BOLD Solution: Consolidate Stillwater and Mahtomedi School Districts?

Proposed Consolidation of Stillwater ISD #834 and Mahtomedi ISD #822 Petition Filed with Washington County Auditor

In a Feb. 2, 2016 Letter to the Editor of the Country Messenger, Mahtomedi resident Shannon Bryant criticized the Stillwater ISD 834 BOLD plan to close three elementary schools, and suggested the consolidation of Mahtomedi and Stillwater school districts as a possible solution.  In the letter, Bryant also announced that a “Petition to Consolidate School Districts #834 and #832,” signed by both Mahtomedi and Stillwater residents, had been filed with Washington County Auditor Kevin Corbid.

The Minnesota Department of Education has announced a meeting regarding the “Proposed Consolidation of Area Proposed Consolidation of Stillwater Area Public Schools, Independent School District #834 and Mahtomedi Public School District, Independent School District #832.”  The meeting is scheduled for 6pm, March 16, 2016 at the Stillwater Junior High School Auditorium.  The announcement states:

A public meeting request has been requested by petition, pursuant to Minnesota Statutes Section. 123A.48, subdivision 8, regarding the petition-initiated consolidation proceeding of Stillwater Area Public Schools and Mahtomedi Public School District. As required by statute, the Commissioner of Education will conduct a public hearing on the matter at the date, place and time shown above. The purpose of the hearing is for the commissioner to gather information needed to approve or reject the proposed consolidation plat/supporting statement. All interested or affected persons will have an opportunity to submit public comments at the meeting. All public comments should relate to the proposed consolidation plat/supporting statement only. The commissioner may limit repetitive or immaterial public comments at the meeting.  (Questions should be directed to Tom Melcher 651-582-8828/tom.melcher@state.mn.us)

After receiving numerous resident inquiries about the meeting and proposed consolidation, Mahtomedi School District #822 has responded to residents’ inquiries with the following statement:

Mahtomedi Public Schools and Stillwater Area School District are not considering consolidating or merging. Neither the districts nor their respective school boards brought forth this proposal. The meeting is a statutory requirement as a result of a petition signed by 50 residents of the two districts that was presented to the Minnesota Department of Education requesting the consolidation of the two school districts…If the commissioner approves the plat and supporting statement, both school boards have 45 days to vote for or against on the consolidation plan. It is important to note that in order for two school districts to consolidate, both districts must agree to the merger. Mahtomedi is not interested in consolidating with Stillwater and Stillwater administration has publicly stated that Stillwater is not interested either.

The petition to consolidate ISD 834 and 822 is the latest development in the controversial ISD 834 BOLD plan, in which the school board recently voted 5-2 to close three elementary schools resulting in two impending lawsuits against the school district.  In a display of the district’s intention to continue with the BOLD plan, the school board will begin discussing the new elementary and middle school boundaries plan at 6:30pm tonight (March 10, 2016) at the Stillwater City Hall (online streaming will be available here).  Three district “listening sessions” will be held on March 14 at 6 p.m. Stillwater Junior High School); March 15 at 6 p.m. (Oak-Land Junior High School); and March 29 at 6 p.m. (Stillwater Area High School).

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