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      Bessemer board meeting gets heated with talks of consolidation

      It got a bit heated at the Bessemer School Board meeting Tuesday night, due to a consolidation ballot issue in two months. The petition to consolidate with the Wakefield-Marenisco School District is on the August 5 ballot, but there's a caveat; thereâ??s no funding plans in the wording of the petition.

      â??Their petition would only be worded 'Do you want to consolidate? Yes or No'; there's no funding,â?? said Superintendent Dave Radovich. â??So if the vote is yes, we will have to go back to the voters and ask them if they would approve an 18-mill, Non-Homestead tax and that's not part of the vote. If they say no to the 18-mill funding for the new school district, in the words of some people, we'll have a lot of bake sales to support our school.â??

      That there isnâ??t any guarantee on the millage passing is a worry to some of the residents.

      â??Weâ??re going to assume that we're going to pass the millage and everything else, and we're asking the public, both communities to vote on a consolidated district with absolutely no money,â?? said resident, Tim France. â??We could both be out of a school and no control on anything that happens?â??

      Superintendent Radovich presented the board with numbers showing increasing enrollment, as reason to vote against consolidation, but board member Bill McDonald says county numbers are decreasing, and it's why he's in favor of consolidation.

      â??We want to stay â??Speed Boys, Speed Girlsâ??,â?? McDonald said. â??Iâ??ve been hearing it for three, four weeks now. Get it through; the numbers are going down in this county big time.â??

      The superintendent and the majority of the board say they're not opposed to the idea of consolidation, they're concerned with what they say is a lack of a detailed plan that should include funding.

      â??Theyâ??ve really got about seven carts out before one little Shetland pony,â?? Radovich said. â??Theyâ??re open to a concept of consolidation with a plan, and that's what we would like to go forth, study a consolidation and come back with a plan to vote on, rather than a concept.â??