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Corning/Villisca moving toward whole-grade sharing agreement

CORNING — Corning School District mailed more than 1,600 surveys to Adams County taxpayers last month, requesting completion of a questionnaire regarding a whole-grade sharing agreement with Villisca School District.

School officials were hoping for 40 percent participation from the community, and about 500 (31 percent) surveys were returned as of Monday afternoon.

The Corning steering committee plans to reveal the responses from those questionnaires during the school board meeting 7 p.m. Monday.

“There were six questions on the survey,” said Liz Timmerman, Corning elementary instructor and co-chair of the Corning steering committee. “We’ve compiled comments and concerns from those surveys, and the public has come up with things we hadn’t thought of. ... We will share those at our next school board meeting.”

Deadline

The survey is just one part of the process in the sharing agreement and the deadline is approaching quickly.

Per Iowa Code, the agreement for the 2012-13 school year must be in place by Feb. 1, 2012, and a public hearing outlining the school’s plan must be scheduled no later than Jan. 1, 2012.

Daniel Sorensen, Villisca School Board member, was one of several concerned during a September meeting regarding a fast-approaching deadline for a whole-grade sharing agreement between the two school districts.

“We’re on a real short time line,” Sorensen said. “Do I think it can be done? Yeah, I think it can be done, but if you’re going to make a major move like we’re talking about doing, you want it to be a win-win for both districts.”

Pat Shipley, instructor at Corning High School for 11 years, now employed at the Iowa State Education Association, agreed with Sorensen during the public input segment of September’s meeting.

“It’s not that I’m in opposition of the two schools making this change,” Shipley said, “but I feel the time line they’re facing right now is overly ambitious.”

Willie Stone, superintendent for Corning and Villisca, said Monday the schools continue to work toward completing a plan for the Jan. 1 public hearing deadline.

Stone said Villisca teachers, students and parents have toured Corning High School and both school boards tentatively agreed Corning is the best location for the high school, while Villisca will house middle school students, if an agreement is reached.

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