ROCKWELL CITY - The Southern Calhoun Community School District began 2013 with a positive start after a reconsideration vote passed on Feb. 5.
The ballot measure, which asked voters to support combining the Southern Calhoun Schools and Rockwell City-Lytton School District, passed with 593 votes to 153 in Southern Calhoun.
Rockwell City-Lytton voters passed the measure 340-86, according to unofficial results from the Calhoun County Auditor's Office.
-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Southern Calhoun Preschoolers Ayley Korleski, left, and Holly McClure, both 4, color pictures during their free time. The preschool program was a new addition to Southern Calhoun in 2012.
-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Carson Shaver, left, and Layth Witte, both 4, play with toys during their morning preschool class at Southern Calhoun Elementary School. Superintendent Jeff Kruse said the preschool has proven to be popular in the community.
The districts will now begin the process of reogranization, which is expected to be completed on July 1, 2014.
The new district will be known as South Central Calhoun.
The two schools have been sharing grades for the past several years, and issues of timing and available money meant now was the time to put the issue to voters, according to Southern Cal Superintendent Jeff Kruse.
"In the end, we feel it's the right thing for our students and communities to become unified in one district," Kruse said before last Tuesday's vote.
Kruse said the reorganization will allow the schools to operate as one district, which would be beneficial in multiple ways.
"There's unity in the planning core with goals and long-range planning," he said. "We can also get one contract for our teaching staff instead of two, like we're under currently. It will also allow simplification of many reports that are done multiple times now."
The community's approval of district plans was the latest accomplishment over the past year for the school system.
"We're in the second year of whole-grade sharing," he said. "We've become stronger with those sharing arrangements. Our students and staff are now becoming more accustomed to working together."
Kruse said this provides a "more uniform environment for learning."
The district also made a number of improvements to its buildings, including a remodeled fine arts classroom. Kruse said this allowed improvements to the school's music program.
"It has allowed us to have 60 to 80 students in our vocal and band program," he said. "It also gave us more flexibility with our programs."
Another change to the district was the addition of a preschool program in each district.
"Each district maintains their own preschool program for 3- and 4-year-olds," he said.
Though Southern Calhoun has seen many improvements over the past year, that doesn't mean there weren't any challenges.
"We continue to have the challenge of meeting the needs of a diverse set of learners," Kruse said. "Socio-economic changes and other factors require the teachers to develop new strategies when it comes to teaching."
Kruse said teachers have also had to adapt to being more patient with students and with how they deal with an individual student's learning needs.
"We have great teachers and staff members who work hard to make sure the students' education needs are being met, as well as promoting their general welfare," he said. "We have a strong group of teachers who are well-suited for that task."
The biggest challenge, according to Kruse, is the reorganization of schools that has happened in the area.
"The districts have been through some tough times with closing building and bringing staff together," he said.
"But I think because of that, we've become stronger."