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Harmony, Van Buren schools move closer toward consolidation

The petition set to be circulated around Van Buren county for signatures. (Chris Arbino/KTVO)

Two Heartland schools are now one step closer to becoming a single consolidated county high school.

School board members of Van Buren Community School and Harmony Community School District held a joint meeting Monday night and approved the petition that would bring the schools together.

Van Buren Community School Superintendent Dr. Pam Ewell says Monday’s meeting was a pivotal step for the schools to consolidate.

She says rural school districts across Iowa have had to make the difficult decision to consolidate due to various factors.

“The financial piece, student enrollment decline, certainly wanting to continue to be a very strong, viable, effective schools district together, means that we can remain for a long, long time,” Dr. Ewell said.

If the schools consolidate, Harmony School District will effectively be shut down, and the two schools will become Van Buren County Community School District.

Current superintendent of Harmony School District Kerry Phillips echoed the sentiment of Dr. Ewell.

He tells KTVO that the two school districts are at different stages of acceptance regarding the merger.

Phillips says the process of closing Harmony elementary school has helped residents in his district adjust to the consolidation.

“We had numerous public forums, and really educated our community, so, they’re a little more knowledgeable about the process, and they’ve come to a point of acceptance,” Phillips explained.

The next step is to begin collecting about 400 signatures from each school district.

Once those signatures are collected, the merger process will come down a public vote on February 6, 2018.

If that vote passes, the schools will officially become a single district on July 1, 2019.

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