Representatives of Newell-Fonda, Pocahontas Area, Albert City-Truesdale and Laurens-Marathon school districts came to the table Monday to resume discussion toward a possible regional school development - a project that has been discussed for two years.
Representatives from the Pomeroy-Palmer School District sat in the audience, taking notes of the discussion and sharing that their district may wish to be included in the talks for a super-school.
P-P had been part of the earliest stage of discussions but later dropped out; representatives of the other districts are in favor of allowing them back into the discussions.
Earlier this month, a potential location for a new building was brought up - somewhere along County Road N-28 and Highway 3. Costs were estimated at about $25 million for a building serving about 600 students. Bonding costs were also discussed - coming up with a $5.9 million figure for each district to contribute.
Representatives of the districts also talked about which grades such a building should serve, and were asked to take the information back to their respective school boards. Opinions from those boards were shared Monday.
Albert City board members said they want to continue talks, but note their unique situation, being part of a sharing agreement with Sioux Central until the year 2015-16. Board members are not in favor of the projected location.
Pocahontas board members, however, approve of the site suggestion, nearer to Pocahontas than the other communities and a spot that consultant Guy Ghan earlier projected as one the best.
"We would have a hard time sending 35-40 percent of the kids (that would potentially attend the new school) farther away from town," it was said.
Laurens-Marathon representatives said at Monday's meeting that they weren't as concerned about the proposed location as it isn't too far from their own district. They were worried about being able to come up with the proposed $5.9 million for the bond to pay for the structure.
"We came up short," one of the representatives said.
Pocahontas Superintendent Joe Kramer said that the $25 million structure isn't fixed in stone - there are different prices of schools that could be considered - from $17 million to $21 million.
Newell-Fonda's representatives said that the board in that district felt it would be able to work with the bonding capacity.
"I feel that where we are at this point is that anyone can draw a line in the sand and say $5.9 (million) is ok but $6 (million) is not, or that N28 is ok but one mile out is not. We can get into some real danger by doing that. We need to remain flexible," the representative said.
It was also pointed out that the talks began as a means of locating a best potential option to enhance education and it was agreed that no one wanted to stray away from that idea.
Piper Jaffray provided bonding information to the districts and at the next meeting, which will be set to take place in January, an architect may be brought in to discuss potential construction costs.
The representatives agreed that it was important to gather additional information such as potential enrollment figures from each of the districts. If P-P decides to come back to the group, the enrollment total will likely increase and bonding costs to each participating district could change.
Grade levels are also under scrutiny. Original talks discussed the potential facility as a high school; junior high/middle school students are now being considered as part of the plan.
It was hoped that community-member committees could be formed to talk options. "Right now," a N-F representatives said, "there are more questions than answers. We don't want to put the horse in front of the cart."