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After the vote

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news Worthington, 56187
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

ROUND LAKE -- Superintendent Cornelius "Corny" Smit described Thursday the next steps for the Round Lake-Brewster school districts as "behind the scenes" and "informal" after residents of Round Lake and Brewster voted overwhelmingly earlier this week for consolidation.

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According to the unofficial election results, 65 percent of eligible Round Lake voters cast ballots during the election; 247 (93.5 percent) voted for consolidation and 17 against. In Brewster, 62 percent of eligible voters cast ballots; 288 (96.6 percent) voted for consolidation and 10 against.

Both school boards will meet Monday to canvass the election results, which will then be certified by Nobles County Auditor/Treasurer Sharon Balster.

"(Balster) will in turn notify the Commissioner of Education that we are indeed consolidated and that the election has taken place and that everything is correct, " Smit said.

Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius will then assign a district number to the newly consolidated school district.

"At that point, we basically put an application into the federal government for a new federal ID number and to the state for a new tax ID number," Smit said.

The district won't be assigned a district number until July 1. The establishing of an official name of the consolidated district, meanwhile, is on the agenda for Monday's regular board meeting.

Once each of those steps is completed, the district will be ready to start paying bills and meeting payroll obligations.

"There are some technical things that in the interim will occur -- like getting a new checking account, those kinds of things," Smit added.

Tuition agreements that have continued to be negotiated with neighboring school districts are expected to be finalized Tuesday, Smit said.

"In general, the rates we'll pay are about the same as the open enrollment rates," he said, referring to rates set by the state for students who choose to open-enroll in other districts.

As far as district staff, Smit said, "We need to recall some people that were placed on a requested leave of absence, and then we are set to go."

Smit said the state of Minnesota has been involved throughout the consolidation process.

"In some instances, depending on the classification of the student, if there is aid and so on, the aid may follow the student to the new district," he explained.

A school board meeting will likely be called after official consolidation, said Smit, adding that the membership on the entity won't change.

The Vote Yes Committee, comprised of concerned residents, went door-to-door informing residents of Tuesday's vote and the effect it would have on both the Round Lake and Brewster districts. Committee leader Brenda Stanton said she believed its efforts helped raise awareness in the community.

"I believe (the consolidation) was the right decision for the kids and the community," she said. "When we were knocking on doors, that was the most prevalent thing -- people were genuinely concerned about the kids and the community.

"I believe the right decision was made, and I appreciate the residents that came out to vote. We were very happy with the turnout and such overwhelming support from the residents," Stanton added.

Smit also thanked the communities of Round Lake and Brewster for their support.

"I would like to express my thankfulness for the community support in both school districts for the consolidation effort," he said. "The members of the Vote Yes Committee worked very hard, and they are responsible for really getting a good turnout for the election, and we are really pleased that the parents and community members were supportive of the consolidation effort."

Daily Globe Reporter Alyson Buschena may be reached at 376-7322.

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