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Burke, South Central joint powers agreement likely for 2018-19 school year

School supply photo illustration. (Matt Gade/Republic)

BURKE — After months of discussion, the Burke and South Central school boards have reached a consensus to move forward with a joint powers agreement.

At a joint meeting of the boards Thursday night in Burke, school officials decided sixth-through 12th-grade South Central students will attend classes in Burke, beginning in the 2018-2019 school year. The joint powers agreements allows students to attend classes in Burke without pursuing a consolidation or dissolution of the South Central School. Essentially, the South Central School District hopes to continue operating an elementary school while middle and high school students attend classes in Burke.

Though no official board action was taken, Burke Superintendent Erik Person said both boards are fully invested in creating the joint powers agreement. Official action is expected to be taken when the final plan is completed in July.

"Administration is working on putting that plan together between now and July 1 so we can present that to our boards, do any tweaking that needs to happen and send it off to the state secretary of education," Person said, adding it is well before the state-imposed February 2018 deadline. "We're trying to allow enough time to plan on our end and get things in place the way we want them to be with the increased enrollment Burke will see."

The joint powers agreement will bring approximately 55 more students to Burke, and comes as a result of faltering enrollment in the South Central school. At the beginning of the school year, the state Department of Education notified the school its enrollment had fallen below 100 students, and it is required by law a district with such enrollment pursues reorganization in the form of a joint powers agreement, consolidation or dissolution within two years.

After original uncertainty from both boards, Person said everyone is excited to move forward, continue ironing out details and ultimately provide the best possible education to all students involved.

"I think both sides are motivated to make something happen and increase educational opportunities for these kids," Person said. "We have a list of priorities we will add to enhance those opportunities."