PRESTON, Iowa — The first meeting of the new Easton Valley School District board has been set for Monday in Preston.
Seven board members for the Easton Valley School District were elected during a special election in the merged district, which was approved by voters in the Preston and East Central school districts in September. Ten people were on Tuesday’s ballot for seven positions on the new board.
The winners were Richard Keeney of Miles, 808 votes; Jodi Meyer of Sabula, 692; current East Central board member Roger Kilburg of Miles, 670; Tom Feuerbach of Preston, 667; Ronald Regenwether of Preston, 632; current Preston board member Craig Thines, 615; and Lance Abernathy of Sabula, 496.
The other candidates were Scott Bormann of Preston, 477; Henry Kramer of Sabula, 345; and current Preston board member Sally Marvin, 430.
Dr. Glenn Pelecky, chief administrator for the Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency, called the first board meeting for 7 p.m. Monday at Preston Town Hall.
Pelecky said the AEA will oversee the organizational meeting. Officers will be elected and information about starting the district will be discussed. Then it will be up to the board to begin the process of putting the new district together so it can open in August.
One of the first tasks will be hiring a superintendent, but there is a question as to where the new district will get funding to hire a new administrator and pay expenses until the Preston and East Central districts cease June 30.
“That’s information an attorney will have to decide,” Pelecky said. “It’s not clear where they will get their money now. The board can enter into contracts, but they will have to talk with their attorney about the process. The AEA is not part of that.”
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Pelecky said traditionally, mergers between districts are prompted by the school boards and the two groups work together. The merger between Preston and East Central has been a contentious issue in both districts from the time it was brought up by a grassroots organization two years ago. The question whether a merger vote could be taken went to the Iowa Supreme Court for a decision after East Central Board members filed several lawsuits opposing the vote.
Pelecky said there is a process in the code that dictates the division of assets between the two districts on June 30, 2013.
Questions have been raised recently about the East Central board’s decision to sell some library books to the Northeast School District in Goose Lake. East Central middle and high school students attend Northeast under a whole-grade sharing agreement. Superintendent Neil Gray said the items sold to Northeast were for high school students who no longer attend East Central. The East Central School Board has the authority to sell its current property and equipment.
“The three boards need to work together on the property,” Pelecky said.