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Published February 01, 2012, 10:27 PM

Ulen-Hitterdal leaders agree to partial activites consolidation with Norman County East

Ulen, MN (WDAY TV) - A controversial consolidation in two small Minnesota school districts is closer to becoming reality, this fall. Ulen-Hitterdal school leaders overwhelmingly agree to pair some athletic and extra-curriculars with Norman County East.

By: Travis Skonseng, WDAY

A controversial consolidation in two small Minnesota school districts is closer to becoming reality, this fall. Ulen-Hitterdal school leaders overwhelmingly agree to pair some athletic and extra-curriculars with Norman County East.

For the 2nd time in about a year, the district considered consolidating activities. It didn't pass last spring, but tonight, agreement amongst board members.

After four meetings and much dismay, Ulen-Hitterdal school leaders approve a pairing with Norman County East.

Melissa Green - We have to stick with what our community wants.

Angie Sirjord – Ulen-Hitterdal School Board Member: ”It's going to be a good thing. I think it's going to be a great combination. We're a perfect fit with Norman County East.”

The district unanimously votes to partner only 7th to 12th grade football, one act play, and speech. This after a 5 to 2 vote against combining all activities.

School board member: “I don't think 8th graders should be playing against seniors and 7th graders should be playing against 7th graders and 8th graders.”

School board member: “If we're going to do anything, it needs to be an all or nothing.”

The heated debate comes as both districts face dwindling enrollment threatening sports, mainly the future of football.

Allen Zenor – Ulen-Hitterdal School Superintendent: “Because of numbers and we just didn't compete very well. If you look at the big picture, it is a good way to go.”

Parents, even students show widespread disagreement against the measure, even signing a petition. They worry about traveling time and safety.

Amy Madson – Ulen Parent: “I don't get time with her in the evening, she doesn't have time to do any of her education. She's not going to be playing.”

Austen Paulson – Ulen-Hitterdal Student: “Then what's going to happen to track because you know we're paired with Hawley.”

Theresa Paulson – Ulen Parent: “There needs to be a lot more solid decisions made.”

Supporters of this partnership argue it will broaden opportunities and save money. They say consolidating is the neighborly thing to do.

Rodney Hamernick – Flom, MN: “We're supposed to be a community. Help each other out.”

NCE school leaders will have to vote on this option. They had wanted all activities. If approved, the pairing will be in place for two years, then can be taken up yearly.

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