The Morrisonville-Panhandle Committee of Ten hosted a public hearing regarding consolidation between the two districts at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22, in the Lincolnwood auditorium. Also attending were Lincolnwood and Morrisonville superintendents, board members, teachers, citizens and members of the Regional Board of Trustees.
"This hearing is just about information and giving people the opportunity to put their feelings forward," said Regional Superintendent of Schools Marchelle Kassebaum.
Committee of Ten co-chair Dana Pitchford explained that the committee has met once a month since April. They divided up into subcommittees of curriculum, extracurricular, technology, transportation, building and grounds, finances and public relations. Each subcommittee met separately.
The Committee of Ten then devised a document consisting of 125 questions and answers. After presenting their findings to each school board, Resolution #1 passed in August. Resolution #2 stating that both boards supported the consolidation was passed in September.
After being sworn in, Committee of Ten members addressed the audience. Dale Brockamp stated that the committee believes more academic opportunities could be provided with a combined district.
"College-bound students would have more classes to choose from and vocational students would have more classes to prepare them for the work force," he said.
He also reported that both districts were doing well financially and had each achieved financial recognition in FY2013. Nonetheless, future budget cuts by the state would have less impact if the districts combined.
Della Montgomery focused on the social advantages of a consolidated district. She stated students would have increased opportunities to do things together and there would be bigger groups of kids with similar interests.
Debbie Forbes discussed what would happen if the consolidation was voted down.
"If the consolidation fails, both districts will be bare bones because of cuts," she said.
She stated Morrisonville parents would most likely have to pay high tuition to send their children to Taylorville. They also would have no say in the school board.
According to Pitchford, if the districts consolidate student clubs and athletic teams would be larger and there would be more options to choose from.
"We want to also support what we already have," she said. "We see teams dissipating because there aren't enough players. There's also a lack of competition in both sports and the classroom because of the small sizes."
Rick Cina of Morrisonville was the only member of the public to address the audience. He stated he was in support of the consolidation and worried what would happen if it failed.
"I fear being forced to consolidate with a school of the state's choosing," he said. "This is the best option out there at this time."
Pitchford stated that more information can be found on the committee's website at www.mp-c10.info. The committee is currently working on fundraisers and planning three public meetings early next year in Raymond, Farmersville and Morrisonville. Each meeting will focus on a certain topic.
Kassebaum stated she will recommend the consolidation request to Illinois State Superintendent of Education Chris Koch and present the committee's findings to him. If everything goes smoothly, the matter will be voted on in the March 18, 2014 election and the new school board will be voted for on Nov. 4, 2014.
The meeting ended at 8:15 p.m.