With many rural districts facing growing budget problems, some are starting to look at consolidation as a way to provide more financial stability.  However, state Representative Fred Clark (D-Baraboo) says it can be a complex and stressful process for many districts. He says consolidation can be difficult for communities afraid of losing their identity, and proposals often lead to referendums on the issue.

Clark says current state law can lead to lengthy delays if a public referendum is required, since it can only be held during the November general election. He says districts then have to delay making important decisions while they wait to see if a consolidation plan will move ahead.

Clark is sponsoring legislation that would give school districts more flexibility in when those votes can take place by allowing them to be held in April or September instead. If it’s approved, a consolidation would take effect the following July.

The legislation is before the Assembly Education Committee.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:00)

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