ALTA, Iowa (KTIV) -- As a new school year starts, one district marks a new beginning. One that will change the way it's students learn and where they learn.
This morning, Alta Community Schools broke ground for an addition to their future high school. Right now, it's Alta's middle school.
The new building will house 10 new classrooms including industrial tech, art, and consumer science. The project will cost 2-point-5 million dollars.
That's a big price tag for a small school district dealing with budget problems.
But Alta schools have a solution a program called "two-way grade sharing."
It's away for Alta and neighboring town Aurelia to combine classes, and cut costs.
It's interesting the sign on Alta High School says "consolidated school", for in the next year and a half, schools in Alta and neighbor Aurelia, will be sharing classes, all because of a tightened budget.
"We have seen salary increases and benefits increases, utilities. We're trying to do more then we were a few years ago with the same amount of money or in some cases less," says Alta Superintendent Fred Maharry.
The money pinch has been an issue since talks between the schools began back in 2000. The budget hasn't improved, and now the plan is to give Aurelia grades 6-8, Alta grades 9-12, with each school keeping their own elementary classes.
"How long do you think this is going to stick around?" says Forrest.
"Well I think that that is certainly in the plans to be a permanent, to be a permanent union between the two districts yes," says Interim Superintendent for Aurelia Schools Jack Johnson.
"In about a year and a half things will look pretty different for the school districts as the Alta Middle School will be shut down becoming the high school for both Alta and Aurelia," says Forrest.
The opposite will happen in Aurelia with the high school turning into the middle school.
The the two way grade share program even changes administration slightly, as only one superintendent will over see both school boards and both independent budgets.
"We expect to have the big transfer of students in the middle of next year probably December or January, were expecting to have a hundred eighty to a hundred ninety students go back and fourth," says Maharry.
The school says students are the real winners in the sharing, they say by each school cutting from the budget, its more programs and facilities for kids.
"From what I can tell everyone's really excited about it," says Johnson.
"It's not just about the budget it's about educating students," says Maharry.
It's not a consolidation, just a way to share students and opportunities.
Alta school officials have plans to demolish the old high school after students move to the what is now the middle school.
But while two-way, and one-way grade sharing is happening all across Iowa, a few schools have had to go a bit further.
Beginning this school year, Terril and Graettinger consolidate into one district.
Terril will take grades three through eight. Graettinger will take kindergarten through second, and high school.
In Clay county, the South Clay School District has been dissolved. Its 132 students now go to surrounding districts; like Spencer, Sioux Central, and Laurens-Marathon.