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Consolidation discussion with Cyrus takes small step forward

MORRIS - The Morris Area School Board voted Tuesday to hire a consultant to help interested districts move forward with potential consolidation with the Cyrus school district.

The agreement is to work with consultant Mike Hoheisel of Northland Securities for a starting fee of $10,000, although that number could go up or down depending on how complicated the consolidation process ends up being. The resolution states that the cost of the fee will be split among whatever districts move forward with the consolidation process.

"There hasn't been that moment of, I'll say 'commitment' for lack of a better word," said Monson. "We really need to know who is going to participate in these discussion because ... there are a lot of things that need to happen between now and any final decision by school boards."

Monson told the board he met with the superintendents of the other interested districts - Tom Knoll (Cyrus), Greg Ohl (Minnewaska) and Jerry Martinson (Hancock) - and all agreed that the resolution was a necessary and good idea.

The same resolution was on the school board agendas for the three other districts this week. As of Friday, both Minnewaska and Hancock had tabled the resolution.

According to the Hancock Record, the Hancock school board tabled to resolution to see what Morris would decide before making the decision about whether to be involved.

The Minnewaska School Board has a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday, May 29 where they will discuss the resolution and decide whether to more forward with discussions.

"We need to get going on this," said Monson. "There are going to be some questions we're going to have to figure out along the way - myself and all of you included. If we want to continue, which I am recommending, to be a part of the discussions and negotiations, this shows, I believe, our district's commitment to partner with Cyrus and/or Hancock and Minnewaska and really get the ball moving."

Representatives from Cyrus, Morris and Minnewaska met in Cyrus on Thursday night to answer questions about the consolidation process.

Munson said that by June it would be more clear which districts would be moving forward with the process, but that Morris planned to be involved regardless of what decisions Minnewaska and Hancock make.