North Winneshiek & Decorah school districts propose merger - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

North Winneshiek & Decorah school districts propose merger

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WINNESHIEK COUNTY (KWWL) -

As a struggling school district, North Winneshiek is now considering absolving into the neighboring district of Decorah. It's a situation that many say has been a long-time coming.

For the last 16 years, high school students from North Winneshiek have not only played under the Decorah Vikings name, but they've sat in the same classrooms.

This year, North Winn. is also sending 7th & 8th graders to school in Decorah, as part of the whole-sharing program.  Because of the whole-sharing that has been in place for years, many say the proposed merger is not surprising and is, ultimately, the best option.

"For the taxpayers, for the benefit of the students, the long-term stability of the area, I think this is the best solution," said North Winneshiek Superintendent, Tim Dugger.

North Winn. has less than 80 K-6th grade students currently enrolled, while Decorah schools have roughly 1700 students.  Parents with long ties to the area are disappointed, but understand the reality of the struggling North Winneshiek School.

"It is sad for them. It is sad for us. I grew up, I went to North Winn. K-12 and my parents both taught at North Winn. It is very sad. We wanted to keep it going as long as we could," said John Wangsness, a parent with two young children in the North Winneshiek elementary school.

Decorah officials say, if passed, they will not only welcome the students, but also the teachers.

"I really don't see that being an issue because we will have to accommodate more students when they come this way. I think we can do that without displacing any teachers or anything of that sort," said Decorah Superintendent, Michael Haluska.

Monday, the Area Education Agency Board approved the petition for the merger, which was signed by rough 600 people in the two districts.  Residents will vote on the future of the districts in a February special election.

If passed, the North Winneshiek School District will officially become part of the Decorah Community Schools in July of 2019.

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