A large group of patrons in the IKM-Manning School District were on hand Thursday evening to hear a presentation on the next steps for consolidating the district. The presentation was held inside the auditorium at the Manning High School Building. Recently, the IKM-Manning school board hired the Iowa School House Construction and Planning Services to review the options the district has in order to make the best decision on consolidating the district from three buildings to two. The crowd viewed a PowerPoint presentation from the organization’s president Duane Van Hemert and Vice President Sam Hardy.
The reasoning behind getting rid of one building is due to several problems the district is facing including a declining enrollment as the service group showed that the combined district in 1999 had 1,095 students and in 2013 the number was 720. Before unveiling their decision, Van Hemert said the district only has a few options. They include reducing building space from 3 buildings to 1, and reducing staffing costs from the General Fund, which currently takes up 80% of the fund. He said it would be wise for the districts to look at all areas in order to obtain a balanced approach to consolidation.
Planning Services presented three options including moving students in certain grades to different buildings as well as changing the central office, cutting the cost of administrators and closing either the Manilla or Irwin school building. Out of the three options, Van Hemert and Hardy agreed that option 3 was the best one. In that scenario, the IKM-Manning school district would move Kindergarten through 2nd grade from Irwin to Manning, the 5th and 6th graders from Manilla to Manning and the 7th and 8th graders would be in Irwin.
The plan would keep the secondary gym in Manilla open for a practice facility and use the bus parking as a central location for transportation. The central office for the district would be in Manning. The organization said this option would reduce staffing costs by over $400,000 and eliminate maintenance costs for the Manilla School building. Van Hemert said cost to renovate the Manilla School Building alone would be over $900,000 because the heating and cooling system in the whole school needs replaced. The organization mentioned that the Irwin School Building would need remodeling in certain areas. That would cost the district an estimated $280,000. Hardy said option C is beneficial in cost savings and provides the best education for the children.
Van Hemert said no matter what the district decides to do, there may be more consolidating in the future. He said if enrollment continues to declines, the district may end up with just one building in a dozen years or less. The key dates coming up for the IKM-Manning School District with regard to consolidation are the next two board meetings on Wednesday, February 19th and Thursday March 6th. The School Board said they’ll hold another open forum for residents to ask questions and voice their concerns, on Wednesday, the 19th at the Manning High School Auditorium. Action on the final consolidation plan is expected on March 6th.