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“I’ve had at least 10 phone calls and five or six letters from people expressing congratulations for even bringing it up,” he said following the special meeting. “There is some interest in the community to look at it.”
Fisher said he would like to see it as an agenda item for the Sept. 17 board meeting.
“We can at least see if the board is interested in meeting with the others,” he said. “I think there may be enough on our board to at least look at the idea.”
He had planned to broach the idea under a general information agenda item during Wednesday’s meeting.
“I told him he couldn’t,” said Cheryl Mehl, an attorney with Eichelbaum Wardell Hansen Powell & Mehl who was on hand to talk to the board about their policies and procedures.
So far, most board members have not been responsive to individual queries about their own thoughts on the matter. Vice President Dr. Gordon Strom said he would only make comments in board meeting. Trustee Jenny Wilson cited board policy that names the president as the spokesman for the board. She has indicated some support for the idea at previous board meetings.
Consolidation might be a good idea if the other districts are willing to enter discussions, Trustee Dale Henry said.
“Since I’ve been on the board, consolidation has been brought up in our board meetings a few times,” he said. “However, in private conservations with board members from other districts it’s clear their districts would not favor it.”
Fisher said he’s always considered consolidation of the districts worth looking at, but it wasn’t until he became board president he had an opportunity to bring it forward.
If the PISD board gives the go-ahead, the next step would be to reach out to North Lamar, Fisher said. From there, the next stop could be Chisum ISD, even if North Lamar declines.
“We’re going to try to be open minded about it, since there’s some interest,” he said. “If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. At least we made the effort.”
Even if other districts will talk about it, how big of a consolidated district do you try to create? At the very least, Paris, Chisum and North Lamar seem the best candidates, Henry said.
“If you’re going to do it, why not the whole county?” Fisher said.
Administrative savings from consolidation may not be as high as some expect, Fisher said. The bigger district would still need people to oversee operations. But it would help equalize taxes and provide a better education for students, he said.
“In my opinion, you would have a district much like Tyler ISD, where they have different high schools under one district,” Henry said. “You would keep the same rivalries, same tradition, and same boundaries but under one administration.”