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Neponset helps Kewanee’s bottom line

NEPONSET/KEWANEE — The Kewanee School District is in good financial shape, thanks at least, in part, to last year’s annexation of the Neponset Grade School District into Kewanee.

At last week’s meeting of the Kewanee School Board, auditor Stephanie Ramsey of Gorenz and Associates said the district’s total equalized assessed valuation rose during the past year from about $60 million to $73 million, due to the annexation of the Neponset School District. Also, the Kewanee District has benefited from reorganization incentive payments offered by the state for school districts to annex or consolidate.

Dr. Chris Sullens, superintendent for the Kewanee School District, said the annexation of Neponset into Kewanee has gone smoothly for students and staff.

The Neponset building currently has 20 preschool children and 82 students in kindergarten through eighth grades. Of those 82 students, 17 of them come from Kewanee to Neponset, while two students go from Neponset to school in Kewanee with transportation provided by the school district.

As far as staffing, Sullens said the Kewanee School District does a lot of professional development, and the Neponset teachers are, of course, a part of that training and interaction with the Kewanee-based staff.

At the time of the annexation, the Kewanee School Board had made a commitment to keep the Neponset school building open for at least one year, but it has always been his personal goal to look down the road to at least five years, Sullens said. Things can change from year to year, but the Neponset building is only about 60 years old and in good shape, he said.

The Neponset Grade School District was annexed into the Kewanee School District with the start of the 2011-12 school year, after Neponset voters approved an annexation referendum on an 182 to 26 vote in April 2011. The Kewanee voters approved their annexation referendum on a 989 to 94 vote. Sullens had served as superintendent for both school districts prior to the annexation.

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