Consolidation study moving forward

 

The St. Joseph-Ogden Board of Education and the St. Joseph Grade School
Board of Education will be moving forward with a consolidation study.
SJO voted at its June meeting to enter into a consolidation study if the
grade school was willing to participate. The grade school voted to
participate during its July meeting.
The study, which will be conducted by three retired superintendent and
current university professors who do these studies for districts across
the state, will cost $12,500.
St. Joseph Grade School Superintendent Todd Pence said the state has
grants for $6,000 for districts doing consolidation studies that they will
apply for. Pence told his board that whether the district had to pay
$6,250 or $3,250 he thought the study was worth the money.
“Without the facts it is just opinion and everyone has an opinion,” Pence
said. “Is it worth six grand, personally I think it is.”
Both superintendents stressed that a consolidation study would provide
both districts with objective information that they need in order to make
a decision that would be best for both districts.
“Our Board of Education and I all feel it is important for us to do a
consolidation feasibility study in order to have facts as opposed to just
making assumptions on whether or not a district consolidation of some kind
is financially advantageous to the school districts as well as the
taxpayers,” Brooks said. “The most important aspect of all of this is
whether or not a potential consolidation would benefit kids and the
financial piece of that is a very important one as you have to have proper
funding in order to provide the high quality education our communities
expect.”
Brooks said at the end of the study the Boards of Education will have
factual information to be able to make an educated recommendation as to
what is best for the students.
Brooks said not every study would come back saying consolidation would be
positive for both districts.
Brooks said the district does get questions regarding consolidation
occasionally which he believes stems from the fact that it is unique that
a small town like St. Joseph would house two school districts.
Brooks also stressed that SJO is in a unique situation because they also
have students who live in Ogden and Royal.
Pence said the study is expected to take four months to complete.
Even if the study comes back with a recommendation saying consolidation
would be advantageous that doesn’t mean the districts will consolidate.
If the Boards of Education decided to move forward with consolidation
public hearings would have to be held and then the issue would be placed
on the ballot in the form of a referendum.
“The most important thing for all of us to do is to not jump to
conclusions and allow time for the study to take place and the facts to be
presented,” Brooks said. “This is all being done in the interest of trying
to collect factual data as to what is the best way we can educate the
kids in our communities based on the current funding laws in the state of
Illinois.”

 

Categories (2):News, Education

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