Mt. Vernon Register-News

September 21, 2013

Woodlawn plans public hearing on consolidation

By TRAVIS MORSE travis.morse@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — WOODLAWN — A public hearing set for Monday will give residents the chance to express their views on the proposed consolidation of the two Woodlawn school districts.

The hearing will officially be a joint meeting of the school boards for both districts: Woodlawn Community High School District 205 and Woodlawn Community Consolidated School District 4. It will take place at 5 p.m. Monday at the Woodlawn Grade School cafeteria.

“It will be to hear any comments from the public for or against the consolidation, or any questions the public may have,” said David Larkin, superintendent of the Woodlawn districts. “The boards will (then) decide whether to move forward or not with the consolidation issue.”

It's unclear whether the two boards will vote on the consolidation matter at Monday's meeting or do so at a later date.

If the board does approve the project, the next step would be to file a petition with the state. This petition requests a waiver from legislation requiring consolidated school districts to have similar boundaries.

Both school boards would have to approve the petition and it would then have to be approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor.

Currently, the two Woodlawn districts have their own separate boundaries, and school officials want that to continue.

According to Larkin, consolidating the districts could help improve efficiency, reduce costs, and improve education by having “continuity through all the grade levels.”

Currently, each district has its own contracts and budgets, and consolidating them should result in more efficiency and a cost savings, Larkin said.

Larkin said it's hard to predict the attendance for Monday's meeting, but school officials are encouraging the public to come.

“It's certainly a public hearing,” Larkin said. “That's the purpose of it — for them to express their opinions.”

At Monday's hearing, the two school boards will convene the meeting, conduct a roll call of members, then open up the proceedings for public comment.

For more information, contact District 205 at 735-2631.