The consolidation of Creston and Prescott community school districts passed after a special election held Tuesday. The votes were tallied immediately after the polls closed at Union County Auditor's Office, with several long shots and several close calls.
"I'm pleased with the results of the election, knowing the learning opportunities we can offer our area youngsters for years to come," said Steve McDermott, Creston and Prescott superintendent. "I believe we have also offered and have public approval for a sensible solution for local property owners and tax payers in both districts."
Totals for the vote to consolidate the two school districts were 252 votes yes and 92 votes no. Totals for the vote to attribute the budget purpose statement to both districts were 243 votes yes and 97 votes no.
"We will finalize plans for how to utilize the Prescott teachers that had been promised positions in the new district. That work has already begun," McDermott said. "The intention is to place those folks into positions that are open. At this point we hope that we don't have to add positions to get that accomplished, and we're fairly confident that we can get that accomplished."
These numbers were broken down into four groups based on polling type and location.
The consolidation of Prescott and Creston community school districts means the students in Prescott will officially become students of Creston for the 2017-18 school year because the official start cannot happen until the calendar year after the year the vote takes place. Students in Prescott will be tuitioned in to Creston for the 2016-17 school year. Parents of children enrolled in
Prescott Community School District also have the option to open enroll to another district.
The Creston and Prescott school board members will combine and operate as one board July 1, 2016.
"I'm also very excited that the voters decided to keep the Prescott district together," McDermott said. "Even though the merger of the districts will be a big change on the Prescott side, in my opinion this is better than slicing up and dividing the district into pieces like a pie at a family dinner."
Consolidation vote numbers broken down are: 67 yes votes and nine no votes at Southwestern Community College polling location in Creston, 73 yes votes and five no votes at Crest Baptist Church polling location in Creston, 77 yes votes and 73 no votes at Prescott polling location and 35 yes votes and five no votes for absentee ballots.
"The budget purpose statement is actually identical to what both districts had before, and it deals with how the local options sales tax pennies can be used," McDermott said. "That budget purpose statement is something new that came in when the local option sales tax started. And, given the fact that we will ultimately have a new district, we needed a freshly turned out statement."
Budget purpose statement vote numbers broken down are: 65 yes votes and 10 no votes at SWCC polling location, 71 yes votes and seven no votes at Crest Baptist Church polling location, 74 yes votes and 74 no votes at Prescott polling location and 33 yes votes and six no votes for absentee ballots.
The total number of voters at the SWCC location were 92, which is 2.96 percent of eligible voters. There were 90 voters at the Crest Baptist Church location, a total of 3.11 percent, and 162 eligible voters from Prescott, which is 5.97 percent. With all three numbers totalled, 344 voters turned out to the polls, with 3.95 percent of all eligible voters between the districts.
"The Prescott School District has operated successfully and independently for 100 years. This heritage of learning is very similar in the Creston area," McDermott said. "I'm certain every one of those years that students and their learning were the top priorities. This will remain constant in the newly consolidated district."
The consolidation of Creston and Prescott school districts has been in the works since 2013, after Prescott board members discussed consolidating with Corning, Lenox and Orient-Macksburg school districts. Talks with those board members fell through.
A petition to continue with the process of consolidation was approved in November by Creston and Prescott board members, which people in both school districts signed. Creston received 489 signatures out of a required 400, and Prescott received 107 signatures out of a required 90.
The petition was filed and a Green Hills Area Education Agency meeting was scheduled in February. The petition was approved during the meeting, and the final decision was sent to voters.
There are 34 students attending Prescott Elementary School.
Each item on the ballot had to pass in each district in order for the items to pass overall. The consolidation item passed in both Creston and Prescott, but the budget purpose statement did not pass in Prescott. There will be more information on that item as it comes in.