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Merge with Melbourne?

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Mount Pleasant residents vote to annex into county seat's district

The Mount Pleasant School District will likely be annexed by the Melbourne School District.

Mount Pleasant had been in consolidation talks with Evening Shade and Cushman but now those talks may be moot.

Mount Pleasant Superintendent Harold Lamb said a flyer was sent throughout the school district last week detailing the different consolidation/annexation options facing the school. Lamb said residents, by a 5:1 margin, chose annexation by Melbourne as the best option for Mount Pleasant. "I guess the people thought this was the best thing," Lamb said.

The Mount Pleasant School Board will meet this week to vote. At a meeting between the Cushman, Evening Shade and Mount Pleasant school boards March 1, several Mount Pleasant school board members said they would vote for the option their constituency most supported.

The flyer asked people in the school district if they wanted to consolidate with Evening Shade, Cushman, both of them or whether they wanted Melbourne to annex their district.

Lamb said each option has its merits but annexation by Melbourne makes financial sense. He said Melbourne has a solid tax base and students from his district would benefit from the increase in tax-generated revenues. He said the new administrative district would have over 800 students. Lamb said this is important because if the state Legislature decides to raise the consolidation number to 750 students, the new Melbourne School District would be immune from further consolidation.

Lamb said he looks forward to working with the Melbourne School District if the annexation is approved. He said the problems associated with consolidation have been overwhelming. "Consolidation has not been good for small schools." He said he wishes the state would look at academic performance instead of student numbers, to determine whether a district needs to consolidate.

Evening Shade was looking at consolidation with Mount Pleasant but now may be looking elsewhere.

Evening Shade Superintendent Karen Smith said Evening Shade has few consolidation options. "Many of the people at our school wanted to preserve the small town school atmosphere we've had here for so long," Smith said. Now that Mount Pleasant is likely to be annexed by Melbourne, Evening Shade has begun talks with Cave City about a possible administrative annexation.

Smith said annexation of her school district by Cave City makes financial sense. She said there is a lot of appeal associated with consolidating with a smaller school like Mount Pleasant but it would be hard for two small school districts like Evening Shade and Mount Pleasant to raise enough revenue to build a new centralized campus. She said their school board has considered the possibility of consolidating with the new Lynn-River Valley School District but the schools are so far apart geographically it would create a financial strain.

Smith said Cave City would present some great opportunities for her students. She said they're adding onto their high school and they are starting up a football program next year.

Smith emphasized that no final decision has been made yet.

The Cave City School Board will meet March 9 to consider the annexation proposal.

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