of the school district and the public perception that one, or both, schools will be closing has led to additional challenges and pressure for the school boards and the administration.

“The communities and school boards of Round Lake and Brewster want to do what is best for their kids and their communities,” Hassing continued. “Therefore, the Boards of Education have negotiated a new inter-district pairing agreement between the Round Lake and Brewster Schools Districts to avoid placing one of the districts in statutory operating debt (SOD) while the other district continues to increase their fund balance.

“Also, the Boards of Education will begin immediate plans for the consolidation of the Round Lake and Brewster school districts. Creating one district from two will better position the newly consolidated district to address longer-term issues. Primarily, it will allow the district to begin considering ways in which they can streamline operations and fundamentally address how they plan to meet the education needs of your children.

“Finally, the Boards of Education will begin discussions on future cooperation with neighboring districts so the new consolidated district can best meet the educational needs of the children and protect the interests of the tax payers going forward.”