Board OKs Annexation T ERHS

FROM: Olney Daily Mail

"Regional Board of School Trustees approves West Richland's Petition for Annexation"

Lawsuit on issue still pending

 

By Kevin Ryden
Posted Jan. 20, 2014 @ 3:49 pm

Olney, Ill.

Regional Board of School Trustees approved a petition from West Richland to annex with East Richland during a public hearing Friday in the John D. Stull Performing Arts Center at Olney Central College.

The vote was 6-0 with board member Bill Staser absent. The other board members are Chairman Josh Weger, Bob Harris, Kaye Holscher, Robert Fear, Gene Allen and Ron Janes.

Prior to the vote, Weger said the process has not been easy for West Richland or the community and that "we're just trying to do the right thing."

Annexation is to go into effect during the 2014-2015 school year.

West Richland School District Board of Education approved dissolving the district and annexing with East Richland in November. The petition was filed with Regional Board of School Trustees.

A lawsuit was filed last month against West Richland and Regional Office of Education by opponents of annexation. No court hearings have yet been set.

West Richland Interim Superintendent Rod Stover discussed some of the reasons the district has sought annexation.

"When you're losing students, you're losing revenue," he said, noting the declining enrollment of the district over the last several years.

He said adjustments have to be made and that has meant cuts in staff and curriculum. He said many course offerings have been taken away from students, which have put them "at a drastic disadvantage."

West Richland teachers are "excellent" and the district has comparable test scores to East Richland, but that it does not compare with East Richland's course offerings, he said.

West Richland Board of Education President Steve Kinkade said a 2010 feasibility study recommended the district consolidate or take some type of action, but the issue was placed "on the back burner for a year and a half."

"It's been a hard decision to make this decision, but it's best for kids," he said.

East Richland Superintendent Marilyn Holt said the district will "warmly welcome the students, staff and the West Richland community into our district."

She said there will be change at East Richland with the inclusion of West Richland.

She said sixth-grade students from West Richland Elementary School along with seventh- and eighth-grade students from West Richland Junior-Senior High School will attend East Richland Middle School and East Richland High School.

The WRES building will remain open as a pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade facility, she said.

Holt said ERHS and ERMS can accommodate the addition of West Richland students.

 

RW Note"  The above is from the first page of the article.  For the rest of the article see the ODM.  The following link may work:  http://www.olneydailymail.com/article/20140120/NEWS/140129923/?tag=1