Questions go unanswered at first Iron Range co-location public meeting

By KBJR News 1

January 28, 2014 Updated Jan 28, 2014 at 11:45 PM CDT

Virginia MN (NNCOW.com) -- Many people had questions about how the co–location of three Iron Range school districts would be funded.

The plan on the table would have Virginia, Mountain Iron–Buhl, and Gilbert–Eveleth school districts operating under one roof.

The project is expected to cost $75 million which has to be approved by the legislature and funded through the taconite tax.

Co–locating the schools would allow the districts to be independent and still have separate sports teams while consolidation would not allow the districts to stay separate.

On Monday, Virginia and Mountain Iron-Buhl school boards voted unanimously to include Eveleth-Gilbert school district in the plan.

Superintendent of Eveleth-Gilbert, Deborah Hilde, says they requested to be included in the co-location and are excited what this could do for districts.

"We really believe there are opportunities for more advanced educational opportunities when you take a look at course offerings," said Hilde.

Some people were also concerned about public input. The districts can decide to co-locate with out having a public vote. Virginia school officials say they will do public polling to get opinions on the plan.

"I think it is a very innovative idea, there are a lot of unanswered questions on a very tight time frame and I think that's an issue that will have to be addressed," said Mike Perala of Virginia.

Another public meeting will be held on Wednesday at Merritt Elementary School in Mountain Iron at 6 pm.

Hilde says the Eveleth-Gilbert school district will also schedule an informational meeting about the co-consolidation.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.