IRONWOOD — Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermediate School District Superintendent Bruce Mayle has met separately with superintendents from Wakefield-Marenisco and Bessemer school districts to discuss the upcoming consolidation issue, and once collectively, he said Friday.
One concern he said needs to be discussed is the continual decline in student populations. “We need to do something about it,” he said.
Mayle is neutral on the issue of consolidation, and is working with the two school districts to foster conversations about sharing services whenever possible.
Future plans include the superintendents recruiting members of their school boards to meet together and discuss options, Mayle said.
“The easy part is saying no,” Mayle said. “We have to be willing to have the hard conversations.”
The request to initiate proceedings for consolidation of the two school district was filed by Michael Korpela. Petitioners have until Jan. 23 to collect enough signatures from the two districts to put the issue on the ballot for voters to decide in May.
Mayle said he met with Korpela and his wife, Naomi Kauppi, to discuss the petition for consolidation, along with two other individuals.
In a Nov. 19 letter to Bessemer’s superintendent, Dave Radovich, Korpela said to the extent of his knowledge, there is no consolidation committee per se, just concerned citizens who are interested in pursuing the matter at the ballot. He had been named as the chair of the supposed consolidation committee by Bessemer School Board member Bill McDonald, which Korpela refuted.
Bessemer School District voters will possibly decide three issues on the May ballot: Consolidation with Wakefield-Marenisco, the recall of McDonald and a millage proposal for infrastructure improvements and repairs.
Radovich has repeatedly said that financial concerns are not a good reason for consolidation, as taxes will rise, and the debts of each district will be rolled into the new district.