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Education commissioner approves Morris Area/Cyrus consolidation plan

MORRIS – The potential consolidation between the Morris Area and Cyrus school districts cleared another hurdle early this month when Minnesota Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius approved the consolidation plan.

In a letter dated Monday, March 4, Cassellius authorized the school districts to move forward with the plan to combine the two districts for the 2013 – 2014 school year, Superintendent Scott Monson wrote in a report to the Morris Area School Board.

In the letter, Cassellius indicated the newly consolidated district could continue to use the name “Morris Area School District,” but will be assigned a new district number.

One major remaining uncertainty for the consolidation is special legislation to allow the Cyrus School Board to sell bonds for both their statutory operating debt and the cost to decontaminate and demolish their school building, then levy Cyrus school district residents to repay the loan.

Bills to address this issue were introduced in the House and Senate in February. Representatives from both the House and Senate have said the bill will be included in the Education Omnibus bill.

“Unfortunately, the end of the session is not until May 20, so it is not likely we will will have a firm answer regarding legislative authorization allowing Cyrus to sell bonds to pay for demolition of the Cyrus building and repay those bonds by taxing current Cyrus residents until that date or close to it,” Monson reported. 

Before the condsolidation is finalized, the plat and any changes from the Commissioner of Education will have to be approved by both the Morris Area and Cyrus school boards.