UPDATE: Le Mars Gehlen and Spalding Catholic will merge high schools
Starting in the fall, Gehlen Catholic and Spalding Catholic will become one high school.
LE MARS, Iowa (KTIV) -
For years, Le Mars Gehlen, and Spalding Catholic school districts have shared resources. Last fall, the two schools fielded one combined football team.
On Wednesday night, the districts took an even bigger step.
"We have both voted unanimously to approve the unification of Spalding and Gehlen Catholic High School, beginning with the 2013-2014 school year," said Jeanne Jungers, Spalding Catholic School Board President.
With that emotional announcement, a radical change is coming for high schoolers in the district that will affect future generations, as well.
Through two separate votes Wednesday night, the two school boards approved merging the two high schools into one. School officials use the term "unify" because the move will combine the best that both schools have to offer.
Both votes were unanimous.
Students at Spalding Catholic in Granville, Iowa, will go to Gehlen, in Le Mars, starting this fall. Spalding officials say it will put an emphasis on kindergarten through 8th grade education to continue to grow its student population.
In the end, it was the relationship the districts already have that made this decision easier to make.
"The board, students, volunteers, teachers, we as a Gehlen family cannot express enough how lucky and welcome we wish to make you feel and how lucky we are to have you," said Brian Kolbeck, Gehlen Catholic School Board President.
At a November meeting, parents expressed concern about academics, and busing, particularly for after school activities like sports. The two schools are about 25 miles apart.
School officials say the desire to give students the best education possible overrode those fears. Spalding Catholic's school board president says it was tough to say good-bye to Spalding, especially with all its history. They will continue to celebrate the school's history throughout the spring and summer, including a 50 year anniversary festival.
"But we also anticipate great things for our future. We're excited about our future of Catholic education and the great things that we can do together with Gehlen. And we trust that the Lord is leading us to a new season of Catholic education for our communities," said Jungers.
Spalding Catholic will meet with its teachers on Thursday and let them know what to expect in the future. Officials say Gehlen will try to absorb as many of Spalding's faculty as they can, but that will all depend on enrollment figures.