WAKEFIELD - The Wakefield-Marenisco school board discussed updates on the proposed consolidation of the Bessemer and Wakefield-Marenisco school districts at its meeting Monday evening.
Superintendent Cathy Shamion said a new website of unknown origin, considerconsolidation.com, has appeared on the radar.
The website includes a presentation on the benefits of consolidation between the two districts. It also offers a survey for local residents.
A group of citizens, not acting in consult with either school board, has been circulating a petition to bring the question of consolidation to the ballot in May.
"I believe consolidation of these two districts is in our future," Shamion said, "but the timeline created by a May ballot is overwhelming."
If approved, consolidation would occur in July, giving the schools about seven weeks to organize the action.
The board also discussed misconceptions being circulated about the proposed consolidation, including the idea there will be "more jobs" if the school districts integrate.
Board members agreed there would be even less jobs, as there can only be one principal, one secretary, etc.
The board agreed to hold a special meeting on Feb. 3 to discuss consolidation further.
It also held an election of officers. The members' positions did not change, with Brad Dalbac remaining as president; Micki Sorenson, vice president; Margaret Lynott, secretary; and Marsha Vestich, treasurer.
Shamion noted January is School Board Appreciation Month and thanked the board members for their service. "The job is one of great responsibility and little appreciation," she said. "Board members make difficult decisions that are always wrong to someone."
She said students in grades kindergarten through sixth are spending this week taking Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literary Skills tests.
The board approved the city's recommendation to change the flat tax rate of $1,000 to a rate of 1 percent of all taxes levied, or about $1,700.
Board member Tina Trevarthen said there was more than a $64,000 reduction in mainly state aid from the 2013 budget due to an average loss of 8.2 students. The district receives approximately $7,400 from the state for each student.
Dalbac said he will contact Mike Foley of Coleman Engineering for a report on the ongoing parking lot project.
The board voted to hold a baccalaureate service - a religious-based program usually accompanied by a guest speaker - around the date of graduation.
"I like the idea because it's traditional," board member Dan Obradovich said.
The meeting adjourned with a closed session regarding a student.
The next regular meeting will be held on Feb. 24.