Voters in two small districts in Northeast Iowa have overwhelmingly approved a merger.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports that the Decorah and North Winneshiek school districts, which have had a longstanding sharing arrangement, will formally consolidate as of July 1, 2019.
Decorah voters approved the merger 621 to 104, and North Winneshiek supported it 224 to 32.
Since 2002, North Winneshiek has been sending students in grades nine to 12 to Decorah High School. Starting this year, seventh- and eighth-graders from North Winnieshiek also have been attending Decorah High.
Decorah has about 1,700 students in five schools. North Winneshiek serves 165 students through sixth grade at its school.
North Winneshiek Superintendent Tim Dugger said he had hoped to delay consolidation and keep operating as a separate district, but it has become difficult to remain financially stable. The Decorah Journal reports that declining enrollment, low state aid, high transportation costs and increasing accreditation requirements made it increasingly difficult for North Winneshiek to operate efficiently.
If either district had failed to approve the consolidation, North Winneshiek would have eventually closed or dissolved.