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Countdown to Collaboration Vote for Eveleth-Gilbert, Virginia

Updated: May 01, 2019 06:11 PM

Jeff Carey and Noel Schmidt have spent plenty of time together, side by side, answering questions about the upcoming collaboration vote. After all, the superintendents from Eveleth-Gilbert and Virginia have been at almost daily listening sessions for the topic for weeks.

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"We've had really good turnout, and really good questions from our citizens," shared Carey.

Schmidt added, "We want people to have accurate information, when they are having discussions. They can disagree, but they need to have the right information."

They've been working together for years, and hope voters in both districts will support the new joint high school academy. The plan is to build it off Highway 53, between Eveleth and Midway. Then there would be two new elementary schools, one at the Roosevelt site in Virginia and one behind the Mesabi Range campus in Eveleth.

People like Kathy Boyer, who graduated from Virginia, know things are much different now, than they were when she was in school. "I'm interested in what combining the schools could do, and to know the pros and cons. I think what stands out to me, is that education is so important. But taxes can be a worry, too."

Not everyone is on board with the plan. A couple of homes along Fayal Road in Eveleth have signs that encourage people to vote no.

John Laurich is one of them. "The ACT scores were good for Eveleth-Gilbert and Virginia. In the top 5 for public schools. And I don't see why we need to change anything. We can put money into our buildings. Maybe get a new heating system," he shared. "We got a new science area about 15 years ago, are we just going to tear that down?"

School leaders acknowledge that they can do upgrades to the buildings if people vote no. But the potential costs could be much higher, since it won't be a joint effort with state and IRRR money. 

To move forward, the plan needs a 'yes' vote from both communities. And if it passes, there could be the potential for more consolidation.

"We've heard that the kids are for it. They already date eachother, go to the same church, play on some of the same sports teams. The main thing we've heard from the listening session, is that this makes sense," Schmidt.

The referendum is May 14th. However, you can vote early at the district offices.

For information from the Eveleth-Gilbert website:

https://www.egschools.org/

For information from the Virginia website:

http://www.vmps.org/

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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