Reorganization Recommendation Revealed

Avon, IL – A couple hundred people turned out at Avon High School to learn what reorganization plan - if any - a consulting firm is recommending for the Abingdon, Avon, and Bushnell-Prairie City School Districts.

Midwest School Consultants spent the past four months studying the matter. During a two-and-a-half hour presentation on January 28, the firm announced it thinks the three districts should consolidate into a single district.

"I would say there would be multiple benefits," says consultant Bill Phillips. "It certainly would be an improved curriculum for the junior high and high school, there's just absolutely no doubt about that.

"I think you'd have a better utilization of all the facilities you have. I think you could probably coalesce some of the services they're providing individually like special ed and things like that; maybe some vocational programs that when you put enough students together you can offer more than you can offer by yourself."

Bushnell-Prairie City Superintendent David Messersmith says there is a lot of information to review and it could take some time for the Board of Education to gather public input.

"I would assume that this is going to be a discussion that will take place from now until something is decided," says Messersmith. "This is going to get a lot of talk in the communities, in households, at the coffeeshop. This is a big deal."

The consulting firm recommends the high school be located in Bushnell and the junior high (grades 6-8) be located in Abingdon. Elementary schools would be located in Abingdon, Avon, and Bushnell.

The report states all three districts are in pretty good financial shape but enrollments are dropping. It also points out the state provides financial incentives for school consolidations.

Voters will have to approve a consolidation. The referendum could be placed on the ballot by the school boards or through a petition drive by community members. The referendum would need to be approved by a simple majority of the voters in each district. Consolidations are not allowed to proceed if voters from even one district involved reject the referendum.

The earliest a referendum could appear on the ballot is November. The earliest the districts could merge is July 1, 2011.

Avon Superintendent Dan Oakley anticipates his district will hold a public hearing on the consulting firm's report.

"We will have a point where we will get together with the public and listen to what they're needing to tell us," says Oakley.

The study cost $10,000. Each of the districts chipped in $1,000. The remaining $7,000 will be paid for by the state.