It's a merge - Brandon and Evansville consolidation begins July 1
The majority of voters expressed support this week for the consolidation of the Brandon and Evansville school districts.
A special election on June 25 asked residents in the two districts to cast their vote for or against the consolidation.
A clear majority of voters supported it - 575 people voted for consolidation, 169 voted against.
Here are results by district:
--Brandon School District: 243 votes for consolidation, 146 votes against.
--Evansville School District: 332 votes for consolidation, 23 votes against.
The merger is official July 1.
Mark Westby, superintendent for both districts, told the Echo Press Wednesday morning, "I'm pleased with the voter turnout and happy for the opportunity this gives the students moving forward."
The tax impact for residents will increase for Brandon property owners and decrease for Evansville property owners. For example, a taxpayer with a home market value of $100,000 in Brandon currently pays about $147 per year on an existing school levy and taxpayers in Evansville pay $353 per year.
With the consolidation, taxes in Brandon will increase by about $40 per year and taxes in Evansville will decrease by $166 per year.
Both school boards, 14 people total, will serve as one joint-school board until December 31, 2014. At that time, six terms will reportedly expire and three at-large members will take office, bringing the board to a total of 11 members serving at the start of 2015. Then, after December 31, 2016, eight school board members' terms would expire and four at-large members would be elected, bringing the total number of board members down to seven people by January 1, 2017.
Because the districts have collaborated over the years, it was noted that the districts have been able to provide most of the teaching staff with full schedules. The consolidation will also reportedly allow for balancing out class sizes and an improved learning environment. Teacher contracts will be negotiated as they have been and, during an informational meeting in May, Westby said no staff would be negatively affected by the merger.
Decisions about buildings, relocation or other facility-related matters will be made by the new, consolidated school board. The same applies to decisions on student transportation.