The Odebolt-Arthur and Battle Creek-Ida Grove school districts in Iowa have been sharing resources for years, The Des Moines Register says.
Their children attend middle and high school classes together, and the districts split key positions such as the superintendent.
But a plan to fully merge the two districts went too far for Odebolt. Its residents have voted for the second time in six years to block a merger with larger Battle Creek-Ida Grove. Merger opponents were fearful that a consolidation could lead to closure of the only school in Odebolt.
Following the failed merger vote, leaders of the larger Battle Creek-Ida Grove district ended a sharing agreement with Odebolt-Arthur in order to renegotiate it, a move that some Odebolt residents saw as retaliatory. Odebolt-Arthur leaders responded by saying they'd rather have a different district for a partner.
So the Odebolt-Arthur district and its 340 students find themselves in a position facing many small districts: Financially, it can't make it on its own.
For now, about 1,000 students in the two districts attend one of three schools: an elementary and high school in Ida Grove, and a combined elementary/middle in Odebolt.
In the last 50 years, Iowa's 458 districts have reorganized, largely voluntarily, into 333 districts. The pace of consolidation is expected to accelerate under a Republican-controlled legislature that has been eager to cut taxes and limit funding increases.