MOORHEAD - History suggests school districts in Iowa are like roads - they either merge together or cease to exist.

In East Monona's case, its path has come to a dead end.

On Tuesday, voters in the East Monona district opted to dissolve the district by a vote of 303-241.

The dissolution vote is the latest in a series where the fate of East Monona doesn't come as a surprise.

A public vote on the reorganization of the district with the Boyer Valley School District was held Sept. 9.

Boyer Valley voters approved the measure 385 to 30, but it was shot down by East Monona voters by a vote count of 313 to 178.

A majority vote was needed in both districts for the reorganization to pass.

Before the reorganization election, a dissolution committee was appointed by the school board and presented its plan at the East Monona school board meeting July 14.

Back in the 1950s and '60s, Iowa had thousands of independent school districts. Over the years, however, the lack of funding has forced many to consolidate or close their doors forever.

Iowa will have 370 school districts after the dissolution of the East Monona district.

Boyer Valley High School instructor Ted Mallory sent out a story to local news outlets from the vantage point of who stands to lose the most - the students.

The idea, Mallory said, came from senior Sadie McDonald, student editor of Boyer Valley's yearbook. "She wanted to make sure her class was preserved for posterity," he said

"I hear the din of all the voices, all the adults that will be affected ... but nobody's asked the kids how they feel about this," Mallory said.

Under the dissolution, the property in the East Monona district will be divided as follows:

n 33 percent, including Moorhead, will go to West Harrison.

n 28 percent will go to West Monona.

n Another 28 percent, including Soldier, will go to Charter Oak-Ute.

n The remaining 10 percent will go to Boyer Valley.

Much still has to be sorted out about the impact on Boyer Valley, which has been involved in a whole-grade sharing arrangement with East Monona for the past six years.

With the dissolution of the East Monona district, it is unknown how the remainder of the whole-grade sharing contract will be handled, and if it could wind up in court.

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Debra Johnsen, who currently serves as superintendent of both districts, could not be reached for comment.

Mallory's story talks about the difficulties that will arise - particularly busing - from the dissolution, as it is likely Boyer Valley will no longer be able to afford to bus students from Soldier and Moorhead to Dunlap and Dow City.

"Mostly what I'm hearing is that it's frustrating and disappointing, and they (students) feel it'll cost more for their parents if they have to open-enroll to Boyer Valley (because of transportation costs)," Mallory said.

But the dissolution spreads beyond the East Monona borders.

Mallory's story talks about a Boyer Valley student, Cody Milbrodt, who was disappointed the dissolution went through.

As a result, his younger brother Tanner will probably end up at West Harrison in Mondamin next year unless he open enrolls at Boyer Valley, where he currently attends. It will be more expensive, Cody said, because of busing costs.

"Personally, it seems like the cards are stacked against us," Mallory said of the smaller communities in Iowa. "Some of it is economic reality, where people who can afford to pay are dying or moving away ... so you suffer and shrink."

Then again, Mallory said, seeing the end of East Monona is a stark reality, and one that he can't help but wonder if other districts such as Boyer Valley will succumb to as well.

"I do think about whether we'll be here five, 10 years from now," he said.

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