Mt. Vernon Register-News

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April 30, 2014

Schools push for merger

BLUFORD — Bluford school officials hope to get a referendum on this November’s ballot seeking approval for a consolidation of the Bluford Grade School, Farrington Grade School and Webber Township High School districts.

The initiative would not lead to a change of boundaries, but would result in many benefits for the districts involved, said Don Sneed, chairman of the Bluford Grade School Board of Education.

“The main benefit would be to help cut administrative costs and align the curriculum,” Sneed said. “We feel like we’d have our curriculum aligned all the way through.”

There are two main types of consolidation — straight and partial elementary, officials said. Bluford schools are seeking a partial elementary consolidation.

With this type, voters in the high school district and at least one of the grade school districts would have to approve the consolidation for it to go into effect.

If the referendum fails in one of the grade school districts, that district would be left as it is now and the other two districts would consolidate.

However, students from the standalone district would still be able to “feed into” the newly consolidated high school, Sneed said.

Several months ago, a Committee of 10 was formed made up of citizens from the three Bluford school districts impacted by the consolidation.

This committee is in charge of acquiring petitions and organizing meetings related to the effort. Some committee members are also school board members.

In early May, the committee plans to submit its consolidation paperwork to Ron Daniels, regional superintendent of the Hamilton-Jefferson Counties Regional Office of Education.

Then, Daniels will hold a public hearing likely in late May, early June to give area residents a chance to comment on the proposed consolidation.

After that, if Daniels approves of the petition, he will submit the materials to the Illinois State Board of Education. The state superintendent will then have to approve the documents before the referendum can appear on the Nov. 4 ballot.

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