Super Holt's Testimony

Regional Board of School Trustees approves West Richland's petition for annexation

Superintendent Marilyn Holt’s Testimony

East Richland Community Unit #1

1-17-2014

Good evening, I am Marilyn Holt, Superintendent of East Richland Community Unit #1 and I am here tonight to share that our Board of Education and community will warmly welcome the students, staff, and West Richland community into the district.   Richland County values education and their children.   From consolidation of one-room schools to the state-of-the-art facilities today, the county has provided excellence in education.  

ERCU #1 currently has 8 administrators, 150 teachers, and 135 support staff.   We have 2,147 students with 630 at ERHS, 457 at ERMS and 1,055 at ERES.   Our Elementary school was built in 2000, the high school was updated in 2002, and the middle school was completely remodeled in 2009.  

We are so proud of our district – just as West Richland is proud of theirs!   From the reading program to the Lighthouse status from Covey with Lego education and more--- ERES Rocks!   The energy and excitement from that building spills right over to ERMS where we have an IPad for each and every student.   The ability to focus on the core subjects along with electives, advisory time, extended learning opportunities, and extra-curricular activities make engaged learners who feed into our high school.   At ERHS students are able to choose from a wide variety of required and elective coursework.    Students leaving ERHS after four years are well-prepared for college, career, and citizenship.   They have the opportunity to take many classes for college credit which can be transferred to two and four year institutions within degree programs or they may transfer in various career fields.   Parents love it!

Extra-curricular programs at ERHS are extensive.  Students can participate in a full range of athletic, academic, music, or fine arts activities. The Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter is one of the top ten programs in the state.  Students can be part of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) or any of the many other clubs and organizations.  Athletically, the Tigers are competitive year after year in a wide variety of athletic events. 

The inclusion of West Richland into our district will create some change. 

  • We plan that when this petition is approved that the West Richland Junior High/High school building will be closed and those students along with sixth grade students will attend school at the East Richland High School and Middle School.   The West Richland Elementary building will remain open as a PreK-5 building.   
  •  The East Richland High School and Middle School can accommodate the addition of the West Richland 6-12 students.   The feasibility study supports the fact that both schools can accommodate these numbers.    These buildings have had more students in prior years than they will have with annexation.   
  •  Our elementary building is a PreK -5 building and we have over a 1000 students in the building.   To add the additional students next year would be difficult.   In addition, we believe that it will be best for the Noble community to leave an attendance center this next school year.  Therefore, the elementary building will remain open in Noble for PreK-5 students.   In addition, the school will continue to house special education students from the region. 
  •  The West Richland faculty and staff will be assigned according to certification and needs.  
  • We have worked with ISBE staff to construct the budget for FY’15 and future years. 
  • We have transition programs planned for students and their parents.
  •  We are working on bus routes and transportation.  
  • Both districts have been part of Race to the Top so all teachers are familiar with the Common Core Standards and are aligning curriculum to the standards as well as the new state testing.
  • We have staff development planned for teachers and staff.
  • We will work with the community as well as the State and others to legally close the West Richland School District and to retain the records that are legally required.
  • We believe that West Richland has chosen to annex into our district because they feel that this is the logical choice based upon where folks shop and do business. The students play sports together in the summer and interact during the school year. In addition, both districts have similar values.   The West Richland students will benefit from state-of-the-art facilities, dual credit classes, a rigorous curriculum, increased extra-curricular offerings, libraries, technology, new friends, and new opportunities.
  •    We will take good care of students, staff, and the community!

Some have asked what’s in it for East Richland  ----  We will gain wonderful teachers, staff and students.   There will be Work, Change, Efficiencies, Challenges, Opportunities, and the list goes on.  However, the real reason we are willing and able to accept this challenge is because it is the right thing to do for KIDS and Richland County.  

Our elementary students know the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and the 8th Habit – Find Your Voice. They know that Habit 6 is synergy and that is what you get when you add two things together and the sum is greater than the two parts.   That’s what this is about – Synergy!  Separate we are both good districts – Together we will be better!  

Schools are a reflection of their community. We are fortunate to be in Richland County where schools, teachers, and students are respected and valued.  

Thank you so much for your service to education and our area. We appreciate your work as well as Regional Superintendent Newlin and his staff.    

In summary – we welcome West Richland District – students, faculty, staff, parents, and community to a County School System where our values of education and children will continue into the future.